From Valleys to the Summit
With the Super Bowl going down yesterday, I didn't get a chance at this one until now but better late then never, as they say.
To blame Saturday's failure on the youth of the NDSU Men's Basketball team is too convenient and too cliche. They flatlined in the mile high. They came off that one with a good to great win against IPFW at the Shac. Now they've dropped two in a row. The first, an overtime loss against IUPUI is understandable. Coming out of the locker room as flat as a cadaver against the currently second ranked team in the conference is a much more concerning development.
I'm still underwhelmed by the offense that Coach Richman and associates have implemented. With the quartet of talented three point shooters that NDSU has, the simple dribble/weave is not befitting of a burgeoning division one program. Whatever the reasons are for running with that offense, I put some of the issues from Saturday on it. But I can't place blame without giving credit.
South Dakota just outplayed them. It's a troubling fact given all the extra details. But if it troubles me I can only imagine what it does for the coaches and players. Best case scenario is that the loss lights a fuse that gets them enough wins to claim the regular season title and thus guarantee themselves an NIT berth, at minimum.
From a fan perspective, I think the best part of the loss is that it creates a lot more intrigue for the final six games of the regular season, 3 of which are at home. Since the Fort Wayne game I've been very excited about the Summit League Tournament. The loss to South Dakota & IUPUI only increase my anticipation and I would say it should be the same for each one of you. Sioux Falls is shaping up to a great few days of basketball. The bracketologists project the Summit League winner as 15 seed in the tournament. Whichever team manages to win the last game of it will be a tough out, whichever seed they are given.
There's no natural way to transition to this so I'll just run with it. The crowd at the Shac on Saturday was still a disappointment but there were more fans in attendance then before and it did try to spur the team on when they made their various runs during the game. The flip side of the lesser interest in Basketball does make it much easier to get tickets to them.
So from the "valley" of a bad loss comes a realistic optimism and anticipation for the first weekend in March and the climb to the Summit. I rarely root for losses but finding positives in every outcome is an important skill to develop, as counter-intuitive as it is within sports fandom. Also, the new uniforms were the best alternative that NDSU has debuted yet!