Friday, March 13, 2009

Seton Hall: An Extended Portrait

It was midnight. Dave and I were mentally and physically exhausted. We were standing on the corner of 33rd St and 8th Ave, shivering cold. Mike Davis was towering over a hot dog stand. Pete and Matt were chilling on the sidewalk(on?). Stix was hunched over by the Penn Station entrance, his face beaten and worn as a catcher's leathery mitt. 

After pretty much every single game, Gonzo says the same exact thing: "a scratch-and-claw, fight-all-the-way, grind-it-out, physically demanding, character-building, typical Big East battle." Well, on this night, it was true. 

Facing a tough Syracuse team, which would later knock off UConn in a truly epic contest, we gave it everything we had. Overcoming a double digit deficit, we actually managed to take the lead for a brief moment. Then, everything went Jerry Springer. 

Garcia got into a shoving match. Brandon "Jennie Finch" Walters  delivered a slider strike to the chest of the Orangemen's streaking Euro. Harvey gave Devendorf the old two-finger salute to the throat.

Amidst thousands of screaming Syracuse fans, the vast majority of whom appeared to be slightly inebriated, highly obnoxious, upper-middle class dentists and assorted trade professionals, we knew then the game was over. With a number of technicals assessed, our shorthanded squad of valiant warriors became even more depleted.  

But suddenly, a strange calm came over me. As Devendorf rained threes, his tattoos flexing with each arm extension, I realized something. This is why I love the Hall. It's not because they win. If I wanted a perennial winner, I'd root for UConn. It's because they fight. Every night. 

Our team seriously lacks discipline. We take bad shots, overall -- late in the game, early in the count, at the refs, at the opposing team. Constantly, we lose our temper, and lose control as a result. 

But not unlike the classic Shakespearean tragic hero, it's exactly this flaw that makes our team so heart-wrenchingly compelling. 

Dave and I have led a fairly comfortable existence. We've been lucky -- we were raised in a world that largely provided for us. Perhaps this explains in part our unending admiration for the sacrifice our players make on a routine basis, many of whom have had to fight their entire lives. It's their sacrifice that makes ours seem so trivial by comparison: the long drive to Cincinnati, the vacation days from work. 

Over the next few weeks and months, Dave and I will continue to post about the past season. We'll upload more photos from Kentucky... Forthcoming Facebook interviews with the Falcon... Who knows, maybe even another video? We'll look ahead to next year, and stay hot on the recruiting trail. And you can bet we'll be hosting a NIT "wishful thinking" dance party! 

But as we celebrate this team, and everything they've overachieved, let's not forget the importance of a critical eye. To learn from this season, and grow as a team, we must learn from our mistakes.

By most measures, Gonzo has had a good season. He is a better coach than he was last year, and he continues to get the most of out his players. Given the limitations of his roster, most of which fall on him, he has responded triumphantly. However, there is one player with which I do question his judgement.

Perhaps no player on our team has had to fight more in his life than Mike Davis. And while he struggled mightily on the court for the vast majority of the season, battling a severe case of stone mitts, it was frequently frustrating to watch as Gonzo would pull him from the game after only a few seconds of game-time. (In one particularly uncomfortable moment against Syracuse, Gonzo sent Mike to the scorer's table, only to call him back to the bench.)

At the beginning of this season, most everyone agreed that Mike would be the key. Now, we have a number of high-profile transfers coming. But I would argue that Mike is still critical to our future success.

If you're listening Mike, I know you must be discouraged. But all I can say is this: Keep fighting. Keep working hard. Keep battling. 

Because if you keep fighting every day, and maybe cut down a little on the hot dogs, you'll become the player we all know you can be. 


The Donk said...

Tyler Savage - extremely inebriated, extremely obnoxious.

Anonymous said...

guys, it is 1000 percent certain that Mike Davis will not be a Pirate next year. i'm just sayin'

UConnia said...

Should I take the UConn comments as a shot across my bow? My disappointment in them knows no bounds right now. No depth, no foul shooting.

Runs with Scissors said...

One of your best blog entries this year. Excellent.

Anonymous said...

good entry... Mike Davis will not be there

Anonymous said...

Guys: It was a pleasure meeting you @the VFW last year, and the pleasure continued throughout the season. Maybe "you guys", Vin, Mark and myself (RFS) can get together during the off season and lament, project and whatever makes us feel good about being Cub fans...oops I meant Pirate fans...RFS

Beast of the East said...

RFS - would love to plan a little Seton Hall reunion of sorts. Perhaps we could meet at a central basketball court and practice our foul shots.

VinMan said...

Who knows, maybe even another video? Well, I would hope so! Just don't leave out a certain little boy. You know me RFS, whenever you're ready! Just give me the date, place and time.