I’ll see you courtside.
That’s what I said at the end of every basketball broadcast I’ve announced since the late 1990s, when I was calling high school boys’ and Ball State women’s games in Muncie, Indiana.
Some announcers have simple sign-offs (e.g., Reds announcer Marty Brennaman’s “So long, everybody”) while others are so intricate they seemingly last longer than the actual postgame show. With the championship game for The Tournament That Wasn’t slated for this evening, “I’ll see you courtside” will have to do.
Losing sucks. Those were my thoughts at the end of the 2013 NCAA Tournament when my alma mater finished one step shy of playing on Monday night. Because you never know when your school might be that good again.
In John Feinstein’s “A Season on the Brink,” there’s a passage in which Indiana coach Bob Knight remarks: “Are we ever going to win another game?”
It’s kind of amusing, since his Hoosiers were one year away from a third national championship in 12 years. But it’s kind of prophetic, as IU has been to one Final Four in the last 27 years.
Indiana was the No. 1 seed in the East Regional in 2013 but fell to Syracuse in the Sweet 16. As I had just become full-time at WTOP, I was not issued a credential at Capital One Arena. But I was fortunate to score a ticket with a group headed by a fellow alum we (meaning mostly me) call “Irrational Marc.”
Marc and I have enjoyed watching Syracuse games together over the years (beginning with the six-overtime affair against UConn), and we bring out the most amusing in each other. Fellow fans compare us to the guys from the Sonic commercial. (For the record: One of those guys, T.J. Jagodowski, was a classmate of mine at SU). During the win over Indiana, we thought we spotted David Letterman’s mother in our section. (Sadly, it wasn’t her — I asked.
Two days later, we were back in our seats minus Dave’s doppelganger-mom (she sold her tickets and went home) as the Orange beat Marquette 52-39. Just three weeks prior, we saw SU fall to Georgetown in that building 61-39 to wrap up a regular season that looked as if it were in serious crash-landing mode.
Instead of an embarrassing early-round exit (Richmond in 1991) or rude awakening in the regional (Michigan State in 2000), one kissed the possibility of a national title, and there was one more week to dream. And call me irrational because I thought the Orange could win twice more that April.
It didn’t happen.
Over 350 schools begin play every fall with the dream of playing on a Monday night in April. For most, it’s a pipe dream. For the majority of power conference schools, reaching the final night of the season is highly unlikely. While for those who have tasted either a title or a near-miss, the question is, “When can you get back?” Yes, even to get there is eventually fleeting, because there is always the next game or season.
We sit at home now, separated by the current situation but unified in some way by the game we love to watch and cover. Last Saturday, I joined a Zoom game-watch of the Orange beating Kansas in the 2003 title tilt. Is it so irrational to think we’ll get back to normal? And are we ever going to win another game?
I’ll see you courtside.