Sorry Texas, sorry Stephen F. Austin, sorry Purdue, and sorry Northern Iowa. I know your teams went through some heartbreaking losses in the NCAA tournament, and being a Cincinnati fan, I like to think of myself as a pro in dealing with these types of losses. We have lost on 6 buzzer beaters, and all 11 of our losses are only by a combined 53 points (4.8 per game). So, follow along with me as I go through the 6 stages of March Sadness I went through during the absolutely stunning 4OT game against UConn. Hopefully fans of all the other teams that have gone through the same heartbreaking losses will be able to cope the same way I have.
- Shock and Denial: “There’s no way that that just happened…”
This was happening quite a bit during that UConn game. At the end of each overtime, I just kept saying “there is no way this game is still going”. But man, the end of the third overtime was the big “oh my gosh there’s no way this is happening” moment. Kevin Johnson got the ball for an open three and drained it, causing me to jump around my dorm room yelling “WE FINALLY WON!” Then the heave from Adams. Then the denial that anything like that could ever possibly happen, and then even deeper denial that it just happened to my team and that the game was going to keep going.
- Pain and Guilt: “I should not have moved.”
Next came the pain and the guilt. The pain was in the fact that we lost the game in the end, and once UConn started to pull away, it was hopeless. Cincinnati came out with no energy for the last overtime, and UConn took advantage. The guilt came when I realized that I had moved from the spot where I was sitting/standing right before the Adams shot went in. Hey, maybe if I didn’t move spots, than the world would have shifted ever-so-slightly and the shot by Adams would have been a fraction of a centimeter off. We will never know, because I decided to stand instead of sit on my bed like I had been doing.
- Anger and Bargaining: “Why does this keep happening to us?” “WHY DIDN’T THEY DEFEND THE FULL COURT SHOT!”
The anger and bargaining step occurred after the whole game was over. I was beyond angry that my Bearcats keep losing close games. The anger was pointed towards the players (why didn’t they just get back on defense instead of celebrating?!) and the coaches (why didn’t they tell the players to get back on defense?!). The anger was also pointed towards anyone that dared to speak a word to me after that game, because it put me in a baaaaaad mood. The bargaining was along the lines of “I’ll start my 10-page paper that is due tomorrow if you change the outcome of the game!” (Note: I am a good student; I did the paper anyway)
- Depression, Reflection, Loneliness: “I don’t want to watch sports anymore.”
When I finally realized that it happened and it was over, I started to reflect on it. It was sad because I didn’t get to watch my Bearcats play in the conference tournament anymore, and I also was not 100% sure at the time if we would even get into the NCAA Tournament. Reflecting on the game was also very depressing, as we were this close to winning before Adams made his insane shot.
- The Upward Turn: “Well, we are going to make the tournament, we can make up for it there.”
After all the sadness and reflection was over, I decided to just be excited for our probable NCAA Tournament appearance and started to look forward to Selection Sunday. I at least got to watch this great game and it was a really memorable experience. I also went to a UC baseball game that they won, so that made me realize that maybe our sports really aren’t cursed. So that part was a little bit relieving and made me a little more confident in our chances in the tournament.
- Reconstruction and Working Through: “Hey, we got a good first round matchup against St. Joe’s! We also only have to play Oregon in the second round!”
This stage consisted of watching Selection Sunday and analyzing the bracket. When I saw that we got a 9 seed and were playing St. Joseph’s in the first round, I was happy. I researched their team and thought that we could match up very well with them. It was a good way to work through the sadness of the UConn loss.
So there it is, this is how I worked through the 4OT loss to UConn, from the sadness of Adams’ shot to the happiness of a first round win in the NCAA Tournament. Wait, we lost that too? It was another heartbreaking loss?! Oh come on, here we go again….
- Shock and Denial: “No, he totally made the dunk in time”
I was jumping around my girlfriend’s house quietly screaming (her parents were asleep, have to stay on their good side) that Ellis just sent the game to overtime on a last second dunk. Then my girlfriend calls me over and tells me that he did not get it in on time. Even after seeing that he really didn’t get it in, I was just standing around saying “he got it, he got it.” No, no he didn’t.
- Pain and Guilt: “I wasn’t confidence that we would win, it is my fault.”
When the game started getting close, I did not think that we would be able to catch up and win because of how bad we were previously at the end of games. After the game, I just kept thinking that if I had been confident that maybe it would have sent a signal to Ellis’ mind to lay it up, instead of dunk (makes sense right?).
- Anger and Bargaining: “WHY DIDNT HE JUST LAY THE BALL UP?”
Ask my girlfriend, this phrase is pretty much all that I said for the rest of the night. Even though I knew if I was in Ellis’ shoes that I probably would have dunked also (especially with a defender closing in so close), I still was very angry that he was not smarter than me and didn’t lay the ball up. I also was bargaining with the higher powers that they could have 20 more Jalen Adams’ buzzer-beaters if they would just give me the Ellis one.
- Depression, Reflection, Loneliness
The rest of the night, I was in a bad mood. That was my last chance to see this Bearcat team and I felt really bad for Ellis and the other seniors. When I was alone in my dreams, I had a nightmare about what happened. Not only does this show that I am way too invested in sports outcomes, but it also shows just how sad I was to see this team go, especially in the way they did.
- The Upward Turn: “Screw it, I am going to the Bahamas!”
My sulking over this game did not last long, as I was headed on a plane to the Bahamas a couple hours later. While the loss still stung while I was on the plane, I was going to the Bahamas; it was nothing a nice cold beer and some sun couldn’t fix.
- Reconstruction and Working Through: “We will be even better next year!”
In the end, Cincinnati is one of 8 schools that have gone to the NCAA Tournament for at least 6 consecutive years. Plus, we will be in the Big 12 next year (right? RIGHT? Please). Also exciting for next year is the arrival of some new players, highlighted by North Carolina State transfer Nate Washington, and stud freshman Jarron Cumberland. Hopefully next year the team can have all the success without all of the heartbreak. Do it for the fans!