Maybe I’m just a LU sports geek, but the Arizona Cardinals’ Monday night collapse vividly reminded me of a certain NCAA DIII basketball tournament game three years ago. Just in case you missed it, Arizona blew a 20-point lead in 22 minutes to the Chicago Bears, arguably the best team in the NFL. Chicago had gone down big to an inferior team and used their signature defense to bail them out. In 2004, a young grinder from Wauwatosa named Chris Braier had managed to lead the Lawrence basketball team to a MWC title and two improbable NCAA tournament wins. The Vikes were favored to beat Sul Ross State in the Sweet 16 but found themselves down by 18 with fewer than 12 minutes to play. That’s when Kyle McGillis’ signature defense kicked in. In what would become one of my favorite sports memories ever: McGillis’ 13 points, eight boards and four steals helped LU erase the deficit in a stirring comeback, sending Sul Ross back down to Texas. That set the stage for a heartbreaking one-point loss to the eventual national champions, UW Steven’s Point. The parallels, while meaningless, are striking. Both games featured a superior team from the Midwest facing a shocking blowout loss to a team from the southern desert (Sul Ross is in Abilene, Texas). And both times gritty defense saved the day. Brings a tear to my eye just thinking about it.* * *
Don’t look now, but Lawrence football is starting to turn the corner. The Vikings are 4-3 on the season, and have league basement-dwellers Beloit College coming to town this weekend for homecoming. Should LU get past the Buccaneers on Saturday, they would need to win only one of their two remaining games to get the infamous “1987” goat off of the team’s collective shoulders and finish with a winning record. After Beloit the Vikings travel to Waukesha to face off with Carroll before returning home for LU’s season-closing showdown with archrivals Ripon. Better dead than red, LU fans. Oh, and remember: Despite what you read in “The Hipster Handbook,” you can still brag about Lawrence’s prestigious academics to all your friends, even if the football team is winning again.
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I would like to apologize for a comment I made last week in this column. I took a joke regarding Yankees pitcher Cory Lidle’s death too far. It was in bad taste, and I hope my loyal readers will forgive this lapse in judgment. I apologize to anyone who I have offended, and especially to the friends, family and fans of Cory Lidle.