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An open letter to Men’s Basketball

| Monday, March 30, 2015

Dear Notre Dame men’s basketball team and staff,

Thank you. From all of us here on campus and around the world, thank you.

At the beginning of the year, very few people anywhere had expectations for this team: on campus, in the media or around the country. Maybe an NCAA tournament bid, but even then probably only a one-and-done.

You were an afterthought when students looked ahead to what the South Bend winter would hold. I don’t know what the original student-ticket package numbers were, but I’m sure they weren’t pretty.

As the year went on though, you started winning. A lot. Still everyone made excuses for why you were having such success: we hadn’t played anyone good yet, we were just on a hot shooting streak, so on and so on.

I use the word ‘we,’ but it was actually still ‘they.’ The rest of us weren’t behind you yet. It was still ‘they,’ the men’s basketball team, and ‘us,’ the students.

You showed us what you could do against Michigan State. We could have jumped aboard the bandwagon then. A few did, but there was still a sense of caution, trepidation; we weren’t ready to be all there yet.

The first Duke game at Purcell may have been a turning point for most. Pulling off the upset in front of us all this year — not over Christmas break like last season — surely had a little sway. That’s not to say our faith wasn’t tested still: the Cameron Indoor nightmare, Pittsburgh and the late loss to Syracuse had some of us shaking our heads.

Then you went on the postseason streak, starting with the ACC tournament and running all the way to Cleveland and the Elite Eight this weekend. You set records and Notre Dame firsts left and right, and somewhere along the way you convinced us.

Saturday night, we were with you. Your head coach Mike Brey said you were “America’s Team,” and Saturday night you were. Still, most just hoped it would still be a game at halftime; I don’t know how many of us thought you had a legitimate chance unless you played ‘perfectly.’

Yet even as you took all of Kentucky’s punches, you delivered more of your own. By the second half, you had everyone in Cleveland, back on campus and across the country thinking not just that we could win this game, but we were going to. You completed the process of making ‘they’ and ‘us’ become ‘we.’

Thank you for making us believe again.

Though this year’s run may be over, I hope and sense we’ve started something that will last a long time. Our story is far from over, merely a chapter written.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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About Zach Klonsinski

A History graduate, Zach spent all four of his years on campus as a resident of Knott Hall. Hailing from Belgrade, Montana, he covered a wide variety of sports in his time at Notre Dame, including Football, Hockey, Men's Basketball, Men's Soccer, Women's Tennis, Fencing, Rowing, Women's Lacrosse and other events around campus. You can contact him in his post-graduation travels and job search at [email protected]

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