This Made Me Feel Better

We lost.

Usually, I avoid first-person pronouns when talking about a group of twelve young men I've never met. It comes off as campy, even a bit childish. But after today--of all days--calling a team I've (we've) spent dozens of hours talking, tweeting, and writing about a "they" would be a dishonest disservice.

Now, since everything is out in the open, allow me to revel in a bit of cathartic self-interrogation.

Why? Why does it matter so much? Why, after Demonte Harper hit that three to bury our team, did we feel like slamming our fists against a wall?

Why did we angrily yell at the television about the no-call on Marra as time expired?

Why did our insides crawl and our tempers flare as a sea of Blue and Gold hugged and cheered and celebrated at center court?

Well, it's the same reason we cheered after Bullet hit the seemingly game-clinching three.  It's the same reason we loved hearing Bill Raftery's resounding "Justice prevails!" that followed.

Perhaps--and I'm just throwing this out there--it's the same reason we yelled "We knew we'd come back! We always do!" at least five times throughout the game.

It's the same reason our hearts sank as we watched Preston limp into the tunnel.  It's the same reason the world felt a little off-kilter as we heard the final buzzer blare with Preston hobbled on the bench, a helpless spectator during the closing seconds of his collegiate career.

But, why? Why, why, why?

It's simple: because we care.

Now, one can debate the merit of such a potentially wasteful allotment of affection. They can debate all they want--but to do so would be an act of futility. We won't listen.

It's definitely tempting, not even an hour after the game, to deem this season a failure. It makes sense, after watching four-months of pleasant surprises and memorable moments culminate in nothing, to blame lackluster free-throw shooting and miserable rebounding as the reason we're going home earlier than expected.

I'm not denying the validity of this hasty appraisal; by and large, it is correct.

But those statistics don't matter either.

What matters--and I'm preaching to the choir here--is that these gentleman have worked their tails off for six months.  What matters is that despite--and even including--our extremely disappointing showing today, this U of L team exceeded our expectations and will never be forgotten.

What matters is the Yum!back, Siva's West Virginia game-winner, and the King Staying the King. I could go on; there are plenty more.

Three hours ago, the 2010-2011 Louisville men's basketball team was one of our favorites in recent memory. And three hours after the loss, that statement is no less true.

Sure, right now everything I'm saying seems like an über-emotional sycophant's revisionist version of history. And, I'll admit, I'm primarily writing this is to make myself feel better--especially since UK just hit a game-winner.

But in just over two weeks, some random team that we don't care about will win the 2011 National Championship. There will be tears of joy. People will hug and cry while wearing tacky hats and t-shirts. Somewhere, a suspiciously skinny Jennifer Hudson will sing "One Shining Moment."

During that moment--as long as Josh Harrellson is no where near Houston--we have a choice: we can look back at the season, thankful. Or we can act like narrow-minded curmudgeons with a goldfish memory.

Let's choose the former.

For some reason, my mind keeps reciting the end of T.S. Eliot's "The Hollow Men." I realize I'm surely hacking to death the seriousness and contextualized meaning of the quote, but--this hopefully won't be a surprise to you--the purpose of this blog is not intellectual literary criticism. Eliot says,

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but with a whimper.

That's how I feel right now. That's how we feel right now. But whether our team is left whimpering in Denver after a first round heartbreak, or cheering from the top of a ladder in Houston, our sentiment should remain the same:

Go Cards.

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