Ohio’s Kuwik Deserves a Salute

I’ve written about Kevin Kuwik a number of times (here, here, here, and here) since learning of his return to active duty. (If you don’t recall the whole back story, read the article from ESPN.com that covers it.)

Well, after Ohio’s incredible run through the MAC tournament (capped off by a come-back from 19 down in the second half, sealed with a buzzer-beater by a freshman player Kevin recruited), Kevin is becoming one of the early stories of the NCAA tournament.

Two stories today capture Kevin’s remarkable commitment to both his players and to the country. Bob Dicesare writes in today’s Buffalo News:

Kuwik, 30, decided to put in for a leave that would coincide with the MAC Tournament and the first week of the NCAAs. He had a feeling. He wanted to play a hunch. When his request was denied based on seniority, Kuwik went to work on a superior officer, Maj. Steve Hines, a MAC alum who’s about to become the most popular Ball State grad since David Letterman. Hines negotiated a swap between Kuwik and a sergeant, and Kuwik arrived unannounced in Athens, Ohio, just before the Bobcats’ first-round game against Marshall. Coach Tim O’Shea had him give the pep talk. Next thing you knew, Ohio led, 10-0.

Kuwik’s fingerprints are all over the Bobcats. He had a hand in landing smooth freshman point guard Jeremy Fears, who could be playing in the NBA four years from now. He was instrumental in recruiting freshman forward Leon Williams, the 6-foot-8 MAC tourney MVP who also projects as an NBA talent. It was eating Kuwik up, his inability to see for himself how much his two star recruits had progressed.

And John Romano, writing in the St. Petersburg Times (Ohio plays Florida on Friday, and is most definitely the underdog):

They are only games. That’s what you hear.

They have been assigned too much importance, and have no relevance in the real world. Although they must have meant something to the sergeant in Mosul who postponed his leave so a fellow soldier could fly home in time for the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament.

This week, there are no battles. No enemies.

They are only games. They mean nothing.

And everything.

Good luck to Ohio on Friday, and safe travels to Kevin when he returns to Iraq next week.

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