Wright State players recall their favorite NCAA tourney memories

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

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Wright State players share NCAA tourney memories

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

The NCAA tournament is one of those events where people remember where they were and whom they were with when Lorenzo Charles dunked Dereck Whittenburg’s air ball, when Christian Laettner KO’d Kentucky or Mario Chalmers forced overtime against Memphis.

Those memories, and so many more, are especially vivid in the minds of people who devoted much of their life to the game and dreamed of day being on that stage and making that shot. People such as the players on the Wright State basketball team, who will get their chance to dance into history after earning a spot in the NCAA tournament by winning the Horizon League for the first time since 2007.

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So iconic are the moments of madness in March that Wright State senior Grant Benzinger’s first memories are of a play that happened when he was just 2 years old.

“My dad always plays old highlights, and I don’t remember what year it was, but it was Bryce Drew’s 3 to make Valparaiso win its first tournament game and him and his dad hugged and it was really emotional,” Benzinger said. “It’s always been there since I was 5 or 6, and it’s really great to be a part of it now.”

Drew's buzzer-beating shot against Mississippicame in 1998, when Benzinger was 2. The two would later share the same the court six times with Drew as the head coach at Valpo competing against the Raiders in the Horizon League in Benzinger's first two seasons.

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WSU freshman Jaylon Hall’s connection to the tournament goes back even farther, before he was even born.

Hall’s uncles Keith Williams (1988-90) and Tony Williams (1997, 1999-2000) played in the NCAA tournament with Louisville.

For junior Mark Hughes, his favorite part is the annual “One Shining Moment” montage at the conclusion of the championship game.

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“I’ve seen it a bunch of times,” he said. “My parents let me stay up. They knew I took basketball very serious at a young age. When I used to watch the games at a young age, my mom and dad would be right there with me.”

Here is a sampling of some of the other players NCAA tournament memories:

Senior Trey Stacey

“The first memory I have of the tournament is watching my cousin, Beckham Wyrick, playing in 2006 with UNC-Wilmington. My cousin-in-law, John David Gardner, was on the 2007 Wright State team that went to the tournament.

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“Watching Jimmer Fredette and BYU make a run in 2011 is still my favorite moment, and when Florida Gulf Coast and “Dunk City” won two games a few years back. In high school, we would watch the games in class on our laptops, and when the teachers tried blocking the websites, we would put our phones on our computers in order to keep watching.”

Sophomore Ryan Custer

“My first real memory of the NCAA tournament was when I bet my friend two dollars that Memphis would win when they played Kansas and I lost so I faked sick the next day and went in late because I was scared to ask my dad for two dollars to pay him.

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“I have never been to an NCAA tournament game, so this year is extra special.”

Sophomore Adam Giles

“My first memory of watching is the last time Wright State went and played against Pittsburgh. My parents graduated from Wright State, and I’ve been going to games all my life. I also went to the national championship game in eight grade to watch Butler’s second trip to the finals when they lost to Duke.”

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Freshman Loudon Love

“In middle school I started watching it more. It was on during lunch, and I remember filling out brackets. I don’t have a specific memory, but they all have that one magic moment. They’re all special.”

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