Published Sun, Mar 25, 2012 4:29 pm Dateline
Editor's note: This is a five-part column designed to take Bobcat fans through the five stages of loss, as described by plenty of psychology textbooks.
Annihilate the anger. Save the scorn. Forget the frustration.
Here are a few things Ohio fans may have been initially irritated by followed by why its best to just put it past you.
Dj Cooper shot 15 percent from the field yet still took 20 shots.
Dj Cooper? You mean the same guy that set Ohio’s career steal record Friday night. You know, the one that already holds the all-time assist one. Pause and think about this one before you go on a tirade.
This guy is probably the best basketball player in Ohio history. They might try to physically raise him to the rafters before the first game of next season. In 20 years you might be in Athens for homecoming and get a student to swipe you into Cooper Dining Hall. And that probably wouldn’t do him justice.
Without him, the Bobcats are not in the NCAA tournament. Without him, half the shots you enjoy passing through the bottom of the net never happen. Heck, for the most part without him the ball doesn’t get past half court.
Besides, two of his three made shots couldn’t have been more timely. They were like Letterman punch lines. They were like Mickelson tee times. Like any good wizard his made shots arrive neither early nor late. They arrive precisely on time. A cool three pointer to cut Carolina’s lead to two. A slashing bank shot over a few Carolina forwards, a couple mythical monsters, and a downtown St. Louis skyscraper to put Ohio up 55-53 late.
Not to mention the moments where he turns into a Storm Trooper and lasers the ball into the post for easy buckets. He treats throwing bounce passes like he’s skipping stones. His cross-court passes glide like paper airplanes. He runs Ohio’s offense. As in, it does not exist without him.
Walter Offutt misses a free throw late that would have put Ohio up 64-63.
Let’s just leave the white Zeller-phant in the room out of this. We won’t even touch the whole 26 points and clutch shot barrage part of Walt’s night.
Walter Offutt shut down superstar Harrison Barnes Friday night. Barnes had more bricks than College Green down the stretch. He traveled more than Anthony Bourdain. He was completely checked out, and Offutt was his cashier.
In fact, immediately following Offutt’s missed free throw Carolina decided to hold the ball for the final shot of regulation. They put the ball in the hands of their superstar. Barnes drove deep into the lane, turned to shoot, and was promptly robbed clean by Offutt.
It was an absolute heist. Offutt was Jesse James reincarnate all night. Barnes was the revered McDonalds All American. Offutt was the hamburglar. The ball even squirted out to Dj Cooper giving him a half court heave that nearly won the game for the ‘Cats. Which brings me to the last possible source of anger.
Fan resentment may be derived from the simple fact that Cooper’s desperation shot did not fall. But what can you honestly do about that?
You can’t resurrect Sir Isaac Newton and have him recalculate a couple major formulae. You can’t turn back time and create a convenient crosswind. Sure, it’s March and shots like that should fall. But quite frankly, it was a March miracle that Ohio got that good of a shot at the buzzer (if any at all).
Plus, gravity was comically wonderful to Bobcat fans at times. The raucous Ohio crowd got two prime opportunities to get even nuttier when John Henson air balled a free throw and Harrison Barnes air balled a fade away late. Ohio rattled Carolina. The air became a little denser for them. Basketballs were turning into beach balls.
That doesn’t just happen to number one seeds. Ohio played a big part in rattling the giants from tobacco road. And that is certainly nothing to get upset about.
The rest of the series: