I have come to the realization that I have been a spoiled Ute hoops fan. My first memories of the Utes hoops team were during the late 70s-early 80s, when Danny Vranes and Tom Chambers lit opponents up on the floor of the Special Events Center. We were used to winning, and winning big. This continued well into the 80s, with guys like Pace Mannion and Manny Hendrix picking up the torch. NCAA appearances were expected. Road wins were demanded. Home wins were simply a given. When the late 80s came and the team 'struggled' (We 'only' got to the NIT a couple of years and we sported a, gasp, 16-17 record in 1988-89.), we screamed for heads and Coach Archibald's rolled.
Then the 90s came and our team started to roll again thanks to Rick Majerus. We rode the success of the Majerus-led team for over a decade. During that time, if we suffered a loss at home, there was an uproar, and heaven help the next team who had to come play in the Hunty.
By contrast, the last several years of Utah basketball have been an absolute struggle. The road certainly has been unsafe, and now even our home court is a battleground. It's funny, though, that, at least for myself, home wins were still absolutely expected. When we dropped home games over the past couple seasons to teams that appeared to be obviously inferior, Ute fans were outraged, and rightfully so.
Now it has gotten to the point that I no longer come to Ute hoops games expecting a win. Oh, I want a win, I want it bad...but to just assume our team is going to roll on its home floor, that's no longer ingrained. The funny thing is that this feeling is a little bit liberating. I now appreciate the games more...there's much more focus on the little things. Watching the team develop together and learn to gel has become just as important as wins and losses. It's like I lost my sense of smell but can now smell again. And a win, any win, brings a surge of joy that makes the banality of home wins in the past seem shocking. I wonder if others are starting to get this same sense.
This Ute, for one, will never take a single home win for granted again.
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