Closer Look: Texas A&M-L'ville
Sosa comes up short in career day; Law shines, again
Posted: Saturday March 17, 2007 9:09PM; Updated: Saturday March 17, 2007 9:10PM
LEXINGTON, Ky. -- When things were going well -- when he was nailing one big shot after another on his way to a career-high 31 points and leading his sixth-seeded team right to the brink of a second-round NCAA tournament upset of No. 3 seed Texas A&M, Louisville freshman Edgar Sosa looked every bit like a 19-year-old kid having the time of his life. After a three-pointer to put his team up 59-56 with 8:16 left, he turned to the crowd and thumped his chest. He sported a grin from ear-to-ear.
When the point guard's dream moment ended in an all-out nightmare, however -- missing a pair of free throws with his team down one with 29 seconds left, then missing a potential game-winning three-pointer at the end to seal a 72-69 defeat for Louisville -- Sosa's youth showed itself in a whole different fashion. The New York City kid left the court in tears, and, in a locker room stall a half hour later, was still rubbing his badly reddened eyes. Not even a prolonged embrace and pep talk from Aggies counterpart Acie Law and a closed-door conversation with coach Rick Pitino could manage to console him.
"I could've shown what I was really made of at the end," said Sosa. "I came up with nothing."
Sosa was of course being overly hard on himself considering he'd just delivered only his second 20-point game of the season (his previous high was 22) and had almost singlehandedly kept the Cardinals toe-to-toe with A&M in an extremely close, back-and-forth contest. As Pitino said: "We'd have lost by 20 if he hadn't stepped up." But for all his heroics, Sosa would not allow himself to overlook those fateful, final seconds.
After A&M's Joseph Jones missed two free throws that would have put his team up by three, and following a Cardinals timeout, Louisville inbounded the ball to Sosa with 16 seconds left. The play called for him to look first for fellow frosh Jerry Smith on the curl or, if he was covered, Terrence Williams cutting to the hoop. If neither option was there, Pitino told Sosa to drive the lane himself and shoot with as little time left as possible.
As both Sosa and his coach admitted afterward, the frosh instead made an ill-advised decision to hoist a three from the top of the key with plenty of time still left on the clock. "He had an awesome game, he didn't have a good look," said Pitino. "I'm not disappointed in Sosa that he did that. Freshmen can make mistakes. He had an unbelievable game."
Law, Texas A&M's All-America point guard, who himself had an All-America performance (26 points), said much the same thing to Sosa when he consoled him on the court immediately afterward.
"I told him that he's a heck of a player," said Law. "For him to be a freshman and take control of his team like that, he has a bright future ahead of him."
Perhaps when the tears finally subside, Sosa will realize that, too.
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