The ironic twist is, that's exactly what those connected with the Wofford program were thinking around this time last season -- this writer was one of them. No one outside of the tight-knit organization really gave the Terriers a second thought. When the Catamounts knocked off overwhelming favorite Davidson in stunning double-overtime fashion, the Terriers knew inside that their chance had come.
While it can be easy to get caught up in the momentous occasions surrounding tournament weekend -- some special things can occur in the cozy mountain town of Asheville, N.C. -- it's refreshing to sit back and realize just how lucky your team is. It feels like a cliché now, what with all the remarks about the college's size and the relative improbability of the Terriers' potential success, as viewed by outsiders.
It's easy to even become complacent with success. Thankfully, we know that this club has not been satisfied and has what it takes to compete -- and prevail -- on a high stage. Wofford is absolutely not one to shy away from challenges; just look at Eric Garcia, who played his heart out and gave it all on the court for his team, even through the excruciating pain that comes with a fractured jaw.
Just look at the unselfishness of this team's play. Spare a glance toward hidden leaders on this team, like C.J. Neumann and Jaylen Allen, seasoned veterans that work hard off the bench to keep their team in games when the going gets tough. Look at the freshmen's excellent contributions -- that only speaks to the high quality of leadership dispensed from both this coaching staff and the players on the court.
Sure, there are times when it's easy to lay down and give up. There's a level of fight in this outfit that firmly places them in their own special tier of basketball. It's admirable to build up your stat line, sure, but it's extraordinary to put your teammates and your college before yourself.
A level of respect unheard of in the everyday monotony of life is prevalent right there on the basketball court. That's what puts these coaches and student-athletes in a class of their own -- a classiness unmatched by others.
Everyone knows the little maxim, "When you fall you get back up." That's what anyone would tell you when faced with the rough adversity of life -- or basketball. How many times is the thing implied actually exercised?
If you're a follower of Wofford basketball, you witnessed it several times this season alone. Basketball players will tell you more often than anyone else that you will encounter highs and lows throughout your career. It's the lows, however, that prove what kind of player you are.
It would've been easy to allow an instance such as a shocking loss to get inside your head. You know, that unhealthy little habit we know as "living in the past." I didn't see a trace of that from this squad after the tough setbacks to The Citadel and Chattanooga. Instead, the Terriers rebounded and learned from their mistakes.
This practice not only strengthens a team's play, but emboldens their spirit and allows them to grow closer to one another. Another reason this program is special -- it's more than simply a basketball team, it's a basketball family. Families stick together, and the members of this one, based out of Spartanburg, definitely have each other's backs.
There's little doubt in my mind that everyone on this team displays that trait. A trait that may not produce storylines. A trait that may not bring outstanding stats. But a trait that shows extraordinary respect and selflessness -- and that's something you can't find on any box score.