Heading to the Garden after a beautiful day in Boston. Everybody is out, wandering, waiting. There are plenty of Villanova sweatshirts on the cool, sunny streets.
Tonight against Pitt, the Wildcats have a chance to get back to the Final Four for the first time since 1985. Rollie Massimino, the old coach, will be in the building. The place will be all Big East hellfire and whatnot. Across the way from my seat will be the CBS announcers. If this is to be a DVD moment for the Villanova faithful, you couldn't have a better pair to call the ending.
Everybody knows Bill Raftery, America's basketball uncle. But the play-by-play guy, Verne Lundquist, is really good, too, the definition of understatement and elegance. His two most famous calls are golf calls, from the 17th hole of the Master. They are true classics. In 1986, when Jack Nicklaus made that putt to take the lead in the tournament at the age of 46, Lundquist just let him hit it and didn't talk over the drama. As it approached the hole, he offered only a hopeful, "maybe," but then when the ball disappeared a second later, his shout was simple and perfect: "Yes sir!" They will be replaying that one when we're all dead.
Then, in 2005, Tiger Woods hit the chip shot for all time on that same 17th hole, picking a landing spot about 25 or so feet away from the hole and then allowing it to slowly, slowly down to the cup. "Here it comes," he said. And as it got closer and closer, it was, "Oh my goodness," and as it hung on the lip for a half-second before falling into the hole it was, "Oh, wow." Seconds later, into the late afternoon cheering, Lundquist shouted the question, "In your life, have you seen anything like that?"
If this one is going to be a keeper for the Wildcats, the microphone is in good hands.