Conference USA Tournament Final
Louisville 75 Memphis 74
I have never seen a better basketball game in person. I have never seen a team make as many big shots as Louisville did. I have never seen a team respond like Memphis did. I have never seen an entire season rest in the hands of one freshman with three free throws. I have never seen any player experience pain like that. I have never before felt like shedding tears for a basketball player.
Until this afternoon.
It is impossible to imagine a crueler fate for this team. Impossible. Especially because the player intimately involved had been so instrumental in giving Memphis a chance to win. Not just in this game, mind you, but for the entire season. This afternoon, Darius Washington played the game of his life--he was involved in everything good Memphis did. He made big shot after big shot, and led through words and by example. He drew the foul on Francisco Garcia that gave Memphis one final chance.
Then came the free throws.
I am emotionally drained after this game, and I wasn't involved at all. I cannot imagine what the Memphis players and coaches feel like. There can be nothing worse than losing what will be considered the best game in the history of the Memphis/Louisville series. I hope that Darius Washington will be able to recover from this--missing those free throws will be a turning point in his career. He will either fade away, unable to deal with his failure, or he will become stronger for having gone through the toughest pressure anyone could ever imagine.
I admire him and I wish him well.