I'm copy-pasting Gary's game-ending rant from our game thread, because it's possibly the best encapsulation of USF Basketball I've ever read.
Somehow, the usual sports narratives — blowing a big lead, losing a close game, not coming through in the clutch, even Buckner-class spectacular failure — don’t capture the essence of that game.
You remember those Far Side cartoons about Hell, where the library is all story problems, and aerobics is five million leg lifts per leg, and Charlie Parker is locked in a recording studio and forced to listen to New Age music? Well, that game was a Larsonian vision of college basketball in Hell. It was to once again see hope beaten by hopelessness, competence by incompetence, and hints that this torment is eternal.
We weren’t even playing Marquette tonight. USF’s opponent tonight was The Universe. And The Universe hates us. A kind, merciful, or even indifferent universe would have seen Marquette hit one lousy free throw and put the that game out of its misery. Not tonight. The Universe just kept giving USF three-point deficits to see how many ways it could give us hope and then watch us fumble it away.
The rest after the jump:
I could talk about player performance. But like all memorable sporting events, it was a statement beyond those who played in it. Number 5 could have been Jawanza Poland or Mike Mercer or Sam Barber or Artha Reeves or James Harper. All that matters is that he went charging into the lane one-on-four, and got wrapped up like Mo Plancher on a bad draw play, when we really needed was a three-point shot. And that tortured wry smile on Stan Heath’s face somehow expressed the same sentiment as Robert McCullum’s weary smirk and Seth Greenberg’s motionless face-down towel-over-the-head pose and Bobby Paschal’s angry gesticulations.
That image alone would have been destined for an ESPN Not Top Ten, and to be circulated around the Internet with unflattering words superimposed on it in Impact font. But it didn’t end there. Not tonight. We also got to witness an unlikely game-tying three-pointer nullified by a timeout. Then after Marquette — or whoever it was, it could have been any team, really — bricked another two free throws to give us yet another one last shot to tie the game, USF makes a free throw. When they were trying to miss.
But that’s not even the play I want to talk about.
At various points during that endgame that would never end, the ESPN D-list announcing crew made the obvious remark that USF’s top three-point shooter Shaun Noriega should come into the game. Which he did. And stood two passes away while 6-10 Gus Gilchrist — whose shot selection was questioned in the pregame banter with the Marquette blog — tries to force up a three-ball. Or maybe it was Federico Peruzzo instead of Gilchrist. I forget. This game encapsulated 20 years of frustration in ways that make such substitutions possible.
Anyway, here’s the point. Remember Voodoo Five? The actual play? USF made a very obvious personnel change, ran the very obvious play right to him, and the play failed. Tonight USF made a very obvious personnel change, DIDN’T run the play to him, and the play failed. What do you make of that, Bulls fans?
I’ll tell you what I make of it. I make of it that whatever is wrong with USF basketball, it extends way beyond every person currently involved with the program in any capacity. You get the feeling that we could replace every coach, player, administrator, announcer, ballboy, fan, and playbook and that decrepitude would still be there. It’s almost like we’re cursed. We don’t need a new coach. We need an exorcism. Where that’s going to come from, I have no idea.