March 8th, 2023 | NEWS
We are finally in the best month of the year! Growing up as a huge basketball fan there is nothing better than playing and watching hoops in March. Every game and practice seems to have more importance and there is a heightened urgency with the end of the season quickly approaching. The weather is starting to warm up and Spring is coming (at least back home; it is definitely still wet and cold here…) To make it even more exciting, my parents and brother/sister are coming next week, which should be great. They’ll be able to see a couple games over here and timed it so they’ll get to enjoy some St. Patrick’s Day festivities as well.
‘March Madness’ is ready to take the basketball community by storm in a couple weeks, and it’s already begun at the Division 3 level back in the States. This past weekend my former college team, Swarthmore, won their conference championship and dominated in the two opening rounds of the NCAA D3 tournament. They will play in the Sweet 16 this coming weekend and have some support over here in Ireland with me and another SCL VS and Swarthmore alum Nate Shafer currently abroad! While it certainly stings not being able to watch the games in person, it is awesome being able to watch them from across the pond and hopefully they can pull off another successful weekend!
(Nate and I back in the NCAA tournament at Swarthmore, 2019)
The beauty of basketball in March is that everyone is playing for their lives. Nobody wants their season to end, and come playoff time all it takes is one off night and your season is over. Upsets, buzzer-beaters, and crazy comebacks are staples in March which make it different from any other month. Wins seem just a little sweeter, and losses hurt much more. The playoff/tournament atmosphere is unmatched. Unlike the NBA, the NCAA tournament and the playoffs over here in Ireland are single elimination brackets where it is win or go home. There are so many factors that vary from game to game which help make the tournaments wackier than they probably should be. A great/bad shooting night, foul trouble, injuries, and other random bounces can create some of the craziest upsets and games that will happen all year. Any team can beat anyone in a single 40-minute game, making for chaotic and electric match-ups.
I have been fortunate enough to play in the NCAA D3 tournament all four years I was at Swarthmore, and had an unforgettable run my Sophomore year to the National Championship game. There is nothing like playing in those games where if you win, you move on, if you lose your season or career is over. While there may not be 64 teams in the tournament over here, there is still the same level of intensity and urgency to keep your season alive as long as you can. As we near the end of the regular season over here, you can feel the energy start to pick up around the Basketball Ireland community.
It’s crazy to think our regular season is almost over already, but our SETU Carlow team is lucky enough to have clinched the fourth seed in the South this year. This means we’ll be taking on the winners of the North in a couple weeks in the first round. Many of the guys on the team have experience playing in the National League playoffs over here, so hopefully we will have some extra confidence heading into that weekend. While we will probably be relatively big underdogs, it is still March and who knows, maybe there will be some madness in our run at the end of the year. Can’t wait, and I am extremely grateful to still be able to watch and play basketball in March!
Hopefully my next blog will be writing about our own March Madness, and best of luck to the Swarthmore boys back home!!!