“Bless Me, Basketball Father, for I have sinned. I have lost to a lower-ranked (or unranked) team…”
Lent is here, so it’s the time for some major soul-searching. What are we doing wrong and how to fix it and all that. It’s an interesting time, because this year Lent coincides almost perfectly with the grind of the 2012-13 college basketball season — and coaches of good but scuffling basketball teams are doing a lot of reflection these days.
It’s happening in states like Michigan and Arizona and in cities like Columbia (Mo.) and Omaha.
Exhibit A: The Missouri Valley, where both Creighton and Wichita State have come back to the pack with surprising losses to lower conference teams.
Exhibit B: The University of Arizona. An undisciplined loss at home to UCLA recently was followed with solid road wins over Washington and Washington State — before an inexplicable egg-laying exhibition at home against Cal and a road pounding at Colorado.
Exhibit C: Mizzou. The SEC isn’t that strong, but it’s certainly got the Tigers declawed.
There are other examples, but our time in the confessional is limited today. With that in mind, it’s time for the Basketball Father to humbly offer different forms of penance for these afflicted teams.
Arizona: Solidify…something. Wildcats played like five individuals, not a cohesive unit, in the aforementioned home loss to UCLA. Intensity problems only added to the woes against Cal. Every facet of basketball — offense from in or out, defense, intensity, you name it — just disappears sometimes with this squad. Start with a renewed emphasis on 40 minutes of solid defense and many other problems will take care of themselves.
Creighton: Shoot straight. Poor shooting ran through the Bluejays like influenza A against Illinois State in their latest loss (37.9 percent overall, 17 percent from long range). Even the face of the team, Doug McDermott, wasn’t immunized properly, shooting 7-of-16. The Jays were dominated by a dangerous Indiana State team before losing to the Redbirds and didn’t shoot well there, either.
Missouri: Take a piece of Mizzou Arena with you when you travel. Better yet, settle down and start fast on the road. Tigers are 0-4 on the road in the SEC, including bad losses to Texas A&M and LSU, and they haven’t started well in either of those two battles.
Wichita State: Take somebody other than Creighton seriously — and develop a point guard. Shocker three-game skid recently ended, but guards Malcolm Armstead and Demetric Williams are starting to worry more about scoring than distributing. That’s not helping a team without many true scoring threats.
Should these quality teams perform the acts of contrition above — and win their way into the NCAAs — it’s guaranteed their respective fan bases will absolve them of any prior transgressions. Now go and win some games…I mean, sin no more…