Duke fans cheer as Notre Dame's Steve Vasturia inbounds the...

Duke fans cheer as Notre Dame's Steve Vasturia inbounds the ball during an NCAA college game in Durham, N.C., in 2015.  Credit: AP/Gerry Broome

Savor the endless clichés we’ll hear during March Madness, the NCAA men’s basketball tournament that begins March 19.

The Big Dance is here, and that is huge.

Now it’s do or die, win or go home, because if we lose, there’s no tomorrow. Time to go all in, give 110% and leave it all out on the court, because our backs are against the wall and losing is not an option. We’re going to bring our “A” game every night and take it to the next level.

Everybody doubted us. No one gave us a chance. Nobody expected us to get this far except for the guys in this locker room. We had to overcome a ton of adversity. It’s always been us against the world, and we’re going to shock the world. We’re more than a team, we’re a family, a band of brothers on a mission to shut up all the haters and the naysayers.

Speaking of naysayers, I don’t believe what the selection committee did to us. A No. 10 seed? No respect. But we’ll show them. We’re focused and committed and won’t be denied. We’ve got it all going on and refuse to lose. We’re a team of destiny and this will be our coming-out party. We’ll keep sending America messages with statement games and go down in history as the most legendary, epic, iconic NCAA champion of all time.

We’re not afraid of any opponent, because we want it more than they do. Our guys are all on the same page, and no moment is too big for us. We’re going to rise to the occasion and check all the boxes.

Our point guard is a coach on the floor with an unbelievable basketball I.Q., the total package. At crunch time he comes up big because he’s got ice water in his veins. He’s a go-to guy who steps up and does all the little things that don’t show up on the stat sheet. He’s a student of the game with an incredible skill set, and when he’s on fire, he wills us to victory. No matter how we get it done, we’ll take it. Just survive and advance because a win is a win.

Our coach is a father figure and an all-around great guy. Like Dick Vitale says, “He’s an awesome person, an educator who builds character, baby!” When he came here, he changed the culture. For him it’s all about the kids, not a megabucks contract, TV time and ego. To him each of his players is a person and a student-athlete first, not a commodity to be exploited and discarded. That’s why we love him.

There is no “I” in coach, and ours is a genius and a guru. He always says that offense puts points on the board but defense wins championships. “Keep It Simple, Stupid” is the mantra, and we never forget it.

After we dominate the Final Four and raise the trophy, he’ll say, “I couldn’t be prouder of you guys and the loyalty you showed to me and to each other. It doesn’t get any better than this.”

So many coaches jump ship right away when they become a hot commodity, but our guy isn’t like them. I don’t think he’ll be giving this speech at our victory parade: “I guess this is the time for me to let you know that all the rumors are true. I’m leaving tomorrow for (fill in name of big school from power conference). I love you guys.”

But even if he does, at the end of the day, it is what it is.

Ed McNamara

Setauket

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