Debunking The Five Stages Of Loss From The Sweet 16 – Denial

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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.


Ohio fans should not deny what happened Friday night in St. Louis. They should embrace it.

The Sweet 16 is not just an achievement for the players. It’s a destination for fans everywhere. Fans were bewildered by the moment, blinding those around them while capturing their respective Kodak moments. I think the DMV knocked out 24 hours of waiting times across the country in one fell swoop. Fifteen minutes before tipoff, middle-aged men across the building looked like high school girls at their first prom. It looked like some of them were even popping their knees.

Ohio not only got to attend. They got to be a part of it. Why would we deny that? Think about it for a minute. Almighty Duke basketball and the legendary Coach K were fluffing their sofa cushions at 7 o'clock Friday night. The Bobcats were warming up to take on their biggest rivals. Ohio’s own rivals in the MAC were dribbling and passing remote controls and cheese puffs Friday night. A lot of them were probably even cheering for the ‘Cats.

Not to mention what the Green and White did to one of the top teams in the country. At times, they made former McDonald's All-Americans look like McDonald's employees. They climbed back from multiple double-digit deficits against one of the best teams in the country. Tar Heel leads in the second half were shrinking like cotton tees in consecutive drier cycles.

They were relentless. The moments were priceless. Here are four lead-changing moments that embody what Bobcat fans should not deny:

– Nick Kellogg hits a three pointer to give Ohio its first lead at 47-46. It was the moment mid-majors live for in March. It was cold blooded. I mean, it was downright amphibious. It had a stick-it-to-the-establishment feel that only comes with the darling of the NCAA tournament.

– Dj Cooper banks in a layup with a foul. Cooper’s immediate reaction offered a moment to cherish. He looked nodded his head with unbridled confidence. He looked like a dashboard bobble head doll on a gravel road. Any question you could have asked him in that moment was a yes or yes question. He had just put the Bobcats up 54-53, and he stepped up and drilled the free throw to extend the lead to two.

– Ivo Baltic finds a cutting Walter Offutt for a routine layup to go up 59-57. In that moment, Tyler Zeller was the most elusive 7-footer I have ever seen. John Henson wasn’t even blocking traffic let alone shots. Where was the powder blue deciduous forest that occupied the lane earlier in the game? It was like Walter Offutt defied proverbial environmentalists, sliced through the maples and oaks, and erected layup development.

– Ivo Baltic spins into a mid-range jump shot to put Ohio up 61-60. Baltic nearly did a perfect pirouette. He was a pointed toe away from a spot in the nutcracker. Not to mention that he should have had vertigo before he even took the shot. He literally almost turned 360 degrees. I needed Dramamine just to watch the replay.

The stories were too compelling. The highlights too enthralling. The feats too gallant. Why would we deny that?

The rest of the series:

Part II: Anger

Part III: Bargaining

Part IV: Depression

Part V: Acceptance