Saturday, March 18, 2017



A bigtime heartbreaker, that's what I'm calling it.

And I'm sure you're not feeling all that great about it either.
Actually, I kind of hate to use a word like heartbreaker because I know there are plenty of people reading these essays who've had coronary bypass surgery or are outfitted with such lifesaving devices as pacemakers and defibrillators.

So I hope all of those folks who watched on TV as Iowa State wiped out a 19-point deficit only to lose to Purdue, 80-76, tonight in a second round NCAA basketball tournament game at Milwaukee made it through all 40 minutes without having to make a trip to the emergency room.
For the Cyclones, for guys like Monte Morris, Deonte Burton, Nazareth Jersey Mitrou-Long and Matt Thomas, it was an absolutely agonizing way to lose a game and end the season with a 24-11 record.
They looked down for the count when they fell behind, 58-39, in the last half.
But there's tremendous fight in this team, and it was clearly evident when Iowa State took a 73-71 lead and appeared ready to keep marching down the NCAA trail to perhaps yet another game against Big 12 riival Kansas.
But it didn't happen.
Purdue has a player named Caleb Swanigan, who stands 6 feet 9 inches, weighs 245 pounds and is quite the battler himself, as well as a tremendous basketball player.
Swanigan scored 20 points, grabbed 12 rebounds and had seven assists for a Boilermaker team that won the regular-season championship in the Big Ten.
Swanigan was named player of the year in the conference, which is quite a tribute to a man who weighed 380 pounds as an eighth-grader, but had the personal discipline to lose more than 100 pounds and turn himself into a likely National Basketball Association player.
While watching the game on the tube, I was texting with a number of people, three of whom were my sons.
It was interesting to read observations and opinions streaming into my iPhone 6S as the dramatic game progressed.
"I told Julie [his wife] at the 12-minute mark when the Clones were down 12 that they were going to win the game," texted my son Lonn.
Steve Prohm, Iowa State's coach, his players and Cyclone fans everywhere wished Lonn had been right.
At another point, one of the kids texted, "Swanigan is unconscious."
Unconscious meaning the guy was doing everything perfectly.
That he was at various stages of the game.
Just think, so-called collegiate basketball experts around the nation have been saying all season that the league's overall strength in 2016-2017 doesn't measure up to what it's been in past years.
Don't try telling that to teams such as Purdue, Wisconsin, Michigan, Northwestern and Michigan State.
Unfortunately for Iowa State's players and coaches, it will be Swanigan and the rest of the Boilermakers who will be playing in the Sweet Sixteen next week instead of them.