first_imgWith his elbows planted on his thighs, hands in front of him and his head down, Terry Rozier didn’t resemble the active, talkative Terry Rozier he’d been before Sunday afternoon.That one was constantly moving his hands, adjusting his shorts and cracking jokes. This dejected version only mumbled words, interrupted by the occasional sniffle.The sophomore guard and his Louisville teammates had just been handed a devastating 76-70 overtime loss by seventh-seeded Michigan State in the NCAA Tournament’s Elite Eight. The Cardinals held a halftime lead of eight points, flirting with what would’ve been their third Final Four appearance in four years.But it wasn’t to be, and the Cardinals mourned the end of their season as the Spartans were cutting down the Carrier Dome nets.Montrezl Harrell, UofL’s second-team All-Atlantic Coast Conference big man, kept his eyes fixated low and, for a span longer than five minutes, kept them there while taking questions. After a 6-of-7 performance in the first half, Harrell couldn’t buy a basket in the second half and the Cardinals’ offense lost its post presence.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textAnd so the junior forward sat as still as a statue, upright in his chair with his hands together and a towel folded over his lap as he answered questions.To his left was a composed but somber, now-former Cardinal Wayne Blackshear, who poured 28 points and all he had into his final game, he said. He leaned back in his blue chair and reflected on his Louisville career and the hard-fought game that gave him a bloody nose on his way out of college basketball.But while the majority of the chatter revolved around the Cardinals’ pride in their performance, there were hints of optimism.Dillon Avare, a 6-foot, 150-pound redshirt-freshman walk-on, gave a slight smile as he talked about his moment of fame — coming in cold off the bench with three and a half minutes left in the second half to sink a free throw and press the East Regional’s most outstanding player, Travis Trice, while Blackshear’s nose was being treated.Six-foot-10 sophomore Mangok Mathiang offered a quick grin as he distributed some credit to the lucky penny he wore in his size 15 right shoe for the fortunate bounce his game-tying free throw took with three seconds left in regulation. And he stored that penny — which he said he received from a Louisville media representative — in his backpack to keep for the future despite the loss.But the optimism was still overpowered by the dejection of the loss.Rozier remained frozen in his chair, consoled with head rubs from teammates Shaqquan Aaron and Anton Gill, but without even acknowledging them. UofL’s leading scorer, who made just six of his 23 attempts against MSU, called the loss worse than the Cardinals’ fallout in the Sweet 16 last year.Then as reporters filed out of the locker room, Harrell rose out of his chair and silently walked across the room.And starting with Rozier, Harrell quietly gave each of his teammates a handshake. Comments Published on March 29, 2015 at 7:38 pm Contact Phil: [email protected] | @PhilDAbb Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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