As February men’s hoops afterthought Connecticut has mowed down nine consecutive opponents to win the Big East Tournament and advance to the Final Four, Huskies coach Jim Calhoun has talked often about the emergence of Jeremy Lamb. The freshman sharpshooter has been UConn’s top scoring threat other than superstar Kemba Walker.
Lamb’s success is payback for what happened to the coach in the first round of the 1984 NCAA’s. That’s when Lamb’s dad, Rolando, beat Calhoun’s Northeastern Huskies — led by future Boston Celtics standout Reggie Lewis, who died nine years later of a heart attack — with a last-second shot for Virginia Commonwealth.
I should know. I was courtside in Atlanta’s Omni for that game because the winner of VCU-Northeastern next played the Syracuse Orangemen, whom I was covering as a rookie beat writer for The Post-Standard. Lamb’s buzzer-beater ended the first of the many NCAA Tournament games I would cover over the next six years for The Post-Standard and The Washington Times before moving on almost exclusively to pro sports, mostly the Redskins.
That 1984 East Regional was also memorable for Richmond’s upset (sound familiar?) of Charles Barkley and Auburn, Indiana and Dan Dakich ending Michael Jordan’s career at North Carolina and Virginia reaching the Final Four the year after Ralph Sampson had graduated. But Lamb’s big shot still sticks with me, too.
Twenty seven years later, Calhoun is two W’s away from his third national title with UConn and, in a weird twist of fate, if the Huskies repeat their November victory over Kentucky on Saturday and VCU beats fellow Cinderella Butler, the coach and the chip off the old block will have to beat the old man’s alma mater for all the marbles on Monday.
Talk about serendipity. It’s just another reason to love sports.
David Elfin has covered sports since he was a junior at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School in 1975. He is the Washington representative on the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee and is the former President of the Pro Football Writers of America. A pre-game regular on 106.7-The Fan during the 2010 Redskins season, he returned to the station as its blogger in March.