We had to hurry after the game. No stretching. No talking. No visiting. We had to take fast showers and drive to Orlando to get to the airport.
My state of euphoria did not last long. As soon as we got on the bus, I learned that ETSU and Kennesaw State tied, 1-1. That's it. We can no longer finish in a 3 way tie, and there is no way for us to get into the tournament.
Life is cruel. I think many players had given up hope that we would make the tournament. Just when everyone believed again, we were officially eliminated. I did not want to tell the team. We have had very few pleasant post-games this year, and I did not want to ruin this one. I told the team that I was proud of them. They played well. I gave one of my ultimate compliments. I told them I enjoyed watching them play.
As I was changing clothes in the Stetson restroom, I was still so happy with the result of the game and how we played and the resiliency of the players on this team. I thought back to one year ago, when I was changing clothes after the last regular season game at North Florida. I was in a bathroom stall changing my wet clothes, because the team dumped a water cooler on me because we finished in 1st place. The emotions were overwhelming. I was shaking in that bathroom stall at North Florida, and I was shaking again at Stetson. We had just played better against Stetson than we played one year ago, but we are nowhere near where we were one year ago. It is very difficult to understand and almost impossible to explain.
No explanations yet. We have 4 practices and one game remaining. We play Lipscomb on Saturday. It is Senior Day. If we play like we did against Stetson, the game will not even be close. This season, at home, that is a big IF.
When we got back to Belmont, I told the team we were out of the race. I assume they already knew. I told them to not let that take away from the win and the quality of play against Stetson. We need the momentum for Saturday.