The irony wasn’t lost.
South Carolina’s bus departed its Times Square hotel after its Elite Eight triumph about an hour before Georgia Tech’s bus pulled in to the same spot. The Yellow Jackets were there for the NIT semifinals.
Andy Demetra, in his first year as the Jackets’ radio play-by-play man for football and basketball, watched his former team advance to the Final Four.
“I think Georgia Tech’s coaches might be trying to negotiate a buyout because they want to get to the Final Four next year, too,” Demetra quipped. “No, I was fortunate enough to experience it twice in baseball. It makes you root for your friends in the business. So I’m ecstatic for Derek. He deserves it and I’m thrilled. No envy, just elation.”
Derek Scott succeeded Demetra and has gotten to call a Final Four trip in his first year on the full-time beat. Demetra saw a successful season as well – the Jackets were picked to finish next-to-last in the ACC, yet upset a lot of top teams and won Josh Pastner an ACC Coach of the Year prize. Then they stormed to the NIT finals before falling to TCU.
Demetra was at USC’s win over Duke in Greenville and I was able to catch up with him in New York the night of the Florida game. I wanted to share that moment with him because Andy and I shared a lot of late-night meals on USC road trips.
Those were the nights, slogging through another bad season, where we each wondered if our hard work was worth it. We each wouldn’t have traded our jobs for anything, but I didn’t know if anybody was reading reports on a lousy team and he was as well.
Andy did those wonderful “Inside the Chart” reports and teamed up with Spurs and Feathers to do some really good in-depth pieces (he won an award from the South Carolina Press Association for one last year). We just each didn’t know if anybody else was paying attention because the team wasn’t winning.
Andy took an opportunity with Tech he had to take. He misses USC but doesn’t regret the decision, even now. Just worked out that way.
“As a broadcaster, you get a peek behind the curtain, so you know how much those coaches and players poured into making that team what it is,” he said. “To see it all culminate in a win that was so long overdue, it’s hard to describe how much pride you have. It was really special to see.”
Andy couldn’t make it to the Final Four, but in another near-miss, he’ll be in Scottsdale next week to visit his family. Of course he’s texted back and forth with Frank Martin, the coaching staff and his former radio team, Casey Manning and Carroll Senn, and it’s been fun to share in the ride even if he wasn’t along for it.
“The losing never diminished my enthusiasm for the job. I always loved to paint the picture,” he said. “You couldn’t help but be a little jealous of your fellow broadcasters who had teams that played deep into the postseason, wondering what it would feel like. But you knew it was going to pay off.
“I missed it by a year, but I’m still glad to see them get their reward.”
Follow on Twitter at @DCTheState