At 8: 55 last night, the University of Virginia announced it will compete in the NCAA men’s and women’s lacrosse tournaments. This as its teams reel from first degree murder charges against men’s midfielder George Huguely in the beating death of women’s defender Yeardley Love.
Five minutes later, ESPN aired a documentary on basketball coach Paul Westhead, whose 1990 Loyola Marymount team played in the NCAA Air Jordan 7s tournament five days after the funeral of teammate Hank Gathers.
Since Gathers, an All America forward, collapsed and died on the court, the situations are far from identical. But the film’s portrayal of Loyola Marymount’s stirring postseason run speaks to the recuperative power of sport that the Cavaliers hope to channel.
“A part of their healing will be getting our students back into some of their routines,” Virginia athletic director Craig Littlepage said in a statement Tuesday. “In the case of the women’s and men’s programs, our lacrosse teams will honor Yeardley by continuing their seasons” in the NCAA tournaments.
The Cavaliers men are ranked No. 1 nationally, the women No. 5, and both are assured bids when the brackets are announced Sunday.
Although renowned as the nation’s highest scoring team, Loyola Marymount wasn’t nearly as well regarded in 1990. The Lions dominated the West Coast Conference, but after Gathers’ March 4 death in the league tournament quarterfinals, and the subsequent cancellation of that tournament, they were seeded 11th among 16 teams in the NCAA West Regional.
According Air Jordan Fusion 4 to the film, “Guru of Go,” Westhead told his players that no one would criticize them for declining the NCAA bid. The decision to accept took “about an eighth of a second,” a player said.
Loyola Marymount upset New Mexico State, defending national champion Michigan (the 149 115 rout is the highest scoring game in tournament history) and Alabama (Robert Horry, later known as “Big Shot Bob” in the NBA, missed a tying attempt at the horn). In each game, Kimble shot his first free throw left handed to honor Gathers.
“The game was the only time of day we felt any relief,” Westhead recalled.
But in the West Regional final, the Lions the Air Jordan 15s program hasn’t been back to Air Jordan Fusion 5 the NCAA tournament since encountered UNLV, led by Larry Johnson, Anderson Hunt and Stacey Augmon. The Rebels won 131 101 en route to the Final Four and national championship.
“We just couldn’t pull off any more miracles,” KOBE 9 Westhead said. “You only get so many miracles.”
Despite the defeat, none of the Lions interviewed in the film has ever regretted the decision to play. Here’s hoping the Virginia lacrosse players always feel the same, in victory and/or defeat.