UVA guard Kyle Guy teaches us the two sides of losing

kyle guy uva basketballKyle Guy used to think you never lose, you only learn. The UVA guard, a first-team All-ACC and third-team All-America this past season, actually probably still thinks that way, but his approach to losing has deepened.

Guy opened up on his Facebook page last night on his thoughts on the top-ranked Hoos’ loss to UMBC in the first round of the NCAA Tournament last month in Charlotte.

Among the eye-opening revelations: that the team needed a police escort back to the team hotel because of death threats, which is enough to make me think about transferring, and I graduated in 1994.

Seriously, death threats?

Guy also wrote about falling into a deep funk after the game.

“The next few weeks would not be easy for myself or anyone on the team,” Guy wrote. “Walking around campus with everyone staring and giving disgusting looks was hard. Every person knew my business. Everyone knew our every move. Everyone knows why we were all wearing a hood and headphones. It made me feel claustrophobic, and when privacy is not on the table you begin to be jealous of the freedom of the wind.”

Guy didn’t write to dwell on the negative. He has come to the point of actually being thankful for the experience.

“I found an appreciation for the light because I’ve been in the dark,” Guy wrote. “After this season, I have been fed and I have starved. We had a fantastic season with lots of accolades and great moments but it ended it in a negative light to most people. For me, I’m not going to stop the story just because I don’t like the scene.”

Virginia finished 31-3, was ranked #1 in the national polls for the final five weeks of the season, heading into the NCAAs, won the ACC regular season title and the ACC Tournament, and, oh, yeah, became the first #1 seed to lose to a #16.

Guy wrote about his emotions as the game unfolded, remembering looking up at the scoreboard at the under-8 media timeout and telling himself to “calm down,” then, when Isaiah Wilkins fouled out with 2:16 to go, going over to Wilkins to say something and finding himself “speechless.”

“I realized at that moment that we may not win, but I will not let these seniors, this program, or these fans down. They will remember that I never gave up and I played until that last buzzer sounded,” said Guy, who, I will note here, made five of his last six shots from the field, including three driving layups and a tip-in, in the final 5:40, so, yeah, never give up.

Guy wrote about having to literally be carried off the court by De’Andre Hunter, not remembering a word of what coach Tony Bennett had to say in the post-game huddle in the locker room, having to face reporters in the press conference, while being in a “dark place.”

“Last year I tweeted that I never I lose I only learn. That night was the first time I thought I lost in my collegiate career,” Guy wrote.

Guy “never hated losing before,” seeing it as “a learning process, and it was bigger than basketball, which it absolutely is still both of things, but I now have a profound hate against losing. Every rep and practice requires a type of focus and precision that most people can’t reach.”

Writing, to Guy, has been “therapeutic.”

“Not everyone understands the toll athletes go through, and I hope this was a good read for those who don’t understand,” Guy wrote. “I also hope that anyone struggling in life or sports understands they aren’t alone and everyone has a voice to share their journey. You can’t judge my story because of the chapter you walked in on. The only way I could continue my story was by putting a bookmark in this chapter and turning the page. See you next year, March.”

Column by Chris Graham


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