If you’re not excited like a schoolgirl then what the hell’s the matter with you – basketball season is almost here! Get your jerseys, your Friar Fanatic T-Shirt, and get in your car and scream in joy all the way to the Dunk!
But all that excitement can dissipate pretty quickly, like NBA lockout negotiations (AYO!) so here’s the first of a few lists of three things to look out for:
1. Attendance: Attendance at PC games is great…you know, when people show up. This can of worms has been argued over by fans, students, and alumni until they’re all blue in the face. Usually the argument is “so and so group isn’t showing up enough! We need more!” and then the other group responds “screw that, it’s YOUR group!” and then they say back “well I banged your mom!” to which they retort “well I banged yours!” and then nobody’s happy.
But in truth, it’s nobody’s fault – you can’t blame fans for not being able to make it out to a game in the middle of a workweek, alumni for the same reason, and students because over the past few years they felt a genuine disconnection with the team because the coach was too shy and the team was frowned upon by most of the student body for their off the court antics. Hell half the student fans that did show up played on their phones and insulted other fans around them or rooted for the opposing team; two moves that I think are unforgivable no matter what the situation of your team is. It was a a no win catastrophe.
Thankfully that might be all different now. Coach Cooley connects with the fans on all levels and the team is much more well mannered. Students feel a bigger connection, alumni are feeling more passionate, and fans are happier. This should result in an increased attendance. On top of that students who were d-bags should be a little better. I ran into a few failures at the UML game last Tuesday which was unfortunate but for the most part students were supportive of the team and each other. Don’t expect sellouts for games like Holy Cross because holy crap who cares – but expect a much more livened fanbase on all fronts.
2. Teamwork: When the Miami Heat assembled their Big 3 the expectations were pretty clear – they needed to win it all and win it all big. They got through the East without too much of a sweat but then got pounded in the finals by the Mavericks, shocking a lot of people who thought a team with Lebron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Boshtrich.
So what happened? They played a team that used teamwork. the Mav’s won because they used phenomenal teamwork to dismantle a team with three great players.
That same concept is one that Cooley will implement into this team, but how receptive they are to it will determine how many close games will turn into W’s for this Friars team. Last year the Friars lost a handful of close games within a 5 point margin, most of them coming down to the last possession. And they lost almost every one of them because they didn’t play with teamwork, they played like five guys who all had a wardrobe hiccup and dressed in the same clothes on gameday. I expect this team to play like a team – they won’t necessarily win every game because of it but I’m willing to bet they’ll win games they normally wouldn’t because of it.
3. Toughness: One of my favorite stories about PC president Father Shanley’s basketball playing career is that he, at 5’6″ give or take, was always picked to play center. Not only that, but he fouled out every game. The reason was because he was the meanest, most unforgiving man on the court.
Is it wrong to expect anything less than that from my Friars? I don’t think so, and neither should you. The Big East is known for being tough and unforgiving – Duke would get eaten alive on the rough-and-toughness of most teams, away from the safety of the “sneeze on them and it’s a foul” ACC mentality. When I used to fight competitively in Tae Kwon Do there was a simple concept that I applied often – hit your opponent so hard he’ll be afraid to get hit again. Pure brute won’t win games on it’s own, but when you’re able to make a slasher think twice before cutting to the hoop because your center just laid him out on a monster block the previous possession it causes hesitation and error, something that PC could use to it’s advantage. Every fight is 80% won because of a mental advantage, and being tough is the quickest way to get into an opponent’s head. The Friars need to take advantage of this.
Check back for part 2 soon when I talk about three more things to watch for!