Congrats to the Villanova Wildcats on their second NCAA Championship in three years! What an amazing achievement.
But, as impressive as their win over Michigan was in the title game, it was while watching the Wildcats play the Kansas Jayhawks in the semi-finals on Saturday night that I saw something truly extraordinary. With seven minutes to go, the Wildcats were up 17 points and Villanova guard Jalen Brunson streaked up the court when he was fouled by a Kansas player. The foul was nothing out of the ordinary, but Brunson lost his balance and tumbled head first to the sideline and ended up face down out of bounds.
As if coming from every corner of the court, all four of Brunson’s teammates ran at top speed to go pick him up. It was incredible to watch...so incredible that I actually rewound the action and watched it again three times! So many teams grow complacent while experiencing success, but the Wildcats (remember, they were AHEAD by 17 at this point!) were still scrambling to pick each other up. Villanova swept through this year’s men’s tournament, winning every game by double digits, yet they were always hustling to help their teammate.
Put most of us in an empty field house, with complete quiet and nothing to disturb us, and almost none of us could make 34 straight free throws. Now, head to the court, heart pumping, the deafening cheer of the crowd and television cameras watching every move, and many of us couldn’t even hit two in a row! It takes a special talent to sink 34 free throws in a row. It takes an even more impressive kid like Jordan Bohannon to miss the 35th.
University of Iowa point guard, Jordan Bohannon, was on a roll. He’d hit 34 straight free throws and was at the line to sink his 35th in a tight game against Northwestern on Sunday. His next free throw wouldn’t just extend the Iowa lead, it would also make history. That was the problem.
In 1993, Iowa Forward Chris Street set the school record for consecutive free throws made at 34. Street would have tried to top that number, but the night before his team was scheduled to play again, Street’s car hit a snow plow, killing him and injuring his girlfriend. His free throw record stood for 25 years, until Bohannon had the opportunity to break it. In a world where everyone wants their name in the record books and clamors for individual validation, Jordan Bohannon went the other way.
He chose to miss.