When you've been so busy with life and work that you were barely able to watch the Wake Forest game Tuesday night but now it's 11:53 pm on Thursday and you finally have some free time and you feel like cranking out a post, just start writing.
Two Year Season
I've written about this since, oh, 2014 or so but it's crazy how football and basketball parallel each other each year. This year is no different - on both sides of Kirby, we see our youngest team in a long time. 8 scholarship seniors for football and only 76 scholarship players, 1 senior for basketball and only 11 scholarship players, which means both teams pretty much have everyone returning the following year.
It's funny - volleyball is the same way. I was reading up on the volleyball team the other night and saw that they only have one senior on the entire team. So yeah, same thing there. Try to do some damage in the NCAA Tournament... and then bring pretty much everyone back for an even better year next season.
Basketball has one senior as well (Mark Alstork), so here we go again. Another two year season. We go through the entire 2017/18 basketball season, we replace Alstork with Ayo, and we do it all again next year, hopefully taking a step forward. When we finish with this season we're only halfway through.
I told a friend the other day that if all goes to plan, each of the next three football seasons will be a step forward. We'll get better in 2018, even better in 2019, and then even better in 2020. Basketball will certainly be better next year, but the following season is up in the air with Finke and Black graduating. Kipper can maybe start at the four that year, but I'm not sure Eboigbodin or Vesel is future starting material. Which means we need to find a spring big (or a 2019 instant impact big man) as soon as possible.
Anyway, that's a different topic. For now. we can watch this team this year... and then we can watch this exact same team again next year.
When I wrote the "Roster Turnover" post on Tuesday, it really wasn't a post about the transfers from the football team. I was just talking about how Lovie was immediately turning to his recruits, making the "roster turnover" that much faster. But as I was writing that post, the transfers started, and now "roster turnover" takes on a different meaning. Not only are we playing the freshmen, the upperclassmen continue to leave.
Do the departures of Megginson, Watson, Odenigbo, and Nelson "mean" anything? I think they just reinforce that there's a divide between the Beckman players on the roster and the Lovie players. The 2016 class, even though they were recruited by Cubit, have only ever played for Lovie and seem to have bought in to the Lovie system. The 2015 and 2014 recruiting classes - Odenigbo and Watson were in the 2014 class, Megginson and Nelson were in the 2015 class - seem to see this as "he's playing his guys - I'll go look for playing time elsewhere".
The 2015 class has now lost five of its ten highest ranked recruits - Gabe Megginson, Ke'Shawn Vaughn, Jimmy Fitzgerald, Patrick Nelson, and Desmond Cain. All were Beckman recruits who departed not under Bill Cubit, but after Lovie took over. That - and the depth chart this season - reinforces a divide between the classes, I think. Lovie is coming in and more or less starting over from scratch.
I doubt we've seen the last of the departures.
I Don't Mind
I found myself less frustrated with the Wake Forest loss than any loss in a long time. I mean, I should be frustrated - Wake had just lost to Georgia Southern, Liberty, Drake, and Houston. This was one of the easiest B1G/ACC Challenge opponents we've ever had and we lost.
But it's the way we lost that has me feeling not that bad. We won nearly every statistical category, out-rebounded them by 14, put up 15 more shots - did every "little thing" we needed to do to win. It's just that the refs called twice the fouls on Illinois, Wake shot 31 free throws to our 14, and that was the difference. The six point possession for Wake? The "inadvertent whistle"? The 50/50 rebound balls that all seemed to be a foul on Illinois? It just feels like that was the difference in the game (well, statistically, it was).
I'm not one to generally blame the officials. But with two huge head-scratching calls (the goal-tending and the phantom elbow) and stats like I listed above (calls going for the home team 2:1), it's one of those games where you walk away feeling like there wasn't any way to win.
If this was next year, I'd be really upset. Next year should be a really solid team (this young team gets a full year to learn the system - see above), and a loss to 2-4 Wake Forest would keep me up that night. This year? I don't mind.
I mean, it did suck. I jumped off my couch at one of the big Aaron Jordan threes and then stood right at my TV the rest of the game. DaMonte's putback (and three) have me so incredibly excited about the future (put me down for Team DaMonte), but I wasn't all that devastated. Even the coach answered a question about the officiating with "I don't want to get suspended for our Big Ten games coming up". Everyone seemed to know that it was a complete homering.
So that leaves me... OK with it. This probably isn't a Tournament team (I determined that after attending the EIU scrimmage), so this season is a bunch of experiments which get us ready for next season. I'll enjoy watching those experiments.
And next year. hopefully, I'll enjoy ALL of the seasons.