I’m sitting in a private suite, courtesy of a contact of Nick’s, and I suppose by now, one of mine. Steve told me last weekend when we were down for the Big Ten Tournament that he was attracted to me, except my hair was too cropped, the color too light, and my nails too short. I was deeply flattered. Steve had brats catered in earlier, during the first game of our session (Georgia Tech vs. UNLV), as well as wings and a veggie platter. The refrigerator had been stocked prior to our arrival with soda, beer, and water. Thirty minutes ago, I was sprawled out on the swanky couch watching the hi-def television hanging against the opposite wall.
Along with Steve, Nick and I were with one of his coworkers who had proclaimed excitedly that this was definitely the way to watch basketball. Many of these sentiments are gone at the moment, though. My stomach is twisted and nerves are making my ankles believe they are equipped with the pelvis of Elvis as my feet seize erratically. We are nearing the end of the first half of play, and our beloved Badgers have not once had control of this game. They are the number two seed, playing the fifteen…we were hoping for a blowout. Blowouts are no fun to watch until it’s your team that’s blowing the other one out of the water. Our foursome cheered sarcastically when our boys got their tenth point.
A dunk from Tuck as the buzzer rang for the end of the half, and we had a whopping nineteen points to show for our twenty minutes of play. I began to dread our long ride home from Chicago, IL…The car would be completely silent and oh so tense, you know it would. We watched another game from the TV on the wall and silently wondered if maybe we should just leave for home now, beat the traffic.
The next half began much the same as the last ended, and I sat there and wished that that last slam dunk in the first half had come instead in the beginning of this one, keeping both the team and the crowd pumped…eager for more. But then, something started to happen, something unexpected after 30 minutes of game time (and lord only knows how long it was in real time). Kam Taylor started hitting his marks. 10:42 in the second half, he makes a bucket. at 10:15, we, for the first time all game, tie the fifteenth seeded TAMUCC, and also for the first time all game, we’re not being completely dominated…and with Kam’s three pointer, tying the game up at 47, and his next shot, giving us the lead at 49, the Islanders stopped hitting their marks. Shortly thereafter, we watched the Texas team miss the first two free throws of theirs all game. They looked tired all of the sudden, and I got my first inkling that we might win this one after all. We were on our feet, afraid to hope those last ten minutes, but time and time again, Kam Taylor came through, even scoring 14 straight points at one stretch. He got a total of 24 points that game—more points than we had total at the half—all in the 2nd half of the 2nd half of the game.
We battled back from an eighteen point deficit at one point to win it by 13. The game qualified for an Academy Award for best drama, and it was some of the ugliest basketball I’ve ever seen…but at the end, when we had it clinched—which wasn’t until the VERY end—I was light-headed with the sudden surge of relief, and so glad that Nick had us pose for the below picture before play was underway, when the Badgers first came out to warm up—lord knows we weren’t in a chronicling mood once the affair began:
Now, to the next game…but, to be honest with you, after the last two weekends, I’m a little Chicagoed out…but I’ve loved getting to experience all of this. I’ve been so fortunate in my first real year of sports-watching to get two of the winningest teams ever in both Badger Football and Basketball. That can seal fanaticism rather nicely.