The shoe fits
The North Dakota State University men's basketball team got a lot of attention for reaching the NCAA tournament their first year eligible. From ESPN to the New York Times, they were called a Cinderella story, America's darlings, something special. Even with seemingly hundreds of news stories, it's tough to say the story was fully told. You could write a book about every basket, every defensive move, the games they should have won, the games they should not have won but did. You could write another about the high quality efforts of these young men as students. You could dissect strategy and parse plays all day.
Making it to the tournament this year was always the goal. This year's seniors redshirted so they could be eligible for the NCAA Division I tournament. They'd need to stay focused and together and healthy for five years and then there'd be this one shot. Talk about a long-term strategy.
Ben Woodside, the guard who scored 37 points in the NCAA tournament game against defending national champion Kansas, had been in the news in December for scoring 60 points in a game, so people knew a little about him. "I didn't know he was that good," said Kansas guard Sherron Collins after the game. NDSU came within three points several times in the second half, eventually losing 84-74.
Thousands of fans came to the game at the Metrodome in Minneapolis, wearing their green and yellow. They got lots of media attention, too. It's not as commonplace as you might think to have such a fan base.
Those are the details. The story, really and truly, is of a community of people - players, coaches, administrators and fans - who reached high and stayed committed. During the long years before eligibility, when the goal seemed a long time off, when it was about hard days in the weight room for the team or driving through a cold, dark night to buy a ticket to a game less glamorous than playing Kansas on national television, everyone stayed with it.