The Twelfth Man
SIOC plays tribute to Villanova's Ross Condon
Posted: Thursday March 1, 2007 11:08AM; Updated: Thursday March 1, 2007 11:08AM
The shot clock is switched to off, the game time is measured in tenths instead of seconds. The crowd roars while coaches wave furiously from the sidelines. Almost oblivious to all this chaos is the point guard, bringing the ball up slowly with a glare and calm reserved for the most jaded assassins. The other players scramble around -- setting picks and rotating through the offensive formation while this trained killer stands at the top of the key pounding the floor with the ball. And them an internal switch clicks over, he pulls up and drains the jumper for the win.
Ross Condon knows what it is like to be the coolest guy in the room, the one who leaves his hand hanging in the air while that shot falls through the net like he knew it would.
"I've hit a few game winners," he says with a little smile at his own joke.
True, Ross has never done it during a game, but unlike most dreamers he has had the chance to face the best competition college has to offer everyday in practice. And he swears he has hit that final shot even while Randy Foye, Allan Ray, Kyle Lowry (all NBAers), Mike Nardi or Scottie Reynolds threw their hands out to stop him.
Though these great players have kept him glued to the bench for most of his career, his contribution is improving their game while pretending to be the various opposing guards in the tough Big East.
"I've had to imitate a few players, but Gerry McNamara is my favorite," Ross told me. "I run, get the ball, jack it up from anywhere and I get to be the go-to-guy."
At Villanova, this may be a bit of a stretch for the senior from Springfield, Va., but like most 12th men at major college programs, he was a dominant high school player. Condon was not only an all state point guard, but finished his career with over 1,000 points and 500 assists.
"I've proved I can play on this level, everyday in practice I show I belong," Condon modestly responded when I asked if he really felt he was the twelfth best player on campus.
He may not be willing to say outright that the intramurals are beneath him, but he has no problem giving me his stat line if he did play in the A league, a very Dwyane Wade like 27 points, eight assists, and five rebounds per game.
"And I'd care enough to play defense."
But Ross is thankfully not dominating the student leagues, but rather working hard to make sure the varsity squad is dancing in March.
"I approach it as I am doing my part, hopefully, to prepare [the team] for what it will be like in a game," Ross said about whether it was tough to practice without getting much playing time. "When we do get a win, and shut down my guy, I get a lot of pride."
Though, these moral victories are nice, Condon still lists the Sweet 16 win over BC last year as his greatest moment as a Villanova player. Widcat fans probably wouldn't disagree, but in the few minutes Ross picks up at the end of games they still would like to see their favorite towel waver take a shot or two.
"[the chants] don't bother me. The fans are great, but I play for my teammates, for the guys who sweat me and work hard everyday. That means playing within our system."
But what about the upcoming senior night against Rutgers?
"Shoot it. On senior night, I am shooting it"