The Oklahoma Sooners basketball team needs a rabbi
today at 12:26 pm
What a weekend of college hoops. The NCAA basketball tournament got underway and it was upsetpalooza. Things were so discombobulated that although I haven’t checked my brackets this morning, I’m pretty sure losing three of my final four teams, including my championship pick, means I’m not going to win any of the numerous pools that I entered.
I do have one team left. The school I attended some five decades ago, the University of Oklahoma remains alive. They survived by winning their first round match against Missouri.
I’ve always been a college basketball guy who happened to attend a big-time college football school. Among the folks I hung out with in college, I was the only one that attended basketball games at our old dingy fieldhouse. We didn’t have great teams back then. In fact, we never made it to the big dance during my tenure in Norman. Hell, we only made it to the NIT once. I think we lost our first game to Pete Maravich and LSU.
After I left we started to take basketball seriously. Maybe the school’s administration figured out it could be another source of income or maybe we just hired people who knew how to run a program and win.
In 1988, it looked like we were heading towards to holy grail of college basketball. OU finally had their team. Number one in their conference and the nation. They made it to the Final Four for the first time in my lifetime and were the favorites to win the National Championship. After beating Arizona in the semi-finals, it was time to play conference rival Kansas for it all. The Sooners had defeated KU twice in the regular season and were big favorites to do it a third time.
I hunkered down in front of my television with a pizza, preparing to get the crown I so longed for. I was Prince Charles of the college basketball world. Those hopes and dreams were dashed when Danny Manning had the game of the century and Kansas upset Oklahoma. Apparently Manning turned into Queen Elizabeth for a day.
The following day I went to work and my co-workers were checking on me all morning. They figured I would be upset over the game and wanted to make sure I was okay. I don’t take losing a game that hard, even such a big one and assured everyone that I was fine. No big deal.
At noon, I went to lunch. On my way back to the office, I started thinking about the game and drove past the highway exit to get to my office…..TEN MILES past the exit. That thing about dealing with sports losses….yeah right.
Okay…okay…I’ve spent the last seven paragraphs establishing my Oklahoma basketball street cred, but what does that have to do with the present tournament? I’m not sure if you’ve noticed but some of the teams pulling the biggest upsets have spiritual advisors among their supporters. Loyola, who beat number one seed Illinois, has Sister Jean sitting in the stands. Don’t forget that a few years ago she helped them get to the Final Four. Oral Roberts University has its namesake looking down, maybe, on them. They’ve now pulled two huge upsets to get to their first sweet sixteen in school history.
My Sooners have a tough task ahead of them today. They’re facing the number one overall seed, Gonzaga. The Bulldogs are looking to become the first undefeated team to win the championship since Indiana, in 1976.
It’s not going to be easy. Oklahoma has been up and down this season. They had a run where they beat a bunch of ranked teams and reached their peak as the number seven team in the nation. Then they hit the skids to end the year and finished up as a eight-seed in the tourney.
We’re big underdogs in this afternoon’s game. The Sooners need some help if they’re going to win. Maybe even a divine intervention? Hey, it worked for Loyola and Oral Roberts, why not the kids from Norman? Is it possible to get a religious leader to come to Indianapolis to sit with and cheer for the Sooners? Can it be done on less than an hour’s notice?
Like in 1988, I’ll be sitting in front of my television watching the game…no pizza this time. I even have on my OU t-shirt and am wearing Sooner socks. My guess is this won’t be enough. I’ll need some help. Is Sister Jean available to be hired? Where can I find a rabbi in Indianapolis when I need one?
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