Wilmette dad serves up sundaes for son’s hot shot at Notre Dame game
NOTHING BUT NET
WHO: Casey Murdock
WHAT: An $18,000 basket
SEE IT: www.youtube.com/watch?v=djTnFcqgMio
Updated: March 22, 2013 7:05AM
WILMETTE — Some things just naturally go together: love and marriage, of course; truth and beauty; Mom and apple pie; the American League and the designated hitter.
Oh, and ice cream and basketball.
What’s that? You’re not familiar with that last one? Let Wilmette Park District Commissioner Mike Murdock explain.
You see, Murdock loves the park district. He loves basketball. He loves his son Casey, and he loves ice cream. Because Casey, an alumnus of the park district’s basketball program, made a stupendous half-court basket on national television, Casey’s dad treated park district basketball players to free ice cream Feb. 17 in the dignified confines of Wilmette’s Michigan Shores Club.
Just in case the connection’s still not clear ….
On February 9, while Murdock was treating younger son Ryan’s winning basketball team to ice cream at Homer’s Ice Cream in Wilmette, he learned that Casey, a student at Notre Dame University, successfully sank a half-court basket in front of ESPN television cameras.
Casey’s mom Eileen was jumping up and down at home, but she took time to call her husband with the news. Murdock announced to the room that he was going to buy ice cream for anyone who was in the district’s basketball programs, in honor of Casey’s success.
“The more I thought about it, though, the more I realized there probably wouldn’t be room enough at Homer’s,” Murdock said last week. “So we went for the Michigan Shores Club.”
Casey, a senior majoring in finance and political science, said Monday he has always loved playing basketball. He grew up in the park district programs and still regularly plays pick-up games with buddies.
A week or so before the Feb. 9 game between Notre Dame and the University of Louisville, which was to be that day’s ESPN College Game Day broadcast, Casey decided to try to get into the Game Day half-court throw contest.
He’d made half-court baskets before, he reasoned, and the prize for putting one through the net – $18,000 – was a powerful incentive. He carefully drew up his strategy.
“Basically I was obnoxious enough about it that they had no choice but to pick me,” he deadpanned. “I started tweeting ‘Pick me!’ over and over.”
He even asked his college roommate to re-tweet the message. His roommate told him he would – if Casey shared $400 of the pot with him.
“A deal’s a deal,” Casey said, “So I guess he’s going to be getting that $400.”
The morning of the game, he was in the audience. After he was picked, he had some time to calm his nerves, get a few hints from the amused Notre Dame players, and prepare for his attempt at half-court immortality. He also had time “to call everyone I could think of,” he said.
He had seven chances to make the basket in an 18-second window. He just missed his first try; then, before he had much of a chance to be disappointed at the near-miss, Casey tossed the second basketball. It went in.
The crowd, as they say, went wild – really wild. In one of the YouTube clips of the shot, Casey quickly disappears under a tidal wave of blue-suited Notre Dame players. That’s not too surprising, given that he was only the fourth successful shooter in College Game Day history.
“In the days leading up to it, I’d kept thinking, ‘Gosh, it would be so cool,’ and then it actually happened. No one really expects you to make a shot like that,” he said.
Back in Wilmette, Mike Murdock was determined to celebrate both Casey and the basketball program that helped him hone his free-throw talents.
So on Sunday, he was at the Michigan Shores Club, dishing out ice cream and chatting with kids in the basketball program.
“I’m an economist, and a numbers guy, so I know how big his shot was,” Murdock said.