If you could have guessed the team that would’ve had the strongest showing out of the local March Madness participants, American University would not have been among your top picks.
Largely ignored thanks to the size and location of their school, the American Eagles have assembled a mid-major enigma—a team that is good enough to sustain success, but unremarkable enough to be removed from any regional recognition.
They have a well-known coach, and have recruited talent intelligent and hard-nosed enough to dominate the Patriot League and consistent enough to perform in the national tournament.
AU fans are among the nation’s leading experts at floor-storming, which means they are excited about the program.
And yet, thanks to the Marylands, Georgetowns, George Washingtons, and George Masons of the world, we never seem to pay any real attention to the Eagles until they are in a conference final or up by 14 on a three-seed in the national tournament.
Perhaps there is very little room in our hearts for another basketball program to follow with closeness and anxiousness. We spend our time lamenting the underachievement of Maryland and the return of Georgetown, and with what little attention span we have left, we check in on George Mason. Maybe that’s just fine by the Eagles.
But for the sake of local basketball fandom, we could do a lot better by getting on board with AU’s blueprint for mid-major success. Perhaps if the underdog became the object of our attention, we would know more about athletes like Bryce Simon, and maybe we won’t be surprised when Garrison Carr positions himself to be this year’s Stephen Curry.
I know, it will take a lot to turn away from the glitter of power conference basketball, but indeed, the power is yours to use wisely.
American depends on it.