With both NCAA and NIT tournaments beginning, the ACC tournament is already long forgotten in most minds. However, for me, it was an experience I’ll never forget. I usually report the news or give updates on the ACC, but this week I want to describe my experience sitting, cheering on the sidelines for my Clemson Tigers. We had two of the most exciting games during the tournament and enjoyed every minute of it.
After a 6 a.m. workout and a 5-hour bus ride to Greensboro, NC, I was fighting to stay awake, much less scream my head off at our 9 p.m. tip-off against Georgia Tech. Then I walked into the arena.
The place was riddled with fans from each ACC team, a rainbow of school shirts and pom poms. The teams were warming up and I was preparing to sit through a game I thought we’d have in the bag from the start. Once the game started, I realized that wasn’t going to be the case; Georgia Tech wasn’t going to lie down and let us walk out the door with a W so easily. It became too real when we were forced into overtime (something we’ve gotten pretty used to) and won, realizing we would be playing the Duke Blue Devils the next night.
Going into the Duke game that night, I was nervous. We’d beaten them once this year, we could do it again, right? If we could just win this game, we might actually end up in the finals. Again, I was so tired (I could only imagine how the players felt), then I walked in the arena and I was unpleasantly surprised. There were Duke fans EVERYWHERE. Great.
Well the game began, and I’m sure you know how the majority of the game played out. The Tigers were down by 10 then 12 points, then back up, then down. It was a roller coaster. Multiple times I thought, “it’s over” or “we might actually win this.” Duke’s fans screamed and shouted, and were as rowdy as you can imagine. As the team’s dancers, we were told to stay seated on the sidelines behind the media, but you can believe we weren’t sitting, and I’m positive I deafened a few of the camera men.
Then it came down to those last few moments in the game. We caught up, we went ahead, they caught up, they went ahead. So there we are, down by one with four seconds left, and I swear I hear Chariots of Fire playing somewhere. Rod Hall drives the ball down the court with great force, goes to shoot, stumbles, (was fouled), and the buzzer goes off. After just four seconds, the game was over, and we were going home.
There’s been a multitude of controversy over the supposed foul that wasn’t called that may have given us the chance to win, but we’ll never know. I’m not going to lie, I’m still bitter about it. We were, are good enough to beat Duke, and I think we at least proved that much.
Although our time in Greensboro was relatively short-lived, it was incredible, and I’m ready to return back next year and take home the championship trophy. However, now our boys are focused on the upcoming NIT tournament ready to take on Georgia State. The Clemson Tigers’ first game will be Tuesday at 9 p.m. in Littlejohn Coliseum in Clemson, SC.