Men’s basketball: Seniors led Tribe on great run

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February 26, 2010

2:57 AM

Senior night is over, and David Schneider’s jersey was not lifted to the rafters.

Danny Sumner was not inducted into the College’s Hall of Fame. Sean McCurdy and Steven Hess did not go down in the record books.

Did they deserve to be honored, to see their names among the all-time greats? Quite honestly, no.

The closest is probably Schneider, and he’s still 400 points short of all but one of those who have had their jerseys retired.

It is a shame you can’t retire memories though, as this team traded in memories like currency. You can take your pick of favorites, here is mine:

For 10 minutes this season, the Tribe was perfect.

Go back and look at the box score from the first game against VCU. From a Sean McCurdy missed free-throw with 18:27 in the second half to a missed Kyle Gaillard jumper with 8:56 left, the Tribe did not miss a shot or commit a turnover.

It was a feat that would have been impressive against St. Mercy Sisters of the Poor. But these guys played 10 minutes of perfect basketball against VCU, the best team in the CAA at the time.

And they beat Wake Forrest, at Wake Forrest, something no ACC team has done this season. They beat Maryland, at Maryland, for the Terrapin’s only home loss this season.

Have they faded down the stretch? Of course, but only in relation to our heightened expectations.
For a 10-game stretch this season, the Tribe was the best team on the floor. And this senior class was a big part of that success.

There was the shooting guard with the awkward-looking shot, who seemingly willed his teams to victories by outrebounding and outhustling his opponents. There was the forward with all the untapped potential, turning into the player we all imagined him to be with three straight three-pointers to start the game at Maryland. There was the point guard who could barely stand last year on two bad ankles, breaking the press and leading the Tribe to one of the best assist-to-turnover ratios in the country. There was the center who was barely expected to play, taking off inside the foul line and slamming home dunks against some of the best big men in the ACC.

Sports are cruel, though. The hare, more often than not, outruns the tortoise — the bigger, badder man usually wins the battle at the line of scrimmage. And just when we started to believe that maybe all the experts had been wrong, the Tribe fell slowly back to earth.

It was probably unrealistic to think this team was going to win the CAA. No matter what you think of opposing coaches, they usually know their stuff when it comes to basketball, and they picked the Tribe to finish 10th in the CAA. They aren’t anywhere near that bad, but their current position is most likely a realistic one.

And it was probably only fantasy to imagine this team getting an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. The deck is stacked against mid-major teams anyway — it seems like it was practically loaded against the Tribe, a team that has never made the tournament.

But we believed; we believed it all, because they made us believe.

This team, these seniors, were the best team on the floor for 10 games this winter, in spite of every conventional notion about basketball. They were not taller, not faster, not more athletic than their opponents, but for 10 games, they were the best.

And for 10 minutes versus VCU, they were perfect.

These seniors know a little something about being perfect. For a three-game span in Richmond two years ago, they almost played their way into the tournament, getting as close as this school has ever gotten to the Promised Land.

These four guys — Hess, McCurdy, Schneider and Sumner — were perfect more times than we, as fans, could ever ask for.

Do they deserve having their numbers retired? No.

But it deserves our thanks and praise, as these four seniors graduate having reached as close to perfection as possible.

And for that we say thanks.

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