March Madness: Mike White looks back at Bryce Drew's Valpo miracle
ORLANDO - While the historic Valparaiso-Ole Miss buzzer beater won't have any influence on another 4-13 matchup - the Florida Gators' game today against East Tennessee State - UF coach Mike White does see one similarity.
"That one felt like it's felt this week honestly..." said White, a guard on the Rebels team that was on the wrong side of that Valpo loss. "It's been a tough week. Really tough week."
It's been tough because UF has lost three of its last four games entering today's first-round game at the Amway Center. But let's look back at White's view on one of the maddest games March Madness has ever seen.
Ole Miss (a 4 seed) led late when Valpo's Bryce Drew drained a 3-pointer at the buzzer for a 70-69 win. That 1998 game had everything - Drew playing for his father, a ridiculous shot, a Cinderella story. On the other side is White and a Rebels team that came within a miracle shot of earning its first ever NCAA Tournament win.
"But he hit that shot on us, and I remember sitting in that locker room it seems like for hours," White said. "For hours...
"I was a kid. I was, whatever, 21, acting like I was about 14, and I remember our (sports information director) telling me, ‘You have to talk to the media,' and I refused. So I apologize to them now."
White said his Rebels had a good team that year. They led most of the game, and then Drew hit the shot that's called, well, The Shot.
"That was wild," White said. "Did that really just happen to us?"
Drew continues to get the best of White. Drew, the head coach at Vanderbilt, beat White's Gators all three times this season, including twice this month.
"I can't even talk about Bryce right now," White joked. "I'm so mad at Bryce."
White said he guarded Drew for half of that game, but he wasn't on the court for the final shot. Drew has teased White about the play - he said White wouldn't have let him catch the ball. White countered: "It would have been a four-point play. I would fouled the heck out of you."
All of that is a backdrop to today, White's first Tournament game as a head coach. It just happens to be for a 4 seed playing a potential 13-seeded Cinderella. You know, just like the one 19 years ago.
"It was a big moment in the Tournament's history," White said. "Obviously, I wish we weren't on that end of it.
But it's all memories. We have an opportunity to make more memories, to make positive memories."