sports·man·ship noun – the character, practice, or skill of being a sportsman; sportsmanlike conduct, as fairness, courtesy, being a cheerful loser, etc.
The Santa Clara Broncos, in an 80-67 loss at the Saint Mary’s Gaels, defined the word perfectly.
Tim Williams, an oft-injured guard for Saint Mary’s who hasn’t seen game action since almost a year ago (February 23, 2012), got a proper send-off from the home crowd at the McKeon Pavilion on Saturday night. Williams didn’t garner a heroic Senior Night swan song because he was a feel-good story walk-on or a guy who didn’t log any minutes throughout his four-year career. In fact, it was just the opposite.
Williams was a starter for the Gaels as a sophomore before a series of knee injuries over the past two seasons thwarted a promising college basketball career. In November of 2011, a minor fracture in his left knee. Five months later, at open-gym, a torn knee-cap in the same left knee. Finally, prior to this season, he tore his patella in–you guessed it–the left knee. Three injuries to the same knee in two years might lead many to consider hanging it up.
He rehabbed, rehabbed and rehabbed some more until he finally felt strong enough to play, even if it was only 7.2 seconds. He conferred with trainers and convinced head coach Randy Bennett that if Saint Mary’s was comfortable ahead or behind, Williams would see the floor, according to CBS Sports’ Matt Norlander.
Santa Clara was pesky all night but with 7.2 seconds left, Bennett called timeout as fellow senior–and superstar–Matt Dellavedova subbed himself out on a night that saw him become Saint Mary’s all-time leading scorer.
Insert Williams. He missed the first three-point attempt but nailed the next one to beat the buzzer in a moment he’ll never forget. It was only his second career three pointer but it might as well have been his 200th.
Here’s what happened:
Santa Clara had a lot to do with it, as the announcer stated. The game, for all intents and purposes, was over. The Broncos knew it was just a game as did their coach, Kerry Keating. His players backed off and allowed a senior his moment to shine. The human element was on full display Saturday night in Moraga, California, as any one of the 3,500 people who were there can attest.
Sometimes life isn’t fair but college basketball in March brings out something magical, just ask Tim Williams.