I don't really get too interested in basketball until this time of year. Teams may play for rankings all season, but they only need to get hot for four days to take down a conference title. And unless they were absolutely horrible all season, a good showing will probably get them to "the big dance," as the NCAA is lovingly known.
Watching the ACC today -- and listening to the other conference updates -- reminded me how much we golfers can learn from basketball. Upsets -- where lower-ranked teams beat higher-ranked teams -- were the name of the game Thursday. One that really stood out to me was the University of Virginia (UVA) upset of Boston College (BC). While their rankings weren't so different -- BC was #8, UVA #9 -- UVA was a huge underdog. Not only had they lost 9 straight games coming into the tournament, but they had lost two of their star players -- one to medical and family problems, the other to academic problems.
To make a long story short, BC led by 6 points early on, then UVA went on a 17-2 tear and ended up winning by 6. The commentators said it was the best game the team had played for a long time... and they didn't even have their stars! They'll have to face #1 Duke Friday, but they'll sleep good tonight.
So how did they do it? A few observations:
- They accepted their limitations. Their stars were gone, so the other guys just did what they could. (Did it pretty well, too!)
- They stayed patient. They got behind early, but they didn't panic.
- They took advantage of the breaks. When BC stumbled, UVA pounced. For those of you who don't watch basketball, let me just say that scoring 17 points while holding your opponent to 2 points means you dominated a large portion of the game... at least, it does in college basketball.
- Finally, they didn't give up. It looked like everything was against them, and it was. But it's amazing how drastically things can turn around if you just hang in there!
Rory McIlroy spent some time talking to Jack recently, and asked him what his mindset was when he won so much. He was surprised when Jack told him that he tended to just play his game and wait for the other players to blow up! Sounds like patience to me.
If you make a great shot or get a great break, you need to take advantage of it. Too often, we golfers get so elated that we lose focus and don't capitalize on our good fortune.
And finally, golf really is a lot like life... as a general rule, victory goes to the man or woman who's still standing when all the hard stuff is over.
When you think about it like that, you can understand why Fred Couples wanted Michael Jordan in the U.S. locker room at the Presidents Cup. Winning is pretty much the same all over, no matter what your walk of life. We would all do well to learn from the winners, and apply the lessons to our own lives.
And with that said, I'm heading back to the TV, to watch some more of the playoffs. I wonder if there's another upset in the making?