You Are About To Enter Another Dimension

You unlock this door with the key of imagination. Beyond it is another dimension - a dimension of sound, a dimension of sight, a dimension of mind. You're moving into a land of both shadow and substance, of things and ideas. You've just crossed over into...

You are a basketball fan of a mid-Atlantic region's state university.

That university has a once proud basketball tradition. After years of steadily decreasing performance in comparison to that tradition, you are invigorated as you buy into the hype of a supposedly sensational recruiting class - perhaps your university's most acclaimed class in a quarter century - and have visions of 20+ wins and a deep run in the NCAA tournament.

You become excited by the prospects of a freshman point guard with talent not seen in ages at your university to lead your team to greatness.

You experience the thrill of very early season road victories that fuel your expectations.

You dismiss an early season loss to a Colonial Athletic Association school as simply "the wake-up call" your heroes need to scale the heights that are to be their eventual destiny. You further dismiss a loss to a non-conference school that has not beaten you at home in a generation, confident that the situation your heroes have fallen upon is temporary and that order will return any moment and a season of promise will be restored.

You slowly realize that the early season failures were unheeded warnings of the furthering deterioration of that once proud tradition.

As your conference games unfold, you witness painfully increasing proportions of talent without desire, motion without purpose, individualism in lieu of teamwork.

You observe the deterioration manifest itself through the abrupt departure of a long-tenured and loyal head coach before a lost season has even concluded; a departure made without the coach even bothering to tell his players about his decision or to explain it.

You believe the deterioration has reached its merciful nadir in an 8-20 season characterized by selfish players with positively no grasp whatsoever of the word "team".

You believe that despite the carnage of a lost season, a savior is waiting in the wings, a beacon of light in the darkness.

You watch as the savior - a famous university alumnus - who has repeatedly described your university's head coaching position his "dream job", tantalizes your university by entertaining a lucrative offer to return to his alma mater - a courtship scrutinized heavily by the national media.

You applaud the efforts of your university's Athletic Director and President throughout the courtship. You are grateful to the highly financially enabled boosters who have mobilized to bring the deliverer of the salvation home through their generosity.

You suffer the anguish when the chosen one eventually rebukes his alma mater. You begin to question the efforts of the Athletic Director and the President - efforts only days earlier considered brilliant and stunning.

You begin to doubt their leadership, their focus, their true abilities.

You endure a subsequent coaching search - the one that succeeds the unsuccessful courtship of the famous alumnus - over several agonizing days of uncertainty and speculation.

Finally, after what seems an eternity, you rejoice at the hiring of a new mentor - one who decrees the virtues of discipline, teamwork, commitment and integrity. You revel in the reversal of fortune, a new attitude, a new focus - an awakening from the nightmare just passed.

You are relieved that the madness has ended and that the deterioration has reversed itself. Your re-found faith is fortified by the new mentor's actions resulting from his first formal meeting with his inherited players. You proudly espouse the virtues of the new mentor - his ethics, his determination, his resolve - and are led to believe that all is again well, or someday can be - with the new mentor now in place.

You are then thrust into the abyss once more when the new mentor suddenly departs, shattering your perceptions of his virtues and the promise he brought with him.

You are further tortured by the possibility of infractions of a nature that pale in comparison to wins and losses and lackadaisical on-the-court performances - infractions that carry penalties never yet endured or even considered until now, infractions previously only gleefully reserved for a stepchild university elsewhere in your university's state.

You wonder if the insanity will ever end and whether your university's leaders can begin to stop the hemorrhaging.

You realize that this isn't another place and another time. It is real. It is all too real.

You've just entered - the Mountaineer basketball zone.

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