I thought about Bill Belichick this morning. It was a long enough removed time period that I was able to digest that frustrating, annoying, 79-78 heartbreaking loss last night at home to the UMass Minutemen.
What would Bill Belichick say? Not much, obviously.
But I was reminded of an interview he gave to WEEI hosts earlier this September, after his New England Patriots’ pathetic 28-10 loss to the Detroit Lions.
Belichick mumbled his usual trite statements. “We need to coach better. We need to play better”.
(Both of which sounded a lot like Cooley after last night’s loss. Cooley says them with more passion and charisma, of course.)
However, Belichick then, in a very rare display, said something quite profound.
“I don’t think anyone clinched a playoff berth last night, did they?” Belichick asked, rhetorically.
The Good News
Here’s the good news fellow Friars fans: nobody clinched any NCAA Tournament berths last night. Therefore, nobody lost out on any, either.
That means if the Friars learn some valuable lessons from last night’s melt down–value the basketball, (particularly in crunch time), box out and rebound (particularly in crunch time), and maintain the highest level of intensity at all points of the game, regardless of the numbers on the scoreboard–this team will be in perfect position to earn their sixth-straight NCAA tournament berth.
Why do I say this?
Because this team, as demonstrated by their gritty, hard-fought over-time victory over a solid Boston College team, on the road, no less, earlier this week, has the talent to finish in the top-three in the Big East Conference this year.
The Talent Is There
And, dare I say it, they very well could win the Big East regular season title outright. If they do, it will be precisely because of their talented freshman–A.J. Reeves, David Duke, and Jimmy Nichols–not in spite of them.
Their promise, coupled with Alpha Diallo’s continued stellar play along with the emergence of Nate Watson as one of the conference’s best big man, is clearly enough talent to accomplish big feats THIS year.
But if that’s going to happen, it will require this team to learn the lessons of last night’s loss. This week has demonstrated that losing builds character. Winning reveals character.
It will also require them to hold themselves to the highest possible standards. They shouldn’t let any excuses–they’re young, wait until next year, etc–prevent them from the task of winning a Big East Championship.
So here’s hoping the Friars learn from their mistakes–Coach Cooley included–dust their shoulders off, get back to work, and accomplish big feats this year.
They’ve got the talent to do it, and the devoted fan base deserves it.
So get back to work, Friars. We’ll see you a week from Sunday.