Nothing told me more about the UNI basketball team than the video our photographers captured in the locker room following the loss to Michigan State. Many of the Panthers were crying their eyes out. Because of that, I have even more respect for this team. Why? Despite 30 wins, the MVC regular season and tournament titles, and the trip to the Sweet Sixteen, the Panthers still wanted and expected more. They weren’t happy just to be in St. Louis, they truly expected to leave St. Louis with nets around their necks. And the players were devastated when it didn’t happen. That’s the mark of a champion.
Season-ending video of players crying is good for perspective too. Fans and the media alike often place huge expectations on these players. We’re often quick to criticize when a player doesn’t play well, or perform up to a level that we expect… because on the court, these players are phenomenal athletes. They’re men. But seeing them curled in a ball last night was a reminder… they’re just kids. 18-22 year-old kids.
Congratulations to the Panthers on a phenomenal season, and thank you for playing with the heart of a champion.