The Last Amateurs by John Feinstein
There was certainly no shame in losing to Temple. The Owls were a lot bigger, a lot faster, a lot more basketball-tested. A lot more everything. Knowing that they practiced at 5 o'clock every morning, O'Hanlon had thought for one brief moment after the draw was announced that his team might have a chance.
"If they put us in the game that starts at 10 o'clock we might have a chance," he said. "They might be tired."
They hadn't been tired. They had been too good. Which in the end, was really okay. They should have been too good. Basketball was what they did. It was their life. For the players from Lafayette, like their brethren around the Patriot League, basketball had great meaning. It was an important part of their lives. Every one of them loved to play and compete.
But they all knew it was only a part of who they were. And, in the not too distant future, it would be a part of what they once had been.
"I know I'll miss it a lot," Mike Homer had said. "I'll always love this time in my life. I'll love having been a basketball player. But I'll be ready to move on. Endings are always sad. But they lead to beginnings."
The players in the Patriot League understand that. Basketball is not a continuum. It is a lengthy interlude.
Rob Worthington's bold, shock-the-world prediction, made in the quiet of the Canisius gym, never came true. But in the grand scheme of things, that shouldn't matter. The Patriot Leagues schools all do things the right way in a college basketball world gone very wrong.
They deserve to be cheered, regardless of any final score.
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