BB: The Heart that Stayed in Staples

Looks like I wasn’t the only one who needed a minute.

It appears as if that shot put of a three-point attempt as time was preparing to expire at Staples was the last of what Kyle Fogg had to give. His five-shot effort in Round 1 of the NIT was tragically indicative of a man who’d lost the will to fight.

And it sucks.

For all the work he’d put into this season – taking 1000s of shots, lifting to exhaustion, growing into a leader – to come down to an unglamorous, two-thirds capacity, National Invitational game broadcast by a ring bearing Wildcat had to feel like defeat before the tip.

Which is odd for the kid who took what appeared to be a season ending gut punch from Washington and channeled it into a 7-2 close and a Pac-12 Tournament Championship game appearance; asserting himself as the heart and soul of this team.

Then there was that championship game. Another gut punch, a two-point defeat with the season in the balances. In January, the pain quickly manifested as effort, because there was still work to be done, goals accomplished, and games to win.

The second blow to the belly came later, with little season remaining. And what can you do when that punch simultaneously rips your heart out?

I unglamorously watched the Bucknell Blunder alone, horizontally on my couch, drink(s) in hand, donning similar – if not identical – attire to Josiah Turner. My enthusiasm for that game essentially matched the Wildcats’ despite both of our best efforts to get behind this new experience. I exchanged texts with eight different friends surrounding the strangeness of the event. Fogg took five shots, none for the first fifteen minutes of the game. It was the fewest shots he’d attempted and points he’d scored (5) since that very Washington game two months ago.

And to be clear, I’m making no excuses. Bucknell was terrific in exploiting Arizona’s glaring weaknesses and playing the role of “better team.” It was a game they were better prepared for, wanted more, and deservedly won.

But boy, oh boy is it tough to give effort when your chest cavity is devoid its pacemaker. That Colorado effectively ended Arizona’s season and Kyle Fogg’s career. The senior had so courageously become the centerpiece of this team, setting the tone for what very nearly was an all-time memorable final twelve games.

But it didn’t end that way and the Wildcats couldn’t advance without their heart, as he no longer had his.

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