I haven't been able to think about sports in a week. I haven't been able to watch sports in a week. And I haven't been able to write about sports for a week. The shot just keeps replaying in my mind, like a broken record of pain. And as this NCAA tournament rolls on, that pain just seems to get deeper.
That game is going to go down as one of the most painful one's I've ever experienced. I can't remember a time where I've been dwelling on a loss as much as I am about this one. And as I come up with more reasons for why this loss hurts so much, it just seems like new developments come up to make the loss that much worse.
FIrst and foremost, It ended Greivis' career (and Hayes and Milbourne's). Greivis is one of the best players I've seen since I started following Maryland basketball. I don't want this to turn into a "Is Greivis one of the top___ in Maryland history" because a). I never saw a lot of the older Maryland greats play and b). it's almost pointless. Greivis is the second leading scorer in Maryland history. He's the only player with 2000 points, 600 rebounds and 700 assists. He's clearly one of the best to put on a Terp uniform. And that's all we need to know. But as great as Greivis was for Maryland, he never got past the 2nd game in the tournament and this was his best chance to lead Maryland back to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2003 (where, ironically, Maryland lost to Michigan State in a game that was very similar to the one this year). When you also consider that, with 2:00 minutes remaining, most of us thought we were seeing the end of Greivis' career, the last second comeback by Maryland allowed us to believe we'd get to seem more of the energetic senior. And then Maryland did what seemed impossible just 120 seconds earlier - they took the lead. And then took it back again. We hoped Maryland could just hold Michigan State for 6 seconds. Just 6 seconds. But in seconds, it all ended: an end to the shimmy; an end to the energetic nature of a player who emulated his coach; an end of an era. I could go on about Greivis forever, but I have an entire post dedicated to that. In six seconds, after he hit that tear drop runner, my emotions went from ecstatic joy to extreme sorrow. I thought we had at least another 40 minutes of Greivis. But in an instant, it was all gone. Just like that.
And after you get past that, you have to ask yourself,did we just see Gary's best shot at returning to the Final 4 slip away before our eyes? Gary is 65. And while we all hope he's screaming up and down the sideline for many more years, in all likelihood, we probably have 5, maybe 10 more years of the Gary era in College Park. Believe me, I'll cry when that day comes. So that's another factor that makes this loss hurt. This was one of Gary's best chances of getting back to the Final 4 and possibly winning a title. As a 4 seed, when you're in one of the most stacked regions in recent memory, it's not very often that the overall #1 seed loses in the 2nd round. And then throw in the losses by the #2 and #3 seeds in the region and you're soon asking yourself, could that have been Maryland hoisting that midwest region trophy up in the air tonight? Considering that Maryland was 6 seconds away from beating Michigan State, you can't help but wonder whether or not Maryland could have followed the same path as the Spartans. Maryland, had they beaten Michigan state, had a path to the Final 4 that was pretty easy, in that they would likely win against Northern Iowa and Tennessee. It was a chance for Greivis and Gary to show Maryland Basketball was still at an elite level that so many (cough hack writers at the Washington Post cough) had tried to claim was no longer true. It was a chance for Gary and Greivis to stick it to Steve Yanda and and other critics. And it was a chance for Greivis to go out on top. Now we're left looking at one of the worst possible Final 4 scenarios that Terps fans could dream up and wondering, if we were there, could we bring a title back to College Park?
Finally, after seeing how poorly Duke has played, you really get frustrated that they a). received a #1 seed and b). had a cake walk to the Final 4. I can almost guarantee if Maryland met Duke in the championship game, Gary and Greivis would prevail. Duke, while talented, has played like garbage lately. If they were playing any team that wasn't also playing like garbage, they would have been out several rounds ago. But they seemed to play against teams that were playing as piss poor as they have been. So the Devils, as a #1 seed, had the luxury of playing poorly because the level of competition that they faced wasn't good enough to take advantage. Maryland on the otherhand, who shared the ACC regular season title with Duke, was seeded as a 4, shipped out to Washington, and had to play in one of the hardest regions I can remember. But hey, that's life. But while there are things we can't control or change in life, that doesn't make them hurt any less and prevent us from asking "what if?" Could you imagine Greivis hitting a last second shot to defeat Duke for the National Championship? It's the story book ending we were all hoping for. And it's what makes this loss that much worse.
I've never been looking so forward to the college basketball season ending as I am this year.