This isn’t about the Celtics, or even the NBA. But it IS about Boston area basketball. So deal with it.
I woke up freezing in the middle of the night, to turn the heat on. First, though, I had to put the keys in the ignition. That’s what happens when you spend the night in the front seat of a car.
“Jay, are you homeless?” “What are you, nuts?” “Why are you sleeping in a car?”
No, I’m not homeless. Yes, I’m probably a little nuts. And I was sleeping in a car because I was five hours away from my school, I personify Bill Simmons’ 18th level of broke (“College Kid Broke”), and my best friend was playing in perhaps his final college basketball game, a day after winning in the NCAA tournament’s first round. When you need to be there for a friend, you go, even if it means begging your other buddy to use his car, spending more than $100 you don’t have on gas money, and sleeping with no blanket in a freezing cold car.
You see, my buddy T.J. is a senior at Brandeis University, and the Brandeis Judges are in the Division Three NCAA Tournament, doing big things. Last weekend was when I spent the night in a car as cold as Rasheed Wallace’s jumper, but last night Brandeis beat Rhode Island College 76-65 to set up an Elite Eight matchup with #2-ranked Williams College, which will be played tonight at Williams. (The game’s at 7:00, for all the readers in Western Mass. who want to see a great college basketball game in a terrific atmosphere.)
If you guys are loyal readers, you probably read about my trip to Brandeis to see T.J.’s 1,000th point. What I didn’t tell you was that I was the reason he never scored 1,000 in high school. I stepped to the line, down one point with twenty seconds left, after being fouled in the Western Mass. Division One high school semifinals. I had three shots, and I was — tooting my own horn alert — pretty deadly at the line. T.J. had 985 points, and was averaging about 25 per game.
Clank, clank. I bricked the first two free throws, somehow making the third with my lungs screaming for air after a master choke job. The game was tied, but not for long. The other team came right down, scored a bucket, and we lost. Had I made all three free throws, the worst we would have done would have been a tie, and T.J. probably would have had another game to score his 1,000th. But, thanks to yours truly, he never got that chance.
Of course, I ruined my own chance at 1,000 points too. I only would have needed 400 or so in the finals to get there.
Now, T.J.’s doing his thang collegiate style, combining with fellow seniors Andre Roberson and Kenny Small to lead Brandeis into the Round of Ocho. It’s the farthest Brandeis has ever advanced in the NCAA tournament, matching the feat accomplished by the team two years ago. If the Judges want to advance to next week’s Final Four (in Salem, VA), they’ll have to beat the offensive juggernaut that is the Williams College Ephs. Williams is shooting an absurd 45.9% from beyond the arc (as a team!), 52.7% overall, and outscoring opponents by an average of 20.9 points per game.
Williams is close enough to my house — thank God — that I will be able to drive home after the game rather than sleep in a car. My bed will be a welcome sight after last weekend’s sleepless night that culminated with me waking up at 6:00 a.m., the sun beaming through the windshield into my eyes. That day, I had literally nothing to do all day, with noone to talk to, no money to spend, five hours away from home, and 13 hours to kill before a 7:00 p.m. game. My solution? Head to the mall (where I saw a man order 11 soft tacos at ten in the morning), then to Border’s (where absolutely nothing happened besides me reading two different issues of Slam Magazine front to cover), and finally to Uno’s (where I drank by myself at the bar, while a divorcing couple sat by my side, with the soon-to-be-ex husband calling his soon-to-be-ex wife a “broken-down slut” — I kid you not).
But, as brutal as that night and day was, I wouldn’t have changed it for anything. And I hope it happens again next weekend, which it will if Brandeis wins tonight and makes the Final Four.
Just in case, does anybody know the name of a nice parking lot in Salem, VA?