Charlie Bertsch (cbertsch) wrote,
Charlie Bertsch

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The Ecstasy of the Agony

I have very little interest in Conference USA. To be perfectly honest, I'm glad that most of its best teams are migrating to the Big East next year. Despite all that, today's finale to its conference tournament was an amazing game to watch, the sort where both teams are playing at their very best. It's amazing to think that sixth-ranked Louisville made 15 three-pointers. at over a 60% clip, and almost lost.

What I will remember about this game, though, what everyone who watched it will remember, is the astonishing last minute of play: the steal from behind that morphed into a pass to Memphis freshman sensation Darius Washington Jr., who made all but one of his second half shots from the floor; Larry O'Bannon's "And one!" jumper from behind the arc; the foul on Washington with no time on the clock; and, above all else, the sequence afterwards, with Washington standing alone at the foul line.

Washington made the first, looked confident, missed the second, looked worried, missed the third, pulled his shirt over his head and dropped to the floor. His coach and teammates went over to comfort him. Minutes later, they were still propping him up, helping him walk off the court, because he was too disconsolate to stand on his own. I realize all the problems with college sports. I realize the way that television coverage goes out of its way to capture these moments. But it was a thing of tragic beauty nonetheless, the cliché that makes the clichéd notion of the "clutch" situation newly fresh. Painful to watch, impossible not to watch, our pleasure the product of another's pain, but one we experience by standing and falling with him, the jersey hiding his eyes the mirror image of our unblinking stare.

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