Friday finally brought some excitement to the table, after the initial thrill of Thursday's day-drinking-instead-of-working had worn off. We had two 15 seeds beating 2 seeds—and one of them was Duke! But the real fun came after Norfolk State University bested Missouri, a team for some reason loads of people had going to the Final Four. Lucky for us we likely won't be winning any money this March and we got a chance to meet Kyle O'Quinn. Happy St. Patrick's Day!
"We messed up some brackets! We messed up some brackets!" he said. "We even messed up my bracket."
It's always fun to meet an athlete who has not yet been trained to pump out meaningless fortune cookie quotes to the media day after day. O'Quinn, a native New Yorker, most likely never had so many microphones in his face before in his life, but did he ever seem like a natural.
Despite his ease in front of the recording devices, he has been playing basketball for just a handful of years. He only played his Senior year in high school ("They needed somebody for the jump ball. That was me.") and only one school offered him a scholarship—Norfolk State. Lucky for them—and us—that he's here now winning hearts as he and his teammates destroy brackets.
Well, maybe not all brackets.
"We ran into an old lady (Thursday) night at dinnertime," O'Quinn said. "She told us, 'Whatever you do - beat Mizzou.'"
We're not sure if O'Quinn responded to the old lady, but if he did, it was probably sharp as a tack, and just as short.
"My future is winning on Sunday, how about that?" he said. "Let's take small steps."
On NSU's band and cheerleaders: "When they're shaking it like that, you gotta look over there."
On President Obama picking Mizzou for the Final Four: "Maybe next time you'll think about the underdogs. Because we play hard."
On preparing for Missouri: "We actually had Phil Pressey in our practice." A pause. "I'm joking."
O'Quinn is not the only guy with a sense of humor on the team, however. Following the upset and bracket busting, several of his teammates are now expecting an apology phone call from President Obama. "'We wanted to mess up his bracket,' [Marcus] Tamares said. Tamares paused and added: 'I still like President Obama. I don't want problems with the commander-in-chief.'"
O'Quinn, though, is the star and was so charming and funny that reporters felt compelled to track down his father to ask where he got it from. Kyle, according to his father Tommie, is a regular chip off the old block. "'His mom don't have nothing to do with it,' Tommie joked."
Norfolk State's Kyle O'Quinn embraces role of Bracket Buster after upset of Missouri [Sacramento Bee]
O'Quinn steps into spotlight for tourney's new Cinderella [Omaha.com]
Calling President Obama [Politico]
Norfolk State's Kyle O'Quinn: 5 Things To Know About The Breakout Star [IBTimes]