You see, Virginia fans are perpetually afraid. They’re scared of losing Bennett. They’re scared that maybe their team is overrated. They’re scared of an early NCAA tournament exit. They’re worried about what it means to see the most powerful power rankings in college basketball drop the Hoos to fourth this week. They’re scared that Virginia basketball will come crashing back down in the next few years, if not sooner. Virginia’s football team sucks and its basketball team was irrelevant for about 20 years until last season. Now the fans crave positive attention for their teams. This is why they embraced me so willingly after a few glowing remarks about Virginia’s defense, some links to Justin Anderson dunks, and an Evan Nolte joke. I guess the free drinks may have just been a courteous gesture, but I sensed a note of desperation in those pints. The Virginia fans were saying, “People barely even care about us when we’re good because they think we’re boring. Please don’t turn your back on us when we suck again. Because we will suck again. That’s how this always works.”
Relax, Virginia fans. Your team is still among the very best in the nation, with only three seniors on the roster. The future looks bright and the attention will be around for a while.
Then there’s this:
What you see there is a man who is so far beyond hero mode, there’s no name for what he’s doing. There are 18 seconds left on the shot clock, and a 6-foot-9 defender has a hand up. Even taking this shot as a heat check requires a sack big enough to have its own gravitational pull. But this was no heat check — Grant was just 1-of-2 from the field when he pulled up for that shot. This was a hero check that stands as the culmination of his entire season to this point. This was Grant checking to see if he’s officially entered Shabazz territory. This was a man saying, ‘My entire 22 years of existence have led to this moment, where Catholic Notre Dame fans around the world will question their faith and seek information about the Church of Jerian.’