When I think of Mike Locksley
The thought of playing New Mexico in any sport
Seems less daunting by comparison.
Frogs @ New Mexico. 9:00PM CT. the mtn.
This past week the powers that be at Spitblood - and by that I mean the three remaining readers, right adam? - got together and decided on a plan of attack for the next couple of weeks before baseball season cranks back up. During this conversation, I, unprovoked mind you, offered to pen a handful of basketball related posts each week until the season ends. You know, to keeps things fresh, drive some traffic and, hopefully, be on the cutting edge of our out of nowhere resurgence during the last third of the season. So how are things one week into said experiment? Well, I'm wondering if I should've picked the TCU basketball team that's currently undefeated in conference and has the most balls, otherwise known as Jeff Mittie's Lady Frogs.
This past weekend I was on a hall pass from the wife while she went back home to visit family, and in between college-caliber binge sessions on Friday and Saturday, I chose to recharge my batteries by watching the TCU/Utah game. I'm a masochist, what can I say? And even though I went into it assuming we would lose, and even though I have no tangible reason to be interested in TCU Basketball at this point, I am still just eerily drawn to the games. Part of it is my much documented love for the game, part of it is morbid curiosity. Heck, part of it is just because I know that if I want to ever see TCU win basketball games, I better get my fill these next two years because we're going to be the girl in a bukkake film once we join the Big East.
But mostly? I'm a sucker. A total, unapologetic sucker and I want to believe that things are going to change. It probably has something to do with the Rangers making the World Series which completely flipped my opinion on hopelessly lost teams on its head, but I just think there's more to this team than meets the eye and keep thinking that, on some given night, everything is going to come together and these Frogs will win a game that no one thought they could. I remember the year that we actually DID go to the post season, when I attended just about every single home game and listened to road games on the radio while half assing creative writing assignments, and how that still remains one of my top 5 favorite TCU sports related moments ever.
But then they get absolutely destroyed by Utah - the 13 point final margin is accurate only in the sense that that is how the game officially ended and will be remembered in the record book - to drop below .500 and kill just about any chance of a winning record and post season berth we may have had. Seriously, how hard is it to make the basketball post season? The Special Olympics is more discretionary in their awards process than the NCAA is in keeping teams from playing in March with the now, what, 4 post season tournaments going on? It's really not much to ask, but for this team, it's an unsolvable riddle, like a Rubix Cube when you don't just peel the stickers off and place them where you wish.
The point of this rant being I'm going to continue to document every last second of this miserable basketball season until it mercifully ends, but I''m not going to like it and I'm going to go through the motions harder than Tom Cruise on his wedding night. If you want optimism, check out HornedFrogSports piece on the topic. As for me? I'm fresh out.
So tonight we have the New Mexico Lobos who we are 0-8 against all time. The Lobos were once a dominant MWC force but have fallen on some rough times this season and are no closer to making the tournament than we are. Well, they're probably closer, but so are most AAU teams, and they can't even legally qualify. They enter the game 13-7, but are 1-4 in the Mountain West and are unwashed backside sitting on our shoulders in the cellar of the conference standings. They, too, are on a three game losing streak, but were actually being talked about as a serious bubble team before their current skid, so there's still time.
Fortunately for the Lobos, they're looking to turn things around against us, which means their three game skid is about to dissolve like a tab of acid under a UNM hippie's tongue. If there's anyone you want to play to turn your season around, it's the Frogs, and the Lobos with their penchant for grabbing rebounds, shooting high percentage shots and scoring bodes well against our warriors who do none of those things well. Especially rebounding. Holy hell, please tell me someone else subjected themselves to the Utah game? The final tally was 37-28 in favor of the Utes, but it seemed SO much worse. And while the Lobos don't have multiple 7 foot Ents like Utah, they do have 6-11 Alex Kirk, a softie at 5 rebounds per game, but who should also get prepared for a career night. I'm not sure how many 7 footers there are to go around, and when you look at all the NBA rosters that are absolutely littered with worthless big men I have to assume it can't be many, but I'll never understand why we can't find just ONE. He probably wouldn't be a true difference maker, but for the 256th ranked rebounding team in the country, a player like that could only help matters.
As for the aforementioned 256th ranked team? Well, I will agree with HFS that Hank Thorns has been as advertised this season, as has Ronnie Moss. In fact, without Thorns scoring every single first half point for TCU on Saturday - not entirely accurate, but not entirely inaccurate either - the game would've been over before the first subs were buzzed in. And on the bright side, this is a very young team with Greg Hill being the only senior on board, so our final year in the MWC will be Christian's most experienced team as head coach. But I still can't get the sinking feeling out of my stomach that Eric Hyman made a deal with the devil when he hired Franchione and sacrificed our basketball success in exchange for football. Clearly this is a tradeoff any of us would take, but it doesn't change the reality that even when things appear to be heading in the right direction, failure is just around the corner.
A win tonight doesn't matter in the immediate future, but if things don't change these next 11 games and next season, joining the Big East may essentially put our basketball team out of a business altogether. I realize this is an extremely pessimistic and non-constructive view to take, but I just get the feeling the steps we've taken backwards since Tubbs left the program may have doomed us forever. Of course, for all I know we could rally for a winning record over the rest of the season, challenge for a Conference title next year and enter the Big East on a high note. But that feels like a pipe dream at this point. In this instance, the wisdom of Charles Barkley certainly applies when he said, "I might be wrong, but I doubt it."
Elsewhere in the MWC.
#4 San Diego State @ #9 BYU. 9:00PM. CBSCS.
So I realize we're all down on the MWC right now because of the whole Boise switch thing and are just ready to get out, but I also think those that don't understand that decision are as silly as the ones who think Jamie Dixon is coming home to Fort Worth. It's exactly the type of "Fuck you, this is MY conference and I'm doing what's best for it" move that we loved Craig Thompson for as recently as this summer when he poached Boise, Fresno and Nevada from the WAC. And while a lot of you will continue to hold a grudge towards the conference since its success doesn't really matter to us anyway, we shouldn't overlook what's going on at the top of the basketball standings. Believe it or not, the Mountain West has a shot at a #1 seed in the NCAA tournament come March in undefeated San Diego State and no lower than a 4 in one loss BYU. Given most of our successful teams have rarely risen above the 6-7-8 seed threshold, this is pretty serious news.
And while San Diego State is still kind of on the outside looking in in most circles, should they continue their winning ways and finish the year with a flawless record, they'll be very, very hard to ignore as the top teams continue to fall. So, in other words, you should probably go with the Kawhi Leonards over the Jimmers tonight if you weren't already. Sadly, if this were a game in any other conference ESPN would have shut down the universe to let you know how apocalyptically important it is, but seeing as how it's on CBS CS at 10:00PM on the east coast, it'll likely get the TCU/Utah treatment where the winner gets a big MEH and the loser gets drop kicked out of the rankings. Ah, how nice that apple pie smells when resting on the windowsill of an AQ conference....
Air Force @ Colorado State. 8:00PM.
In the, "Wow, at least there's a game that's less interesting than ours" match up, you've got Air Force traveling up north to take on the Rams in Fort Collins. But as for the interesting thing, this one actually means a lot more to the conference than any game we'll play in the rest of the year. Yep, sure enough, Colorado State is now officially a bubble team despite losing to New Mexico and BYU over the past couple of weeks and they really need this game to remain solvent. I'll be honest though - call me in March and let me know how these guys end up overall, because I'm SO not interested right now.