"My rule was I wouldn't recruit a kid if he had grass in front of his house.
That's not my world. My world was a cracked sidewalk." —Al McGuire

Friday, March 23, 2012

Disappointing end to a successful season

A good night sleep helps to put things in perspective and tone down some raw emotions. It was needed as last night was certainly a disappointment but does not overshadow a terrific season. Going into the contest I was nervous about Florida's shooting and whether we had enough firepower beyond the big two. After settling into the first 10 minutes of the contest, I was no longer worried. We were the better team and my confidence was high. Florida was young, athletic, but not the scary team I envisioned. No way were we going to lose this game unless we got into foul trouble or had an awful night shooting the ball. Unless. Unless.

That's the source of the disappointment. As poorly as we shot in addition to the foul trouble of Junior and Jae, we were still in this game...30% shooting and we're still in this game amazingly enough. Florida was doing everything they could to avoid stepping on our throats and letting us hang around. We would not oblige. Air-balled layups, head scratching turnovers, and a general malaise could not get us to Elite 8. I dare say we actually looked a little flat at times. The effort was always there, but the energy was absent at times. Disappointing conclusion considering the opponent and the opportunity. Last year we "peed down our leg" to borrow a Crowder quote. UNC was so much better than us that it was expected. We were happy to be there. This year, a 3 seed and an opponent that we could handle. This was not North Carolina or Kansas. Yet something was off last night...other than our shooting. Wish I could put my finger on it. Effort strong, preparation strong, but at times they seemed in a funk. Just my opinion.

For the season, what can you say. I thought Buzz deserved Big East Coach of the Year at the midpoint of the season and felt he deserved it at the end of the year. Stan Heath did a remarkable job with the Bulls, but Buzz had to deal with two important injuries, off the court issues, finished in 2nd place for a team picked in the middle of the pack, and a much tougher schedule. The play of Crowder and DJO was a joy to watch, especially Crowder. The team was nails tough and brought a strong work ethic that matches their coach. They looked like they had fun doing it as well. A successful season anyway you cut it.

Next year....we'll get into next year down the road. Certainly some question marks as well as plenty of bright spots awaiting. For now, a terrific season ends in disappointment but a terrific season nonetheless. A salute to Buzz Williams, Jae Crowder and Darius Johnson Odom in particular.

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