Some of the discussion in the wake of Notre Dame’s first ACC title in men’s basketball has revolved around the position this win deserves in the history of the program. After all, ND fans can remember a lot of big moments — Dwight Clay’s shot from the corner, Orlando Woolridge taking down the Cavaliers, 29-clap-clap-and-one-clap-clap, 61 points from AC against Ohio U, etc. etc.
My position? This one is the biggest of them all … perhaps sitting second to the win over DePaul that propelled the team to the 1978 Final Four, but in the same rarified air … and I’ll tell you why.
The thing that has always bothered me about Notre Dame basketball history is, like Boston College football history, it’s composed of the team depriving other people of doing things rather than doing things themselves. Watching Clay’s shot on YouTube will always get me out of my seat, but at the end of the day, I remember Notre Dame’s achievement is a reflection on what the opponent failed to do. I would never tell an attendee of the 1977 game against San Francisco they’re not an MVP, but there aren’t any banners in Purcell Pavilion for that win.
I still love all of those moments. But they’re moments only Notre Dame fans can love. Our feelings about them aren’t tangible.
Tonight’s win, on the other hand, is very very tangible. Decades from now, the Atlantic Coast Conference statistics will list Notre Dame as its champion for 2014-15. A banner will be hung next fall when the team reconvenes on campus, and that banner will remain there forever. There was a goal to be achieved, and this team walked out on the court and took it when many many prior ND teams had failed.
For all the fantastic moments Notre Dame basketball has brought its fans in 100+ years, that “one Final Four” during the video pregame introductions has been pretty lonely. Now there’s an ACC Championship to put up next to it. And in three weeks, who knows?
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