It is funny how in the course of two weeks you can go from incredible highs to devastating lows. On my last weekend before spring break, I took a three day trip into London with a few friends. I have been to London before, but only for day trips. Oxford is an hour and a half drive west of London, so buses conveniently run through the night. This time, I wanted to fully experience one of the most influential cities in the world. We stayed at the Club Quarters Hotel in the financial district, located within a five minute radius of the Thames, St. Paul’s Cathedral, and the Tower of London. When we settled in, I Googled “shows in London” looking to find a theatre performance for the evening, since London theatre is rivaled only by Broadway. However, the first thing that came up was “One Direction Concert-Tonight, 7:30p.m.” One Direction is the British version of the Backstreet Boys, and they are one of the biggest boy bands in the world right now. They have a few hit singles and their fan base tends to be 11-16 year old girls. Don’t judge me when I say that we impulsively bought tickets 20 rows from the stage for the concert that night! My friends and I quickly grabbed some food and took the tube to O2 arena, one of the major concert venues in Southeast London. I will be honest; these guys draw an unbelievable crowd. It was the first concert of their new tour and it was packed. I will gladly swallow my pride and say that this was one of the best experiences of my time at Oxford.
The next morning we set out to do all of the ‘touristy’ stuff. We attended Mass at St. Paul’s Cathedral, visited Trafalgar Square, the Tower of London, Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, the National Gallery and the London Eye. Needless to say, it was a LONG day. The architecture and beauty of the city is absolutely incredible. London is such a historic place and these landmarks speak to its amazing past. The following day, we took a 20 minute bus ride north of London to Warner Brothers Studios where we went on a four hour tour of the making of Harry Potter. I was a little skeptical when the ticket said that it would take 4 hours, but after having been through it, I completely understand why they say that. We made it through in 3 hours and 45 minutes, and I felt like we were going very quickly. The studios are amazing. They have props from every movie, the original sets, costumes, and everything that you could imagine. They even serve you Butterbeer! ( For what it is worth, I thought it was disgusting). After the tour, we headed back to Oxford and I spent my last week in the lab.
On Saturday, March 9th, I flew into Richmond to be with the basketball team for Senior Night against Duquesne and the Atlantic 10 Tournament in Brooklyn. We left for Brooklyn on Tuesday and had our first game on Thursday at noon against Charlotte. As much as the previous weeks had been my best time at Oxford, this game was by far the most devastating sporting experience of my life. If you have not seen the highlights on ESPN or Richmondspiders.com, I suggest that you do. Let me paint the picture: we were up 63-60 with 5.9 seconds to go. It was Charlotte’s ball, and they were inbounding it underneath their basket and had to bring it up the court and shoot a three before time expired to try and tie the game. When teams are in this situation, they have two options- they can either play defense and let the team shoot a 3, or they can foul and send them to the free-throw line where the odds of tying the game are very slim. In order to tie the game, they would have to make the first free-throw, miss the second, get the offensive rebound, and score all in 5.9 seconds. All smart coaches foul in this situation because they are almost always guaranteed a win. In fact, I have never seen a situation where the team fouled and then lost. I have seen countless situations where the team does not foul, and the opposing team hits a three, sends it to overtime, and wins. Coach Mooney, one of the best coaches in the country, decided that we should foul. We fouled them with 4.9 seconds left in the game and sent one of their players to the free-throw line to shoot a one-and-one. The player made the first shot, and after the ball had gone in the basket, there was a tie-up between one of our players and one of the Charlotte players. At the end of the tie-up, our player extended his arm and as a result their player fell to the ground. A technical foul was immediately given, and the officials met at half-court for two minutes to go over the call. After the meeting, they decided to issue the technical, which resulted in two more shots (and the other one-and-on free throw) to Charlotte. At the end of the free throws, Charlotte was up 64-63 and had the ball as the result of the technical. Crazier things have happened in sports, so we still had a chance to win. We were down by one and planned on fouling, so that they would have to go to the free-throw line, and make two free-throws. We still would have had a chance to win. They inbounded the ball to half court, and we fouled. However, the player that we fouled did what every player in these situations does. He threw up the ball after we fouled him in an effort to gain three shots (since he was behind the three-point line because he was standing at half-court). In these situations, the refs never award the player three shots; they always call the one-and-one. However, the ref awarded Charlotte three shots, and as a result our coaches were a little angry. We received two more technicals for arguing the call, knowing that our fate was locked in when they were given three shots. At the end of it all, they were given 3 shots for the original foul, and 2 for each technical, giving them 7 more free throws. In a five second span, they shot 11 free throws and turned a 3 point loss into a 5 point win, ending our hopes at the Atlantic 10 Title and turning us away from the NCAA Tournament. It was absolutely heartbreaking.
I am five days removed from the game, and it still burns. I am currently on spring break and have travelled home to Buffalo, New York. I will visit Richmond soon for the UR Business Pitch Competition. We have entered Chance To Play into the competition and hopefully we can receive positive feedback. On April 17th, I head back to England for my final 8 week term.
Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.-Ralph Waldo Emerson