Saturday, December 22, 2007

Rambling thoughts about the NC State game and the season so far

NC State game:
I'm at my in-laws' house for our pre-Christmas gathering and we were having the family dinner last night. Therefore, I only saw bits and pieces of the first half and had to pick up about halfway through the second half. As the clock ran down on the second half, I was reacting to every possession. My in-laws probably think I'm nuts, but they probably already thought that before last night. And that's another story for another time.

I'm going to let you all know what I honestly thought about the "big 4" games on this year's schedule. Before the season started, I thought we would likely get pounded by UNC and UCLA, but give Duke a decent game. I also thought that we had a pretty good shot at beating NC State.

I'll come back to the other 3 games momentarily. Now, with regards to NC State, that was yet another game that we could/should have won. There were a few things that I saw about our play that bothered me a great deal. However, I have always tried to be positive on this website, and not single out any player(s). I certainly don't want to start now, but I will say that I've never wanted to do so as much as I do now. But we'll let that go.

Anyway, it was painful last night seeing those free throws go in and then seeing the clock expire as Steph's half-court shot missed. I thought we were going to pull that one out. I had to leave the room to go relax for a few minutes right after that game ended, so I could keep my cool. It's hard when you care so much, you know? When we lose a game like that in the last seconds, I just have to turn off the TV and get my mind immediately on something else so I don't sit around and let it ruin my evening.

The rest of the season so far:
As I said, I figured we'd get killed by UNC and UCLA, hopefully give Duke a decent game, and maybe (maybe) beat NC State. Well, if you measure the team's performance in those 4 games against my expectations, I'd say they performed very well....BETTER than expected. So, that's actually a positive. Had we pulled out a win against UNC, Duke or UCLA, it would have been one of the biggest upset wins (if not THE biggest) in school history. A 1 point loss at NC State hurts and I don't like it, but it's not the end of the world.

The loss to UNCC really bothered me for a couple of reasons. First, I hate UNCC. I just do not like them. They were always a bunch of cheeseball, hair-gel wearing guys when I was at Davidson, and they have a goofy looking crown-like logo, and I just hate them. End of story. Second, we beat them DOWN last year at Belk Arena. So I thought we should win this year's game. That loss stung.

I wasn't sure what to make of the Western Michigan loss. It was very early in the season, but we had just cracked the Top I expected a win. Then I thought that WMU might be a pretty good team. Then WMU lost a bunch of games after that. That loss has become more and more disappointing as WMU's true colors have shown.

What does this all mean and should we be concerned about the losses?
Well, I think that we all realize that the hopes of going "big-time" were a bit premature and expectations were a bit too high. Think about it. Last year's team did go 29-4 before the NCAA Tournament, but really didn't beat anybody noteworthy. This year's team could have a much better record right now if they had last year's schedule again. Conversely, last year's team would NOT have been 29-5 with THIS year's schedule. So let's keep last year and this year in perspective. It would have been great to have won one of those big 4 games. But it didn't happen. So what? We lost by 30 to Duke last year. We lost by 6 this year. Big improvement.

What this leads to is that, for any Southern Conference team, the only season that matters at all is the CONFERENCE SCHEDULE....and that's only for the purpose of SoCon Tournament seeding. The only reason the regular season even matters at all is that, since splitting into 2 divisions, no team has ever won the tournament without getting a BYE on day 1. So, you play the regular season to qualify for a BYE. Then, what REALLY MATTERS is those 3 days in March in Charleston at the SoCon Tournament.

So, don't worry about what has transpired so far. It doesn't matter!!

It's all about the SoCon Tournament in March. Period. Always has been.


Dick Barney '67 said...

I appreciate your attitude. It would be unfair to expect more of this team and coach than the college itself expects of the basketball program. It should also be noted that all of those losses have come on the road to teams who are almost undefeated on their home courts. Even in the glory days of Driesell and Holland, they had troubles in places like Ann Arbor, Durham, Richmond, Greenville, etc. I believe people like ESPN are selling this team short very prematurely by expecting Elon to be the Southern Conference representative in the NCAA tournament!

WB said...

ESPN only has Elon as the rep in the NCAAs b/c they were leading the conference at 3-0 when that was put out by ESPN. That's what they do with the smaller conferences. There's really no analysis by ESPN in actually thinking that Elon will be in the NCAAs. Now that Elon is 3-1, they will disappear from that spot, I can almost guarantee you.

Dick Barney '67 said...

I'm sure ESPN will correct themselves at some point, but slotting the Southern Conference champion as a 16th seed in the bracket will likely not. So, they need to show that, (a) they can win on the road, (b) they can beat a division one team with a winning record and (c) they can play with one of the top 4 teams in the nation in an area where the top seed will be closer to home then they are. Frankly, that means that Bob McKillop also needs to step up his game as well, not just his players.

