By: Tom Lambert
The memories come flooding back to Derek Baisden and Tricia Eddy this time of year when buzzer beaters and underdogs rule the college basketball world.
For Baisden it was 11 Marches ago. He was a key member of the hoops team at Spring Arbor University when he hit the shot of his life.
His team was trailing by 1 point with 15 seconds left in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Tournament for Division II schools. Rollie Massimino, a member of the College Basketball Hall of Fame, was roaming the sideline for the opponent, the University of Northwood, Fla. He calmly cut between two defenders and banked in a layup to advance his team into the next round. It was a feeling of euphoria that he never felt before.
Baisden, who works as a Financial Analyst for Consumers Energy, remembers it like it was yesterday. It’s something he thinks about each March, when college basketball teams from all over the country battle during a month of elation and devastation.
“I will never forget how nervous I was before that game,” he said. “I was rocking back and forth to the National Anthem, which I usually did at every game. But this time it was more than usual. I was pretty amped up because they were a pretty intimidating team, they had a 6’11” guy and he wasn’t even their best player. And they had a coach who won the NCAA Division 1 national title for (the University of) Villanova. This wasn’t just any other game.”
While Baisden was shooting jumpers and making crisp passes as a Spring Arbor Cougar, Eddy was draining three-pointers during her time at Tri-State University in Indiana.
Eddy got recruited after some standout seasons at Western High School in Parma. She took her talents across the border to Tri-State, which is now Trine University.
She was a sharp-shooter from three-point range, shooting about 50 percent from outside during her two-year stint at Tri-State from 2004-06. Her career was cut short by a severe stress fracture in her foot.
Eddy has a lot of memories from her days as a member of the Tri-State Thunder, an NAIA school. But one that sticks out is nailing six three-pointers in a half.
“It was an awesome feeling,” she said. “Of course, I went ice cold in the second half, but we still won.”
Eddy is passing her love of basketball and the tournament on to her two young children.
“There’s nothing like it,” she said. “I drive my family crazy because I am jumping up and down and rooting hard for an underdog. But that’s what happens to me this time of year.”
Eddy, a Principal Rate Analyst at Consumers Energy, said playing college basketball has taught her work and life lessons.
“It’s taught me patience, making adjustments on the fly and learning to win as graciously as I do when I lose,” she said.
“But the thing from being on a team that I will always carry with me: everyone on a team has a role, and if one person doesn’t hold up their end then the team won’t be successful.”
The tournament – which captures the attention of Americans for three weeks – returned this year after a year hiatus due to the pandemic.