by Eric Angevine
Texas A&M players were booed for dancing on the Jayhawk logo at center court after a thrilling, improbable comeback run in Allen Fieldhouse on Saturday night. I’m sorry about that. This is one Jayhawk who ain’t mad at ya.
While the action might have rankled a few, I don’t think the intent was malicious. Kansas fans simply don’t understand the emotion the Aggies were feeling at that moment. You see, Acie Law is Luke Skywalker, and he and his friends just blew up the Death Star. The fact that it was Qui-Gon on the other sideline instead of Darth Vader doesn’t dim the ecstasy one bit.
Kansas fans root for a dynasty. We don’t get that excited until the regional finals of the NCAA Tournament. Even in 1989, when we labored under penalties wrought by a departing Larry Brown, a then-unknown Roy Williams was able to wring 19 victories out of the lost season, and win 6 conference games along the way.
Acie Law and several of his teammates are seniors at A&M, and they endured a punchline of a freshman season in 2004, as they went 0-16 in the conference and then had to adjust to a new coach the following year. This is more than just a win for them, it’s a vindication of their college careers.
Add to that the emotional impact of having assistant coach Al Johnson back on the sideline for such a huge game. He’s been battling a rare autoimmune disease called dermatomyasitis, and hasn’t been able to coach much this season. It’s only natural to assume that some of that joy came from seeing him relatively healthy and genuinely happy.
The Aggies are a class act, and they reflect the teachings of their coach, who in turn reflects the teachings of our coach, and the unbroken string of historically great coaches who taught both of them. Acie Law apologized after the game for being swept away, and I think he was sincere. He and his teammates know that a great program is characterized by how a team behaves on the court and off.
So we should all let them enjoy the moment. They earned it. The rest of the season will be an education in how hard it is to stay on top once you get there. But they are undeniably on top today, after having been about as low as a program can go three years ago. I’ll bet that feels better than we can imagine.
So cheers to Billy Gillespie, Acie Law, and the rest of the Aggies faithful. Hopefully we’ll see you in the finals at the Big 12 tournament. And maybe we’ll appreciate the moment just a little bit more this time.