I’m a Xavier University alum and have season tickets for their men’s basketball team, so I was thrilled that they beat Georgia State yesterday to get to the Sweet 16 in the NCAA tournament. (It’s their 5th Sweet 16 since 2008.) But I think members of the media and casual fans of the tourney were disappointed because it ended a great story line about the Georgia State coach, Ron Hunter. While celebrating his team’s win in their conference tournament finals, he blew out his Achilles tendon…
…so he had to coach in the NCAAs while wearing a boot and sitting on a rolling chair that looked like it was straight out of the Staples catalog. When his son R.J. Hunter, a junior guard on the team, hit an amazing game-winning shot in their first round upset of Baylor, he was so excited that he fell out of his chair.
As fate would have it, another Georgia State player is Kevin Ware, who suffered a gruesome broken leg in the NCAA tourney while playing for Louisville two years ago.
And this is not the first time Ron Hunter has drawn attention to his feet. In 2008 he coached a game barefoot to encourage shoe donations and raise awareness for a charity called Samaritan’s Feet that provides shoes to poor children around the world.
Georgia State’s run was a great story. It wasn’t just about the injury but also about the joy of a father coaching his son, and both of them experiencing success together. Ron gave his son a big, teary-eyed hug when he came out of the game in the waning seconds yesterday.
And Coach Hunter had a heartwarming perspective about his team’s magical run in his post-game press conference:
What a class act! Now I almost feel bad that my beloved Musketeers beat them. Almost.