Loser: Dave Leitao
Winners and Losers column by Chris Graham
Sorry, Dave – I just call ’em as I see ’em.
And what I’m seeing right now is a team that has long since been lost to you.
Granted, things still seemed to be OK when you were 10-2 and heading into Xavier thinking that another quality road win to go along with that now-inexplicable victory at Arizona would look great on the ol’ NCAA resume.
Hard to believe that was just five weeks ago.
The guys gave minimum effort in that 38-point blowout loss, which is a charitable way of describing last night’s 82-51 home stinker against Clemson.
This was in the same JPJ that saw you lose just once all of last year – by one point in the last second against a Stanford team that ended up with a punch ticket to March Madness.
With last night in the books now, you’ve lost four at home – granted, the first three were by two points, one point in overtime at the buzzer and a third one in OT.
But last night …
Last night might have been Waterloo, man.
I’m hearing from your defenders about how it’s all Pete Gillen’s fault for leaving the cupboard bare recruiting-wise – and I can kind of see the point there.
And why it relates is what I remember about the George Welsh Era in Virginia football. Remember how he took UVa. to its first bowl game in 1984 in his third year at the helm, then slipped to 3-8 two years later and had fans howling about where the ship was headed? Turned out to be a blip on the radar, and the Cavs were back bowling in 1987 and an ACC power the remainder of the Welsh Era thereafter.
You know how economists like saying that recessions are good long term because they allow for corrections that need to be made in the market? I think the same concept applies to sports, most definitely.
That having been said, there’s something else here that worries me – and it’s the Northeastern thing. After an 18-11 debut season at your alma mater in 1994-1995, you went 4-24 a year later and resigned. I can’t seem to find anything about the particulars of that move on the ‘Net that satisfy me as being anything more than conjecture, but I can’t imagine that that 4-24 campaign was any less fun than what you’re going through right here and now with this team.
Which brings us back to the present – where people are writing this season off, and as far as an NCAA berth is concerned, they’re a couple of weeks late on that call. You’d have to go 8-0 down the stretch and probably win a game or even two in Charlotte to get on and off the bubble and into the NCAA Tournament at this point.
But at 11-10, there’s still a good chance that you could get this team into the NIT, which wouldn’t necessarily be the best way to send Sean Singletary off into the sunset – OK, so that’s how we sent Bryant Stith to the NBA back in the day, so it can only be so bad – but it would do wonders for the core of this team that will be back next year and thereafter to have something to build on for the future.
I hope you have it in you – that things go more the way of the Welsh Era than the Northeastern Era from your own past.
I’d love nothing more than to have to eat my words here. I have to admit, though, that I just don’t know that I see it happening right now.
Chris Graham is the executive editor of The SportsDominion.