OMAHA, Neb. — The father is singing James Brown, dancing and spinning in a delirious state of joy. He came here from the Jamaican section of Queens, N.Y., more than 1,200 miles away, and now he is standing on a crowded sidewalk outside the CenturyLink Center.
By RUSTIN DODD
The Kansas City Star
I feeeeel good, he sings, I knew that I would, now
Its nearly 30 minutes after the final buzzer, a half-hour after 15th-seeded Norfolk State shook up the college basketball world with an 86-84 victory over No. 2 seed Missouri. Tommie OQuinn is wearing a green-and-gold letter jacket with the family name stitched on the back.
I feel good like I knew that I would, now, he bellows. So good so good! Bum-bum-bum-buh!
For most of the past two hours, he stood in the stands at the CenturyLink Center and watched his son, Norfolk State senior center Kyle OQuinn, become a star. The younger OQuinn scored 26 points, pulled down 14 rebounds and forced a crucial jump ball against Missouris Ricardo Ratliffe, saving a precious possession in the final moments.
By far, Tommie OQuinn says. Its the most exciting game that hes ever played.
As the elder OQuinn speaks, the aftermath of an NCAA Tournament stunner unfolds around him. A Missouri fan holds two tickets in the air at the corner of 10th and Cass, hopeful that somebody would take them off his hands. Kansas fans strut past, heading for the entrance, the Jayhawks own tournament opener just a few hours away. On the hotel patio across the street, two Missouri fans take heat from a man in a blue T-shirt.
Nobodys choked like this since Iowa State, a 20-something fan says, referencing Iowa States loss to Hampton as a No. 2 seed in 2001.
Missouri fans had come to Omaha to watch their team begin a journey, a ride that would hopefully end with the Tigers cutting down the nets next week in Phoenix and advancing to their first Final Four in school history. Now it was over in an instant.
In the final minutes, the chant of N-S-U, N-S-U reverberated through the arena. All those fans from Florida and Kansas and other faraway places were now cheering for Norfolk State.
I tell you, Spartans athletic director Marty Miller said. I was surprised. It seemed as though the fans at the other programs backed us. They were sitting in our corner.
All the Spartans had heard the cheers, too. And for senior guard Rodney McCauley, who finished with nine points, it wasnt that surprising. Before Fridays game, McCauley said, the team had been approached by a few KU fans staying at the same hotel.
They really wanted us to beat Missouri, McCauley says. They gave us tips, gave us pointers.
Not that the Spartans necessarily needed them. In the locker room after the game, Norfolk States keys to the game were still written on a small white board in the corner.
The first three: 1. Transition defense; 2. Offensive rebounding; 3. Wear them down.
Here, too, were scenes from a stunner. The players chanted about shocking the world, and standing up for Norfolk, and about a certain U.S. president who picked Missouri in his bracket.
You know whats funny? McCauley said. We all said we was gonna prove him wrong. And we really expect a call. We really expect it. We would love that.
Back outside, just a few minutes later, Tommie OQuinn was finishing up his dance. Another son Kyles older brother, Carroll, 34 was by his side. And together, father and son would disappear down the sidewalk into a mass of basketball fans some heartbroken, some still hopeful.
We, Carroll OQuinn says, slayed a Tiger tonight.
To reach Rustin Dodd, call 816-234-4937 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at twitter.com/rustindodd.