year end thoughts
“The Dance” is a great event. But it’s not the best way to choose the best team. A multi-game series would be better, minimizing the dame done by an injury, a referee’s bad call, etc. Yet it probably wouldn't be as a enjoyable. Lets celebrate it for what it is; America’s answer to the FA Cup. A great accomplishment but not absolute proof that the winner is the best team.
2. During the final game I found myself thinking the unthinkable: I would rather have Ted Valentine refereeing this game.
3. As I watched Marquette blow a big lead in its opener, I reflected on how much ND has changed as a team in the past 6 or 7 years- not by being more athletic or playing better defense, but by simply being tougher. Whether thats when Hansbrough showed up or Brey changed his coaching /recruiting or whatever, since then we've been a team that won’t back down, We may loose but we won’t give up the way Marquette did that game or Baylor has the last 2 NCAAs. The ND culture has changed from being, as my wife put it, too many choirboys.”
4. That’s how it should be next year with Matt F (“MF” for short) and Bonzie back. That’s if Bonzie’s back. I am worried about that because, like DJ, his shortcomings cannot be remedied by another year in college. Sure, he could add some distance to his outside shot, but his biggest shortcoming in the NBA is being 6-5. And that won’t change. I felt that the MF/ Gibbs combination would be an adequate replacement for DJ (and it was much more than that). I have no such confidence if it’s necessary to replace Bonzie this year.
5. The best Brey can do in that regard is contact some good front court grad transfers and beg them to hold off on any decision until he knows for sure if Bonzie’s going pro or not. Doesn’t help that the NCAA has moved the pro decision date even further back. Of course the grad school has to accept them, so will he fid one who’s willing to start the application process, hold off on any decision (while other schools fill their slots) and risk no offer. Oh, and the player to be s good enough to make a major contribution in the best conference in the country., fit in with the team, and buy into a concept that wont necessarily showcase him Lots of luck finding such a person. We had a pretty good idea that Grant and DJ would go, and also that VJ would stay. I’m just not sure on Bonzie, only that his loss would be fairly catastrophic.
6. Otherwise we don’t need a graduate transfer inn the front court. One in the backcourt would help though. If Bonzie stays we have 5 players in the front court (2 positions) and 5 in the backcourt (3 positions). We wold be stretched thin if we lost one of the backcourt players to grades, injury, pot, etc. We should being in a reserve guard, soon who wants to continue his career and education but would be willing t play a backup role. Fortunately there are some Ivy and Patriot players who fit that mode. I hope Brey can land one.
6. Speaking of the Ivies, our scholastic aspirational peers, I noticed that Cornell is bringing in 2 Jucos this year. It they can, why can’t ND?
7. Before we leave recruiting, let’s talk front court transfers. We don’t need help this year if Bonzie’s back. But a year from now we will only have 2 front court players who have been in the program. That’s a big void and we should look at someone to help there. Not next year but in 18-19 for sure. I wish Brey had taken someone last year, even if not a perfect fit for the system.
8. It was a very good year. While we lost 10 games, 9 were to teams that were in the top 20 (per final polls and seeded 1 through 5). The other game was lost on a last second shot. Our luck in the Dance finally rain out. We met 2 teams with styles radicallyy different from each other and from anyone we played all year, out best player was injured, and we played at noon. Next year I don't care where we're seeded, who we play or where we play. I just want to play late.