Cinderellaby Michael Litos
The NCAA tournament has always been an enormous spotlight for the underdog. Bracket-clenching fans root for teams from smaller schools to upset the elite squads and score an unexpected win on their tournament sheet...if they picked them, that is. And normally that's all the fans expect-one or two incredible upsets. But in 2006, the underdogs broke
The NCAA tournament has always been an enormous spotlight for the underdog. Bracket-clenching fans root for teams from smaller schools to upset the elite squads and score an unexpected win on their tournament sheet...if they picked them, that is. And normally that's all the fans expect-one or two incredible upsets. But in 2006, the underdogs broke through...
Cinderella is an inside look at the NCAA's mid-major basketball programs, which fight for one shot to battle the elite teams for the national championship. The rise of mid-majors has been one of the most thrilling sport stories of the past few years, and it's only getting bigger.
Michael Litos spent the 2005-06 season on the frontlines of the Colonial Athletic Association, home of such mid-major standouts as Old Dominion, Hofstra, and George Mason. With complete access to coaches and players, he found incredible tales of pressure and passion. He saw coaches and players struggling to put together a championship drive in spite of uncompromising schedules and half-filled arenas. And he was there when the ultimate underdog turned the world of college basketball upside-down-George Mason's historic run to the Final Four.
In what was dubbed "The Year of the Mid-major," Cinderella delivers the ultimate look at what it means to be an underdog, and how the sport of college basketball is being transformed. In the last great league of amateur athletes, this is the story those who play for the love of the game...and the thrill of achieving the unbelieveable
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Read an Excerpt
"Madness need not be all breakdown. It may also be break-through. It is potential liberation and renewal." R.D. Laing
Standing on the floor of the Richmond Coliseum, nearing midnight and well after his team's hard fought victory over UNC-Wilmington in the 2005 CAA semifinals, Virginia Commonwealth University Head Coach Jeff Capel's mind was amazingly clear.
"Tomorrow is the longest day," he said, shaking his head with a half smile. "Soooooo long."
On a good day, the Richmond Coliseum appears its age. The venerable building was built in 1971 and stands as an homage to the circular, multipurpose venues that became popular during that era of sports stadium construction. What makes it worse is the entire building, inside and out, was painted brown. It annually hosts concerts and graduations, minor league hockey, and the circus. The CAA does everything it can to spruce up the place, adding colorful sponsorship signage and bright banners championing the history of the league.
At this moment, however, the building was showing its age. It was almost empty, save players, their families, and media members who chose to hang around and finish up the night's work on press row. There was an odd feeling-a chilly warmth tempered with the smell of age and basketball-that seemed to hang in the air.
Three days of basketball action had filled its walls. There had been stories, but it was the thought of the final chapter that bounced around the staleness.
Jeff Capel, on the other hand, is among the best-dressed coaches in the college game-his sideline sartorial choice is always a sharp suit well put together. In fact, VCU fans came to know the signal for an upset Capel-it was only then that the jacket came off.
Now, nearly an hour after a big victory, Capel's tie was loosened, his jacket folded across his left arm. Beads of sweat glistened on his forehead and shone through the armpits of his shirt. Even after such a rigorous day, one he knew would be only his second longest, Capel held a "together" look. As he took in the scene, the obviously tired coach seemed buoyed by the thoughts of what his team had accomplished.
Meet the Author
Michael Litos spent the first eight years of his career as a magazine writer and editor for several sports and sports memorabilia titles with Landmark Communications. He has interviewed sports celebrities from Mickey Mantle to Alex Rodriguez to Brett Favre.
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