The assistant coach's son stood in the shadows, waiting in the tunnel for his favorite player. His father held him. The boy in the Syracuse t-shirt was crying.
Their team had lost, 77-70 to Ohio State in the Elite Eight, leaving them one game short of Syracuse's first Final Four since 2003.
But at this moment -- as the 11-year-old son of assistant coach Mike Hopkins waited for point guard Scoop Jardine, as head coach Jim Boeheim explained that his team should have taken more advantage of the Ohio State big man's foul trouble, as senior forward Kris Joseph stared toward the klieg lights at the postgame press conference so he could stanch the tears -- the fact that Syracuse had just lost a basketball game was so very, very beside the point.
The point was this: It was the end. This awful, wonderful season, in which the young men on this team had weathered sex-abuse allegations against former assistant coach Bernie Fine, an investigation of the program breaking its own drug policy, a...