I was born in 1985, so the days of Wally, Ralph, and Final Fours were merely stories my relatives told. However, as an impressionable elementary school kid that was quickly becoming a basketball junkie, there was Stith, Junior, and Staples. Sweet 16 in '93, Elite 8 in '95... Wahoo for life! It's always going to be this way, right? Ohh to be young.
In October, my realistic hopes for this year's squad were something like this... 4th in the ACC standings, make it to the semifinals of the ACCT, Sweet 16. I would have taken it in a heartbeat. Sounds like a great season for a program desperately trying to dig itself out of a hole of mediocrity that sometimes just seems inescapable. Its crazy thinking back to the night of the Tennessee game, I've never been so confused as a fan. 87-52... What? How? Why!? I am by no means a this is our year guy, but damnit this team had to be good, they just had to be. But they weren't, they looked dazed and confused. Things were not "Alright, Alright, Alright" in Charlottesville. All of a sudden, 10-8 in the ACC and a 9 or 10 seed in the big dance seemed like that's about all we could ask for. Who could have predicted this squad would go on to win 21 of its next 23 games? Not me.
Less than 3 months later, the Hoos are ACC regular season champs, tournament champs, and about to play in the Sweet 16 at the Garden. Satisfied? Are we ever as fans? A loss to the Spartans, albeit a respectable way to go out, would be tough to swallow because I think we've all seen what this team is capable of. None of us fans want this long awaited ride to end. All I know is this, it's been a hell of a year and I've had more fun watching UVA basketball than ever before. In that regard, I am indeed satisfied. Joe, Akil and company have successfully put the program back on the map, and the foreseeable future is bright.
All that being said, it is very clear the players themselves are not done fighting. They are not ready to go home. I don't know if they'll win under the bright lights at MSG, but I do know they're going to play their hearts out till the final whistle blows. And maybe, just maybe, this ride has just begun.