It's starting to seem like a dream. There's no way we just won two MAC Championships on the same day. Thoughts constantly swirl through my head now on what happened during that short weekend. My trip to Cleveland might as well have been the best trip I've taken in my life.
As a huge sports fan, I would take this over all of my dream destinations (Iceland, Auckland, and that cold continent that's at the bottom of the globe). Witnessing history in the most dramatic fashion possible is something I will forever appreciate.
It started on Monday the Seventh. Our Buffalo Bulls Women's Basketball team's quest for a title began with a home playoff game versus Bowling Green. I had plenty of doubt that they could win the tourney at this point but I still had a job to do here at Bull Run and as a supporter of UB Athletics. They ran away with the game and Bowling Green was left in the dust. It was the last game I will see at Alumni this season, and it was one of the more exciting ones. Now I was left to hope for another upset over Ohio so that I could see the women in action on Friday for the semi-finals (unfortunately, I had a midterm Wednesday).
The Ohio upset became a reality and for the first time this season, I said to myself with utmost confidence that they're going to win it all. This team was no longer the underdog. For the first time they were the favorite to win. my stay in Cleveland got extended a day thanks to this win.
The real magic began on Thursday. I scrambled to buy a new suit and shoes at Macy's (I had to return a second time because they gave me two left shoes). I also waited for the last minute to pack and trashed my apartment gathering things together for a trip that could last until Sunday morning.
A few friends and I drove up Thursday for the Men's game and as we reached Quicken Loans Arena I was filled with a lot of nerves. Being a part of the media for this weekend was an experience I wouldn't have envisioned a year ago.
I checked in and found my way to the media workroom. In all honesty, it was a weird feeling. I recognized a good half of the faces that were there. I questioned if I actually belonged there. I walked out onto the arena floor and took a front row seat to all of the action and I was mesmerized.
The men cruised through their game with Miami and just like that we had two teams playing the next day. Since no one was staying that night and coming back for the Men's game the next day, I had to find somewhere to stay. I'd like to thank the desk clerk that violated hotel policy and checked in someone who's under 21 years of age. Without them, I wouldn't have been able to see the Women play Akron.
With that being said, Friday was the first full day of tourney action for me. I woke up and took in the sights of Cleveland. I saw every bar for each school and walked around for a bit before the Q opened. I got back into the workroom, ate my share of free food and was all set to experience more hoops action. I stole a seat from Hustle Belt on press row and watched one of the most exciting games I've watched in basketball.
Everything went wrong for the women but they still managed to win it. After the press conference I talked to the familiar faces from around the athletic department and watched the other two games before the Men. I had a wonderful talk with Allen Greene (who was also ecstatic after the win). I sat two seats from Donyell Marshall and saw him give the occasional smirk and laugh at the terrible officiating that happened during the Akron-Bowling Green game. I was also able to catch up with Coach Jack and talk about the possibility of both teams being in the final.
I was more scared of the Men's game versus Ohio that day. Luckily, they completely rolled through them and I had a feeling that it was in the bag at the half. There was an empty court side seat for that game, so I sat there for free. The power of media credentials is something I will never take for granted.
The rest of the night was crazy. I found my way to Flannery's, one of the many bars near the Q, and the atmosphere was great. So many UB fans were celebrating along with Athletic Department personnel. It was quite a sight. We somehow had a free room at the Aloft that night and we packed a good 8-10 people in it (heavily against hotel rules). It was without a doubt the fanciest hotel I will stay in for a long time. There were no food places open so I spent an outrageous markup on food there before I went to sleep on the floor.
I woke up the next day and little did I know that I would be experiencing the greatest day in Buffalo Basketball's history. I once again stole Hustle Belt's seat for the women's championship. It was very hard to stay neutral. I was standing as the final minutes ticked down and my heart didn't want an overtime game.
Sure enough, overtime happened. My eyes bulged with every Katherine Ups three pointer. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. CMU tied the game up though and it appeared that double overtime was going to be the case. An unplanned screen, two dribbles, and a thrown up prayer created the most exciting finish I've yet to see in a basketball game. It was over, Buffalo was going dancing. For some reason I felt a need to film that final play.
I almost fell in disbelief. Rarely do I take pictures and videos of the games I go to. I'd rather just remember it in my head. But I'm so glad I got this. I've watched it so many times. The celebration ensued and I made my way to the press conference as a very happy Bulls fan.
The men's game was just as exciting. As they led most of the game I couldn't help but wonder how this was a reality. When the game tied at 61, I was going to have a heart attack if I had to sit through another overtime game. I prepped my phone camera in hopes of another buzzer beater. It happened again.
I couldn't believe it. You probably couldn't believe it either. Buffalo grabbed the broom and swept the MAC Championships. For the second time today, I was able to be on the court taking in another historic celebration.
That night was one to remember. I met up with friends at the Harry Buffalo and we stormed Cleveland with cowbell in hand. We made our way to the Renaissance Hotel and rushed upstairs to where many donors and AD personnel were celebrating the big win. I got a few pictures with the hardware and met some readers of this blog.
We made our way back to Flannery's for the night as we tweeted constantly to get both hoops teams some highlight action on SportsCenter. The ladies were the only women's team covered on ESPN the next two days. As I left Cleveland I legitimately wanted to stay. Unfortunately, there was no reason to and it was time to move on.
I've invested so much time into these two teams and to watch them win is an experience that I will always tell people in excitement. My favorite sports memories to this point consisted of a mix of Andy Roddick's finals appearance in Wimbledon, Jimmie Johnson's 5 straight Sprint Cup Championships, and Mark Winterbottom's Australian V8 Supercars Championship. There had yet to be a solid favorite memory from the basketball world. This takes the cake for me.
I won't forget this trip to Cleveland. It's burned in my eyes forever, but I still feel like this isn't reality.
Pinch me, I'm dreaming