March 15, 2010
Spacing and timing. Sonny and Cher. Batman and Robin. Some things just go together. By themselves they work, kind of. But when paired? Look out. That's when the magic happens. Beautiful basketball pivots on offensive spacing and timing. And it seems to me that life swings back and forth on the same two hinges. So every week or so we'll be examining both, or maybe just pondering about one or the other. And who knows what might happen with the right amount of space and enough time...
Oct. 16, 2009: The Write Space and Time
Oct. 26, 2009: The Vision Part
Nov. 13, 2009: Hot and Cold
Nov. 26, 2009: Basketball is Cumulative
Dec. 14, 2009: Groundhog Day
Dec. 17, 2009: The 2-For-1
Jan. 26, 2010: Number 300
Feb. 11, 2010: The Lesson
March 15, 2010: Fight One More Round
-- For three weeks now I've been starting journal entries and each one begins with, "I feel like a boxer staggering in the 15th round ..." Unfortunately, though, the nonstop bobbing and weaving has kept me from finishing a single one of them. Competing in the Big 12 Conference can do that to you.
You land a punch, you take a shot, and you wobble around kind of dizzy for awhile. Then, if you're tough enough, you take a deep breath and fight one more round.
That's what our team did this weekend and I couldn't be more proud.
After 10 grueling weeks of conference play, we headed to Kansas City tied for second and the third seed in the conference tournament. The euphoria of earning the ever-coveted first round bye lasted about 24 hours before reality burst in uninvited. It was as if I'd been sitting in the corner with ice on my eyes and the trainer removed the towel. Then through the swollen slits I could see the ring and the ref and the other guy and it dawned on me: I't ain't over yet.
But that's what I love -- in a backward sort of sadistic way, I suppose -- about this league. It makes you hard. You can't be soft and survive. And our squad did more than survive; we actually learned to thrive in the mosh pit. While tangled in the combat we developed a grit we didn't know we had. And we built a connective sinew that will serve us well in the dance we'll receive an invitation to tonight.
And this is why we all do what we do. To play in the NCAA Tournament, to have a chance for our one shining moment, to have a shot at winning our last game -- yep, we do it for all those things. But we also do it for the capacity it carves in us for feeling, and doing, and being. Spending yourself in competition is cathartic. It's empowering. It's freeing. But being a part of a team, a real team, can change the way you see the world. That is why we do what we do.
I hear people say conference tournaments are bad. If anyone from the outside had been in our locker room following Sunday's title game, they would have had a different opinion. We didn't win. And we were crying, our collective hearts broken into pieces. But we were in our finest hour to date.
We are looking forward to playing somebody -- anybody -- who's not in the Big 12 Conference when the committee rolls out that bracket. But we are grateful for the opportunity to compete in a league that has helped us become what we hoped we could be.
Now it's up to us. Time to answer the bell, ala James J. Corbett, and fight one more round.