Isiah Deas had a gut feeling it was coming, but there was still a dose of hope.
The people around him were starting to accept it. “I don’t think that we’re going to play tomorrow,” Deas’ roommate said last week, after the NBA postponed its season.
“No, no, don’t say that,” Deas said.
It was supposed to be a storybook ending for the senior La Salle guard. Deas was preparing to play at home in Brooklyn in front of friends and family.
Then, the Atlantic 10 canceled its tournament games at the Barclays Center because of the coronavirus -- about six hours before Deas could lace up his sneakers and take the court at least one more time in front of his family.
“It was expected, but it still hurt,” Deas said. “It was a tough moment not just for me, but for everybody.”
Deas said that he wanted to make it feel like a home game. A day before the scheduled Thursday game against Davidson, the A-10 announced that the tournament would continue with limited attendance. He called his friends first to tell them they wouldn’t be able to come, and the next calls were to his immediate family.
“It wasn’t just about me playing there,” Deas said. “People love my teammates. My family speaks to a lot of my teammates whenever I’m on the phone or around them. It was just a matter of trying to bring as much energy as possible to the arena in our favor.”
The initial feelings of incompleteness were there. Athletes always remember that final game of a career. Whether it results in heartbreak or glory, it’s the most unavoidable moment.
Deas didn’t have that. But there are other moments he will cherish.
Senior Day "is 10 times more-special now, considering how things ended,” Deas said. “It almost feels like a storybook, and I’m glad we ended it with a victory.”
Now, Deas is focused on becoming the first member of his immediate family to graduate college. La Salle University has canceled all face-to-face classes until April 6 at the earliest, because of the spread of the coronavirus. Commencement ceremonies have been postponed.
Deas finished his La Salle career averaging 9.3 points, with 59 starts in 106 games.
There wasn’t a storybook ending, but Deas’ time served its purpose. One of his biggest concerns after his junior season was whether he would make his mark on the program. La Salle went 15-15 his freshman season, but coming off a coaching change after his sophomore year, it went 10-21. The Explorers finished this season 15-15.
There’s no need to wonder about Deas’ impact now. Mission accomplished, according to his coach.