After my success in dodgeball, I thought it would be a seamless transition to intramural basketball. The 3 on 3 Basketball Jamboree seemed like the perfect place to reintroduce the college to my athletic prowess. However, I needed to form a team. While I could have simply recruited two of the athletes from my dodgeball team, I wanted to prove I could be successful without them. With recruiting still on my mind, I sat down with a large group of friends in the upstairs section of Valentine Dining Hall. This section of the dining hall complemented my ego. I was eye-to-eye with the 1872 national championship crew shell, which hung over the back room of the dining hall. Additionally, I was able to look down at all of the students eating below me. My eyes then turned back to my table of friends. I stared at each of them to determine the best pair of teammates. I determined that AT* and AC* would be the perfect teammates to enhance my game.
*Author's note: both of these players would like to keep their identity confidential due to the events of February 29, 2016.
At the time, I thought I created the perfect team. While my ball handling was subpar at best, I had the court vision to make difficult passes. Moreover, I had the hustle to get open and the ability to make easy/wide-open shots. AT was our team's big man. I have previously seen him play pick-up games against friends where he would use his 6'4" frame to rebound, defend, and rack up points in the paint. AC would be our team's primary offensive weapon. AC was an international student from REDACTED** who was the self-proclaimed Kobe Bryant of REDACTED** high school basketball. In REDACTED**, he worked best in one-on-one situations against defenders and would score with his ball handling skills and pull-up jumper. Together, we formed the Thundercats.
**Author's note #2: I have chosen to omit the name of this nation due to the events of February 29, 2016. To no one's surprise, it is not a nation known for its basketball.
As we started practicing before the tournament, we were in the metaphoric upstairs of Val. I was staring at a team of fellow champions, and we collectively looked down at the rest of our competition. However, anyone who has been to Val knows no one can stay upstairs forever. Eventually, you will need to come back down to the first floor to return your dishes ("what goes up must come down").
In 2011, the 1980s classic cartoon, ThunderCats, was rebooted. The show lasted one season, which consisted of 26 episodes, but was inevitably cancelled. Ironically, the 2016 Thundercats basketball team lasted only one night, which consisted of four pathetic games.
"There will be eight teams. Two teams will start on each court. Games will be played to three with half-court rules. Teams must win by two points. The winning teams stays on the court while the losing teams moves to the next court counter-clockwise. If you return to your original court you will be eliminated. Final four will compete in a single elimination tournament" - 2016 3 on 3 Basketball Jamboree First Round Rules
Game 1: The first team we face has an average height of 6'8". Somehow in the college's population of just over 1,800 students, I have never seen any of the tall men standing before me. I start off with the ball and attempt to drive toward the basket. The defender's long strides keep me from making any moves. I first look to pass to AT, but his usual height advantage is eliminated by the 6'10" guy covering him. I pass back to AC, who is deep past the three-point line. He chucks up the shot...AIRBALL! Once the giants received the ball, the game was pretty much sealed. Three quick passes and easy lay-ups later, the three of us moved to the next court. Final Score: Team Domination 3, Thundercats 0.
Game 2: The first game was a disappointment, but there was little we could do against such a tall team. Fortunately, the next team we faced had much more manageable heights. I once again begin with the ball. I throw a quick pass to AT in the paint. He makes an easy basket in the paint to give us a 1-0 lead. With the ball back, I pass to AC, who is both far from his defender and far back from the three-point line. I am excited to see what he does with this much spacing given his reputation. However, he chucks up another deep shot, which sails far to the right of the basket. The other team gets the ball and does not relinquish it for the rest of the game. One player makes a deep shot while I am right in his face and another jukes past AC and AT for the final bucket. Final Score: Skillz that Killz 3, Thundercats 1
Game 3: Our next game was against Three of the Four Seniors of the Amherst Varsity Men's Tennis Team in the Year of Our Lord 2016 (we'll just call them the Tennis Seniors). I start with the ball and make a quick pass to AT. After an easy bucket, I start again with the ball. I fake it to AC and pass it to AT at the basket. He misses the shot, but I grab the rebound and put the bull in the net after a quick pump fake. Up 2-0, we have a chance to end the game right here. I drive past my defender right at the basket. I have a wide-open lay-up. I underestimate my momentum and the ball bounces right back from the backboard. The ball is tipped up by a few defenders, and it somehow makes its way into the arms of AC, who is once again behind the three-point line. To no one's surprise, he takes the shot. However, this shot is headed toward the basket. There may be hope! The ball finishes its arc and hits the very front of the room. Unfortunately, it ricochets to a tennis senior who is wide-open and behind the three-point line. The game is now tied. We did not want to blow this lead, so each of us was playing tight defense. The guy I am covering attempts to make a cross-court pass. I attempt to swap it down, but I change the ball's trajectory directly toward the basket. The ball hits the top of the rim and spins around it. Somehow, it falls into the basket. Final Score: Tennis Seniors 4, Thundercats 2
Game 4: This was our elimination game. How would we react with our backs against the wall? We are up against some guys on the football team, and I look across to find my former dodgeball teammate. Times have changed. He was 3-0 in the tournament thus far. He was still undefeated in his intramural sports career. Perhaps this was my chance to restore myself to my former glory. For the fourth time, I begin with the ball. I make a move to the right, but my former teammate steals the ball and dishes it out to his teammate beyond the three-point line. The ball goes in. The football guys now have possession. I am covering my former teammate, who makes a beeline to the basket. I continue to stay with him as he receives the ball. He jumps up and dunks over me. I was just posterized by my former dodgeball teammate at an intramural basketball tournament. This was rock bottom. We were now eliminated. Final Score: Crank It! 3, Thundercats 0.
Character arcs come in all forms, but mine was shaped like an arch.