Look, I’m not going to spend too long talking. I don’t think many of us want to spend too long thinking about North Carolina’s National Championship loss to Kansas last night. It was a brutal end for a team that has given us a lot to be proud of in recent weeks. Despite how it happened, there’s a lot to be proud of last night, considering that that the Tar Heels were the walking wounded by the end of the game.
For player of the game, I’m just going to salute someone who, while they didn’t have their best game, fought until the end and left everything they had on the floor, to the point where he couldn’t play anymore.
Armando Bacot’s season was in the balance on Saturday night when he rolled his ankle and had to exit the game against Duke. The fact that he made it back into that game was a minor miracle. He still definitely wasn’t 100% coming into the title game, and he looked it. But, oh man, did he fight. He fought hard.
Bacot finished the game with another double-double, going for 15 points and 15 rebounds in the loss. He struggled through the injury, going just 3-13 from the floor. However despite being clearly compromised, he somehow kept coming up with big rebounds. He also kept managing to get to the free throw line and big moments, going 9-13.
He kept fighting through his injury until he physically couldn’t anymore. With under a minute left, he hurt the ankle again, turning it again while he tried to get to the basket for another layup. This time there would be no battling through it, and he had to watch the agonizing final possessions on the bench.
Before he had to exit, Bacot made some NCAA Tournament history, becoming the first player ever to record a double-double in all six games he played.
This loss will probably replay in all of our heads a lot over the years. It hurts for us, but it’s gonna hurt a lot worse for the guys on the team. For whatever faults you can find in what happened, you can’t fault effort. In the case of Armando Bacot, he tried until he absolutely couldn’t.