Many are calling it the worst loss in program history, I can’t speak to that but here’s at least what I have to say.
If you weren’t a Mizzou fan you would have marveled at the atmosphere. You would have looked in the face of Kyle O’Quinn and seen the smile of a team beginning to believe. You would see the look of a favorite turn from looks of confidence to dejection and frustration.
If you weren’t a Mizzou fan, you would say it was the best tournament game you had seen in a while, maybe ever. You would exhale at the end wanting more.
It was the best game Mizzou wanted no part of.
As someone who went to Mizzou, but did not grow up a Missouri fan, I can’t sit here in the media workroom at CenturyLink Center and say this loss hurts worse than Tyus Edney, or Belmont or the closing game at Hearnes. I’m removed enough to the point to appreciate the game, but also feel for the fans and people this hurts the most.
This hurts most for Marcus Denmon, whose 20 points and sharpshooting had saved Mizzou many times this year.
It hurts most for Ricardo Ratliffe and Steve Moore, who had gotten by quality big men before in this year but could find no answer for Kyle O’Quinn.
It hurts most for Missouri’s most outspoken senior Kim English, who usually has the right words to say to move his team forward. He opened his mouth after Friday night’s game and all that came out was silent shock.
This loss does not define the winningest senior class in Mizzou history, but it does leave it with a sour ending. One where English could not deliver on his freshman year promise, “Before we graduate we’re gonna win a national championship”.
I can see the fans’ side of the coin, from people in Columbia who are torching their brackets, to Mizzou fans who made the trip to Omaha trying to cancel non-refundable hotel reservations. You will step back, though, whether its a month, five years, or even one hour after a single solitary basketball game and ask:
Aren’t moments like this what makes this game great?
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