Across the board all scholars finished up their National League and Super League seasons over the past few weeks. For some this was the end of all basketball for the year, but for most of us we would have one final hurrah in the form of the Basketball Ireland Varsities College tournament. This is a collection of the best university basketball teams from division 1 and 2 playing in a weekend tournament hosted by Trinity College Dublin.
Due to the large gathering of teams this tournament serves as more than a basketball exhibition but rather a social gathering of most scholars and the Irish basketball community. Similar to our gathering at Thanksgiving it was great to see everyone again and to be able to catch up with the latest news. When you live in a foreign country, even one that shares a lot of the same values and customs as where you grew up, it is always nice to spend sometime with other Americans. T John and I were bestowed with the responsibility of running the SCL snapchat for the weekend. This gave us a great reason to try and pop around to as many games as possible and catch up with all the scholars. It is strange how despite living in separate cities and not seeing one another very often, whenever the scholars are gathered together feels like we never left that first week in Belfast. There is something to be said about how important shared experience and struggle are to understanding someone else's world. Despite not being with one another all year, the fact that we are all having some what similar experiences in terms of living a year in Ireland as an outsider allows us all to connect on a deep level.
The tournament itself did not go as we planned from a basketball perspective. After going 2-1 in pool play we missed advancing to the semifinals due to a point differential tie breaker. However this being my last game (probably ever, at least competitively), I had to make it one to remember. Despite starting the game down 18-3 and down 13 late in the 4th quarter, we found ourselves down 3 with 8.8 seconds to go. In a timeout we drew up a play to have me inbound to T John and then have him hand the ball back to me for a game tying 3 pointer. After we broke the huddle we took our spots, I hit T with an inbound pass, he shovel passed it back to me while falling down and I took a running three from about 8 feet behind the three point line. So basically I threw up a prayer and it happened to find the bottom of the net just as time expired. (Basketball Ireland captured the play: here.) We would go on to win in overtime and I would get to retire my basketball shoes with my final made basket being a Hail Mary running three, which if you know anything about my career, is a very appropriate ending.
However the tournament would continue the following day with the finals wrapping up in mid afternoon. Those who stuck around for the Sunday night would get one more night to share each other's company before we all would depart for Easter break. For me that break would entail bouncing around Europe with two of my closest friends from college. Check out my next blog for more on the madness that is traveling around Europe with your friends. All in all Varsities was a cathartic weekend, it allowed us to meet up and catch up with one another again, for some (like myself) it was our farewell tour to Irish basketball, and for all involved it was a time to recap and reminisce about the season that is now behind us. A bittersweet moment of remembrance and celebration, in the form of late nights and long games, a weekend I won't soon forget.