Marquette Wire

GROVER: Senior Day Salutations

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Put the Santana champagne back on ice. It’s just a little too crisp to swallow for this one.

Doesn’t Notre Dame respect good storytelling? They ruined it for everyone. Notre Dame could not be reached for comment as the collective campus was busy assembling their weekly 20-page dissertation for class at 8 a.m. Monday. Still mad you didn’t go there?

Look, this was not the way Senior Day was supposed to go. There was Lazar Hayward, the senior leader, wide open in the left corner with Marquette up three with 16 seconds to play. His shot was going to ice the game, but it clanged off the iron instead. Huh? That was supposed to go in. Minutes later, he would unceremoniously foul out, and spend the end of his Bradley Center career on the bench.

Or how about David Cubillan and Maurice Acker, who combined to put up an 0-for from behind the arc during overtime. Hitting open threes has been the guard duo’s strength all year. Yet the conclusion was best summed up by Cubillan’s desperation half-court heave: it landed 10 feet to the left. Did that really happen?

Senior Day was ruined (again). A six-point lead acting like a crappy Nicholas Cage movie. You know, “Gone in 60 Seconds.” How could they lose? About 75 percent of a disappointed crowd filed mechanically out of the stands and onto 4th Street, beside themselves.

And if that summarizes your attitude towards Saturday’s game, well, then you just missed the point completely.

So while most people were leaving, the real reason for Senior Day began. A celebration of the years of hard work that three men put into a basketball program in Milwaukee.

“Maybe as a non-athlete, it’s hard to realize how time-consuming it is,” said coach Buzz Williams. “It’s not time-consuming; it’s a life. It turns into your life and for those three to be in a position to get a degree in the next 100 days, I think it says a great deal about them.”

The three were joined by their families at mid-court, and one by one, shared their stories and progression from soft-spoken underclassmen to leaders of the team.

“A day like today, hearing those three talk, it was powerful. It was very, very moving,” said Marquette University President the Rev. Robert A. Wild. “(Williams) has taught them and they’ve learned about life. We try and do that at Marquette. And these guys have been very good students.”

After the interview, I incidentally touched Father Wild’s gold vest, and that evening I won the Powerball jackpot. Coincidence? Bill O’Reilly says: You decide.

People, the Marquette Golden Eagles were not supposed to be good this year. Go all the way back to the beginning of the year, and no one (myself included) saw this team winning 20 games and making it to the NCAA Tournament. Except perhaps the three seniors.

“I don’t like people to say that we overachieved,” Hayward said, back turned to the cameras, facing his teammates and family. “We overcame some things. We didn’t overachieve. We’re a great team and we were supposed to do what we’re doing now.”

So for the quarter of the sell-out crowd that stuck around after a wrenching loss, good for you. It was a celebration of an unbelievable season of (sorry, Lazar) overachievement. And three guys who were instrumental in it. And the best part? It’s not over yet. The Big East Tournament starts tomorrow.

Marquette is a family. And family sticks together. Stick around for Senior Day next time.

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