Justin Ritchie said...

Even though you hate us Charlotte 49er guys, we are cheering for you. Help in the RPI department is always nice. Good luck the rest of the season. Hope to see ya in the NCAA tourney.

Maber said...

The only straight "road game" we played - i.e. playing on another team's home floor - against UCLA, UNC, Duke, and State this year was in Raleigh. And the difference was huge -- I feel like UNC stomps us at the Dean Dome, Duke in Cameron. Anyplace outside the RBC, having been to the game on Firday, I'm betting we handle State with relative ease.

We were TERRIBLY lucky to get three "neutral site" games against three top ten squads. You can't hope for better, really. After we beat Wake at Belk Arena in '99, an ACC team hasn't come to Davidson to play - and why should they with a bigger gate to split and better experience to be gained at the Bobcats Arena or the Honda Center.

In other news, you see how DEAD ON Vegas was about Friday's game. State was a 2.5 point favorite. We lost by 1.

Dick Barney '67 said...

To maber:

I was also referring to Halton Arena and Western Michigan. From my experience in the 60s, I can remember the dread feeling one got walking into Richmond's field house or Michigan's field house in Ann Arbor where metal bars across the windows created the illusion of 1001 rims when shooting from the corners. I'm afraid Bobcat Arena or the arena where they played UCLA come closer to home courts for the opponents than for
Davidson, particularly when a major part of Charlotte still favors UNC or Duke. Even Duke couldn't pull it out against Pitt on the road.

maber said...

I actually thought we struck a pretty even crowd presence in the Bobcats Arena -- for both UNC and Duke. Those games felt like 8-9 games in the tournament...better than that even...they felt Final Four-ish to me -- a balanced and rowdy fan presence, a sense of urgency, a neutral site.

No doubt UCLA fans dominated the Honda Center, but the floor was unfamiliar to BOTH teams. Davidson even seemed MORE comfortable in Anaheim at first, jumping out to an 18-point advantage in the first half.

The performance against State has got me a little worried, though. It seems we can't march into a place like the RBC and push a weak ACC power around -- and that's just too bad. If there were ever a year to stomp an absolute mud hole in State, it's this year.

I also worry about us having a hypothetical chance against a UNC or a Duke on THEIR home floor. Like I said before, Carolina would kill us at the Dean Dome. The fan climate in Chapel Hill doesn't include 5,000 screaming red shirts.

But those may be worries for next year...we don't play anymore big teams in road match-ups.

At least we're geared up for the neutral site battles of the NCAA. We have a legitimate chance at knocking off a 3 or 4 seed away from our home floor and theirs. We've been there. We know what it feels like to play in a strange place that's also strange to our opponents. We're adaptable.

And that's the second best thing to actual talent: pliability.

Dick Barney '67 said...

Unfortunately, a Southern Conference Champion with 6 or more losses is not going to be playing a 3rd or 4th seed. You might note that ESPN already has the Southern Conference Champion as a 16th seed in its bracket.

DrFrankLives said...

Only if Elon is the champion.

We didn;t get a 16 seed last year. We got hosed with a 12 seed. This year, should we win the conference tourney, we will be at least as well placed a last year. Hopefully the recognition we have gained with so many close losses is that we are better than our record indicates. yes, I know we need to actually beat someone, but...

And I too appreciate the attitude of our host, but I am not nearly so reticent to call out stupid plays.

Boris meno, if I see you not square up at the top of the key and launch a three one more time this season, it will be one time too many.

maber said...

No way we play at 16 if we win out...

Dick Barney '67 said...

There is nothing I would like more than to be pleasantly surprised. However, at 154th in the RPI rankings, written totally out of even the mid-major rankings and unable to beat a team in the top 100 of the RPI in the last two years, it will take a real imaginative argument to do better than 16th . . .

I would hope, in future years, that "strength of schedule" might be re-interpreted by those who do the scheduling to include teams of less-than-top-ten rankings. It will be more impressive to beat Maryland, Arkansas or Purdue than to sport an unblemished record of losses to UNC, Duke and UCLA.

Anonymous said...

I imagine that part of the problem is that many of those teams (Purdue, etc.) won't play us b/c it's too risky for them.

Therein lies the problem.

Dick Barney '67 said...

Considering that Purdue lost to Wofford, Maryland to Ohio and Arkansas to Appalachian State so far this year, I don't see them shying away from "high risk" losses.

Anonymous said...

My thinking is that Davidson is more respected as an opponent than those other schools. Purdue would fear losing to us more than Wofford, for example. Therefore, getting Purdue to schedule us would be more difficult.

maber said...

That's why there's a selection committee and we don't base NCAA berths off the RPI.

Beating Wofford a few times, then -- in addition to a nice win away at App State -- would seem much more important than our pre-2008 RPI.