Friday night, I lost several loved ones. They were in an accident. They weren't supposed to fall to that team. Not that one. They were supposed to have 2 more games. I can't believe I'll never see them on a basketball court suited up for our team again.
Tim Henderson-- Was he a favorite of the fans for 4 years? No, but I'll bet he has a long life ahead of speaking engagements, free drinks, and autograph hounds. He will always be associated with U of L, and remembered much like Sunny Will. Tim gave everything he had for this team, and usually for little in the way of reward. I am so glad he hit those 2 shots, and earned his nickname. I am also happy he got a scholarship, even if it was only for 1 semester.
Stephan Van Treese-- A lunchpail guy if there ever was one. He never seemed to care about the personal achievements, but could be counted on to do some of the heavy lifting and dirty work. He stayed with the team when all signs looked like he was transferring. He helped us every way he could, playing above his skill set many nights. Steves better become a real statistical measurement.
Luke Hancock-- Without his heroics, we would never have known the joy of 2013. This year, after healing up, he continued to show us why it doesn't take an AA Burger Boy to succeed at the top level of college basketball. His intelligence led the team to many more wins than they would have had otherwise. He could be counted on for a Dagger 3.
Russ Smith-- I will always see in my mind's eye that 1 on 5 he took to the hoop. Russ may have been most responsible for Louisville Rick. His skill level grew more in 2 years than any player I have ever seen. By his Junior year, he was more than a joy to watch, he was a terror for opponents on both ends of the court. I have been a fan of Louisville basketball since the days of Wes Unseld and Butch Beard, and Russ is my second most favorite player of all time. It is too bad his National Championship occurred in his Jr season, because he deserved to go out on top.
I believe I have also seen the last of Montrezl Harrell in a Cardinal uniform. I would love to have him back next season, but his place may be secured in the NBA now. Trez jumped into view last season, when he provided instant energy and power off the bench. Other teams and coaches knew he would be an NBA player, sooner if he had gone somewhere he could play for 30 minutes a game as a Freshman. I can vividly see him chasing down a loose ball, throwing it off a opposing player, and ending up in the stands, giving that now familiar scream of enthusiasm.
As a team, we also lost Chane Behanan and Kevin Ware this year. It feels like I had my organs ripped out of my chest. I have experienced the death of many loved ones already, and while this is not the same feeling, it is as close as I want to get without a death being involved. There were just too many involved in this feeling of loss to not be affected by it. I am hoping this post helps me, and any others feeling the same way, learn to get up in the morning, go about the rest of our lives, knowing that one day soon, another team will capture our imagination and hearts in much the same way.
It had better not be 27 more years.