Best I probably express myself with a little distance between now and the end of the game. And I know! I’m not in college any more, I’m a grown-ass man, so I can’t denigrate the players because they’re just kids and why don’t I just get it over with and berate Little Leaguers for walking the bases loaded?
Still, that’s one heckuva time to have your worst possible game in your entire life … what with it being your senior season and everything. No one’s going to go very far if their leader and best player craps the bed with their backs against the wall.
You know what I hate? Fans who immediately after the game – or DURING the fucking game, towards the end of the lost cause – say, “Oh well, it was a fun season; good job guys!”
Look, you know it was a fun season, I know it was a fun season, but don’t give me this Look On The Bright Side shit as my entire world is crumbling down around me! Granted, all will be forgotten and forgiven tomorrow (or, if it’s particularly painful – Super Bowl XL – all will be forgotten and forgiven in a couple weeks), but right now I just want to wallow and be pissed off!
Because it’s God damned frustrating! Not the losing part, necessarily. Not the fact that the only reason we were in that game in the first half is because the other team played like shit; and when they finally got it together they ran us off the court. Not even because we were cold shooting the ball, couldn’t get a rebound to save our lives, and when we did get an offensive board we couldn’t get the damn ball through the damn hoop.
It’s because this is my favorite kind of team to root for. A scrappy, underachieving bunch of ragtag dogfighters who have immense talent and athleticism, but for whatever reason struggle early on. Then, they find a way to gel, go on a nice little run, and against all odds make it into the playoffs as an Underdog With Potential. A couple of stars and a collective of role players who accept their roles and compliment one another perfectly.
A team like this reminds me of the 1996 Supersonics. Early on, we were considered favorites, but past playoff failures labelled us soft. So, even though we were blowing through the regular season, we still had everything to prove. A couple of stars – Kemp & Payton – and a shit-ton of role players – Detlef Schrempf, Hersey Hawkins, Vinny Askew, Ervin Johnson, Dale Ellis, Nate McMillan – all providing something different, be it ball-handling, 3-point shooting, or stellar defense.
Of course, it’s easy to underscore the fact that this is my favorite type of team to root for because I’ve only known two types: Underdog Scrappers and Losers. But that’s neither here nor there.
The point is, those 1996 Supersonics still had one major hurdle they were unable to overcome: the 72-10 Chicago Bulls. The impossible dream. A team loaded with so many superstars they should’ve just made THEM the Dream Team. There’s almost nothing the Sonics could’ve done – and indeed there weren’t any other teams that year who could’ve even taken the series to 6 games like we did – those Bulls were a juggernaut the likes of which we may never see again.
And, that’s the kind of hurdle the Huskies faced this year. Of course, I’m not saying West Virginia is the greatest team ever. I’m just saying that the same kind of insurmountable odds were against us. Because we don’t have the kind of team where we can put 5 athletic forwards on the court at one time and force you to shoot over the tall trees for 40 minutes. And we may never have that team. Because we don’t play in the Big East and we’re not UCLA.
But, whatever. You can’t fight fate. Maybe one day everything will come together. Gonna go out on a limb and say that day PROBABLY won’t be next year. If we didn’t already have the big men who could cut it this year, and we’re losing our best forward to graduation, I shudder to think of what our rebounding is going to look like next year.