Unsolved basketball mysteries
Fox Sports ... almost
Truth is stranger than fiction. I couldn't help but think that after Saturday's Notre Dame basketball games concluded.
To help me present my eerie realizations, Robert Stack, the host of TV's "Unsolved Mysteries," has agreed to make a cameo, complete with the show's awesome background music.
(OK, I haven't actually contacted Robert Stack; none of my realizations are really that "eerie," let alone "unsolved" or even "mysteries." Still, this is a lot more fun if you pretend he's telling you this stuff with the creepy music in full effect.)
So, Mr. Stack, why don't you go ahead and hit it.
"Saturday, Feb. 19, 2000. Piscataway, N.J., and home court of the Rutgers University Scarlet Knights. A small traveling band of females, known only as the No. 5 Notre Dame women's basketball team, showed up on eighth-ranked Rutgers' doorstep looking to play a game. There were doubts as to whether the Irish could beat a particularly strong opponent away from their home — the Joyce Center.
"In a twist of scheduling fate, another small group — the Notre Dame men's basketball team — from the very same Indiana campus, made a similar trek to the state of New Jersey. Ending up in East Rutherford for a 9 p.m. tip-off with the 25th-ranked Seton Hall Pirates, many wondered if these Irish could win a big game away from that very same Joyce Center.
"But the story doesn't stop here. The women's team, after leading by as many as 19 points and 10 at the half, trailed by six with only 17 seconds to go. Enter freshman Alicia Ratay, who canned two threes, the second shortly before the final horn, to send the game to overtime.
"Some nine hours later, perhaps sensing its sister team's flair for the heroic, the men's team first watched as an 11-point second-half lead slipped away and then responded with sophomore David Graves' put back with just 0.3 seconds left in regulation — a shot that gave the Irish a 76-74 victory.
"That score looked strikingly similar to the overtime result of the women's game earlier in the day, a final of Irish 78, Rutgers 74.
"The uncanny link between these two occurrences grows even stronger when we look to the movements of the stars. Ratay set a personal and Big East record for single game 3-point efficiency, going a perfect 7-7 from behind the line.
"Sophomore Troy Murphy, subconsciously feeling the standard set by the freshman, erupted for 35 points, matching his career high.
"Two teams, two games, one campus, and eerily similar phenomena. If you have any information regarding the events of the 19th, call Ted Fox."
Well, that's just about enough from you.
"Update: With those wins, the women won their 18th game in a row, the longest streak in the country and school history, and the men beat their second ranked opponent in a week and their fifth of the season. Two grossly unrelated facts, but almost mysteriously intriguing in their lack of relation. Perhaps..."
All right, Mr. Stack, thanks for your help, but I think your time is up.
"It's odd that you should mention time. Just minutes before these games, both teams engaged in the pre-game shoot-around. This unorthodox means of preparation could have been the defining moment in these two separate yet inexplicably intertwined victories."
Every basketball team always does a pre-game shoot-around. That's pretty standard stuff. You don't know what you're talking about, do you?
"Uhhhh ... no."
Well, don't worry about it. People ask me that a lot, too.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.
All Sports Stories for Wednesday, February 23, 2000