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Extra Overtime: Two Well-Matched College Teams Duke It Out



A whole lot of college basketball went down last night and it seemed like most of it was played by Notre Dame and Louisville. The two colleges went toe-to-toe last night for five overtimes until they had a winner. Notre Dame claimed the victory in the end.

NPR's Mike Pesca caught the whole thing and he joins us to talk about it. Hey, Mike.

MIKE PESCA, BYLINE: Hey, how are you doing?

MARTIN: Doing well. So take us back to the beginning of this game. Set it up. What - I mean, these are clearly two very well matched teams.

PESCA: Yeah, you're right, you would assume from the result. And I like when you said toe-to-toe. They - it was five overtimes and it was toe-to-toe-to-toe-to-toe, right?


PESCA: As foot - a polydactyl foot. So these were the 11th Louisville and 25th ranked teams in the country. Two good teams, Big East teams. Teams that know each other well to the tune of four of their last five games actually went into overtime. And one of those was a double overtime. So I think it's fair to say they're pretty evenly matched teams. And even though Louisville is a little better, they were play on Notre Dame's home court.

MARTIN: So when these people show up, the fans to these games, they bring the super-size Big Gulp sodas.


MARTIN: They expect to be there for a while.


PESCA: Right, which when the Big East championship is played in New York City, since the super-size Big Gulps are outlawed, I don't know what they're going to do.


PESCA: And the Notre Dame fans, by the way, through five overtimes were crazy and great. And it was such an energized crowd. It was a pleasure to watch.

MARTIN: So why didn't Louisville just easily demolish Notre Dame?

PESCA: Well, like we said, even though Louisville had the higher ranking, you give Notre Dame the home-court advantage, it equals out. And the other thing is, you know, the Louisville players, they just missed so many opportunities at the buzzer. They had many more opportunities to win it. So, the tenor of the game was Louisville establishing a lead and then Notre Dame doing weird and scrappy things to get out from under Louisville's thumb. For instance, in regulation, Notre Dame was actually down eight points with 45 seconds left. And that's when Jerian Grant, who's the son of former NBA player Harvey Grant, which means he's the nephew of former NBA star Horace Grant, he scores 12 points in 45 seconds - 3-pointer, 3-pointer, lay-up. So, that effort alone was amazing to send the game to overtime and then overtime and then overtime and etcetera, yeah.

MARTIN: Oh, my. It's a good game. OK. So, in your opinion, was there a really good player, an MVP of the game?

PESCA: Well, there were a couple. Like I said, Jerian Grant was great. Then there's this kid, Garrick Sherman, who almost never plays for Notre Dame, but since so many players fouled out in this long game - 62 percent longer than normal - a guy named Garrick Sherman came in, and he had 17 points and six rebounds. And that's a good game - 17 points and six rebounds - but here's the thing. He didn't actually play in the actual game, as defined as 40 minutes. He only came in in overtime. So, that's got to be some sort of record for scoring in just overtime. And the other MVP wasn't a player but the referee of the game had just this fascinating backstory. His name is John Gaffney. He's one of the three referees. And he reffed earlier that day - the Marquette versus DePaul game - and that game was in Milwaukee. So, he had to actually drive from Milwaukee to South Bend, which is a three-and-a-half-hour drive in the snow because of this...

MARTIN: Oh, no.

PESCA: So, he had to do double duty. And this game lasted about three and a half hours. So, yeah, that's sort of an MVP too.

MARTIN: The dedication. The love of the game. OK. You have a curveball this week for us?

PESCA: I do. This was a national college signing day, where high school players commit to different schools - and I'll get back to that word commit. But first, I'd like to focus on the word fax. You know, the way a high school player tells his future college team he's going to play for them is to send a fax.

MARTIN: Which is bizarre. I mean, really, no email?

PESCA: I know. Let's put it this way. On the TV show "30 Rock," the beeper is mocked as an antiquated technology and faxes predate beepers, don't they? And so these weird things happen. You know, in the history of faxing, there was this one case where Durell Price wanted to go to Ohio State, and he faxed his letter of intent to Ohio State, but the fax machine over there was hinky and it didn't work. Oh, actually...

MARTIN: Go figure.

PESCA: know, actually one story says that it was more of the clerk at a Kinko's or one of these local drug stores. Anyway, it was a screw-up with the fax. About a day later, he's like, you know what, that fax didn't go through, I'm going to UCLA. And then Manti Te'o, his fax went through but the other players on his high school - Punahou High School - the fax machine broke at Punahou and one of the players who wound up being actually in the middle of that Manti Te'o story was a guy who wasn't even going to go to Notre Dame, but after the fax broke, he's, like, eh, I'll go to Notre Dame.


PESCA: And the last thing I'd like to say about fax signing day is that there's this verb, to commit, they commit to a school. But sometimes players change their mind and then they are said to de-commit. And I would just like to submit there is no such thing as de-committing. If commit is defined as to obligate or bind, one cannot de-commit.

MARTIN: I'm sure your wife is happy to hear that.

PESCA: Well, it could turn out that in retrospect you haven't committed, but I have to question de-committing as a thing.

MARTIN: You have said it here. NPR's Mike Pesca. Thanks so much, Mike.

PESCA: You're welcome.


MARTIN: You're listening to WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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