(Be warned- this is a FanPost in its truest form. I claim no neutrality, no analytic purpose, no informative content. Just entirely too much squee to cope with.)
This is never the post I want to write, because it's the last post, because it means that the ride's over and the line is seven months long. But it's the post that always has to be written, because I love my team and I appreciate what they've done, especially in this amazing season.
Every season is a wild ride. Don't let anyone fool you about that. Every year has its highs and its lows, the moments that make your breath catch and the moments that make you hold your breath, the things that make you pump your fists in the air and the things that make you raise your face to the heavens (sometimes even in the same game). But some years, some seasons, some teams, give you the highest highs and make the lows more complicated to bear- easier because you can be sure another high will come along, harder because the high is addictive and you want to see just how much higher they can go because you just know they can take it further.
This is a thank you for the most astonishing season I've experienced as a St. John's fan, maybe even as a basketball fan, full stop. I have seen shots thrown up and called prayers over the years, and I have twice seen things I could believe were the presence of Something beyond my ken- but this is closer to my heart and means more- because it might very well mean a beginning.
So thank you, Mallory; though we didn't have much of an opportunity to see you on the floor, I believe in your potential. You're a smart kid- you'll find a way to succeed and to help your team. Anyone who sings along to Joan Jett is all right by me.
Thank you, Amber, you fierce, fiery, fearless freshman- where we'd be without your rebounding, I don't know and don't want to know. You don't know how good you can be, do you? Hartford was a hint, and there's more to come, I know it. Da'Shena set the bar pretty high- but you might just leap over it one of these days. All the potential, all the instinct- and the right teacher, too.
Thank you, Keylantra, because you've really made me eat my words. You've grown into your role off the bench, turned into a great defensive player, and matured into a solid member of the rotation. Your sense of timing has become superb; if some of your teammates hadn't done superheroic things this season, you'd be my pick to take the jumper with the shot clock running down.
Thank you, Briana, because your hustle this season has been outstanding- one of these days I half-expect to see you dive for the loose ball straight from the scorer's table. You saved the day against Georgetown- let that be what you build on for next year. We're going to need all hands on deck for next season- and I think you're ready.
Thank you, Zakiyyah, for your unbridled passion and jubilation from the bench. Channel that into your game next year, and you'll be a real threat. I still believe you have what it takes to be one of the beasts of the Big East- show it and prove it, because I want to be right.
Thank you, Mary, for all the little things you do to box out and set screens. That pretty little outside jumper of yours has grown on me, and it complemented Da'Shena well, and it complements Amber better. The BU game was amazing, and it showed what you can do. It's been tough for you- next year will be better, and you'll be better too. You were able to step up when we needed you- I have faith in you to do it again.
Thank you, Jennifer, Big Love (how you got that into the media guide, I'll never know, but that's you all over)- no one fires up the team or the crowd like you do. You're the loudest person on the bench- no mean feat, knowing how fired up Coach gets. We learned to count the shot clock from you, how to use 12 and 11 as our cues before going into the full cadence. If there's anyone who can turn up the intensity for her last go-round, it's you.
Thank you, Eugeneia, for never backing down, even in the face of a most hostile crowd- Hofstra matured you, and you showed you could step up when your team needed you most. Stay fearless and never stop driving, and you'll be a star.
Thank you, Shenneika, not just for That Shot Against UConn, but for all of those acrobatic drives to the basket, all the rebounds you pull down with those go-go gadget arms, and your incredible defense all year. You've been a difference-maker this year, a star teetering on the edge of a new order of magnitude.
Thank you, Nadirah, because seeing you blossom has been one of the greatest pleasures of this immensely pleasing season. We already knew how good a passer you were and how good your court vision was, but watching you develop confidence in your scoring ability was a revelation. Everyone will remember Shenneika for That Shot Against UConn- but how many of them remember that you did the same thing to put us up at the half on them? La Salle and Creighton proved you had the highlight reel moves. The secret's out- no one's asking "what's her name?" anymore.
Thank you, Tesia, for your timely threes and solid offensive rebounding. Welcome home, Long Island girl, and I hope you leave us with no regrets.
Thank you, Da'Shena, thank you and thank you and thank you. You believed, and you chose, and you committed, and you took this program to another level. You could have taken the easy way out and gone to an established program, or a program with more recent history- there are enough of them up and down the East Coast. But you decided instead to carry a torch that was in danger of being snuffed out and made it burn even brighter. You came and you got things done, which sounds so simple but can be so tough when you're the center of attention. Full body sacrifice and the sudden backdoor cut for the lay-up- these are the images that will always come to mind when it comes to you. Connecticut girl, it's not completely a surprise that UConn shaped your legacy, from the 28 points you dropped on them freshman year to the win at Gampel this year- but shaped it in broad strokes alone, not in the fine details. Thank you for everything, for this year and the last four years- and here's to hearing your name called on April 16th.
Thank you all for this incredible season, for La Salle, for Temple, for that halftime lead against invincible Baylor, for the shutout stretch against Seton Hall, for 169 at the RAC and That Shot Against UConn as the bookends to a week like no other, for Louisville and West Virginia and Georgetown and Villanova and South Florida and Providence, for Memphis and Prairie View and Howard and Hartford and BU and Wagner. Thank you for bringing it- and I hope that you've got it in you for next year to bring it even better.
After all, you've got tournament games to host.