An unforgettable night: ‘Swish!’
It happened last Sunday night. It was my first truly out-of-body experience. In the seconds leading up to it, I was overwhelmed by feelings of anxiety, anticipation, even fear. Fortunately, this fear only lasted for those few seconds – 1.6 seconds, to be exact.
And then this feeling of pure elation came over me. I was suddenly uncontrollably shaking, and yelling “Oh my God! Oh my God! Oh my God!” And suddenly, I reached this point where I couldn’t even yell anymore. I couldn’t relax my face. I was unconditionally stuck with this wide-open-mouthed smile that wouldn’t go away, my eyes bulging out of my head. I was frozen from the neck up. And yet, I could’ve sworn the rapid pounding of my heart and trembling of my hands would never go away.
Luckily, I got the feeling back in my face and the convulsing shenanigans eventually came to a halt. But those 1.6 seconds, and the 10 or so minutes that followed them, will be with me forever. And all because of one little sound: “Swish.”
I swore I’d hold off on writing about Duke at least until second semester, but I had to make an exception. And if you saw that Duke-Virginia Tech game Sunday night, you have no choice but to forgive me. Besides, this isn’t about the greatness and superiority of my precious Dukies, but rather about the greatness and superiority of college basketball, as a whole, in the realm of competitive sports.
For those of you who missed the game, it was college basketball at its best. Only in college basketball does an unranked team like the Virginia Tech Hokies actually pose a threat to a No. 1 team like the Duke Blue Devils when they’re visitors at a place like Cameron Indoor Stadium.
Sure, there are upsets in every sport, but in college basketball – particularly in the ACC – no game can ever be approached lightly or overconfidently. In this conference season-opener for both the Blue Devils and the Hokies, the teams faced 19 lead changes and 12 ties. Finally, with a little over four minutes to go, Duke had built an 11-point lead (74-63) and all of us Duke fans could relax a little. They had it.
Or so we thought. Before I knew it, those “a little over four minutes” had passed and Virginia Tech’s Coleman Collins’ tip-in had just finished off Tech’s 12-0 run. That’s right: 1.6 seconds to go and Duke’s down (75-74). After a timeout (and not to mention some debate over the amount of time left and some difficulty getting that amount of time on the scoreboard accurately), Blue Devil rookie Josh McRoberts had the ball at the baseline. He passed it roughly 47 feet to Sean Dockery at half-court. Dockery had no choice but to shoot. And that’s when I heard it: “Swish!”
There was no way that shot wasn’t going in. 1.6 seconds have never gone by so slowly. That ball just flew, almost as if in slow motion, directly to the basket. And then it gracefully fell through the exact center of the hoop. No rim. No backboard. Just “swish.” Buzzer. Game. Perfection. Duke wins 77-75.
Now, that’s college basketball for you. No other sport could generate what went through the minds, bodies, hearts and souls of every person watching that game Sunday night. College basketball, from a fan’s standpoint, is an emotional roller coaster. I find myself so overwhelmingly affected by wins, by losses, and especially by specific single shots, steals, rebounds – you name it. And whether or not there’s a game on or it’s even college basketball season, it distracts me from “real” life, from what I should probably be thinking about or doing instead. But moments like Dockery’s half-court shot to win Sunday’s nights game for Duke make it all worth it.
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