This week's edition of HBO's real-time documentary finally brought us an episode that ended on a happy note. But like any story worth its salt, the show wasn't 30 minutes of sunshine and giggles.
"What happened?" The start of the episode begins with this question in an opening montage that felt like an episode of Friday Night Lights. Coming off the terribly disappointing loss to the team from Moraga on Senior Night, the producers captured a town, campus, and basketball team wrought with frustration and searching for answers; and, in the awkward position of questioning the squad's mental toughness.
I loved the transparency and honesty from Mark Few and Tommy Lloyd as they tried to perform an autopsy of the team. In probably the most extensive look at a practice we've seen in this show, both coaches tried to coax energy and aggressiveness from a group that seems to have lost its way. After Lloyd's fire & brimstone dismissal of practice, and Eric McClellan's "real talk" speech in the locker room, you got the feeling this team had arrived at the crossroads of its season.
Whether it was the pep talks from Few, Lloyd, and McClellan; Sabonis pledging to step up as a leader; or the music used as the backdrop to this episode, the Zags responded well. After the perfunctory win over San Diego, the Zags went into Provo with a collective Sabonis-swagger that served them well at the Marriott Center. It was surprising, but really not that surprising, when Mark Few called Sabonis the team's best leader in this episode. The big man's passion is the team's fuel, and as Kyle Wiltjer said, when he's playing with his frustrated anger, the team starts clicking on all cylinders.
It was so nice watching the last seven minutes of the episode knowing how the BYU game would end, and finally, we were all treated to a happy locker room and a trade(mark) Few handstand (couldn't help myself there). This was my favorite episode of the season so far, not just because there was finally something to celebrate at the end, but because the producers started to give us more substance about what the team was feeling/thinking when we don't get to see them. Let's hope there's more good stuff on the way.