And another NCAA tournament goes ka-pow. How?
Comebacks. Kansas State, 12 points behind San Francisco, 11 points behind Oregon State, its plain, just-folks coach finally out from the shadows of media neglect, survived.
Way backs. Arkansas, hogs' hopes deep in the muck of almost certain doom until a guy named U.S. threw one in from halfway across the U.S., survived.
Get backs. LSU and Notre Dame, both still wincing from the stench of last year's tournament embarrassments as well as this year's pre-tourney foldups, survived.
And stand backs. Most of all, stand backs: those magical occasions when fans of college basketball have only to stand back and let its handiwork inimitably unfold. The perfection of Indiana. The versatility of Brigham Young's Danny Ainge. The surprise of Alabama-Birmingham. The shock of Oregon State. The shame—no, not again!—of DePaul.
No mattter what happens from now on—and nothing could be more discombobulating than the day 1981 's top two seeds and 1980's two finalists went west—there will be no more memorable vision than that of a young coach named Jimmy Lynam, out of Southwest Philadelphia by way of Our Gang, searching for the clock, bounding along the sidelines, finally falling into the arms of Denise Lynam, 15, who was weeping and laughing concurrently because of St. Joseph's 49-48 victory over No. 1 DePaul, a fait accompli of only seconds before.
Never mind that the Hawks were representing a school with but 2,340 students, which until last week hadn't won a postseason game for 15 years, which had barely beaten American University to get into the NCAAs and Creighton to get to DePaul.
Never mind that the Hawks may exit the tournament as suddenly as they stunned it. Last Saturday in the Mideast second round at Dayton, the resolute Philadelphians out-shot, out-hustled, out-poised and out-brained the conceited, haughty Blue Demons. In the end St. Joseph's had dispensed a dose of aspirin to the spoiled children of DePaul which they will remember the rest of their lives.
Even after Lynam had controlled the pace with an offense that sought only short shots; even after the Hawk zone had frustrated DePaul's Mark Aguirre (six shots, eight points, one rebound), the Roberto Duran of campus hoops; even then the heavily favored Demons looked safe leading 42-35 with 11:15 left. But Clyde Bradshaw, the Demons' backcourt catalyst, picked up his fourth foul and Coach Ray Meyer's team became cautious, tentative, tight. "We're not going out there to have fun," Assistant Coach Joey Meyer had warned his father before the game. "They were scared of it."
Three times the Hawks cut the lead to three points; at 48-45 DePaul, a bad half-court delay team, was in a half-court delay offense. Just about where Lynam wanted the opposition to be. Three stupid, sloppy plays cost DePaul the game. First 6'8" Teddy Grubbs lost a jump ball to St. Joe's 6'5" John Smith (remember the name), following which Bryan Warrick hit a jumper to narrow the margin to a point with 48 seconds remaining.