don’t get caught watchin’ the paint dry


The brackets have come off the magnetic board, my lucky shirts have been thrown in the laundry, even my little girl came up to me after the game when she saw me collapse into my hands. She just held on to my arm with her tiny fingers, not saying anything, just being there, and I have to admit, it made this exit better than the rest.

I’ve been following our team closely now for twenty-two years, and every year except two has ended in bitter disappointment. You’d think you’d get used to it; you gird yourself for the possibility, and yet there’s nothing you can do to prepare for your team going down. I hadn’t dared whisper plans – that maybe Tessa, Lucy and I could go stay with Salem outside Atlanta next weekend – for fear of karma, but all the magical thinking in the world can’t save your chosen religion when you go almost twenty minutes without making a field goal.

The rest of you may wonder what befalls true sports addicts, how they could possibly get so worked up about a game where a bunch of 19-year-olds throw around an orange piece of leather. I’ve tried to explain why it’s more of a philosophy than a sport, but I’m sure those blog entries look as ridiculous as this one.

Dean Smith said “if you live and die by basketball games, you’re going to do an awful lot of dying” and so this, too, will pass. He also said, when kids would leave early to go to the NBA: “you go to college to get a job.” No doubt one or two of our players will be looking at that particular job come Monday, but as for me, I’m back to work as well. Back to hammering out stories without the occasional thought about Reyshawn’s late-season heroics, or wondering if Brandan Wright has the necessary passion.

Lucy will be a little older by next season, and she’ll be following the ball, knowing when a basket is made; who knows, perhaps her crush on Tyler will find another dimension. I can tell you this: tomorrow we are nailing a little hoop to her bedroom door, and we will be playing out future glories as we hibernate another eight months ’til it all comes around again. She will know backspin, she will know rebirth, she will know the long story arc of a rainbow three, and the indefatigable optimism of a season to come.


0 thoughts on “don’t get caught watchin’ the paint dry

  1. CP

    so sorry, man. feel your pain. felt much I imagine the same way when the mets lost last year.
    btw, that stupid espn thing didn’t work for me either. however, here’s my ny times final four bracket: ucla, florida, ohio state and unc. alas, not to be. can’t remember if I had them facing georgetown or not in the elite 8. and you know, that was a simply incredible come from behind against the dastardly (though a few friends teach and/or go there) usc the other night, so much respect given to your boys. (also to roy for being a man and daring anyone to talk smack to his face regarding his post-game tears.)
    and if you can, if it’s not sacrilege or too painful, how ’bout now you root for the other team in light blue, or your new hometown team, or where I take (and cannot recommend highly enough — though it obviously depends on the instructor, but they generally get pretty good people) the occasional writing class…
    IF you can, even in secret, and of course I understand if you can’t.

  2. scruggs

    We have out little list of most painful NCAA losses from our viewing era…BC in 2nd round ’94…Arkansas ’95, and Utah ’98 (yikes). But this one was BRUTAL and can be added to the list. Our house flag was down 30sec after the buzzer. However, proud of the team overall of couse as this was a very successful season: ACC reg season and tourney champs and Elite Eight. But dude, make a freakin’ shot…even shoot 20%!!!

  3. DFB's&T's

    My wife and 2 kids had safely secured themselves in the upstairs playroom while allowing me to watch the game downstairs in peace. My wife occasionally came through the room and I’d give her updates.
    As the OT wound down, she came into the room for the last time, followed by my 2 boys in the over-sized PJ’s. (Is there anything cuter than a young child in PJ’s that are 2 sizes too large??)
    Jenn looked at the TV and said “What happened?! Ten points!” My beloved 5-year-old comes in behind her and bellows in Jenn’s same tone of voice “Ten points!”
    All I could do was laugh, pick him up and throw him into oncoming traffic. The visitation will be Thurs and then Braden’s funeral is Saturday. Anyone in the Wilmington, NC area is welcome to come. In lieu of flowers, please send gifts to the “Lost Offense Foundation” c/o Reyshawm, Wayne & Tywon in Chapel Hill, NC.

  4. Neva

    Sad, yes. Not only is it goodbye to the Tarheels it’s a sad goodbye to my first place in the tournament picks. I was loving riding that high of beating out all you sports fans. Alas, it was not meant to be since I picked Carolina to go all the way. I just can’t pick against my three time alma mater. Oh well, it was fun while it lasted. Thanks guys!

  5. GFWD

    Tar Heels is two words. Always.
    Great quote from “Shooter” in HOOSIERS for today’s blog title.
    I wish we had a sure-fire last minute play like Norman Dale’s and Shooter’s “picket fence”. As I said to some of you on my little list o’ Tar Heels back on 2/27/07, the only play the Heels seem to run when the shot/game clock is winding down is: “Cluster Fuck #5”.
    A three-pointer at the end of regulation instead of posting up Tyler or Brandan down low?
    That’s the best fucking option you could come up with, Roy?
    Brandan is likely gone. And he should be. A top five lottery pick is just that–like hitting the lottery. And good for him.
    Tyler’s stock likely improved with his play over the last month, but I don’t know if he’ll be a first rounder. He’s a classic ‘tweener. If he somehow climbs into the lottery discussions, then he should leave, too.
    No one else’s stock is so good that they should be doing anything other than figuring out which classes to take this summer while they’re honing their skills.
    At least the meltdown was complete and we don’t have to lay blame on one player or one bad call or one controversial play.
    Also, truth be told, this team was always one year away. The problem is that in today’s climate, you only get studs like Brandan for one season so we put unrealistic expectations on the shoulders of players not yet mature enough to carry the load.
    Keeping things in perspective, I doubt Jason Ray and his parents give a damn about whether we won that game, as he rests in a New Jersey hospital bed still in a coma.
    Get better, Rameses.

