Kentucky: 14th trip to the Final Four and seven national championships. Connecticut: fourth trip in a dozen years with two national championships. Butler: second consecutive trip. VCU: are you kidding me?
Quick… name a former VCU player who made it to the NBA? (There have only been seven; the one you may have heard of is Gerald Henderson who played 13 seasons. Kentucky is only slightly ahead with 77 NBA players.)
VCU was likely the last team to make the newly expanded 68-team NCAA field. On Selection Sunday, ESPN’s Jay Bilas said of the then 23-11 Rams: “You talk about the eye test, this doesn’t make it through the laugh test.”
All VCU did to reach its first-ever Final Four here in Houston was win a play-in game against USC, then beat Georgetown (5 Final Fours, two titles), Purdue (2 Final Fours), Florida State (1 Final Four) and Kansas (13 Final Fours, three titles). If by some chance they overcome Butler and take down the UK/UConn winner to claim the championship, it would be a bigger upset than an amateur winning next week’s Masters golf tournament. At 170-1 odds before the tournament began, VCU is a bigger long shot than Mr. Ed would have been against Northern Dancer in the 1964 Kentucky Derby.
The next time members of your team are feeling down because they aren’t winning more on the court of business success, remind them about the little schools that could from Indianapolis and Richmond. All your players may need is a reason to believe… even if they’re currently the last choice in some expert’s bracket.
What if you got thisclose to the brass ring and weren’t able to grab it? Sort of like that recurring dream you have in which you’re prevented from success because of blurry vision or your feet are trapped in cement or just as you’re about to win you awaken. If, in real life, you performed high above your own lofty expectations and someone else claimed victory, would you be thrilled…or sad that the rousing applause and falling confetti weren’t for you?
Those are the thoughts I had last night while watching the finale of “America’s Got Talent.” It’s a show I never had seen until the past few weeks. Yet, there we were, family of four, with our eyes fully focused as the 10 finalists were dramatically whittled to five, then four, three and two. Ultimately, a former ‘chicken chaser’ from Kentucky took home the one million dollar grand prize, as voters selected his country singing the best this year of more than 100,000 wannabes.
My thoughts, though, were on the second place finisher. Imagine being on the cusp of becoming a millionaire and ending up with nothing. I envisioned holding a lottery ticket matching all six numbers, only to have it fly out of my hands on the way to the claims office. Surely, something like that was going through the runner-up’s mind when she didn’t hear her name announced.
Of course, the penultimate performer has much to celebrate. She survived cancer. She has a beautiful daughter and loving husband. Plus, now America knows her name, and she’ll probably be able to pursue her dream of performing professionally. By the way, I have an inside source that says she is going to be just fine. You see, she’s a member of my church here in Houston…and that’s why we tuned in to watch. Way to go, Barbara Padilla. Prince of Peace Catholic Community celebrates today with you.