Another Reason to Root for American
(Actual basketball writer Eric Prisbell and I will be chatting about brackets at 11. Submit your questions here.)
As if you needed another reason to back the 14 seeds from Spring Valley, check out Jordan Nichols's hair during the Patriot League championship game. The TV cameras were all over it; the game stories, less so.
"Ask him about the baseball on the back of his head," one of Nichols's teammates advised me. Indeed, the basketball was perhaps missing a line (see below), but when you have your number on one side of your head, your school logo on the other and a swirling basketball motif on the back, the details aren't that important.
"They were clowning me, but I like the way it looks," Nichols told me. "I figured I'm a senior this year, it was my last chance to do something fun."
I talked to Nichols last week, when his teammates urged me to, under the hope that he might start crying. Apparently he gets emotional this time of year. Something about how much American has changed since he arrived, how far he's traveled with his teammates, etc. During one of the Eagles' final practices last week, some of his teammates asked him to describe how emotional he gets.
"I'm close right now," he said then, two days before the final. "I'm on the edge."
As in, "on the edge of tears," in other words.
"We could throw out a couple comments right now to get him to break down," Bryce Simon had said then. "I mean, we're not going to, but just talking about the seniors...."
"You should have seen this guy last year at Selection Sunday," Steve Luptak added. "He lost it."
"Crying like a baby," Nichols agreed.
"Before they started announcing the brackets, he just started balling," Luptak continued. "All of us were in shock. We couldn't believe our eyes. That was the first time we'd ever really seen him break down like that."
So anyhow, this year's Selection Show came and went without any waterworks. Apparently several teammates had urged Nichols to hold things in, plus he said he was more focused on finding out who the Eagles would play.
"I know he was getting a little watery-eyed," Luptak said. "I think he fought it. Coach told him to fight it off this year."
"We told him he's not allowed to cry this year," Nick Hendra said. "Acting like a baby's not good for motivation."
"I thought I was going to," Nichols said. "I started to before I came out here, but I wasn't as emotional as last year. It was just more intense."
"I'm disappointed," Simon said.
"I cry a lot," Nichols concluded. "I don't know why. Not because I'm sad. When I get excited it just comes up. It's whatever. My soft side."
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