  6. Chuck B.

    As a die-hard Georgetown fan and alum, I write this not with the intention to gloat or pour salt in your wounds. I think it was an exciting and well-played game, and if the Hoyas weren’t your opponents, I would have rooted for you all the way. I can imagine how deflated you all must feel, given the number of horrible seasons (and near-miss seasons) I’ve endured for the past 15 years.
    But imagine what a thrilling evening it was for us. With ten minutes left, after we’ve been trailing by about 10 points for a while, we Georgetown fans were starting to feel doomed. There was no way we would be able to come back against a team as talented and well-coached as UNC. Then slowly and miraculously, we started getting rebounds, and UNC started missing shots. The tiny flame of hope started to burn brighter, until all of us around the country were standing on our coffee tables shouting at the TV screen. (I e-mailed with everyone to check, and yes, we were all doing that.) The collective roar that you heard was the voice of Hoyas who no longer have to talk about 1984 as the last year worth remembering. This doesn’t redeem us from the MJ shot that sank us in ’82, but it is — I hope — the reawakening of our dormant team.
    Congrats on a great year, and I hope we meet up again next season.

  7. Andy

    First of all, caveman rocks.
    Greg – Yes, the last play of regulation sucked but I wouldn’t put that on Roy necessarily. He would never publically throw his players under the bus (like some others we know) but I don’t think Wayne’s 3 was option # 1 on that play. Give Georgetown credit for taking some things away from us. I think Hibbert’s size got into the head of the boys at the end of the game and made those jumpers much more enticing.
    I also have a feeling that Wayne will make more than his fair share of those shots before his career is over.

  8. kjf

    hey what about the women’s team! last time i checked they were still in the tourney! i know its not the same for most people but perhaps lucy could get into rooting for the girls – and you can teach her about Title IX toddler style!!

  9. emma

    One good thing (for me) does come out of this. In an attempt (didn’t really work) to console my six year old on the loss, we made a promise to take him to the Dean Dome next year to watch a game. I haven’t been to a home Carolina game since I’ve had kids!!!

  10. CL

    As a non-basketball person, I would like to say that Lucy is beautiful and that her eyes go well with Carolina blue.
    Congrats on a great season!

  11. Sean

    All year, I’ve felt like we were one year away. The ’05 team had some losses, like that horrible one at dook where we did nothing in the final seconds, but those losses made some sense.
    This year’s team never made sense to me, and I never could figure out what everyone’s roles were. Ty and Tyler, sure, but we had a slew of guys who were awesome athletes who could post up, drive or shoot jump shots, but never were the “go-to” guys for any of those things.
    I honestly feel like we overachieved this year making it to the elite 8. This loss should remind these guys that blue collar work will beat massive talent eventually, and they should all come back next year ready to cut down some nets. Georgetown played a hell of a game, they were absolutely inspired, and that’s what you’re supposed to have this late in the tournament.

  12. Ian

    Chuck B., good post. It actually does make me feel better knowing a few of you got back to the Final Four after so many years. And kjf, we’re big Ivory fans too, so we’ll be watching women’s hoops as well.
    But the news about Jason Ray is absolutely devastating. Truth be told, I was checking the boards all last night for updates. I really don’t care about last night’s game at all, given this news. More tomorrow…

  13. Sean M

    To whomever B. McGill is in the pool…I WILL BREAK YOU.
    Haha. OK, maybe not. I’m just happy to have all 4 Final Four teams picked. I’ve had some decent years in the past, but don’t think I’ve ever pulled that off…

  14. Rebecca

    My heart breaks for Jason Ray and his family. After the news of his death today, I feel ridiculous for being upset about a basketball game. The pain of losing a child is just unimaginable. The older they get, the more potential you see in their future. According to the reports, his future certainly seemed bright.

  15. Sean M

    I wish I’d have read the comments surrounding my first one before posting. In the context of the loss of Jason Ray, it seems silly and I’d delete it if I could. A sad day for sure.

  16. Brian from the Spanish House

    Pretty miserable series of days for the entire Tar Heel Nation (myself included, basketball pool notwithstanding).
    I suspect that anyone who dressed up as Ramses had enough joy in his heart that he would not want us to be morose for very long. So, Jason Ray, wherever you are, thanks. Thanks for putting a smile on so many faces including that of my two-year-old daughter. She apologizes for her insistence on calling you “Sheepy” (which is her name for every ram, goat, or sheep-like object). I promise she’ll get it right for next basketball season.
    Brian from the Spanish House (aka B McGill)


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