Friday, April 05, 2013

Hoops Anniversaries (and Traveling Tales)

It’s another travel day for your jetsetting friend as I’m heading up the east coast to Foxwoods Resort Casino in Mashantucket, Connecticut to help cover the WSOP Circuit Main Event that starts tomorrow.

After that I’ll turn around and trip over to Harrah’s Cherokee for the WSOP-C Main Event stop next weekend. Am kind of marveling at the reports from Cherokee over the first couple of days of prelims there, as it sounds like the turnouts are huge for the first significant tournament poker series ever (really) in North Carolina.

On the topic of my home state, yesterday and today have marked a couple of significant anniversaries for two of the college basketball teams here.

Yesterday was the 30th anniversary of N.C. State’s incredible victory in the 1983 final versus heavily-favored Houston. I was writing here about that not too long ago, a post titled “Ordinary People Accomplishing Extraordinary Things” in which I compared the Wolfpack’s crazy, logic-defying run to Chris Moneymaker’s WSOP Main Event win a decade ago. I also wrote something over on Ocelot Sports about the ’83 game, if you’re curious to read more about it.

Meanwhile, today is the 20th anniversary of the NCAA triumph of my alma mater, UNC-Chapel Hill, who defeated Michigan in the finals on April 5, 1993. The Heels won titles before that one, and have picked up a couple more since, but that year stands out for me as a special one, and in fact the only time I was living in Chapel Hill during a successful NCAA tourney run.

Dr. Pauly and I recently listened to a radio broadcast of the game as it played over the Tarheel Radio Network 20 years ago, and we subsequently got together to talk about the broadcast and the game as well. We recorded our conversation, included some cool clips from the old radio broadcast, and today posted it as a first Ocelot Sports Podcast.

Most remember that game for its incredible finish, with Michigan superstar Chris Webber calling a timeout the team didn’t have, thereby giving Carolina technical free throws, possession of the ball, and ultimately ensuring the Heels’ victory. There were a ton of other interesting side stories associated with that drama, some of which were highlighted in interviews and other material included on the original radio broadcast.

Doing the show sort of felt a little like a belated reprise of my old Hard-Boiled Poker Radio Show in which I also incorporated old time radio as part of the format. It was a fun time listening back and then talking about the game with Pauly, and if you’re at all interested in college basketball I think you might get a kick out of it. And if you do click over and give it a listen, give us some feedback as we’re now thinking of perhaps creating more shows down the road.

Meanwhile, Michigan has made it back to the Final Four this year -- the first time since 1993, in fact -- and I expect I’ll probably be sneaking peeks at the teevee screens while reporting on tomorrow’s Day 1 flights at Foxwood. I’ll be back here as well to give some updates on how it goes (starting Sunday).

Back to traveling and gathering more stories. Speaking of, among the many stories tucked into the podcast is one about Webber traveling on that fateful final play (and the real reason why no call was made). Check it out!

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