Special to Page 2
Each year, the NCAA championship cheers turn into a hushed silence as TV viewers across the country gather around their sets to catch one last glimpse of basketball glory in a collection of clips played against the heartfelt song, "One Shining Moment."
There have been many memorable moments over the past 20 years in college basketball. As we celebrate the two-decade anniversary of "One Shining Moment," Page 2 revisits the game-winning shots of two former college basketball stars that changed their team's journey.
First, we caught up with Keith Smart, whose 20-foot jumper propelled Indiana over Syracuse in the 1987 NCAA title game. We also tracked down Bryce Drew, whose Valparaiso team slew some giants in its own fabled run in 1998. We asked Bryce about "the shot" and his thoughts about this year's tournament.
1. Keith, take us back to that one moment in time in 1987. You trailed Syracuse, 72-73, with four seconds to go. Can you step us through the action involving your famous baseline jumper?
Keith Smart: You know when you are in the heat of the moment, you are really worried about winning the game. I was just playing basketball and doing what we were taught. We were always taught that after you pass, move to another spot. That was the way our Indiana team set things up. So they were playing some tight defense, and I tried to get it to Daryl Thomas -- he didn't have a shot, so he passed it back out to me. Howard Triche was overextended and needed to cover me as I moved deeper into the post, and I was able to quickly get the shot off.
I look at the game from time to time, and I found that I enjoy watching the shot less than I enjoy watching my teammates and seeing their reaction.
2. "One Shining Moment" debuted in 1987. What does the song mean to you?
Smart: It is a really fitting and touching song. I really like it, as it reviews all the faces and places of the tournament -- the highs and the lows. Plus, the song really isn't just about one shining moment for one player, but for anyone who has been involved in the tournament.
3. When you are coaching [Smart is an assistant with the NBA's Golden State Warriors] and you find yourself standing in the vicinity of your famous shot do you get transported back to that one moment in time 20 years ago?
Smart: Oh yeah, without a question. If I get to that side of the floor, everything comes back -- the song starts playing in my head, and the arena is full. It is a flashback. It's funny very seldom do I miss that shot in pickup games to this day because it's like I'm back in that moment.
4. Have you gotten a chance to catch your former coach in his ESPN reality series, "Knight School"? Do you think Bobby Knight has changed much over the past two decades?
Smart: I think it [the show] is really great. People can see aspects of coach Knight that we as players were only privy to before. It is really interesting because some of those teachings and quips you hear him use are the same ones I heard when I played.
5. You were born in Baton Rouge, La. Now that IU is out of the tournament, are you cheering for the Tigers? Which team do you like in the Final Four?
Smart: Well, you know, the person who helped me get into college is a guy named Collis Temple Jr., father of LSU's freshman Garret Temple. I have always been a big fan of LSU. Both Tyrus Thomas and past LSU legend Ethan Martin went to my high school, McKinley, so I'm pulling for the Tigers to keep on pushing through.
I really don't have any favorites now that my alma mater is out and my college teammate's Steve Alford's Iowa team is out. I can sit back, relax a bit and take in all of the excitement. I really love the tournament.
Bryce, take us back to that moment in 1998. You were a No. 13 seed playing No. 4-seeded Ole Miss. The team is down 67-69 with 4.1 seconds to go. Can you walk us through your team's famous "Pacer" play, which would in turn create "the shot"?
Bryce Drew: Well, people forget that right before that play, with 5 seconds to go, I had actually missed a 3-pointer which would have given us the lead. So, actually right then, I was thinking that might have just been my last collegiate shot. Then, after fouling, [Mississippi] missed two free throws. Keep in mind, we had four seniors on the floor and had run that play for four years in practice, so we all knew what play we were going to run. Really, everything that happened was so quick, and the next thing I remember, everybody was piling on top me of me celebrating.
Do you think you could take J.J. Redick in a 3-point contest?
Drew: You know, I don't think I'm going to be doing that against him anytime soon. He is a pretty deadly shooter.
You grew up hearing "One Shining Moment" being played in tournaments every year. As you practiced over the years, did the song go through your head at all?
Drew: Oh yeah. I had memorized the words and knew the whole song. I had always dreamed of being part of it. And to be a part of it -- especially in that magnitude -- is something really special to me.
Over the years, what other feelings does the song evoke for you?
Drew: I really get excited for the players that get featured in it for that year. I can totally relate to the desire and the passion that they put into it. As you know, they have had a couple of different singers sing it and some of the versions in my opinion haven't been as good as others so hopefully we get a good one this year. March wouldn't be March without "One Shining Moment."
You were born in Baton Rouge. Are you cheering for the Tigers to make a run of it like they did 20 years ago when they made the Final Four as a No. 11 seed [the 1986 LSU team was the lowest seed to make the Final Four until the No. 11 George Mason team matched the feat this year]?
Drew: My dad used to coach under Dale Brown at LSU. I was born there, but since I was only there for a few years, I didn't have deep enough roots to really become a full-blown LSU fan. I was a fan when coach Brown was there, but since Dale left and both my dad and I moved on to Valpo [where Bryce drew is an assistant coach under his dad], I am more of a Crusaders fan. You know we actually played Duke earlier this season, back when they were undefeated.
There was some controversy at the start of this year's tournament involving some of the mid-major bids. Yet, sure enough, Bradley, George Mason and Wichita State all made it to the Sweet 16. Can you comment on what it means to smaller schools, such as yours, to make it to the Big Dance?
Drew: It is a great opportunity for a mid-major to get a major school on a neutral floor. So many times throughout the year, the only way a mid-major can play a major conference team is to go to their place. And obviously, on the road it is a lot harder to win in college basketball. I think a big reason why the mid-majors are so excited and play so well is that you are on a fairer playing field within the NCAA Tournament. The atmosphere makes a big difference with teams winning at a neutral site.
You sound just like a coach. Where do you see yourself in eight years, and would you like to stay in the coaching ranks?
Drew: That's a good question. The first year was really enjoyable, I've learned a lot, and we'll see. My brother is down at Baylor, and he really enjoys it. Right now, I just want to help out my dad and help Valpo get back to the tournament. After that, we'll go from there.
Shane Igoe splits his time between New York City and L.A. as he covers stories on sports and entertainment. He can be reached through his blog, dubbed www.thewadeblogs.com.