One thing DPJ said in his most recent post that really hit me was the sentiment that there’s always next year. I couldn’t help but think about the old Brooklyn Dodgers. They had the most loyal fan base, people who continually called them bums for not doing as well as they could have. However, their fans always had hope that they would finally win. Although the team was comprised of a bunch of no-name “bums,” the fans always said that they were their bums. The Dodgers finally won the World Series in 1955, but then they moved to LA.
While trying to look past the sadness I was feeling (coupled with severe exhaustion from flying back from Denver in the middle of the night) I realized that the Pitt Panthers are a bunch of bums. We have no star players. (Sam Young has come on in this past year, but he hardly gets enough national attention to be considered a huge star.) Instead we have guys who play with heart and pride. We have become attached to this team because we have felt their terrible lows and their extremely high highs. That is why it hurts so much when we know what they are capable of. Inconsistency has been so frustrating this year maybe more so than in years past. But without it we wouldn’t have these types of emotions.
At the end of the day, Ron and Keith, Mike and Levance, Sam, DeJuan, Gil, Tyrell, Gary and Brad, Cassin, Maurice, Austin, and Tim are bums because they miss open shots, fail to grab an offensive rebound, or miss freethrows (except on Saturday). But they’re our bums. They’re our team and they worked their tails off to win the Big East tournament. This loss hurts because we know what all of those guys are capable of. It also hurts because we all invested so much time into this team that now there is a huge void that only football (which is 4 months away) can try to fill.
I feel like I’m rambling so I’ll wrap things up.
There are great memories of this season, but the one that sticks out the most to me is when Jamie ran to the aid of Mike Cook when he fell at MSG against Duke. It showed that at the end of the day it’s not about how our team does on the floor, it’s about family. This might sound cliche, but go with me here. When we landed in Pittsburgh early yesterday morning (6 am I think) I walked over to the baggage claim and I saw Coach Dixon hugging his daughter and son. I also saw Ronald walking with Dick Groat and reminiscing about his time at Pitt. But even before we got home an interesting thing happened on the plane. When the team got on the plane, Maurice handed his iPod to a flight attendant and asked her to put the headphones up to the PA microphone. Boyz II Men’s “End of the Road” started playing. The band and the cheerleaders and anyone else that knew the lyrics sang along with the team. It was fitting and poignant. Although it was over, although the seniors had played their last game, and although a heart-wrenching season had finally come to a close, it didn’t matter because everyone on that plane felt the same thing. I don’t know what that thing was exactly, but it was some combination of sadness, fatigue, and a knowledge that everyone on that plane grew throughout the season. Even the band and the cheerleaders could say that, because they were all there for every up and down this team went through, just like all of the fans (the loyal ones at least).
As the chorus from “End of the Road” says
‘Although we’ve come to the end of the road
Still I can’t let you go
you belong to me,
I belong to you.’
Despite the fact that we feel like the end of something great has come, we will always have Levance’s step back 3 against Duke, Ronald’s insane winner against WVU, and the sight of Ronald, Mike, and Keith accepting the Big East Trophy on the same floor where we felt our worst and our best all on the same night back in December.
I love this team, I love this university, and I love this phrase…
…HAIL TO PITT