Tuesday, March 16, 2010

When The Madness Started (1995 and UCLA)

March Madness (15 Years Ago)
So with March Madness upon us, it’s been 15 years since the first NCAA Tournament that I watched and got involved in. The 1995 UCLA Bruins grabbed my attention and for the school that I started to get interested in attending, they gave me a heck of a tournament.
I still remember the team back when I could rattle off every player by heart. The O’Bannon Brothers, George Zidek in the middle, Tyus Edney running the point and freshman phenoms Toby Bailey and J.R. Henderson filling in that 5th and 6th man spot.
The buzzerbeater against Missouri is one of the greatest in NCAA history. Edney ran up the court in 4.8 seconds and hit the game winner to make everyone go nuts. And I missed it live. Yep.

I was scared UCLA was gonna lose so I ran into my bathroom like a punk. 10 year old me cowering and then I come out to see my Mom and sister in disbelief like “UCLA won!” I couldn’t believe I missed one of the greatest shots ever because I was scared. Lesson learned and I would never skip out on a game again.
But I followed that Bruins team closely the rest of the way. I remember watching the Final Four game against Oklahoma State and Bryant “Big Country” Reeves at Disneyland during a family trip. My cousin had a portable TV and I’d steal glances after every ride.
I was happy as heck when they beat Arkansas to win it all. Ed O’Bannon had a monster game and Cameron Dollar coming off the bench for an injured Edney sparked hope in his future as a Bruin – ironically, two years later he’d have an similar moment to Edney in the Sweet 16.
I remember for class we decorated Easter Eggs and I named them all in honor of the Starting Five – Egg O’Bannon, Tyus Eggney for example. Course it hurt like heck when I watched Princeton beat them the next year on a back-door layup.
But that sparked my love for UCLA and March Madness. And here we are. Loving every moment of the pre-tourney hype and get ready for Thursday. 15 years and counting.

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