Speechless

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You know what, folks? I’ve got nothing. It’s past 11 PM Sunday night, four
hours after another snub, and much like my favorite basketball team, my tank is
on “E”. I thought the Hokies’ body of work was enough this year, but
the poopsmiths on the NCAA Selection Committee reminded us of the guiding
principle behind the carrot on a stick: you never actually get to eat the
carrot.

VT’s basketball motto this year was “I’m In. All In.” But at this
point, I’m out. All out. I have no supply left of the following:

  • Righteous indignation? All gone.
  • Laser-sharp statistical analysis? All out.
  • Calm, detached commentary on what went wrong? Scraping bottom on that.
  • Troop-rallying battle cry? Wait, let me check behind the couch. Nope,
    sorry.

In the last three years, I’ve deployed all of those tactics in the wake of a
snub. I even used some of them with the 2004 NIT snub. Now all I’ve got left is
a big, fat, WOW neon sign hanging over my head.

I’m a logical guy. I get that in any given year, things might not go your way
with the selection committee. But … four years in a row? Three #1 seeds in the
NIT in the last four years? Belonging to that “first 4 out” group four
years in a row, and not once accidentally falling into that “last 4
in” group? (Yeah, I know, VT wasn’t in the “first 4 out” group
one of those years; humor me.)

Sitting there year after year, being kinda worthy, and getting passed over,
while a score of other kinda worthy teams got in?

Know who I’d like to be right now? UAB or VCU. They are this year’s whipping
boys, the ones with the weak resumes (UAB in particular) who got in anyway, over
Virginia Tech and Colorado. I’d love to have ESPN’s Jay Bilas howling about how
my team didn’t deserve to get into the tournament but did anyway, instead of
having him howl about my team DID deserve to get in, but didn’t.

Bilas was classic, by the way. ESPN followed the CBS selection show by going
off for almost a full half hour about how bad the selection committee was. Bilas
wondered if they knew the ball was round, and said things like, “Never mind
the eye test, this doesn’t pass the laugh test” and other gems too numerous
for my taxed brain to remember. Oh, here’s one: “Know who the most
surprised people are that VCU and UAB got in? VCU and UAB.”

I’m always marveling at statistical anomalies, and the last four years of
Selection Sundays are one big, fat, statistical anomaly. Has any team — any one
— ever wound up just barely on the wrong side of the bubble four years in a
row? This is beyond freakish.

Speaking of statistics, I already had my acceptance speech (if you will)
written. Assuming VT was barely going to make it into the NCAA tournament, I was
prepared to talk about how Derwin Kitchen’s game-winning shot Saturday night for
Florida State was about 1/10th of a second too late, then I was going to break
down how much 1/10th of a second represented in a 31-game season. 31 games times
40 minutes (plus the overtime against Purdue) equals X number of minutes, and
1/10th of a second decided VT’s fate, blah-blah-blah.

It was going to be a neat article. Trash can it, though, because the Hokies
didn’t get in.

Because of the late finish Friday night, and because of a lack of internet
access at my house Friday night and Saturday day, I never got to write a single
sentence about that bizarre, wonderful win over Florida State. I never got to
talk about that one minute when, finally, the basketball gods smiled down
on Virginia Tech.

Probably just as well. It would have been wasted time. Because two nights
later, the basketball gods went back to doing what they do best: stomping Tech’s
basketball heart into the dirt and grinding it down with their heel.

I’m beyond words, except for WOW. And not a good WOW, either. A speechless,
aghast WOW instead. Later, there will be more time to reflect and analyze, but
for now, I’m just glad I’m not Chris Coleman. That Bethune-Cookman preview’s
going to be a hard one for that guy to write. Everybody have pity on him, for
the pain caused by yet another snub reaches far and wide, indeed.

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