Blame my work ethic, or lack thereof. Comprehending what I saw at Verizon Center yesterday and last night - the entire weekend, actually - and trying to compress it into one column was draining, kept me at the arena late and pretty much killed any thought of staying an extra hour and blogging about it. Forgive me. But the thoughts are still fresh this morning.
* I didn't even come close on the Final Four, but as far as every No. 1 seed missing out, I nailed it. As for shaking up the elitist mentality of college basketball - saw that coming, too. But I'm not in this for credit or personal accolades; I'm a team player. Me and Alfonso Soriano.
* Seeing George Mason beat Connecticut in overtime to get to the Final Four might have surpassed what I had previously believed was the tell-my-grandkids-I-was-there moment of my career: Michael Jordan winning his sixth and last NBA championship on that shot in Utah, what was then believed to be the final shot of his career.
* George Mason actually winning it all would surpass that, though. I don't care what the guys on the team have been saying all weekend: nobody goes to George Mason thinking about winning the national championship. That's like going to Morgan State expecting to play in the Rose Bowl.
* The enormity of the difference between George Mason winning, and losing a heartbreaker at the buzzer after fighting UConn and the odds the entire game, can't be overstated. It's the difference between "Hoosiers'' and "Rocky.''
* On the other side, this loss is going to stick with Connecticut more than those two national titles will. Those titles will now be forever linked with losing to George Mason - as in, "How does a school with two championships lose to George Mason?'' Something tells me that in Storrs from now on, the team that beat them will be referred to as "George F. Mason.''
* Billy Packer had better bring his extra-thick skin to Indy this weekend.
* Refreshing sight: UConn players, incredibly dejected, pausing to shake hands with the Mason players, then walking very slowly off the court and to their locker room where, presumably, they let the tearful anguish flow. Refreshing because they didn't let it all out on the final possession when they had (and got) a great chance to tie or win it after all - unlike the stunningly un-composed, non-poised Adam Morrison. There's something to be said for pulling oneself together when the pressure, emotions and tension are at their peaks. UConn saved its season twice in three days, forcing overtime two games in a row at the buzzer. Can you imagine if Rashad Anderson or Denham Brown had been walking around bawling uncontrollably on the last plays of regulation in those games?
* How many "greatest'' lists does this belong on, if not at the top of? Greatest upset ever in the tournament. Greatest upset ever in college basketball (all things considered, it gives Chaminade over Virginia a run for its money). Greatest tournament game, or at least greatest tournament regional final (remember, there were three classics just last season, and the Duke-Kentucky Christian Laettner game would be tough to beat). Greatest upsets, period (lots of talk the last 18 hours about Buster Douglas over Mike Tyson, Rulon Gardner over Alexander Karelin in Olympic wrestling, Mets over Orioles, Jets over Colts, and the Miracle on Ice).
* Personal near-miss tale: I was with several dozen reporters in Sydney in 2000 watching the U.S. baseball team shock Cuba to win the gold medal, when cell phones started ringing off the hook from reporters who were at the Gardner match downtown. We all sprinted to the nearby media center for Gardner's emotional press conference, with his parents and wife, then sprinted back to the baseball stadium for the end of the game, the celebration and an equally-emotional press conference, starring manager Tommy Lasorda.
* Speaking of the above examples, isn't it a relief that Baltimore is on the right side of a historic upset for once? Thanks, Will Thomas.
* With all due respect to Kimmie Meissner winning a world championship at age 16, the chances of that happening were not even remotely as great as a team like George Mason beating a team like Connecticut to get to the Final Four. I'm not entirely convinced that what Thomas, Aberdeen's Jai Lewis and the rest of them did wasn't a bigger accomplishment. I'm getting the sense that a Baltimore basketball player reaching the pinnacle of his sport at a young age is taken for granted. Besides (again, no disrespect intended), the Connecticut players didn't fall down at midcourt and open the door for them to win. There has to have been a major final in which Sasha Cohen didn't fall down, but it's hard to remember when it was.
* Never mind whether the Patriots should have gotten into the field - they won with a starter who, it could be argued, shouldn't even have been allowed to play. Suspending Tony Skinn even longer than one tournament game for that groin punch in the CAA tournament wouldn't have been out of line. (Truthfully, I didn't include that as a commentary, but as a means to mention that a buddy of mine has dubbed Skinn "Buster Groin-dexter.'') Nevertheless, George Mason's once-suspended guard got the better of UConn's once-suspended guard, Marcus Williams.
* Teams have reached the Final Four with starting lineups composed entirely of players from one state before (I'm assuming. LSU, for one, is big on that sort of thing). But has any gotten there with a lineup entirely from a state other than its own? The research begins.
* I really hope Washington fans aren't whining as much as it appears they are. The George Mason game should have slapped some sense into them; instead of saying, "The refs stole the UConn game from us,'' they should be saying, "We had a chance to beat UConn at the end of regulation and in overtime - we blew it, and George Mason didn't.'' Do they put double-shots of paranoia in the grandes at the Seattle Starbucks or something? First the crying over the Super Bowl, now this. Quit thinking about conspiracy theories and grow some ... guts.
* The subject has been beaten into the ground, but let's give it one more hit: Gary Williams, Pat Kennedy at Towson, Jimmy Patsos at Loyola and a bunch of other coaches probably haven't slept well in two weeks, and this week won't be any better. And if Brenda Frese gets the Terp women to the Final Four tonight, it'll make for even more tossing and turning for one of those coaches.