Marching to Vegas: Throw Out The ExpectationsPosted by AMurawa on November 9th, 2012
From the moment it was first rumored, the relocation of the conference tournament to Las Vegas has created quite a buzz among Pac-12 basketball fans. Adam Butler (@pachoopsAB) of PacHoops will be here every week as he offers his unique perspective along our March to Vegas.
We’ve read previews, prognostications, and pontifications on the forthcoming basketball season; the one that begins today. The series of games that will captivate us until there’s but a single game remaining on a Monday night in April played inside a football stadium. And I don’t know who’s going to be playing in that game and neither do you. But like I said, we’ve probably read a whole lot about it. Allow me to get to the point: To date, we’ve heard nothing but expectations. A drone of maybes, could be’s, should be’s, has to’s, going to’s, for-this-to-happens… you catch my drift. But today, all of that changes. The roundball will go into baskets counting for points and someone will walk away the victor, today onward. We’ll begin to talk about tangible things like wins and losses instead of the offseason world of hypotheticals.
And so I want to talk about the Colorado Buffaloes. Tied with Utah for Newest Members of the Pac, last season they went ahead and won the conference tournament. No big deal, right? The tournament, in its fifteen iterations, had been won but twice by anyone not named Arizona (4), UCLA (3), Washington (3), or Oregon (2). So for the new kids on the block to waltz into Staples and take the crown says something. I think it speaks volumes about the kind of coach Tad Boyle is and the program he’s building. Here was a team picked to finish eleventh – more on that later – that was in the regular season title hunt into the final weekends. Tad can coach. Colorado isn’t going anywhere. But back to that prediction, the media pick that said they’d finish eleventh in their inaugural Pac campaign. First of all, it was wrong. Secondly, it was founded on fact. They returned a rebounding wing/post hybrid with suspect scoring and two returning seniors-to-be who combined to put up 9/6/2. Their recruiting class was unheralded and their most optimistic piece was a transfer from the team picked to finish last (Utah).
Expectations have never assisted a basket or set a screen. Hell, neither have I in the Pac-12, but they sure can be a lot of fun. As I opened this column, we spent the offseason studying up on our team, their team, and everything in between. In doing such, we find our own ideas of truth and formulate the expectations that wind up dictating how we feel about a given season. My question: Is that fair? Was the Buffaloes’ run through the Pac-12 Tournament and into the NCAA’s second weekend any sweeter because they outdid expectations? Was Tad Boyle more ecstatic because he could point a finger at the Denver Post’s beat writer and say, “WHO’S NUMBER ELEVEN NOW?” (I wonder what Tad Boyle’s trash talk sounds like?) Washington was picked to finish fourth last year but they finished in first! Somehow, I still feel like Washington fans feel disappointed after 2011-12. Because expectations grow and shrink as the season progresses, as games are played.
And you know what? Today, games start to get played. Those same Buffaloes picked eleventh a year ago are picked to finish sixth as they return a rebounding wing/post hybrid with encouraging scoring ability and no seniors with major contributions. Their recruiting class was ranked 22nd by Scout and their most optimistic pieces are a pair of big sophomore guards, one of whom was an All-Freshman performer. Indeed things are looking five preseason slots better for the Buffs and here’s what I expect: As Colorado continues to do its thing, ignoring pundits and winning basketball games, expectations will get sky high. Take my word for it. Or don’t. Either way, I’ve got some basketball to watch.