In a season of overachievements -- in this magical season where the improbable continued to happen time and time again -- the Cougars came up one overachievement short on Saturday when Vanderbilt eliminated them from the NCAA Tournament.
Faced with chance after chance to win the game, all of the various role players who had stepped up repeatedly during the season couldn’t find one more miracle buried somewhere deep within.
Daven Harmeling? Missed a wide-open 3 at the end of regulation.
Taylor Rochestie? One-for-7 from the field, five turnovers. Game-winning shot blocked at the end of the first overtime. Go-ahead 3-pointer off the mark at the end of the second overtime.
Even Mr. Dependable, All-Pac-10 guard Kyle Weaver, wasn’t immune. At one point in the second overtime, he committed turnovers on two consecutive possessions before an ill-fated post-up resulted in a wild bank shot that never caught rim.
We had become so accustomed to expecting the improbable, that when the probable happened – when this collection of mostly mid-major talents with high-major hearts failed to deliver in the clutch – we could hardly believe our eyes.
But it is, indeed, over. And there will be no shortage of second-guessing on the part of Coug fans who have been along for this ride since it started taking off in December.
But you won’t find that here.
See, I’m the guy who refused to get depressed when the Seahawks got screwed out of the Super Bowl, instead choosing to focus on just how much fun I had on the ride. And that’s what I’ll remember about this season.
I’ll remember making the trek to
I’ll remember clicking refresh on my browser in an effort to get one of the few hundred tickets the Huskies made available to the public online for the rematch in
And I’ll remember being heartbroken, as this magical season that went way too fast slipped away.
“There are a lot of good things to take from this season,” WSU coach Tony Bennett said. “But I’m hurting right now; it stings. I can tell you for sure I won’t be looking at the tape of this game tonight. It was a turnaround year, though, and that was our goal at the beginning of the season. After the game in the locker room, I told the kids, ‘As much as this hurts, gentlemen, I’m proud of what we accomplished this season.’ ”
And I’m proud of how this team, so disciplined and workmanlike in its underdog approach – never taking its success for granted – represented everything that’s great about Washington State University, the school that I love, sometimes for better or worse.
Of course I’ll be tempted to look forward to next year, given that only
“After that game, our guys understand the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat,” Bennett said. “In time, it will hurt less. … It stings right now, but what an experience this tournament has been. It was special to taste this (the NCAAs) and experience it. The experience is golden.”
Thank you to Tony and the rest of the Cougs for a golden experience I won’t ever forget.