P.J. Hairston started the game against Boston College Eagles ready to go. He played like he had a chip on his shoulder, and he played hard. He played well. Very well. Until he got hurt that is. Injuries are injuries, and when a game is as physical as the Boston College game was (and always seems to be), these things can happen. But I want to focus on the period of time before the injury. Because there was something there worth talking about.
Ever since those four guys decided to take their talents to the NBA draft, we have been without a swagger, which is fine. Especially if you are a young team and apt to freak out in the last 3 minutes of a close game or the entire first half of a big game or the better part of a rivalry game. If you have swagger and you’re prone to these deficiencies, it annoys me to no end. But when you’re playing tough, focused basketball, it’s ok to have a bit of confidence. For a good bit of the first half, thanks in large part to PJ, we had that confidence.
There have been glimpses of it. Especially at the Smith Center. Big plays, good defense, but lapses. Not as many. But lapses. Not at Boston College. Negative. I was impressed because it was on the road. I was even more impressed by PJ. I’m sure I ascribe more value to it than was actually there, but as I watched him play, I thought to what could arguably be the worst movie ever made, “They Live”. It’s an awful movie in many respects. Wonderfully awful as some would say. “Rowdy” Roddy Piper (need I say more?) was the um… hero? I guess? But he uttered one of the most memorable movie lines of all time. My buddy John and I quote it all too frequently (along with almost anything said during the Major League movie. And not the edited for TV version. That movie made absolutely no sense. But I digress). The line is and I quote, “I’m here to kick (censored word) and chew bubble gum. And I’m ALL. OUT. of bubblegum.” Well, PJ was all out of bubblegum.
The timing of the injury was very unfortunate. I wanted to see if this performance would vault this team on through the season. Maybe it still will. I’ll be in the Smith Center Saturday to see the game, with (hopefully) or without PJ. I’m sure they will err on the side of caution, as one should with a head injury. The next two games may be the biggest two games of the season, as we see whether the reverberation of the performance will ripple through the rest of the season, creating a wave of momentum that will carry this team forward. Or maybe it is just another small shift in what will be the typical trajectory for such a young team.