Two distinct reactions to yesterday’s loss to Louisville are circulating. There is the “Don’t Worry Be Happy” camp, who are taking it in stride. “You had to figure SU would lose again eventually,” they say. “There’s no way they were going to go 39-1. This kind of thing happens to just about everyone at some point. It’s the nature of the game. As long as we win in March, losses like this — while disappointing — are nothing to lose sleep over.”
On the other hand, there is the “Sky Is Falling” camp, whose confidence in SU’s title hopes has taken a huge hit. “First of all,” they say, “Louisville just got spanked by St. John’s. There is no way you can tell me that this is a respectable loss, given that outcome. But it’s not just this game. This is the culmination of several weeks of sub-standard basketball. We’ve been able to pull out a few wins where we played poorly, but winning those games allowed everyone to overlook some fundamental flaws in this team. Not only did we lose this game but UL just handed every opposing coach a blueprint on how to beat us. If we can’t beat UL at home in front of 31,000 fans, how can we hope to hang with the Kansases and Kentuckys of the world?”
I am trying to keep perspective like the first group — after all, SU missed about a half-dozen wide-open threes yesterday; that’s unlikely to happen too many more times this year. Wes Johnson by all accounts was playing with a bum shooting hand. Louisville is more talented than their record indicates, and match up well defensively against the SU offense. But I have this uncomfortable nagging feeling in my gut that we will see a game just like this in the NCAAs. The weaknesses on the team won’t go away easily. The lack of a true creator on offense is probably the most glaring. Wes has to be that guy at the end of the game. He’s the only real option we’ve got in those situations. And we need Triche to be able to hit an outside shot. UL shifted their defense after getting dominated in the paint early, clogging up the post area more and daring SU to shoot from deep. Brandon had a pair of completely wide-open three-point attempts that he failed to convert. The once-dynamic offense has been bogged down quite a bit lately. And I’m not sure where the spark is going to come from to get it moving again. Joseph was that guy for a while, but UL took him effectively out of the game too. Every opposing coach from now on is going to watch what Louisville did to us and copy it. We are going to have to find an answer pretty quickly.
The good news is, we’ve got the best coach in the game on our side, and if anyone can find an answer it’s him. So maybe there is no reason to panic… yet.
I’ll be at the Georgetown game Thursday, and most likely worried as all hell.