(Neil Miller/Sportsday Wire)
The 21st edition of the Jimmy V Classic to raise funds for the V Foundation for cancer research and to give hope to the victims of the disease and their loved ones was held at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday night.
This year’s men’s doubleheader featured thr4ee teams ranked in the top 14 of the nation, Maryland-6th, Virginia-10th and West Virginiua-14th. The fourth team, Connecticut, received votes in number just below the top 25. Highly ranked college teams have been a staple of the Classic’s first eight years at the Meadowlands Arena, 1995-2002, and the last 13 years at Madison Square Garden, 2003-2015.
The first game, the Virginia Cavaliers (8-1) and the West Virginia Mountaineers (7-1) was according to Virginia’s coach Tony Bennett, “A story of two halves.” The Mountaineers dominated the early minutes. After producing a 10-2 scoring run, they led by double figures, 25-14, with 8:21 remaining in the half. Bennett explained his team’s difficulty, “We were shaky to start. That’s a credit to how hard they [Mountaineers] play.” The Cavaliers came back in the closing minutes and ended the half with an 8-1 run to cut the deficit at the half to 36-30.
Virginia continued its spurt in the second half and took its first advantage since the opening minutes of the game, 42-40, with 13:03 left. As the game progressed, Virginia’s lead grew to double digits, ending at 70-054. The cavalier’s shot an amazing 73.7 % in the second half and a season high 62.8 % for the game. A very disappointed coach Bob Huggins of West Virginia commented after the game, “I don’t remember a team getting as many layups in half court. I can’t imagine we’re when the game begins we’re as bad as we are. I’m not very happy.”
In the second game, Maryland controlled the action throughout the first half. A 12-2 run brought them a double-digit lead, 19-6, at 11:44. The advantage built to 20 at 4:28, 34-14. Maryland’s 16 point halftime lead dropped to three, 67-64 with 2:44 remaining in the game. After a technical foul w as called on Connecticut’s coach Kevin Ollie, the terrapins closed the contest with a 9-2 run and a 10 point victory, 76-66.
Although the two games played were competitive, interesting and entertaining, the greatest importance of the evening was on display during halftime of the opening contest. The sponsor of the event, Corona, presented a check of $100,000 to the V Foundation. This raised Corona’s contributions to $7,000,000. The V foundation has already given more than $150 million to cancer research.
The most inspiring moment of the night for basketball’s campaign against cancer came with the video of Jimmy Valvano’s speech at the ESPY Awards on March 4, 1993 t5hat was shown on the video screen during the halftime ceremony. The late coach of Rutgers, Iona and North Carolina State emotionally offered useful principle by which to live to people of all ages and backgrounds, whether ill or not, “Three things we should do every single day are laugh, think and cry. That’s a full day…Remember where you came from, where you are and where you want to be…Don’t give up! Don’t ever give up!”