SUPER ADVENTURE CLUBBIN'
Okay, so the original title of this post was going to be ‘Anatomy of a Buzzer-Beater’, but I just couldn’t resist.
Also, I wrote 90% percent of this while watching the WV-Texas game last week, but seeing how it ended, I just couldn’t post it that night.
Anyway, a few days ago I came across ESPN Classic's "Who's #1?" episode of the top buzzer-beaters in NCAA tournament history. Needless to say it was some pretty grippy television and the perfect thing to get the bad taste out of my mouth from the Ohio State game while rekindling my love for the dance. (You are now carrying my child. It is the mystery of the dance!)
I'd like to have our blogtributors and/or loyal readers rank their top 5 (or more) NCAA tournament buzzer-beaters as I am about to do. But first here's ESPN's top 12 (I forget the exact order of 13-20, but you‘ll see what else they had in a sec):
1. 1992 Christian Laettner -- Duke def. Kentucky, 104-103 in overtime
2. 1983 Lorenzo Charles -- NC State def. Houston, 54-52
3. 1990 Tate George -- Connecticut def. Clemson, 71-70
4. 1995 Tyus Edney -- UCLA def. Missouri, 75-74
5. 1998 Bryce Drew -- Valparaiso def. Ole Miss, 70-69
6. 1981 Danny Ainge -- BYU def. Notre Dame, 51-50
7. 1987 Keith Smart -- Indiana def. Syracuse, 74-73 in championship game
8. 1990 Christian Laettner -- Duke def. Connecticut, 79-78 in overtime
9. 1981 U.S. Reed -- Arkansas def. Louisville, 74-73
10. 1963 Vic Rouse -- Loyola (IL) def. Cincinnati, 60-58 in overtime in championship game
11. 1994 Charlotte Smith -- North Carolina def. Louisiana Tech, 60-59 in women's championship game
12. 1998 Richard Hamilton -- Connecticut def. Washington, 75-74
And here's what how online voters ranked all 20:
68.4% 1992 Christian Laettner -- Duke def. Kentucky, 104-103 in overtime
43.1% 1983 Lorenzo Charles -- NC State def. Houston, 54-52
38.2% 1998 Bryce Drew -- Valparaiso def. Ole Miss, 70-69
36.1% 1990 Christian Laettner -- Duke def. Connecticut, 79-78 in overtime
27.0% 1987 Keith Smart -- Indiana def. Syracuse, 74-73 in championship game
26.5% 1998 Richard Hamilton -- Connecticut def. Washington, 75-74
23.2% 1995 Tyus Edney -- UCLA def. Missouri, 75-74
17.9% 2003 Drew Nicholas -- Maryland def. UNC Wilmington, 75-73
17.9% 2000 Mike Miller -- Florida def. Butler, 69-68 in overtime
14.6% 1981 Danny Ainge -- BYU def. Notre Dame, 51-50
13.5% 1963 Vic Rouse -- Loyola (IL) def. Cincinnati, 60-58 in overtime in championship game
10.1% 1990 Tate George -- Connecticut def. Clemson, 71-70
9.0% 1996 John Wallace -- Syracuse def. Georgia, 83-81 in overtime
8.7% 1994 Charlotte Smith -- North Carolina def. Louisiana Tech, 60-59 in women's championship game
6.9% 1997 Cameron Dollar -- UCLA def. Iowa State, 74-73 in overtime
6.7% 1996 Gabe Lewullis -- Princeton def. UCLA, 43-41
5.6% 1981 U.S. Reed -- Arkansas def. Louisville, 74-73
5.4% 1992 James Forrest -- Georgia Tech def. USC, 79-78
4.0% 1981 Rolando Blackman -- Kansas State def. Oregon State, 50-48
3.5% 1981 John Smith -- Saint Joseph's def. DePaul, 49-48
As I was watching the show and making my own abbreviated list, I started thinking about how to quantify just how good a buzzer-beater is. So I give you some thoughts that ran across my head. Some are relevant. Some aren't. Most are entirely logical and self-evident.
- As with any NCAA tournament game, the bigger the upset the better (Valpo, Princeton, NC State, I'm looking in your direction.)
