Basketball is a tournament sport. Its purest form is shown when there is a bracket and a trophy at the end of it.
There is a reason why March Madness and the NCAA Tournament is one of the most watched events in the country.
The ratings for a regular season college basketball aren’t even comparable. In basketball, matchups make the game.
If a bruising, big and athletic team meets a team of small, shooting types then they have a shot. Getting off the bus the eyes and attention shoot to the end of the court with the guys capable of putting people on posters at the rim.
The University of Houston’s Phi Slama Jama team was amazing to watch and no I’m not old enough to have watched them. I find it fascinating that they didn’t win a national championship despite having five players that could throw it down with the best of them. The Cougars had two players that would go on to be Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame inductees in Clyde ‘The Glide’ Drexler and Hakeem ‘The Dream’ Olajuwon.
In basketball, the most physically gifted teams don’t always win. Basketball is a skill game that can’t be cheated. That’s even more evident in a one and done tournament style event.
Teams have seen a season worth of film and get to game plan against a team they’ve seen before. They can use tricks, such as ball control and fouling to take advantage of the athletic, but bad free throw shooting team.
The three-point line is the great equalizer.
That’s what makes February so fun as a sports writer. Walking into region tournaments this week I have no idea who is going to win. All of the wins that have been accumulated are irrelevant if you don’t find a way to advance.
Monday night I saw two great games between Athens Academy and Commerce High School and Prince Avenue Christian School. They felt like high stakes, high intensity games that hold the fate of the season on the line.
They mattered. The week of region tournaments may be one of my top five weeks of the sports calendar. Who doesn’t like coming into a gym midday and watching high stakes ball for nearly six hours. That’s my plan for Thursday.
Oconee County High School will host the Region 8-4A tournament and the slate includes four games in the evening.
Then there’s the hospitality room. The hospitality room is headquarters for a reporter on a day full of hoops or wrestling. We get a little hungry from time to time. We set up shop, write stories, edit and post photos right from our little make shift command center.
It’s a hub of people involved in the games. Coaches, referees all make their stops throughout the day. It’s not an accident that we all set up shop near the food.
We can’t help it. I find myself walking around in between games and get a wind of the a whiff of whatever had been provided by the good people who provide the snacks and food for the hospitality room. I say all of this to say, thank you to all those whose hard work goes into running those hospitality rooms at the events we cover. It makes our lives and jobs so much easier.
Jeremy Johnson is the sports editor for The Oconee Enterprise. Opinions expressed are those of the writer.