Hours later, the N.C.A.A. men’s and women’s tournaments were also canceled. Deflated, Miller and Hellwig made their way to La Guardia Airport. With the help of an understanding American Airlines agent, they booked a flight back to Dayton that evening.
“Well I’m bummed,” Miller texted a reporter. “I feel so badly for the team. Our first big chance in years.”
Her son, Gregorio, found out that she had flown during the growing pandemic. He was not happy. Miller said he messaged her from Portugal, telling her “I don’t mean to be disrespectful, but” and cursed.
Miller arrived home after midnight. A night owl, she checked online to see if, somehow, the decision to cancel the N.C.A.A. tournament had been reversed. It had not.
“I’m superdepressed,” Miller said over the phone on the morning of March 13. “I live for March Madness. It’s like my Christmas.”
That afternoon, she sent a text: “Been thinking about my Flyers all day. And also about the ’67 team and it just occurred to me Obi was our Kareem.”
Her former companion, Obrovac, had outjumped Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, then known as Lew Alcindor, on the opening tip of the 1967 N.C.A.A. final. Everything then went wrong for Dayton as U.C.L.A. won the first of seven consecutive championships. But, for fans of a certain era, the tip remained the most iconic play in Dayton basketball history and was commemorated with a stained-glass mural in the university library.