The TMac quote above has nothing to do with this article; there's another time and another blog post for that.
But still. Those socks? Those socks are magical socks, my friend. As Orange::44 is in the midst of a birthday celebration this month, I figured I would take this rather timely opportunity to tell not only a great Syracuse Basketball NCAA Tourney story, but one that pertains to Orange::44 founder Matt Glaude.
Imagine yourself in Boston for the first round of the NCAA Tournament in 2003. Maybe some of you were there. I had the privilege to be there as a member of the Sour Sitrus Society -- the #1 basketball pep band in the land. I was also lucky enough to help some recent graduates of our fine university with a place to stay, i.e. my hotel room floor. One of those fortunate souls was one Matthew "Hoya Suxa" Glaude. Now, Matt likes to have a good time. And it's rare that he does anything half-assed. This weekend was no different. He painted the town orange.
Syracuse played in the first round against the Manhattan Jaspers, and won handily, 76-65. The game had been close in the first half, but Syracuse figured out Bobby Gonzales's squad and kept a safe lead in the latter minutes to secure the victory. That was Friday's game.
Sunday rolled around, and Syracuse was set to play the Oklahoma State Cowboys. If I said we had a quiet night in the previous night, I'd be lying. But still, Matt was able to get up at a respectable hour and make it to the game. In fact, he left a little earlier than I did, I think to find some breakfast. Gathering up my belongings to leave the room for the last time, I found a pair of socks that didn't belong to me. They're just socks, sure, but I figured I'd put them in my pocket and give them back to Matt at the game. Being in the band, we had to wear khaki pants, and cargo pants were in at the time, so throwing socks in my pocket was no big deal.
So I make my way onto the bus and arrive at the arena -- what was it, TD Garden at that time? I don't even remember. At any rate, I didn't meet up with Matt before the game, so the socks stayed in my pocket. Well, if anyone remembers that 2nd round matchup, Syracuse had a rough go of it. The Orangemen got off to an extremely slow start and were even down 17 points, but crawled and battled their way back to obtain a lead and be on top at the final buzzer. But I remember there being several times during that game where I thought to myself "Damn, this is it, we're done." It was one of those games. Typical of the Kardiac Kids that season. But this was different; this was the Tourney.
After the game, I missed meeting up with Matt, and so the socks came with me back to Syracuse. I don't know if I made the conscious recognition of it at that time, or whether it was the following weekend in Albany when I once again found the socks in my pocket that I decided "Let's go with it." I didn't wanna mess with anything that may have helped Syracuse win that game in Boston, and so the socks stayed in my pocket. Sweet Sixteen vs. Auburn. A final score of 79-78. As close as you can get. Syracuse led the entire game, but Auburn kept making it close. And keeping our heart rates near the hummingbird range.
In the Elite Eight game for the right to play in New Orleans at the Final Four, Syracuse and top-seeded Oklahoma faced off and battled for the first 12 minutes. And then, Syracuse pulled away and never looked back. The socks were still in my pocket, but this time we didn't need them to get us a burst of energy late in the game. But those socks were destined for the Big Easy.
All in all, those socks faired much better than I did down in New Orleans. I won't get into my own problems here, but hey, we all survived, better or worse, right? Anyway, I don't need to tell you the rest of that story. Syracuse beats Texas for the right to play in the National Championsip against Kansas. The Orangemen pull out to a huge lead on the Jayhawks, with Gerry virtually unconscious from beyond the arc. I'm so giddy at halftime that I'm almost speechless, as if I can't even fathom what's going on in front of me on the court. But in typical Syracuse form, they had to make a game out of it and let Kansas come back. Kansas starts picking apart the zone, Syracuse keeps missing from the line, and suddenly there's mere seconds left and we're nursing a three-point lead. But those socks are still in my pocket. Hakim Warrick teleports from the key over to the arc for The Block, and the rest is history. Syracuse wins the National Championship!
So naturally, I should have kept those socks in play all these years later. But I didn't. Like Jerry Seinfeld or the football jersey 44, they had to be retired while on top. OK, never mind the 44 thing. But anyway, I knew if I just kept those socks with me for every game, Syracuse would eventually lose and the socks would lose their mojo. So they went into a random bag of stuff, not to be forgotten, but to be out of the way.
Before leaving for Buffalo last weekend, I questioned whether it was time to pull the socks out of retirement and see if their magic could propel this team to Indy. Getting the go ahead from Matt, the socks were placed in my pocket as I watched the 1st round game against Vermont at Benchwarmers in Buffalo. Victory. They again came with me into the HSBC Arena on Sunday against Gonzaga. More like GONEzaga.
And so we approach this weekend's games. Tomorrow night, a matchup against Butler, and if that's a win, Saturday against Kansas State or Xavier. I won't be in Salt Lake City for the games, but you can bet your lucky stars I'll be watching on TV. And those socks, however smelly they may have gotten in seven years, will be in my pocket. Because, you know, Matt Glaude's 2003 socks > Arinze Onuaku.