It ended not with a bang, but with a whimper, as we quietly knew, even before the last 4:00 TV timeout , that we had come to the end of the line. The proverbial fork could have been "stuck in" us somewhere/anywhere in the mid second half, when another just-sparked Louisville run was hatched still born as a Card big man would become entangled in his own feet, or a body to body potential foul call would be left to "play on," or another methodical Spartan three would rattle in by one of MSU's unmissing, automaton-like guards. It would all keep us in our place. The phrase that "there's always tomorrow" began to fall as empty as the seats in the far off environs we witnessed in the tournament's early rounds.
It's always hard when it's over. So complete. Final. At sometime late yesterday afternoon, you could almost physcially feel part of your spirit, part of your soul, leave your body. For those of you who traveled, the ride back home must have been rough. I can just imagine while mile posts and road signs rushed by, you all went through the mandatory various stages of grief...point by point just like Dr Phil and the rest of the media psychologists say you must. They are all MoFos.
Well, we were beaten soundly. Maybe not "behind the woodshed" soundly, but they were the better team yesterday. There was no chicanery. No trickery or finesse. Just them on top of us.
Izzo's game plan worked nicely. Take the air out of the ball. Use up clock. Control the boards. We had no answer. And the fact that we didn't get any breaks (it would have been nice if a foul were called when Sosa was decked as the ball slowly rolled out of bounds-potential four point swing) didn't help either.. They played like a herd of elephants, and took away our speed to the point that we scored NO fast break points in the entire game.
And much of the loss was in the center position: They had a professional; we had an amateur. He hit outside shot after outside shot and, particularly in the first half, this wrecked us. Our center was slow and can't jump. Our center has a decent power move, is a wide body, takes up space, is a good free throw shooter, and has a good work ethic. But he has always worn cement shoes, will never have good feet, and has his own shot blocked as often as he blocks an opponent's shot. Yes, he's only a frosh, but he's twenty, not eighteen, and among players of national programs, he will remain undistinguished.
So the bomb has detonated. The Geiger count is high. We look around this radioactive landscape and imagine what lies before us. Next year we will rebuild. Don't get so discouraged, it won't be so bad. Little by little we'll pick up the pieces. There will be green shoots among the bare trees. Despite losing Andre, we gain that kid from Seattle, and we will be rich in guards, embarrassingly so. Our center position is filled, warts and all, and with the two returning will be at least adequate. What scares us is the 3, and the 4. And for now, at least, it is hard to imagine PKay bringing the ball past mid court and not handing it off to Williams for the set up...perhaps for a whip pass underneath to Earl for an easy bucket.
Goodbyes, hugs, and kisses to E5 and 'Dre. Thanks for it all. Everything.
Waves to TWILL. Yeah, he kind of disappeared a little bit yesterday on offense, but he played good D, made great passes, and rebounded like hell.
There will never be another TWILL.
We were lucky there was one.