Saturday, March 28, 2009

Getting Ahead of Ourselves

I was going to write this Thursday night after Memphis walloped Mizzou. However, that didn't happen. The Missouri Tigers surprised all by not only beating Memphis, but they dropped a hundred on them (102 to be exact). No one saw that coming except maybe this guy.

First of all, I want to congratulate Mizzou on a great season. They exceeded all expectations in finishing third in the Big-12 regular season and winning the conference tournament. Personally, I thought they would be that good, but I also thought the conference would be down overall. Now the Tigers are in the NCAA tournament. Every win has been a bonus since they weren't expected to even make the field.

That said, folks in these parts are a little too excited for today's game versus UConn with a trip to the Final Four on the line. UConn is a freight train right now with a chip on their collective shoulder and a 7'3" eraser in the middle by the name of Hasheem Thabeet. Mizzou's great run ends today, but that won't stop the locals from looking forward to a trip to Detroit. ("
Looking forward to a trip to Detroit" may have never been written in the history of the Internets before this moment.)

That's what sports fans do here. They start to have a surprisingly successful season, folks catch on late, and Missouri loses. Take the football team's season a couple of years back. Heading into the Big-12 championship, Mizzou was the improbable number one team in the country. People were making their reservations for the national title game in New Orleans. Chickens were counted, but no eggs had hatched. Of course, Mizzou was dominated by Oklahoma, causing the Tigers to miss out on the entire BCS all together.

Now everyone here is convinced the Tigers are going to the Final Four in Detroit next week. I don't think that's how it works.

Let me explain from where I'm coming...

National championships don't just suddenly happen. There has to be years of consistent success. Even then, nothing is guaranteed. Trust me. I know.

Ohio State, my team, has been one of the most successful universities in men's basketball and football over the years. The basketball team has been to the Final Four ten times, twice in my lifetime. In those ten trips, the Buckeyes have won once in 1960. They played in the two following final games, losing both to Oscar Robinson and the Cincinnati Bearcats. I expect that the current Buckeye coach Thad Matta will win a championship eventually. He regularly recruits the best players and has won at least 20 games in every season he's coached, but it will take a few years of struggle for Matta to reach that summit.

The football team is one of the top five winningest programs in the history of the sport. They have won seven national championships, but there were over thirty years between the last two championships. The team has played three times for the title since 2002, but only have one trophy to show for it. And it wasn't as if Ohio State played mediocre football in between those championships. This is a program with 800+ wins.

My point is that Mizzou fans should not get ahead of themselves. It often takes years and years of success to finally mount a run at a championship. You don't suddenly show up one year and win a title. Take Memphis as an example. Those Tigers have gone to the Elite Eight and Final Four several times over the past six years and have yet to win a championship. They will win a national championship eventually, but it takes time to build a champion.

So, Mizzou fans should be happy with the success their team has had thusfar. The Tigers play a really entertaining brand of basketball and have a ton of heart. For that, Mizzou fans should be proud. However, they are not going to win the national championship or even win today. Sorry. Better luck next year.


ATR said...

My boy. Always kicking it on the sunny side of the street!

I must one up you, however, and add a corollary to your theorem that championships aren't won overnight. I had Mephis pencilled in for a trip to Detroit, myself, but, after the last couple of years (last year in particular), I don't think Memphis will ever win a championship. The corollary? Championships aren't won out of perennially weak conferences (e.g., C-USA, MAC, MVC, etc.).

comoprozac said...

Hey, the blog's not called "living in misery" for nothing. You may have something there on Memphis. It does seem that teams from more competitive conferences (be it basketball or football) are more likely to win national championships.

Pizza Cottontail said...

Very prescient.

Huey said...

Matta is going to have to recruit some guys that stay 3-4 years though. I realize that was O'Brien's downfall (among other things like paying players families), but a mix of one year studs and 3-4 year role players is a balance he needs to find.

Or maybe get through to the Mullins and Koufos' of the world that they are not Greg Oden and could use some development (i.e. Kosta in the NBDL and Mullins soon to be entrance there)

I ain't hating on Matta though. I love him.

And nice job on your brackets. The wife and kid will enjoy the money you can spend on them soon.