The heartbreak. The pain. The pit at the bottom of your stomach that you can’t seem to shake. It’s all done.
Losing in a playoff environment is bad enough no matter what the sport or situation. It’s sad to think that the team you root for will no longer play a prolonged period of time.
But this loss, as a senior, in a game that was ripe for the taking, man, sad doesn’t begin to describe it.
Imagine waking up tomorrow and realizing that you will never again cheer on your beloved Marquette squad as a student. I’ve already spoken to the divide in fandom between student and alumni, but it bears repeating.
As a student you aren’t simply cheering on mercenaries who happened to pick the team you once belonged to because it was the most advantageous path towards their end goal. No, there’s a stronger tie than simple wardrobe color.
I don’t want to speak for others, although I’m sure most will agree, but I felt connected to this scrappy bunch.
Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday I see Jamil Wilson leave his Spanish class, talking to his professor with a huge smile on his face. Every single time.
I’ve see Ox waddle across Wisconsin into the Al for their rigorous workouts day after day after day.
I will often walk alongside DJO or Junior, and although their Beats by Dre are thumping, our monotonous trudge through campus connects us in a way no courtside seat ever will.
And that’s over.
As shot after shot clanked off the rim Thursday night in Phoenix, a sense of dread began to engulf my body. With each passing minute that dread spread from the back of my head down to my arms. Who needs to feel their fingers, anyways.
When Jamil was elbowed in the mug and no flagrant was assessed, I could feel my legs lose their strength.
Sitting on the floor of the Marquette Sports Annex, I just kept hoping, praying, wishing that it didn’t end like this.
As Bradley Beal put the nail in the coffin flushing home a dunk with less than 30 seconds left, my body went numb. It was official, my cheering days as a student were over.
Now don’t get me wrong, I understand this is still sports and in the grand scheme of things will matter very little. In the here and now, though, this is a crushing blow.
I don’t like using the word hate, but I hate when people tell me not to care so much. Just because a Marquette win won’t bring about world peace doesn’t mean it won’t affect me.
Rightly or wrongly, I invest an enormous amount of emotional capital in these games, especially do or die games like Thursday’s. A blue and gold victory justifies the investment and is reciprocated with fellow fans. A Golden Eagle loss is quite simply deflating and takes some of the shine off the sun.
This loss, man, it was like being on a giant drop ride at Great America that was in constant freefall. My stomach is begging for the emergency breaks to kick in. Only when the break is applied, I will be forcefully ejected from my seat, never to be allowed back on that glorious ride.
Therein lies the problem. This was as magnificent a senior year as I could have ever imagined. I had a front row seat to a top-10 team that was not only good, but fun to watch. Badger fans can’t say the same.
I witnessed two to of the strongest willed seniors Marquette has ever had in DJO and Jae Crowder accomplish feat after feat, and I basked in their accolades, culminating with the perfect senior day.
This season was far from a disappointment, no matter what the end result would have been, but the path was there to be driven through, and our engine sputtered a mere miles from the finish.
And now it ends for DJO, Jae and 2,000 of my fellow seniors. There will be a time for reminiscing on the season that was, but this is not one those times.
The team lost. Marquette lost. I lost. No words can make this pain go away.