Day Two came and went with a round of golf during the day and a night out in historic downtown Charlotte where, amongst bars full of Carolina fans, we watched the South Carolina women’s basketball team suffer their first and only loss of the season. Iowa’s Caitlin Clark, who had just notched the first, ever 40+-point triple double in either men’s or women’s college basketball post-season history, was set to face an undefeated South Carolina team, the odds-on favorite to win a national title.
Clark would not be outdone as she scored another 41 points, sending Carolina fans everywhere home depressed yet in awe of the performance they had just witnessed. There were very few spots in downtown Charlotte that weren’t glued to the game. Grown men watching women’s basketball? I call that progress. In fact, that game and the subsequent national championship game between Caitlin Clark’s Hawkeyes and the LSU Tigers would become the two most watched women’s basketball games in history.
Saturday brought another round of golf and this time, the men’s semifinals. FAU’s Cinderella season looked like it would continue, until… Lamont Butler ensured he would be forever hated in Boca Raton. His elevated, buzzer-beating jump shot ended FAU’s dream season. UConn would dispatch Miami and ultimately Butler’s San Diego State Aztecs, winning their fifth national championship in the last 24 seasons, reminding everyone theirs is a program not to be overlooked ever again. Between the men’s and women’s basketball programs, UConn boasts a whopping 16 national championships since 1995. They play some basketball up in Storrs.
Sunday took us to the National Basketball Association and one the league’s most discombobulated teams: the Charlotte Hornets. What an absolute disaster this franchise has become. They haven’t won a playoff series, or even a meaningful game, in over 20 years. This season would be no exception.
With the season winding down and the Hornets having nothing to play for but pride, they hosted the Raptors in a Sunday matinee game in downtown Charlotte’s spacious (yet relatively empty) Spectrum Center. Still vying for key playoff position, Toronto would go through the motions against the struggling 26-54 Hornets who, that Sunday, were trying to figure out which bench players would be on their roster next year and which could be used as trade bait.
With Gordon Heyward and Lonzo Ball both out due to injury, the Hornets started not a single player we’d ever heard of. The starting lineup of JT Thor, Mark Williams, Theo Maledon, Svi Mykhailiuk and Bryce McGowens, with a combined ten years of NBA experience, does not exactly strike fear into the hearts of their opponents, although Mykailiuk did drop in 26 that afternoon. Meanwhile, the ever-steady Raptors rolled out Fred Vanvleet, Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby who combined for 79 of Toronto’s 128 points. The young Hornets did their best but were outmanned against a better, more physical, and more experienced Toronto team. The Raptors did as they pleased, outscoring Charlotte in the paint 90-44 and that was all she wrote. But not until a few pictures were taken along the way, including one with former Kentucky great and current community ambassador for the Toronto Raptors, Jamaal Magloire.
But you guys want to talk about Augusta, right?