Excerpts for Cinderella : Inside the Rise of Mid-major College Basketball


Chapter one
MADNESS

"Madness need not be all breakdown. It may also be break-through. It is potential liberation and renewal." Â-R.D. Laing


Standing on the floor of the Richmond Coliseum, nearing midnight and well after his team's hard fought victory over UNC-Wilmington in the 2005 CAA semifinals, Virginia Commonwealth University Head Coach Jeff Capel's mind was amazingly clear.
"Tomorrow is the longest day," he said, shaking his head with a half smile. "Soooooo long."
On a good day, the Richmond Coliseum appears its age. The venerable building was built in 1971 and stands as an homage to the circular, multipurpose venues that became popular during that era of sports stadium construction. What makes it worse is the entire building, inside and out, was painted brown. It annually hosts concerts and graduations, minor league hockey, and the circus. The CAA does everything it can to spruce up the place, adding colorful sponsorship signage and bright banners championing the history of the league.
At this moment, however, the building was showing its age. It was almost empty, save players, their families, and media members who chose to hang around and finish up the night's work on press row. There was an odd feeling-a chilly warmth tempered with the smell of age and basketball-that seemed to hang in the air.
Three days of basketball action had filled its walls. There had been stories, but it was the thought of the final chapter that bounced around the staleness.
Jeff Capel, on the other hand, is among the best-dressed coaches in the college game-his sideline sartorial choice is always a sharp suit well put together. In fact, VCU fans came to know the signal for an upset Capel-it was only then that the jacket came off.
Now, nearly an hour after a big victory, Capel's tie was loosened, his jacket folded across his left arm. Beads of sweat glistened on his forehead and shone through the armpits of his shirt. Even after such a rigorous day, one he knew would be only his second longest, Capel held a "together" look. As he took in the scene, the obviously tired coach seemed buoyed by the thoughts of what his team had accomplished.


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