Rated R Miami

Coronavirus leaves athletes with only NCAA Tournament what ifs – New York Post

Your heart breaks for all the student-athletes, all these kids with the biggest dreams at Seton Hall, and the kids with the Cinderella dreams at Hofstra, as well as the kids from the other 66 schools who could not wait to stand and cheer as one for whichever bracket Selection Sunday had waiting for them.

Your heart breaks especially for the seniors who never got to experience the magic of March Madness, more so than the one-and-dones who will be in the NBA next season.

One Shining Moment isn’t reserved exclusively for the eventual NCAA Tournament champions, it can be traveling with your basketball brothers to a city you have never been and stepping on a court inside an arena packed with fans rallying to David’s side and rooting for you to nail Goliath right between the eyes with a slingshot.

Alas, the lights went out on One Shining Moment, be it at the start of March Madness or at the end of it.

March Sadness instead.

See, the games will go on whenever this insidious COVID-19 global pandemic decides to stop holding America and American sports hostage, but only for the NBA players and the MLB players and the NHL players and the NFL players in August and beyond, and for future millionaires like James Wiseman of Memphis and Anthony Edwards of Georgia and LaMelo Ball of the Illawarra Hawks and Cole Anthony of North Carolina and Obi Toppin of Dayton, who will realize their ultimate dreams at the NBA draft — presumably on June 25 at Barclays Center. God willing, of course, that New York’s state of emergency that began on Thursday banning groups in excess of 500 people will be a distant memory by then, and this living nightmare will be over.

The NCAA, as every other league and sanctioning body, had no other choice but to call timeout.

When you are dealing with the terrifying prospect of quarantines and community spread and social distancing, with a deadly virus for which there is no vaccine, survive and advance is no longer an option.

Only survive.

No one could guarantee that there wasn’t a Rudy Gobert giving it the old college try, or a Donovan Mitchell infecting a teammate or opponent or ref or announcer, etc.

We should all have listened sooner to Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, who warned us that the worst was yet to come.

So this was no time for halfway, hope-for-the-best measures. Banning fans and limiting attendees to “student-athletes, coaches, event staff, essential team and conference staff, television personnel, credentialed media and immediate family members of the participating teams” was no longer enough once the Gobert-Mitchell domino fell.

The Big East Tournament was irresponsible at best and reckless at worst allowing awakening St. John’s, 20 years after its last championship, and Creighton to start their surreal noon quarterfinal game on Thursday with maybe 100 Creighton fans and 50 St. John’s fans in the stands before sending everyone at Madison Bare Garden home at halftime, better late than never.

Common sense finally prevailed, thankfully, over dollars and cents.

LJ Figueroa
LJ FigueroaCharles Wenzelberg/New York Post

Shed a tear for little Hofstra, which would have gone dancing for the first time since 2001. What a shame.

“I worked so hard to get here,” senior guard Desure Buie tweeted late in the afternoon. “That’s Wild smh I’m hurt hurt.”

At 5:53, there was this tweet from Seton Hall Big East Player of the Year Myles Powell:

“At least I ended a champion.”

Alas he wanted so much more than sharing the Big East regular-season title with Creighton and Villanova.

I had sat down with Powell after the Hall’s Tuesday practice, and asked him: Would anything short of a Final Four be a failure?

“I wouldn’t even say Final Four,” Powell said. “I mean, we’ve been talking about championship since we took our trip in Italy. So I don’t even want to cut us that short. I just want to win the championship. So whatever we gotta do to make it to the championship game, that’s what I want to do. I don’t want to put no limits on us — Elite 8, Sweet 16, Final Four, none of that. We’re taking championship talk, and I just want to talk it into existence. I just see us finding a way to get to the championship.”

Of course he had harbored a Final Four dream.

“Just growing up, always watching college basketball, I want to say the most memorable time I remember as a kid and just wishing of a moment, like that I could have a moment like this, is Kemba Walker and that run that he went on. … I just remember as a little boy just watching that and being, ‘Man, I wish I have a moment to do that.’ And then my former teammate Malachi Richardson, we’re both from Trenton, I’ve known him since I was 11 years old, we went to Trenton Catholic together, we played AAU together, he wound up going to Syracuse and he went on that special run that he went on, so watching him take his team to the Final Four and just seeing how his life changed from that, that was another one of my dreams. That was one of my best friends in high school too, so for it to happen to someone and watch someone go through that that was so close to me, it made me feel like I was going through it as well.”

I suggested that maybe it was his turn now.

“Yes,” Powell said, “hopefully. Me and Malachi were just talking about that. He said he wanted to see if I could do what he did with his team. We always have jokes about it, but I definitely feel like this is the team that I can do it with.”

Even though he will have a legitimate shot to play in the NBA, he will have to carry that belief with him for the rest of his life, and wonder what might have been. No more buzzer-beaters, no more bands playing, no more climbing ladders and cutting down nets, for Myles Powell, for anyone in the spring when One Shining Moment went dark, replaced by One Scary Moment.

One Shining Moment.

This is One Scary Moment.

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