Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Tribe Pride

In the end, George Mason was the better team. William & Mary was one stop here, one bounce there, one made three-pointer somewhere else from extending their absurd and improbable run through the postseason. And every time, Mason made a play, grabbed a board, closed out on defense like the seasoned, talented, and disciplined team they are. Jim Larranaga’s kids deserve a ton of credit.

But so, too, do Tony Shaver’s kids. Despite being overmatched athletically and vastly inexperienced in big games in comparison with their opponents, the Tribe gave us a reason to believe. Given our alma mater’s historical, ahem, underperformance on the hardwood, that is a gift of substantial dimension, friends.

W&M closed the first half on a 16-8 run to trail by a single point, and the Mason fans sitting around us in the Richmond Coliseum cast nervous glances at each other while Tribe fans tried really hard to coordinate high-fives and fist pumps, unaccustomed as we are to such emotions. There may have been some minor muscle tears and one unfortunate unintentional elbow to the nose of a septuagenarian Tribe fan witnessing his first conference final. Alas, Folarin Campbell, Will Thomas, Dre Smith, and Chris Fleming (Chris Fleming? Really?) led the Patriots to a 9-0 run to start the second stanza and W&M never got it closer than 7 until it was way too late. While the Tribe was gritty, gutty, game and all the other clich├ęs that surround Caucasian basketball players (the Washington Post called them stubborn this morning in the print edition – high praise, indeed), Mason deserved to win.

But as we noted in this space just yesterday, the loss does nothing to diminish the joy this unlikely group of kids brought to W&M’s generally subdued alumni. For the briefest of moments we were allowed to pretend we belonged, to plan trips to the Boise or Sacramento or Tacoma subregionals, to shout ourselves hoarse watching a game that actually mattered, and to dream. Generations of us had never even allowed ourselves to dream. When we talk about this team, that’s the thing we’ll remember – not that they finally fell short, but that they let us dream, hope, and care. And at some level, that’s the magic of college basketball, that an obscure school from a mid-major conference can make otherwise mature (it’s in the eye of the beholder, people) adults let loose the bonds of logic and rationality and really, deeply believe in the most unlikely outcomes.

So thanks to the 2007-8 William & Mary Tribe for a heretofore once in a lifetime run, and thanks to MGL at CAA: Life as a Mid-Major and Extra P at Storming the Floor for getting behind our quixotic efforts this season. One of these days, boys and girls, one of these days we’ll get to see the Tribe demolished by a 2 seed in the first round of the tourney. And G:TB can’t wait.

21 comments:

rob said...

as of right now, ken pomeroy has w&m's rpi at 156. what do you weigh this afternoon, whit?

Whitney said...

More than 156.

rob said...

winner, winner, no-fat chicken dinner!

Geoff said...

It is safe to assume the Tribe will not be getting a call from the NIT...right?

rob said...

oh, it's safe.

Greg said...

They could get a call from the NIT. It would go like this:


NIT: Hello, is this the Tribe? This is the NIT calling.

Tribe: Hello the NIT!!! How are you doing?

NIT: Oh...okay. You know how it is this time of year.

Tribe: Yeah. And how about this weather? Will winter ever end?

NIT: Tell me about it.

Tribe:...Sooooo...um, does this call mean you want us in the tournament?

NIT: (silence). .....pfff...BWAHAHAHAHA!!! No. (still laughing) No no. Oh God no. We just wanted to call to make some small talk. Tease you a little bit.

Tribe: Oh. Okay. That wasn't very nice.

NIT: Yeah, we're a bunch of mean bastards.

Mark said...

I'm willing to bet that Greg put more time, thought and effort into that comment than anything he's done for work today.

Greg said...

Well, you're wrong. I put about five minutes of thought and effort into that post. And for work today, I ......okay, you're right.

Eric (Extra P.) said...

Despite the outcome of the game, it was damn good to meet you at the tourney, Rob. Now that I know the Tribe a little better, I'll have to attend a game in Williamsburg with you lot.

rob said...

likewise, eric. and the tribe's run was fun, even if it ended a bit short of the finish line. we'll see you courtside next year.

Mark said...

There goes Rob again, making friends on the ebays...

rob said...

teejay's carried the g:tb marketing load for far too long. just doing my part for the cause. can't sustain our position as the interweb's leading purveyors of obscure college basketball and absurd youtubes without making an effort.

Brannman. Brann...you know it's good for you. said...

I have a lot of respect for the W&M program and run after this season. Shaver's doing a great job down in W-burg. Good luck in 08-09. Your tourney run was something to be proud of.

TJ said...

Cuse/Nova at noon...loser is NIT-bound. Winner might still need to beat Hoyas to get in.

Mark said...

I was just about to ask you if you were going to take a long lunch to watch the Orange's season end...

TJ said...

You pipe down pal...and if anyone is wondering what needs to happen to get VCU in the Dance as well, um, it's just not happening.

Geoff said...

I'm sorry, but I can't really figure out how any of this relates to The Wire...maybe I'm missing something.

TJ said...

Fucking Cuse...had 10 pt lead with minute left in half.

Only up 1 now...

TJ said...

This kid Stokes is fucking killing the Orange.

TJ said...

Maybe Nova can miss a three this half? Please?

TJ said...

Go Siena