Xavier-GW made NCAAs OK

Just hearing the announcer call Albert Roma a “gangly guy” made the disaster against Indiana University a little easier to take.

Knowing Shawnta Rogers was getting the national publicity he so rightfully deserved also made it slightly better.

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And if you lasted until the end of the game, seeing Bobby Knight put his hands on Shawnta’s shoulders in admiration and respect was a nice ending to Shawnta’s successful college career.

But other than that, what the heck was that so-called performance in Orlando, Fla.? Did someone ride Space Mountain one too many times and forget to return to Earth?

But the truth about our non-existent stay in the NCAA Tournament is simple. Everything you wished and prayed wouldn’t happen two weeks ago did. All the truth about this team that you and I feared would show itself on CBS was exposed. So with that, it was a terrible showing for Penders and company; at least they defied the odds and made the field of 64.

If you can, put aside everything that happened from the Atlantic 10 Tournament on and just go back to the game against Xavier. Feel the excitement in the Smith Center. Search for the cameras that ESPN was nice enough to point right in our faces. Envision Shawnta being introduced as a starter, running out to an unbelievable cheer, telling all those Washington Post sports writers to stop reporting that the flu had beaten him. Not only did you and I see Shawnta beat the flu, but we saw Shawnta beat Xavier.

That shot at the buzzer was our championship. It was everything a GW fan could have hoped for. It was the feeling we’ve dreamed about, when the nets are cut down and the fans storm the court and America gets to see it live (as long as they’ve been paying their cable bills on time).

And what mattered most was that the seniors who worked so hard to make this a competitive team – a team worth rooting for – received the ultimate recognition on the home court they defended perfectly this year.

If you remember just one event from this season, let it not be any tournament game, or any Dorien Brown fight. Let it not be a Mike King three-point shooting performance or those tournament uniforms, or anything that happened at Temple.

Instead, let it be Xavier.

And no matter what happens next year without Shawnta and Yegor, regardless of how good or bad the team is, don’t ever forget what you saw and how you felt. It was our championship game, at home, and we won it.

As the “Final Four” approaches, GW fans will split allegiances for a short while. The West Hartford crowd will lead the way for UConn, while our large Boston contingency will root for Jim O’Brien, Scoonie Penn and Ohio State. I don’t know who roots for Michigan State, but everyone who just wants to get something right in their tournament pool will cheer for Duke.

But again, when it’s all over, we’ll all come together again and root for Shawnta and Yegor as they begin new careers, in the NBA with any luck.

And we’ll always share that memory, of that game, of that shot, of that championship – they make knowing Mike Jarvis was one win away not matter so much.

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