The Louisville Game
With six minutes left in the game, Louisville held a 56-46 lead. There was little to indicate how the game's ending would transpire. It was at that point that I considered firing off a message to Seattle Hoo to ask if this was the worst game the Hoos had played during the season. I planned to do it at the under four minute media timeout.
When that timeout arrived, the score was only different by three points, 56-49. The difference? A De'Andre Hunter three at the 4:12 mark. By the time the media timeout arrived, I had moved on from the thought and never sent the message. I think I had resigned myself to a UVA loss. And I had decided to suck it up and take the L with a minimum of complaints because of all this team had accomplished to date.
How could anyone know that this was to become a Program Game?
I'm defining a Program Game as one where fans can simply mention a game by a name and everyone else knows what game they mean. It's almost always a win, especially one of special significance or meaning. It could also be a game featuring an event or play so outstanding that it cannot be forgotten. A Program Game could also include a loss. But we won this game, so we won't worry about those today.
Program Games are what bind together a fanbase in both good times and bad. They're a similar set of experiences and emotions defined in easily identifiable terms. They're passed down across generations helping to sustain a fanbase; and help to teach new fans the program's history and traditions. Sometimes, they can encompass several games over an entire tournament if that tournament carries special weight.
At Virginia, several Program Games come to mind: Ralph's Last Game, The 76 ACC Tournament, The Shot (Singletary, Duke, JPJ), Richard Morgan Against Carolina, Last Ball At UHall, JPJ Opener, Kansas In 95, The Wojo Game, Cameron 2018, Miracle At Wake, The 2014 ACC Tournament.
Enter The Louisville Game, the second Program Game so far this season joining the ranks with the win at Cameron earlier this season.
And by virtue of capturing Program Game status, all warts and blemishes become ignored. We acknowledge those short comings but they become fleeting thoughts in our memory.
Five years from now, no one will recall how poorly the defense played in the some stretches. Or the offense for that matter. In the here and now, the team knows and has acknowledged as much.
Devon Hall, speaking on the comeback and victory, was quoted as follows in one of the many VirginiaSports.com stories on the game.
"It shows our toughness to be able to fight back like that and be able to finish down the stretch. We had a bunch of lapses. I don't think we played well tonight on the defensive end at all. Even on the offensive end, I don't think we played as well as we could have or as we should have. But coming up big down the stretch is big for us."
In the same story, Coach Bennett echoed a similar tone as Hall. "I was more concerned or disappointed that we weren't putting up a better fight defensively. I can always live with tough, contested shots made, but I didn't feel we were doing that consistently enough to be in that game."
It's a good sign that the team leaders and coaches aren't resting on the laurels of the comeback and game winner by Hunter. But in a game like this, it's more than permissible for fans to overlook the other 39:59.1 to remember Hunter's miraculous winner. It's what we'll still be talking about five years from now.
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