Nobody gets off Scott free after watching two amazing basketball games in one evening with only a 40-minute break in between them. To one degree or another, all of the 75,421 people who were in Reliant Stadium Saturday night and saw Butler beat VCU and UCONN’s triumph over Kentucky are suffering from a basketball hangover right now. Semifinal Saturday is always elating and deflating. It’s also draining. That’s not just from watching the ups and downs of two great basketball games. It's also from having to sit through a trombone blaring into your ear for more hours than an auditory nerve was meant to be tortured; it’s having to watch some sweaty student inside a dopey costume dancing at seemingly random times; and it’s putting up with the person next to you checking for emails. After the final whistle blows, you leave the arena, thirsty, simultaneously sweaty and chilled from the air conditioning, yet still calculating how many hours you’ll have to wait until Monday night’s game.
Those fans who watched the games at home are not immune to the hangover feeling. Watching a double header is just as draining for them. They also have to deal with things like family members who don’t care about the games and actually talk during them, the phone ringing and nobody answering it, and their TVs suddenly losing reception for ten seconds when the score is tied. They know they should conserve their strength for the Championship Game, but sometimes they’re weak. They’ll record the games, and then sneak down and watch them again after everyone else is asleep.
You want to get over the hangover so you’ll be ready to focus on the next game. I chose to go cold turkey. I knew if I even drank in one more rerun of the game, one analysis on TV, or one heated discussion about who’s going to win the next one, it would all be over for me. Sure, I thought about Saturday night’s games. I had trouble falling asleep. When I closed my eyes, I’d see Kemba Walker making that spectacular pass and Matt Howard making yet another put-back. However, I didn’t let things like that control me.
Whenever I’m in a situation like this, I know what to do. I try to stay busy, and I drink plenty of water. I spent as much time away from the hotel on Sunday as possible. I knew there were NBA games on TV, and I didn’t trust that I could resist watching them if I stayed. I went to what is perhaps the opposite of a basketball game – an art museum. By the time I got back to the hotel, the games were over. I had avoided temptation and become that much stronger for the big game ahead.
I felt really good about myself. Then after dinner, as I was walking through the lobby, I saw a bunch of people watching something on TV. It was the UCONN-Notre Dame women’s game. I knew I never should have sat down. Now I’ve got another hangover to get over – and the clock is ticking.