In an instance of borrowed creativity, we looked at 2013 in Holy Sh*t. Let’s do it again as that changing of the calendar beget twelve whole months of shouts, jumps, stranger grabbing, seat switching, gasps, yelps, jubilation, and otherwise. At more than one moment, you probably yelled, “HOLY SHIT.” 2015 will be no different.
When I looked back at 2014, there were some pretty shitty instances of holy shit. Sometimes it isn’t always the fondest of instances that yields this exult. But maybe that’s what makes the great moments even greater. Highs and lows.
2014 in hallowed excrement:
Sleepless in Seattle
By Ben Burrow of The Rumblings of a Deranged Buffalo
Memories are not always pleasant. As simple as that fact is, some of our strongest impressions are from life’s worst moments. The human mind fixates as it wonts, and I’ve come to understand that there’s little to stop the stamping of tribulations into the back of our long term memories.
And that’s why, when I think of the 2013-14 season of Colorado Basketball, this is the first image that springs to mind:
On an unassuming Sunday afternoon, the Buffs seemed to be well on their way to a solid road win at Washington. Colorado entered at 14-2, legitimately one of the best teams in the country, and apparently in command both on and off the court. Then, in a blink of an eye, that confidence disappeared. Point guard Spencer Dinwiddie took a false step, and suffered a torn ACL. Time, for everyone in BuffNation, seemed to stop on a dime. Like a loose thread on a sweater, the whole mechanism seemed to unravel, and the season begun to spin out of control.
It’s unfair, both for the team, and for Spencer, to be so familiar with that frame. In ‘13-’14, the Buffs won 23 games, went to the NCAA Tournament for a third-consecutive season, and produced one of the more joyous moments in program history. DInwiddie, now a member of the Detroit Pistons, was a team leader, and a talismanic performer while in Black and Gold. But that single moment of pain on the famous court at Hec Ed in Seattle scars the memory of both.
‘The Mayor’ would recover from that injury, and the team would, to some extent, regroup from their shock, but what had been a top-15 season ended that day. Holy shit, indeed.
The senior guard is my most favorite athlete on the planet this side of Madison Bumgarner in the playoffs. He plays with an air of confidence and a chip of DGAF that makes him the prime candidate to regularly deliver Holy Shit on golden platters. Enter: Justin Cobbs and this image, perhaps the most iconic of the 2013-14 season:
Because that was the toughest defense in the land. They simply didn’t let people score, particularly with the game – and an unblemished record – on the line. Cobbs couldn’t have cared less. He captured the moment. He won the game. And from the far corner of Haas, drenched in red and disappointment, I bet you can guess what I had to say.
Vegas, Baby. Vegas.
My holy shit moment of 2014 has a slightly different angle – it’s about Vegas, Basketball, Golf, Friends, Food, Pools and most importantly Larry Scott. I didn’t go to the inaugural P12 tournament in 2012 in Los Angeles, there really was no reason, the Buffs were meddling and while I love the LA area (read: Santa Monica), downtown and the Staples Center wasn’t doing it for me (of course CU went on to win the tourney). I don’t really know why I didn’t go to Vegas in 2013, but I heard the stories, followed the tweets and vowed that 2014 was going to be my year. So on December 27th 2013 I pulled the trigger. Flight booked, hotel booked, tee time set, dinner reservation made….Vegas, baby…Vegas.
16 days later Spencer Dinwiddie tore his ACL…..holy shit. I was optimistic in my flight purchasing and had purchased a ticket to go in on Thursday, I mean on the 27th of December CU was only three weeks removed from beating KU, a first round Pac12 tourney bye was nearly guaranteed right? Now, should I change my flight to come in on Wednesday? On February 27th disaster struck again, holy shit I needed to be at a meeting on the East Coast on Wednesday March 12th, now if CU wasn’t going to have a first round bye it didn’t matter, I wasn’t going to be able to go anyway. So flight now changed from Denver to Vegas to Richmond, VA to Vegas. This will work, I tell myself. A 5:55 AM flight out of Richmond, quick layover in DC and I’d be in Vegas before the first game on Thursday. March 12th comes, business meeting goes well, dinner and drinks also go well and CU wins – all is right in the world. Then I check my email, upgraded all the way through from Richmond to Vegas first class, holy shit, yes, this is really going to work!
3:30 AM Thursday March 13th Richmond VA – holy shit what is that? Lots of noise, in my effort to not miss my flight I have set my iPhone, iPad, hotel alarm clock and have a wake-up call….all at the same time, holy shit it’s early. This is going to be a long day – but Vegas baby, Vegas. I’m now in the rental car; holy shit where is my boss? We were going to meet at 4:00 AM, it’s 4:10, I can’t miss this flight, I call, no answer, I call again, no answer. I text, no reply. I go into the lobby, convince them I’m not a stalker and they call boss’ room, holy shit – boss answers……over-slept. Quick conversation, me “I’m going to Vegas; I’ll call you a cab.”
