Well, I applaud Bill C. for his postseason basketball work, as I’m sure the rest of us are still making that repetitive-tongue-washing-motion to get the lingering taste of last Friday out of our mouths. I had this piece outlined and ready to write up and finish this week, hopefully to be posted amongst all the joyous NCAA banter. It was not to be. Suddenly I had to re-write with a bit more finality and retrospect than I anticipated. So, through all the tears and with fingers numb from tearing at my clothes, here goes.
How will we remember Ricardo Ratliffe here at Mizzou?
He didn’t bring the demonstrative and dreadlocked flair of DeMarre Carroll. He didn’t bring the boyish and infectious joy of Arthur Johnson. He didn’t bring the large of Monte Hardge. He didn’t bring a twin, a la the Haleys.
What did he bring? Tattoos that made Mid-Missouri uncomfortable, hairstyles for days and a sweet left-handed baby-hook shot. 1,758 minutes on the floor for the Tigers. 63.5% of field goals made. 6.7 rebounds per game. 1.1 block per game. All-Big 12 second team, Big 12 Newcomer of the Year, and JuCo National Player of the Year.
So, he didn’t set the FG% mark that he chased for a majority of the season. That was the narrative of choice for the national media whenever the spotlight was on 'Cardo. Had it worked out, it would have been a great story. But my narrative is much less quantifiable. How much is being the "5" in this four-guard lineup "worth"? After Bowers went down, and Steve Moore had gotten about as many pep talks as he could get, Ricardo had to stare at the ceiling with some sort of excitement/dread knowing he was going to be "The Frontcourt" of this Tiger team. Team rebounding is a great concept, but somebody has to bang with the other team’s dedicated rebounders. Cleaning up after our risk-taking perimeter defense without getting into foul trouble. Transition offense and defense. All the things that Bill C. can't measure. (A number that’s shrinking every day!)
The questions of what might have been will always impact what we remember of his career here. What if Bowers was healthy this year? What if Norfolk St hadn’t happened? What if Tony Mitchell had been here, too? So many things to ponder and wonder about his legacy.
As a soccer fan, the #10 jersey is pretty sacred. And while he might not have ended up in the Peeler, Chevious, Smith, Sunvold territory; I was proud to root for, watch and write about Ricardo Ratliffe as a Tiger. It was worth it.