It stands to reason that every die-hard Maryland basketball fan of a certain age remembers where they were 10 years ago Friday.
In the first game of their NCAA tournament title defense, the Terps trailed UNC-Wilmington 73-72 in a first-round game in Nashville. Senior guard Drew Nicholas took the inbounds pass, raced up the court and launched a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to give Maryland a 75-73 win.
Does it really feel like that unforgettable NCAA tournament moment happened 10 years ago?
“No, man. It goes by super quick. I tell people all the time,” Nicholas said last week. “All of a sudden, it seems like if you blink an eye, 10 years have passed. It’s still kind of surreal when I see it and relive that moment.”
After Maryland bowed out in the Sweet 16 of the 2003 NCAA tournament, Nicholas embarked on a professional career that took him to Greece, Italy, Russia and Turkey. But after parting ways with his Russian pro team in November, Nicholas quickly moved on to the next phase of his post-college career as a broadcaster.
“Only a couple days after I got home [from Russia], I was playing with one of my ex-high school teammates [Tim Doyle]. He played at Northwestern and is actually a college basketball analyst now,” Nicholas said. “I was talking to him, and his company had an opening. Even though I didn’t have any experience, they said I should fly out and interview. I flew out to Chicago, talked about the position, and it fell into my lap.”
The opening was with Total College Sports, which provides college basketball and football video analysis to companies like SportingNews.com, SI.com and newspaper websites, plus university-run athletic websites. For Nicholas, who majored in government and politics at Maryland, the transition from playing basketball to talking about it on-camera was a quick one.
“They threw me into the fire. Probably another three or four weeks after they gave me the job, I had to start going out there since January 1. I’ve been flying out to Chicago every week," said Nicholas, who lives in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. "Monday and Tuesday I tape. I’ve hired a media coach to help me. They review my tapes [and tell me] the things I need to work on.”
Nicholas and Doyle typically record three four-minute segments, which are produced and distributed to various online media outlets. The former teammates at Long Island Lutheran debate the biggest topics in college basketball.
“Me and Tim, because we’ve known each other for so long, we go back and forth a little bit,” Nicholas said. “The segments are so short. We keep it really general. You can’t get into a long, heated First Take-type discussion.”
Nicholas enjoys his work with TCS and hopes to do more color commentary in future seasons. He called a Miami vs. Boston College women’s game for ESPN3 earlier this year, and has made several radio appearances throughout the country.
“Broadcasting, it’s different,” Nicholas said. “It’s a lot easier when someone is asking you the questions and you can just say how you feel. Broadcasting is different, but it’s really exciting. It’s something I want to learn. I kind of compare it to being up there on set that first time, it kind of gave me butterflies, like before I had a game. That was interesting to me.”
Nicholas knows he’s far from a finished product as a broadcaster, but he’s thankful to have been given a shot with TCS without any previous experience. One day, he might even get the chance to broadcast the same sort of shot he buried 10 years ago in Nashville.
“That would be great to be on the air and call a shot like that,” Nicholas said. “I never thought about it like that. If I ever have that chance, in those times and situations, you just have to go with it and react. … [I’m] really looking forward to starting this next phase of my life.”