I get to the airport – go to check in my golf clubs, I look up, United flight 6027 Richmond to Dulles – CANCELLED. Holy shit you’ve got to be kidding me. My options are not great, something about New York and Montreal, it was all a blur. I’m now flying from Richmond to JFK, JFK to Montreal, Montreal to Vegas, landing after tip. This was my best option, holy shit, what has Larry Scott done to me? I’m going to Canada so I can possibly see the 2nd half of CU play? I pull it together on the flight to JFK and realize that a connection in Montreal can’t possibly be the best option. I land; find a United rep, well there is a flight leaving LaGuardia that’ll get me to Vegas before tip, but I’m at JFK….. Holy shit, why not? I grab a cab, I make the flight, I make tip.
Larry Scott turned a tournament in the empty Staples center to a must do trip for any P12 loving hoops fan. Vegas is perfect, the MGM is perfect, it’s all just perfect. Even if your team makes an early exit….you’re still in LAS VEGAS. There is still gambling, pools, world class restaurants, golf and great time with friends at every corner. Larry, you’re a good man, you’ve made Vegas a must do in March.
So Richmond you strike again, you cancel my flight and get me to Vegas after the CU game…… via Canada……..
— JG (@jgisland) March 13, 2014
So life….I’m 50/50 on you right now, you have me in a middle seat on the way to JFK, en route to Montreal…..none of which is Las Vegas
— JG (@jgisland) March 13, 2014
Wheels up #NotToLasVegas
— JG (@jgisland) March 13, 2014
I’m now in a cab trying to catch a flight out of LGA that doesn’t take me through Canada, by all accounts this is probably dumb
— JG (@jgisland) March 13, 2014
@CUGoose it did, doubt i’ll ever see my golf clubs again, I should make tip though, i appear to be over CO right now pic.twitter.com/QWW51XPgVg
— JG (@jgisland) March 13, 2014
Not canada, New York nor Richmond…..Vegas #RollTad pic.twitter.com/Ngemv32hyw
— JG (@jgisland) March 13, 2014
The red that I wear is embroidered with a block “A” and so I can’t confirm for exactly how many months December 3, 2014 was circled on Utah calendars. But when Wichita State came to the Huntsman Center that evening, the program was yearning for a new result. The close losses were beginning to feel like death by a thousand cuts. For most of the game, the Utes looked the better team. The question, however, remained: Would they be the winning team? So when the Shockers created all of the Holy Shit moments, we watched what seemed to be some classic Utes: whompwhomp, lose another close one. But then, somehow, the Utes ensured overtime, Delon hit the game winner, and – Holy Shit – the Utes won. They’d beat the eighth ranked team in the country. Utah met the hype. They’re ranked 10th in the nation. Utah has arrived.
The Game We Needed
I unfortunately could not attend. The confluence of other great life moments was such that my brother’s medical school graduation took precedence over my Las Vegas attendance. Another time. But we might not have a more important Pac-12 Championship game. Ever. The marquee programs of this great conference were on display in all of their elite glory, exchanging excellence from media timeout to media timeout. In getting to this game through the P12 tourney, their combined average margin of victory was 25 points. We needed this. The Bruins opened the game with the best offensive performance against the best defense in the nation. Arizona countered by hitting threes – everything they were dared to do. As we reached the home stretch, Jordan Adams hit the biggest shot and the Bruins were doused in confetti:
Helluva game. But what the game represented was far more than a conference championship. It was high level basketball on the conference’s biggest stage on the heels of being the nation’s laughing stock. With Arizona and UCLA exchanging blows, the bar was elevated for the rest of the conference. This is what good looks like. And holy shit was it beautiful.
Brandon Ashley’s homecoming
They were undefeated and they weren’t going to lose ever again. Ever. I’m talking hundreds of years of winning or at least until there was a new banner at 1 N National Championship Drive in Tucson. But Brandon landed wrong and we went hallow gutted as we held on to hope that Holy Shit wouldn’t come in the form of an unwanted diagnosis. It all changed. Brandon Ashley’s broken foot broke hearts and Justin Cobbs wasn’t helping. Upon confirmation of the assumed, Ashley bawled. Holy shit. The fragility of our favorite game was on full display. In some regards, things worked out. The Wildcats made an Elite Eight! But there’s nothing especially new in the McKale rafters. There was supposed to be.
