All Your Past… is Gone: Rutgers 53, Duke 52

All your past except its beauty is gone, and nothing is left but a blessing says A Course in Miracles. When the Duke women’s basketball team beat Rutgers, by 40 points, in December of 2006 it was the worst beating that Rutgers coach C. Vivian Stringer had ever suffered at Rutgers.

Now, fast forward to the “sweet-sixteen” round of the NCAA tournament and the game between Rutgers and Duke on March 24, 2007. Duke went into the tournament as the #1 seeded team, while Rutgers although improved from December was hardly given a chance to beat Duke.

The Rutgers coach is known for her legendary “55” defense that she uses to disrupt the opposition’s offensive flow. When Rutgers and Duke met in December, Rutgers’ excellent freshman class of five players did not know much about defense. They were offensive stars in high school and had no interest in defense. To their credit after several early season painful losses, including the beating that Duke gave them, they were open to learning the importance of defense.

With Duke up by 10 points in the second-half of yesterday’s rematch, you would have expected that Duke would have begun to run away from Rutgers. Instead, Rutgers relentlessly played defense and began to close the score. You could see it on the Rutgers player’s faces – they believed they were going to win. Their “past” was gone; the 40 point loss was forgotten. Final score Rutgers 53, Duke 52.

Would you have faulted Rutgers if Duke pulled away in the final minutes of the game? The media would have said it was a moral victory to hang tough after the earlier big loss. The media would have said that the experience will serve them well next year.

All true and the point of this post is not the final score. The point is that down the stretch Rutgers played without their “past” as a mental albatross. Because they did their “victory” serves as a life lesson not only for them but for all of us.

We carry the past forward only via thought. As our thoughts change, all that is left is what is beautiful. A beautiful defeat in December, because it taught the value of defense, becomes a stirring victory in March.

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