Someone much smarter than I once said, “It always ends in a loss.”
When you’re covering mid-major basketball on a regular basis that outlook may seem fatalistic, but it’s also always been true. Of course, so was the fact that a 1 seed will always beat the 16, until it wasn’t. (So we can still dream!)
But the 2017-18 season for NYC Buckets ended as UMBC fell to Kansas State in an ugly 50-43 loss in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. It was one more game than almost anyone could have imagined just 48 hours before and many more games than UMBC appeared to have left when the Retrievers trailed UMass-Lowell by 11 at halftime in the quarterfinals of the America East Tournament.
Obviously UMBC won that game and three more before finally bowing out on Sunday night. The Retrievers shot 14-47 (30%) from the field, including just 6-22 (27%) from 3-point range in the loss to the Wildcats.
UMBC finishes the season at 25-11, That’s more wins than UMBC had in the three seasons combined before Ryan Odom took over (they had 20 between 2013-14 and 2015-16). Now though a long offseason begins. Jairus Lyles, Jourdan Grant and KJ Maura all received much deserved send offs as they exited the court one last time. All three are seniors and will be moving on. Odom will likely be one of the hottest names in the coaching carousel. (That attention is well deserved.)
There will be more games and more moments. The 2018 NCAA Tournament has already provided more thrills in 96 hours than most versions do during their entire run. One Shining Moment could just be scenes from just the first four days and no one would complain.
Thank you for reading.