[I wrote this a while back for a blog ran by some friends and myself. That blog seems to be losing some momentum, so I thought I would bring this post over here. Unfortunately, now there is even more to be said about the matter with Darius' potential looming draft entrance. Oh well, Enjoy.]
College basketball season ends tonight in Houston with an unlikely matchup for the National Championship; Kemba Walker’s UConn Huskies vs. the not-so-Cinderella, Cinderella Butler Bulldogs. March has been nothing short of madness. While my Michigan Wolverines were eliminated by Duke in the third round and obviously are no longer in contention to earn their “One Shining Moment,” it still feels as if there is more to be said about this season.
It isn’t right that Darius Morris’ floater in the lane as time expired rimmed-out. It isn’t right that they lost to Duke (especially considering the bitterness towards the Blue Devils that long-time Wolverine fans became reacquainted with after Jalen controversial “Fab Five” ESPN documentary aired with much acclaim and popularity). It isn’t right that Josh Gasser hit a buzzer-beater three that BANKED in to silence the Crisler and forced to me to make the hour drive home on a school night in dead silence.
Yet with that pain came the moments that made it all worthwhile. Beating Michigan State twice (and seeing Darius Morris tell Kalin Lucas to “get the f*** off his court), watching Stu Douglass throw down a two-handed jam to put Michigan up by 30 in the second round of the big dance, and most of all, witnessing this group of gritty youngsters earn Michigan’s second tournament berth in three years; an accomplishment of real substance considering what has happened to this program in the past decade.
While every player returns for next season, in sports there are no guarantees for future success. We all went through this last season with what were ultimately Manny Harris’ and DeShawn Sims’ final campaigns in maize and blue. This team could win 24+ games next season and I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised, but games aren’t played on paper. As a fan, close losses eventually wear on you. You think about it more than you should and you beat yourself up about a game that you had no part of. What if Darius sinks that floater like he’s done a thousand times before? What if Smotrycz drove to the hoop in the dying seconds of the Illinois game at Champaign opposed to jacking up a prayer three? What if Gasser’s shot goes hard off the iron and doesn’t bank in? What if overtime goes differently against Kansas?
This season will be remembered because a team full of selfless overachievers did something no one expected them to do. It just isn’t right that things went the way they did, because with a few bounces, these kids could have done so much more.