ST. LOUIS -- The story was 29 years old, but Stanford's players used it to fuel their 60-57 victory over Kansas in the NCAA tournament on Sunday.
Coach Johnny Dawkins, encouraged by his old coach, Duke's Mike Krzyzewski, to share stories with his players, told them about when he and his Blue Devils were eliminated by Boston College from the 1985 tournament.
"We were all down," he said. "It was a sad locker room because of the finality of everything."
But one player -- senior Danny Meagher -- took the loss harder than anyone.
"No one was more distraught than he was," Dawkins recalled. "He was visibly just crying. I remember just looking at him, and he kept saying, `You don't understand. You don't understand.' "
And Meagher was right. Dawkins, a junior, did not understand.
"This is it for me," Meagher told his teammates. "This was my last opportunity."
As Dawkins told his players the story, he encouraged them to all think of themselves as seniors.
"(See) if we can have that feeling and play with that sense of desperation that is required to be successful," he said.
Junior guard Chasson Randle said the story motivated him to think beyond himself. It had him considering the urgency felt by senior teammates such as Dwight Powell and Josh Huestis.
"I looked at his story as, you know, I have to be as strong for those guys and do what I have to do," he said. "Play as well as I can to make this a memorable season for them. And not only myself."
Huestis felt Meagher's disappointment almost three decades later when he listened to Dawkins' words.
"Just the grief he saw on another senior's face, just the tears," Huestis said. "Just the finality of the tournament. One loss you're done. You have to play like that. I think that team really took that story to heart."
Dawkins, who made it to the Final Four a year later as a senior, said he'd been reluctant to share too much from his playing days with his team.
"I get worried that the players will say, `When you played, your shorts are too short,' where our kids are constantly laughing when they see old pictures," Dawkins said.
Krzyzewski convinced him to risk that.
"It is motivating and you play every game like it's your last," Randle said. "I think we're really doing that as a team now."