I’m not going to lie, I found myself welling up as Tyler Ennis’ three-pointer caromed harmlessly off the back of the rim, giving UD its first trip to the Sweet 16 in 30 years. My emotions snuck up on me, I was completely caught off guard. I took my first deep breath since 7 PM and just stood at the bar, looking at whatever game was on but not watching it.
I didn’t respond to text or tweets for a few minutes, just stood there, spine tingling, wondering if it really happened. The people around me, who were politely ignoring my continual yelping during the game, assured me that it did.
My thoughts weren’t on the game, not on Jordan Sibert’s twenty-seven foot dagger with two men in his face, and I certainly wasn’t thinking about who Dayton would be locking horns with later this week in Memphis. My reaction revealed to me something I didn’t realize until the Flyers swarmed half-court with victorious glee.
I’ve been following this program for the past 20 years and last night’s victory exposed something I either knew sub-consciously and was afraid to admit or needed a defining moment to surface — I didn’t know I cared this much. I didn’t realize how important this school and this program were to me. Part of me is aggrieved because it took a win over one of the game’s elite programs, and a trip to the Sweet 16, to come to this realization. The other part of me is just glad it happened.
What struck me most wasn’t my visceral reaction to UD’s win. It was that I was happy for all the current students, who would enjoy a moment I never experienced while attending Dayton. I was happy for the older alums, who knew what this program used to be, getting one more day in the sun. I was happy for the local fans, who never had the opportunity to attend UD but supported the program as much as anyone in a sweater-vest ever did. Most of all, I was happy for the school itself. I was happy that this university, which for so long remained our little secret, was finally going to get the attention it has always deserved.
And then, after many more drinks, I began tweeting pictures of girls asses with “UD” written on them. Business as usual.