Three Nights in New York


TONY'S TAKE
By for WVUsports.com
March 16, 2010 01:50 PM

Posted by Tony Caridi on Tuesday, March 16, 2010
(1:51 p.m.)

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All season long we tried to put a label on this year’s West Virginia University men’s basketball team and now we finally have it: Big East Conference champions. It has a nice ring, doesn’t it?

Championships are wonderful things because they stop time in our non-stop world. They become seminal moments that serve as landmarks. As time passes we’ll always remember the Mountaineers’ first Big East championship. Hopefully there will be many more in the years to come, but there’s only one first which makes this both historic and romantic in a basketball kind of way.

As the wicked winds and heavy rain ripped through Manhattan on Saturday night I made my way into Madison Square Garden. A father and his young son, the son perhaps seven or eight, was decked out in WVU gear and I happened to notice the father stopping to take a picture of his son on the Garden steps. It was their chance to freeze a special moment in time. Three hours later that picture’s value became priceless. It would be their special treasure from the night full of treasures.

Once Country Roads began to fade from the speakers inside the Gold and Blue Garden party late Saturday night, I thought about all the Mountaineer fans that weren’t there. The countless fans who have made the pilgrimage from their home to the Coliseum for so many years who had dreamed of this night - the night that their Mountaineers would be crowned as the champion of college basketball’s biggest and best conference.

 
  Mountaineer fans will never forget West Virginia's first Big East tournament championship.
Kevin Kinder Blueandgoldnews.com photo

What makes WVU’s New York run more special is that they accomplished it by embodying the culture of our state. West Virginians are resilient, tough, focused, and friendly. The first three characteristics apply on the court. The fourth (friendly) is displayed off the court.

Several media members from outside the state came to me after Saturday’s game to express their sincere congratulations on WVU’s win and made a point to say how much they enjoyed talking and getting to know the Mountaineer players and staff during the tournament.

In the utter frustration and disappointment following his team’s loss at Connecticut, Bob Huggins delivered the Hartford Homily on statewide radio. His impassioned soliloquy touched his team and a state.

The Mountaineers have not lost a game since.

The ball will start bouncing again Friday afternoon in Buffalo. How long it will bounce remains to be seen, but absolutely no one will ever be able to take away what happened on those three special nights in New York.

The Mountaineers made time stop in the city that never sleeps … and they did it the West Virginia way.

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