I don’t post as much on here as I used to due to life, but I still read almost everything. Thought I’d throw my thoughts out for discussion.
First, like all of you, I’m really disappointed with that performance the other day. I liked the matchup. Still do, having seen it play out. The things that made us inconsistent this year just reared their ugly heads, namely our defense.
That said, this was a solid season. We met regular season expectations. Ranked #26 in the country by the NCAA committee. 7 seed (worthy of a 6 seed, easily argued). From a one-season-view, this was a fine season. I’ve seen many say that this was our most talented/best team under CMA. I’ve disagreed. It was 2014-2015. This year was only our most experienced team under CMA. Many of us that follow the team and college basketball closely expected a slightly worse record, but slightly higher seed (5-7) than last year. Expectations met. NCAAT performance? No, obviously. But, as we’ve seen, crazy things can happen in this tourney. Performance in the tourney over a range of years is a better measuring stick, which segues to my next thoughts…
What are reasonable expectations for our program when healthy (which we are now)? I’ve thrown these out before with little argument:
- NCAAT 8 out of 10 years
- Sweet 16 2-3 out of 8 appearances
- Elite 8 1-2 out of 8 appearances
- Final 4 1 out of 8 appearances
When did we become healthy? I say after three years of CMA’s tenure (should’ve been a year earlier in my opinion). So, from there, what have we done?
- NCAAT 3 out of 4 years (check)
- Sweet 16 0 out of 3 appearances (incomplete)
- Elite 8 0 out of 3 appearances (incomplete)
- Final 4 0 out of 3 appearances (incomplete)
From that lens, CMA has done enough so far. He’s brought us back to a respectful position. Financially, we’re in a great spot; we’ll be around #10 in the nation in attendance. The program is clean and academics are in good shape.
But, where do we go from here?
Let’s talk best-case on returnees. Gafford could be one of the best players in the country next year. Huge if he returns (gun to head, I think he’s gone, but I think there’s a little hope). After that, we have a bunch of questions and role players in my opinion.
We are bringing in a solid recruiting class. Many have said it’s the best class CMA has signed, but using the most common way to measure, that’s false. It was the Bobby Portis/Moses Kingsley class (not counting Ky Madden’s group since he didn’t recruit that full cycle). This 2018 class is full of good players that could turn into great college players. But, projecting these guys is tough.
Like others, I do think we could see smarter basketball next year. But, I worry about our overall talent and the negative trade-offs you get with CMA’s system. Losing Reggie Perry was an absolute back-breaker in my opinion.
All said, as or right now, my expectations are that we miss the NCAAT next year, which would put CMA on thin ice with my overall program expectations.
BUT, I remind myself often that CMA has met my expectations to this point. Instead of go into next year with a negative outlook, I will continue to let it play out. I think CMA has earned that.
I’d love discussion from here. Also, I’ll be at the Real Deal in the Rock again this year, so look for that report in a little less than a month!