So Delon, So Wright
In late 2013, Utah’s non-conference schedule was just challenging enough to remind us that they were alive. If it weren’t for Sheriff Larry Krystowiak, we might’ve forgotten all about them. But then a funny thing happened: Delon Wright. Holy shit he was good. We could ignore his gaudy numbers as Utah charged through nobody. But then the calendar changed and #10 Oregon came to the Huntsman. Delon scored 14 points, grabbed 7 boards, dished 2 assists, blocked 4 shots, and acquired 2 steals. The tone was set for stuffing box scores and Delon did just that for the next 3 months and hasn’t stopped.
These things don’t happen often
ASU goes to about two NCAA tournaments per decade. That’s pretty infrequent but enough to whet the hoops appetite. Enough to expect to be there and enough to look like this when on the other end of a game winner:Holy shit the NCAA tournament is a cruel mistress.
Josh Huestis: First Round Draft Pick
Leave it to a Stanford kid to broker an unprecedented business transaction. When Oklahoma City came on the clock with the 29th pick in the draft, they – holy shit – picked Josh Huestis. He was good, don’t get me wrong, but first round good? I thought he was maybe the third best player on his Stanford team that underachieved. And then we learned all about the creative and opportunistic pick that it was. Huestis agreed to not sign his guaranteed contract and, in exchange, he gets to update his Wikipedia page with a “2014 First Round NBA Draft Pick.” Like sure, I get to drop the I played baseball in college line once in awhile and people are like “whoa” (get over it people, it’s not the impressive, I peaked in High School like every good American Boy). Huestis gets to drop “First Rounder” and we all know life is measured in how you can work a cocktail hour. There are monstrous risks involved here and the player’s union should probably be pretty pissed off about the whole thing. Huestis is making D-league money which is about the equivalent of nothing. He could be making pretty legit money abroad. So, how’s this gamble working? He’s averaging 11 points, 6 boards, 2 assists, a steal, and 2 blocks. Good, I guess?
The Oregon Timeline
It started with the indefinite suspension of Dominic Artis. Soon there after news broke that he was leaving the team. And then similar went down with Damyean Dotson and then Brandon Austin. With each of these developing news drops, I found myself g-chatting, “Holy shit, what’s going on in Eugene.” And then we found out. Holy shit. Things spiraled downward as more and more came out about the actions of these three, their impending dismissal the least of our concerns. As we learned more – and it seems we’ll never really know everything – we found ourselves further perplexed by the timeline of events and who knew what. Like I said, I’m not sure we’ll ever know the whole story. Maybe we don’t need to. But I hope someone does and I hope that a girl in Eugene has the support she needs, that the athletic department has its priorities straight, and that the authorities have followed through with due diligence.
Jamie and I became fast friends when it became evident that we both really liked sports. This was in something like 2011 and then we’d go play pickup and find our way to a sports bar where we’d commandeer upwards of 4 televisions and watch everything from Top-25 match ups to heated Ivy League games. Seriously, we did that once.
Jamie is from Milwaukee and I am from Tucson. Neither of us went to Wisconsin or Arizona yet we each pledge our allegiance to Madison and Tucson. Since friendception, the bromantic promise was that we’d be in attendance whenever the Badgers and Wildcats next squared off.
Selection Sunday. The West Region. Arizona #1. Wisconsin #2. It was a war path built for the destruction of what would likely amount to our short lived friendship. This was Bo’s piece de resistance. It was Sean’s magnum opus. Jamie and I had to be in Anaheim.
Holy shit! Free tickets. Holy shit! My boss went out of town Thursday. Holy shit! We had free housing throughout the greater Los Angeles area. Holy shit! My brother was flying out.
And I could go on. But the games began and Jamie entered The Pond earlier than us. The Badgers bulldozed the Baylor Bears (holy shit that was alliterative). For the late game, there was nothing comfortable about how the Wildcats would arrive to Saturday’s Elite Eight. Nick Johnson scored 15 points in less than three minutes to dismiss the ever-dismissable Aztecs. Fifteen points in two-minutes-and-forty-six seconds. Divine poop.
Jamie, my brother and I would spend the next 36 hours dissecting everything. We naturally didn’t cover the possibility that Frank Kaminsky would score 28 points and make Kaleb Tarczewski look like a middle schooler. I figured the only way Nick Johnson would be holding the ball as the final buzzer sounded was in a world where my Wildcats were headed to Dallas; not that he just wouldn’t attempt the game winner. We barely discussed overtime and we didn’t yet broach the narrative of Bo Ryan’s first final four coming on the day of his late father’s 90th birthday. The same dad he’d attended the previous umpteen Final Fours with.
We didn’t cover any of that because there’s no way to. It’s the shock and awe and unpredictability of sport. The moments we’ve addressed above, the stories we ecstatically or sullenly tell. Because Jamie and I are still friends. We even drove 6 hours back to San Francisco together; Jamie with a certain glow about him, my light a little more dim. But then we talked about all those things that happened. Forty-five minutes of a game no one saw coming beyond two names on a bracket. Whatever it was, holy shit it just happened.