TAMPA, Fla. - The finality hit Cam Thoroughman like a truck.
When the final buzzer sounded Saturday afternoon at the St. Pete Times Forum and West Virginia had lost to Kentucky 71-63 in the NCAA tournament, Thoroughman's basketball career was over, maybe forever.
"It's over,'' he said. "And it's going to be a tough adjustment.''
Thoroughman wasn't alone in seeing his college career end, of course. He is one of five seniors on this team, along with John Flowers, Casey Mitchell, Joe Mazzulla and Jonnie West.
But most of the others figure to stay involved in the game in one way or another. Flowers and Mitchell probably feel they have some more basketball left in them at some level, Mazzulla intends to coach and West is, well, West. Jerry West's son has been around basketball all his life and will continue to be simply because it's in the family.
Thoroughman, though, has no such plans. He says that some day he might decide he wants to try his hand at coaching, but he's not approaching that as a goal in his post-college life. He's simply going to finish his master's degree and go to work.
"It's way worse [than he expected],'' Thoroughman said when asked what the end of the game, and his career, was like.
Thoroughman certainly has no plans to try to keep playing save for rec leagues and playgrounds. He knows that it's amazing that a guy with his physical tools lasted this long, much less wound up starting on an NCAA tournament team.
"I don't know if I ever had a matchup where I was bigger and stronger and more athletic than the guy I was playing against,'' he said. "But none of that has anything to do with how hard you play.''
Thoroughman played hard for as long as he could, and now it's over.
"The good thing is I got a good education and I'll have my master's finished in August,'' he said. "Hopefully the transition won't be too bad.''
Hot finish to first half
When Mazzulla picked up his second foul with 1:10 to play in the first half and the game tied at 33, it appeared as if the best the Mountaineers could hope for was to get out of the half without falling much further behind.
But then, just as happened two days earlier when the Mountaineers made an amazing 9-0 end-of-the-half run to tie a game with Clemson in the last 95 seconds, they ignited once again.