- I’m personally not too concerned with the round a buzzer-beater occurs in, but the later in the tournament a buzzer-beater occurs, the greater the game's significance.
- Tying a game at the buzzer isn't as good as winning it (obviously). No game-tying shots made it on ESPN's list. Probably a good thing just to simplify the debate. (Patrick Sparks against MSU last year comes to mind as an exciting game-tying shot.)
- Call me a stickler, but a buzzer-beater should involve a buzzer. (Or at least come awfully close to the buzzer.) I'm sorry, but I just never thought of Keith Smart's shot as a buzzer beater. And that goes for the Princeton layup against UCLA too, even though that might be my favorite tourney game of all time. I'm not ENTIRELY strict in how I view this though. I definitely consider Northwestern State over Iowa a buzzer beater even though there was 0.5 seconds left after the make. And that was 100 times better than that Cameron Dollar shot that inexplicably made ESPN'S list. I just think there should be under something like 2 seconds left after a shot goes in for it to be considered a buzzer-beater. Again, call me picky. Irregardless, I think we can all agree that the closer the shot comes to zero, the better.
- Just as tying the game at the buzzer isn't as good as winning it, scoring a buzzer-beater when you are losing at the time you shoot is better than scoring a buzzer-beater when the game is tied when you shoot. And major bonus points if you're down by 2 and have the wombleys to shoot (and make) a 3 at the buzzer.
- These rules are all common sense, but I think they're worth talking about before you make your list. All that being said, there's of course that undefinable quality that you can't quantify that can trump all of the things I wrote about above. Now onto my picks.
- Richard Hamilton - I swear UCONN missed those first couple shots on purpose just so they could get Rip to hit the perfect shot at the buzzer. (On a side note, while watching all these clips, I still can’t believe that UCONN and UCLA actually needed buzzer beaters to beat Washington and Mizzou respectively. How did those elite teams let those games get to that point?!)
- Vic Rouse - You prevented Cincy from 3-peating. I salute you a million times over.
- James Forrest - His 3 pointer to beat Southern Cal was the first one he made all year.
And my personal top 5:
5. Lo Charles. Yeah, it won the national title, and it was an immense upset, and everyone loves Jimmy V because he’s dead. But I’m sorry, it’s a little overrated. I mean, even for a broken play this thing was ugly. And the game was tied when it all went down, so even if the Wolfpack don’t make this happen, there’s still OT.
4. Charlotte Smith - Sure she was left WIDE (and I mean like Erin wide) open, but this thing is still underappreciated. I mean a 3 pointer buzzer beater to win the national title game by a single point?!! Sure these were ladies, but these were the wombleys I spoke of above. As much hype as pseudo-dunks in womens college basketball get, you’d think this, which is infinitely cooler, would be shown at the beginning of every televised womens game ever. And the key was this: there were only 0.7 seconds on the clock… not when she shot it, but when it was INBOUNDED. This chick caught AND shot a 3-pointer to win the national title in 0.7 seconds. Honestly, if someone with a penis does this, ESPN would put it #1 no matter how open the dude was.
3. U.S. Reed. Has anyone actually seen this thing?! It was 17th out of 20 according to online voters ?!?!!!? Sure this was as meaningless as an NCAA game can be, but Arkansas was down by 2 and Reed made a shot from BEHIND half-court! What more does this buzzer beater have to do to get more play?
2. Valpo. Outside of lack of historical significance, this is absolute perfection. Have you ever really watched this play in slow motion. In the span of a couple seconds, there were 2 passes, 2 receptions, and one shot from distance. And ALL of these were ABSOLUTELY PERFECT. If you described this play to someone who had never seen this play, they would assume that either Drew or the guy that threw it to him were some combination of out of control and/or completely lucky. They weren’t. Apart from the execution, this was also a one point victory for a #13 over a #4, and helped catapult Valpo into the Sweet 16 that year.
1. Laettner beats Kentucky. If you were watching this live, as I was, I really don't think I need to explain this one.
Oh, and one final thing about that show…Bobby Hurley looks 100 times goofier as a guy in his 30s than he did as a guy in his late teens/early 20s.
My thoughts on the upcoming Foursome over in Indy and the start of the MLS season coming soon.