Friday, February 24, 2012

The Long Offseason Begins

Hope 87, Calvin 80 (box score)

Seven point losses at the hands of the Hope Flying Dutchmen are usually cause for great consternation, but not in this case, at least, not for me. Sure, I was hoping for a win, but mostly I was looking for the team to put forth a good effort, and not give up.

Then halftime came. The Knights let some things get away from them in the closing moments of the first half and found themselves trailing at the break. I thought the scale had tipped. Not that the team was going to mail it in, but they probably knew what they were up against. It would have been easy to throw the team game out the window, to have five guys trying to play hero, or to check out out for the year 20 minutes early. Any of these scenarios (and probably dozens of others) would have lead to a 20+++ point loss.

The season didn't go the way anyone wanted it to. I'm sure the coaching staff wasn't happy with the record they were turning in, I don't think the players liked the results that they were churning out, and none of us "fan types" were used to a .500 season.

Heartbreak for me wasn't going to be seeing the team lose -- I had resigned myself to that weeks ago -- but I didn't want to see them quit, and I didn't want to see them go down without a fight. And fight they did. They would never truly threaten to take the game from Hope -- they didn't pull past the eight point mark until the game was already over -- but they didn't allow the Dutchmen to dictate the terms to them. They stuck to their game, they stuck to their belief, and they forced Hope to play them all the way to the horn. A seven point loss on the home floor of the #1 team in the country isn't something to hang your head over. I was proud of the way Calvin battled in the second half.

But a loss is a loss, and for Calvin that means we're shifting our focus to next season. I'd encourage all of you to stray away from the grumbling of "how bad things were" and look forward to what this team can still become. And for those of you that will scream at me about "accepting mediocrity", please know that I'm not "accepting" it as a pattern. But I will cheer harder than anyone for the Knights whether it's a 13-13 season (as this year was), an 0-26 season (that we'll never see), or a 21-5 season (that we'll see next year, not really, but seriously, I hope so).

For now, I'm willing to give everyone a pass for this year. I'm not a fan of making changes to the program for the sake of making changes, and I don't think any are warranted, at this point in time. Winning does need to happen though, and soon at that.

Just because I know you want to know, here are my rooting interests for MIAA teams the rest of the way.

Adrian over Hope. Not because I hate the Dutchman (although I do), but because it would be very cool to see another MIAA team represented in the field of 62. Adrian's tough defense would make them a tough matchup for a number of teams, but if they make the field, they'll draw a really tough opponent (probably a pod host, whether that's UW-Whitewater, Wheaton, Transylvania, Wittenberg, or someone else).

Hope until the Elite Eight. I'm not necessarily proud of the fact that I root for the Dutchmen in the first three rounds of the tournament, but I like to see the league represented well. I start rooting against them in the Elite Eight round. There's just no reason for them to reach the Final Four and perhaps accidentally win one of those banners that they long for so badly.

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