March 19, 2009
This is never a pleasant thing to do - write about the end of a season. It is particularly hard when the season ends in a way that you don't expect or when you felt you've left some business unfinished. That's how I feel about this season. After 29 years in this profession, I have learned at least one truth: At the end of a season, you are what your record says you are. There will be games throughout the season that you win when you certainly could have (or maybe should have) lost. And there are games that you lost where you played well enough to win. The bottom line is finding a way and making it happen at the time you're playing. Some people look at a schedule and say "boy that's along season". What you learn is that it moves very quickly, especially when you hit the conference portion. There are twists & turns throughout, but the consistent teams, the teams that are able to make adjustments when necessary, are the teams that remain standing at this time of the year. Now some situations, no matter how much you try to adapt to the circumstances, are nearly impossible to overcome. This season started out with such high expectations that even 22 wins seems to many of our fans to have been a disappointing year. We expected more as well. Our goal was the NCAA Tournament and we fell short of that. When our roster took the hit it did, I think we all knew that challenge had become more difficult. I still believed we had a chance to get there. It was going to require some major adjustments (there's that word again), but in my opinion it was doable. When we made the run winning 9 of 10 games I thought we had it figured out. The only loss during that stretch was at Tulsa (a huge one as it turned out) by 1 point. That to me was an indication that we had what it took - depleted roster and all - to get it done. Now we know that wasn't the case. I think the depleted roster and all the minutes our guys had to log as a result eventually took a toll on us. When you look at the 12 losses there is some similarity. Mistakes in execution on offense; mistakes in communication on defense; missed shots from tired legs; mental lapses on defense as result of fatigue. In close games those things will get you beat. What most people miss is that with the reduced roster it limits what you can do in practice to get ready for games. You have to be careful not to wear your guys out in practice. You have 2 teams competing without any substitutions. The starters were in on every rep. When we traveled there were only 8 or 9 players with us so we weren't able to scrimmage or do 5 on 5 work. All that being said, it was a situation that we created and we did the best we could to work through it and get the most out of it.
No, things didn't end the way any of us had dreamed. But I will say that our staff and our players gave it everything they had everyday. For that I hope our Blazer fans are pleased and proud. On behalf of our team and program please accept my thanks and gratitude for your unwavering support throughout the season. The home crowds were tremendous and really made a difference. And the fans that traveled to Troy, Arizona, Tulane, Memphis & Southern Mississippi, you were absolutely awesome. Here's to hoping for bigger and better things next season. You deserve it and we want to deliver it!
Assistant Head Coach