Going cold turkey with March Sad, er, Madness

TONY BENNETT LIKENED the Cougs' heartwrenching loss Saturday to the old ski jumper from ABC's Wide World of Sports. "The thrill of victory ... and the agony of defeat." What a perfect metaphor. When the game was done, I felt like I'd gone down a mountain. A team that was so spirited -- and so good for a Crimson Nation that hadn't been this excited since the '03 Holiday Bowl -- was suddenly done.

In the blink of an eye, you go from the ethereal thrills of Derrick Low's dramatic three-pointer to tie it at 69 and Taylor Rochestie's steal and sprint to the other end court, to ... nothing.

We all cope with the agony of defeat in different ways. My choice for this bitter pill was to go cold turkey. No, not Wild Turkey -- although it might have helped ease the pain. I decided to move on. No more March Madness for me. No games, no highlights, no sports tickers, no interviews. I didn't care what UCLA did Saturday night or what Oregon and USC did Sunday.


I think it's a town near Wenatchee.

VCU? The abbreviation for vaccuum.

Like the Cougs, my basketball season is done. Fin. Over. My brackets are on the shelf. No more updating. I'm sure someone will call if I'm in the money.

To ensure the siren song of James Brown, Verne Lundquist and the rest wouldn't tempt me on Sunday, my lovely wife and I headed out for Costco. I wasn't the only Coug fan with that thought. We wore our crimson and gray proudly -- perhaps more out of sympathy for Tony, Kyle and the boys than the standard show of pride. There were Cougs all over the place. All of 'em had the same disquieting look -- a look you might expect to find if you woke up Christmas morning and found the cat had peed all over the presents. There were no crimson smiles at Costco. No "Go Cougs!"

There were just nods that were as plain as English: "I feel your pain, brother."

After spending $336, I felt no better.

Arriving back home, I had enough courage to make an attempt to read the paper. It wasn't something I wanted to do, but somehow needed to do in order to move on. Bud Withers, the Seattle Times' college basketball guru, was his usual sublime self and wrote a great piece. And then I turned to Steve Kelley. He was just a little too painful, so I moved on to the box scores.

Over in the section with the TV listings, I noticed that the Comedy Channel was airing "Major League." Normally I wait until around opening day to watch this Charlie Sheen classic, but it really hit the spot Sunday. It provided my first and only laughs of the day. I'm now ready to give my full attention to Jared Prince and Cougar baseball. Bring on the Mariners and the NFL draft.

But March Madness? No way. It's March Sadness.

I'll be mowing the lawn when Digger Phelps is breaking down the Final Four.

I didn't sleep well Saturday night. I tossed around wondering about all the wouldas, couldas and shouldas. I even had flashbacks of Don Collins fouling out against Penn in the first round of 1980, Ralph Sampson blocking our shots in the second round in 1983, and Tony Harris firing an errant pass with a minute left against Boston College in '94.

But Saturday was different. This Cougar team was different. They were too likeable, too resilient, too hard-working to go down in what figures to rank as THE game of the tournament.

"Why not go inside more?" I asked myself over and over. "Why not try to draw a foul on Byars?"

And on and on. It is easy to be critical during the agony on defeat. Instead, I've tried to funnel this energy into giving thanks.

Thanks to Jim Sterk for having the gumption to call Dick Bennett that fateful day in 2003. Thanks for giving nepotism a chance. Thanks to Derrick Low, Kyle Weaver, Robbie Cowgill, Daven Harmeling and all the guys for coming to Pullman and for believing in the power of teamwork. Special thanks to senior Ivory Clark -- we'll miss you, and all the best in your future.

Finally, thanks to the Cougar Nation for filling up Beasley like it was in the glory days of Raveling and Sampson. For infiltrating Hec Ed. For never ceasing to believe in Tony and his guys.

GO COUGS! Here's to seeing you all at the Final Four next year.

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