Five Take-Aways From March Madness

Asia Mape
In Learn
By Asia Mape | April 4, 2018

Five Take-Aways From March Madness

    1. It’s not the size of the man but the size of his heart that matters  – #16 ranked UMBC shocked the world by beating the #1 overall seed, University of Virginia. They pulled off the greatest upset in NCAA Tournament history and maybe the single most shocking result in college basketball history. On the Retriever’s ABOUT US page on the school website, it states, “Ours is an incredible and diverse community, but what makes it unique is the way everyone comes together to learn, solve problems, and just have fun. Because no matter who you are, we are all Retrievers.” That pretty much sums it up for this scrappy team that did the unimaginable. These Giant killers were led by senior guard – Jairus Lyles, a journeyman senior who went on a tear in the second half, scoring the bulk of his 28 points as UMBC built their lead. But the heart of this team is 5’8” guard, K.J. Maura from Puerto Rico. Playing against eventual NBA prospects, Maura led them with heart, hustle and consistently doing the little things. He was everywhere! This tournament proved that it doesn’t matter how big you are but how big your heart is.
      1. It’s all about chopping wood… Michigan’s Xavier Simpson said it several times during his post-game interviews throughout the tournament. It’s been the Wolverines motto all season. The saying came from a book they were given to read by their assistant coach over the summer, “Chop Wood Carry Water,” about a boy’s lifelong dream of becoming a Samurai Warrior. A number three seed that went all the way to the title game, they have chopped wood and carried water all tournament, doing the little things and taking each possession one at a time. They are not a team of super-stars; only two players were in the top 100 of their recruiting class. Even Moritz Wagner, who put up numbers only matched by Larry Bird and Hakeem Olajuwon – 20 points and 15 rebounds in a semi-final game, was ranked 119 in his 2015 class. Yet they continually “chopped wood” to get to the Championship game.
      2. Perseverance and faith can go a long way – The fighting Irish hobbled into the women’s NCAA tournament missing four key players, all out with injuries. But in an incredible display of grit, Notre Dame capped the biggest comeback in a championship game since the women’s tournament began in 1992. Scoring only 3 points in the second quarter, they trailed 40-25. But they climbed back into the game and in the final seconds, Irish guard Arike Ogunbowale hit the game winner, giving Notre Dame a 61-58 victory over Mississippi State. Ogunbowale, who fittingly picked Notre Dame over other colleges interested in her, because of her faith, also hit the game winner against U-Conn in the semifinal game with one second left. Clearly, she had faith in herself and her abilities! 

              4.  Sometimes it’s the journey, not the result, that matters most  – Nobody embodies that saying more than Devin Davis of Houston. Yes, 67 of 68 teams leave March Madness devastated. But the photo of Davis standing at the free-throw line 45 minutes after the game they lost to Michigan, really says it all. Less than an hour earlier, he stood at that same free-throw line with just 3.6 seconds on the clock, with a chance to tie the game; all he had to do was make one and he missed both shots. His misses ended their season and his college career. Both pale in comparison to what Davis has experienced in the last four years. According to the Houston Chronicle, while playing for Ohio State, he was hit by a teammate who was driving drunk and Davis ended up in a coma. After recovering, he was kicked off the team for a drug violation. Then he transferred to Houston, where he has been plagued with injuries, including two surgeries this season alone. The gravity of the moment for Davis, a senior, standing alone at the free-throw line at the end of his long journey, wasn’t lost on his teammate Armoni Brooks, “I just told him how much he meant to this team. That we wouldn’t be here without him. I’m going to keep telling him how much I love him.” A few days later, Davis explained the moment himself. “When I went back out there I was thinking … I take my hard times … I always try and learn from them and remember them because it helps me better myself for the future.”

  1.            5.  Anyone can be a hero on any given night so always be ready. – Donte Divincenzo, a red-shirt sophomore from Villanova, single-handedly dismantled the University of Michigan in the championship game. The 6’5” backup guard, yes, BACKUP guard, Divincenzo entered the game with 17:38 remaining in the first half. He proceeded to put up 18 points in 18 first-half minutes, going 7-10 from the field, including 3 of 4 three-pointers and finished with 31 points, earning the dubious honor of the most title game points by a non-starter. He played with a reckless abandon, that really wasn’t reckless, draining three-pointers, dunking over Michigan’s big men, finding the open man and defending out of his mind. He earned the game’s Most Outstanding Player Award and possibly a shot at the NBA. But if he doesn’t enter his name into the NBA draft, you can bet he landed himself a job in the starting lineup for the Wildcats next season. Doesn’t matter if you start or not, you never know when your number will be called, so be ready!

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