Clemson Comeback Trumps Gut Feeling

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Dave Leitao’s team pulled off an unexpected comeback at Clemson.

I’ll admit it. With Dave Leitao’s squad facing a double-digit deficit and a dwindling game clock, I didn’t think the Hoos were going to pull out that victory. In fact, I was so sure about the outcome that I shifted to comedy to drown out my sorrows.

With one of our bench players (who’s name will be withheld to protect the innocent) dribbling the ball over the time line, my host – a fellow Wahoo – yelled out “Don’t dribble the ball! Pass it!” After all, this player wasn’t known for his ballhandling skills.

I retorted, “Heck, let him dribble. He needs the practice.”

That’s right, folks. The game was out of reach, in my eyes. So far out of reach that I was (half) joking that our bench players might as well practice their fundamentals. There was no way that this dead-in-the-water road team could handle a double-digit deficit as the second half dwindled toward finality. And, I bet if I had taken a stroll through the basketball message board at that time, I would’ve found plenty of company for my misery.

But something strange happened. No, Coach Leitao didn’t break a clipboard over the Tigger mascot’s head. The Clemson players didn’t rub Oliver Purnell’s head before they ran back on the floor after a timeout. And the officials didn’t start calling an even number of fouls – don’t be crazy!

No, it wasn’t anything that outrageous. Something much simpler. The Hoos became a team that can win on the road.

Watching the miracle comeback, moving from passive indifference to a hopping and screaming madman, even exchanging an awkward man hug with my buddy – it was impossible to believe in a victory as the events unfolded. Maybe it was all those years of gut-wrenching losses. Seeing double-digit leads get bigger. Or close games go the wrong way. Wondering if the opponent’s fans could be any louder. Watching all of the timeouts get used up at the 10-minute mark.

Yes, those gut-wrenching