March Madness: The Novel

Growing up in Lexington, the daughter of a former University of Kentucky student body president and letterman, it was impossible not to be a Wildcat fan.  Not that I wouldn’t have been anyway.  And March has always been one of my favorite months.  As a kid, I’d fix a big bowl of popcorn with real butter, take it into the living room and sit and watch basketball with my dad.  He would teach me the difference between man-to-man and zone defense, or the three second rule, and try to explain a pick.  Mostly I guess, I appreciate the beauty of the athletic feats and those times when an athlete would exceed his own ability or a team would overcome enormous odds to triumph.

Like Florida Gulf Coast University last night.  WOW.  What a game.  The pass from Brett Comer to Chase Feeler (of Parkersburg, WV:  why didn’t KY recruit HIM?) that resulted in a sky high slam dunk will be highlight reel material for years to come.  Maybe it will eclipse the Laettner shot (one can only hope).

We were talking about that play this morning during the semi-annual clean-up of Gratz Park, and I was lamenting the absence of the ‘Cats when one of my neighbors reminded me of Sean Woods’ fall assessment of this year’s UK Basketball team.  Here’s what Coach Woods said that caused so much criticism from the Big Blue Nation:

“There’s just a certain way and a certain look Kentucky basketball players should have, and not have such a sense of entitlement. I think today, it’s still an honor to wear that uniform.”

I thought it was particularly interesting given what seems to be the general lack of coach-ability of this pre-season all-star NBA-wannabe team.  Perhaps despite the criticism, Sean was right.

And re-reading Sean’s comments, as well as hearing my neighbor talk about the high-pressure crucible of college basketball that the University of Kentucky, made me think it might be a great setting for a novel.  A talented high school senior with a dad (or grandfather) who played for “State University” comes to play for the team as a walk-on; his teammate is a one and done expected NBA #1 recruit.  They become best friends.  Maybe they witness a crime; maybe one of them commits a crime and the other one is the only one who knows it; maybe the coach asks the walk-on to claim responsibility for a crime the other kid commits so that kid can continue to play.  It all comes to a fever pitch as the University competes in the NCAA tournament, with the pressure mounting round by round, the police get closer to solving the crime.  The more I think about it; the more I like it.

Maybe I better copyright it…..