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Leslie McDonald and What Wouldn't Have Been

Streeter Lecka

Leslie McDonald was made available to the press today, and unsurprisingly had good news all around. His knee is 100%, so naturally he's going to go play in the same pro-am summer league where he injured it last year. So everyone can feel free to panic about that.

More interesting to me, was the offhand comment that he could have played in the NCAA Tournament. It wasn't seriously considered, because it would be a horrible waste of a redshirt, but it gave a pleasant half-hour of imagining him returning to replace Kendall Marshall at the point (which he's never really played in college) and an incredibly star-crossed college basketball team to the national title. It's not the most implausible thing that could happen — that title belongs to the Tar Heels being joined by a lightly regarded middle-aged blogger (I have eligibility!) who leads them to the championship — but a player at 80% who had only done light drills for three months playing an unfamiliar position? That wasn't going to beat Kansas or Kentucky.

I think this is going to be my relationship with the 2011-12 team for the next couple of years. Generally by three months after a tournament exit, the details of a season are beginning to fade away, with only the key games or particularly traumatic moments remaining. Within a year or two, even some of the players fade from memory — a month ago I was struggling way too long to remember the name of Reyshawn Terry. But this team has a gripping story, one of amazing talent falling to injury after injury, that is going to stick. I'm coming around to viewing the last months of this season as a desperate run to the title before the injuries catch up an the whole thing falls apart. It's a rocketship with the bolts coming off, a doomed hero racing against time to get one more victory under his belt.

So yes I entertain outlandish notions like McDonald's movie-script heroics. Hopefully this too will pass, and I can start focusing on the season ahead.