College Education

West Virginia may have suffered one of its most difficult losses ever in the NCAA Regional Finals against Louisville, but one Mountaineer seniors was able, even in the disappointment of defeat, to take something positive away from WVU's improbable run to the Elite Eight.

"It shows what can happen when everyone believes in each other," said senior forward Tyrone Sally, who played his last game in a Mountaineer uniform. "There was hard work, dedication, sacrifice. It's an example of what happens when you believe in yourself. It was a good run, an amazing run. It was one for the record books."

That point of view was probably a rare one in the downcast Mountaineer locker room, but as has been well-chronicled, Sally has been through a lot in his West Virginia career. Coming from the depths of an 8-20 season, he has been the one constant in WVU's rise to prominence. Along the way, Sally has learned a lot about himself, and about life, and about taking the long view.

Of course, that's not to say that he wasn't distraught about the outcome of the game. He admitted that "right now, everyone just hurts, just knowing that we were so close to advancing." He fought to say the right things while keeping his emotions in check, nearly losing them when he spoke of walking off the court for the last time after fouling out.

"I was thinking that somehow, some way, my teammates would find a way to win it for me," said Sally of the things running through his mind when he took a seat on the bench. "It's hard, because they gave everything they had. To leave everything you have on the court and come up short, it's hard, and it hurts so bad."

Once again, however, WVU's senior was able to put things into perspective.

"When we look back on this, no one had any belief in us or faith in us," Sally said of the many that had crossed his team out of any role in the postseason. "Now, no one has any reason to put their head down, because we accomplished so much."

One can only be philosophical and forward-looking for so long, however. Sally's immediate plans are to finish out the semester and get his degree, but he wasn't thinking about much past that as he reflected on his last game in a Mountaineer uniform.

"Right now, I'm just going to try to get past this loss, graduate, and then take the next step."

Before packing up his collegiate gear for the last time, Sally also took a moment to reflect on everything that he has gone through during his time at West Virginia. As he made the long walk up the ramp from the floor of The Pit in Albuquerque to the WVU locker room, he said he had some time to reflect on his career.

"This was my last time playing with a great group of guys like this," Sally observed. "I made a lot of friends, and got to know a lot of people. It was a lot more than just basketball."

Sally's last eight words may have been brief, but they sum up his college experience, and the best of what collegiate athletics have to offer. Right before the eyes of Mountaineer fans, he showed what living and learning are all about. He grew from a reserved, reticent freshman into a confident senior, learned how to weather adversity, and showed what dedication and perseverance can accomplish. For that, as much as for his on court achievements, he will be long remembered.

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