Our somewhat-less-beloved UMass men’s basketball team lost tonight. At home. To St. Bonaventure.
…There are no words. I’ll try to sum it up for you: UMass played horrible defense against a horrible team in a slop-tacular game with horrible referees in front of a horrible crowd and came away with what must be the worst loss at home for the Minutemen in my four years of watching this team. It’s not Valentine’s Day Massacre-bad as far as repercussions, but that’s only because this team didn’t have realistic expectations of success before the game, and they certainly don’t now. The Minutemen, since the collective sploogefest of the upset win against Memphis in Boston (the thought of which, in retrospect, might be enough to get the team, coaches, and collective fanbase to want to drown themselves in barbecue sauce), have done the following:
- Lost a winnable game against our most hated opponent, in their arena but in front of a pro-UMass crowd, despite BC’s horrid shooting;
- Lost a winnable game at Davidson;
- “Defeated” one of the worst teams in all of college basketball by two, on a last-second shot;
- Lost a winnable game in Springfield to La Salle in which they held a sizable lead near halftime;
- Lost a winnable game at Richmond in which the Spiders couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn, we had the last shot of regulation only for our best player to forget how much time was left, and in which a Spider set the conference record for blocks in a game;
- Got smoked by a good Temple team,
- …and now this.
This wasn’t a fall-from-ahead job like Fordham. UMass actually had to rally just to tie the game late in the second half after trailing by as many as 10 points. You read that correctly: 10 points. At home. Against St. Fucking Bonaventure. Bright spots? You want bright spots? Uhh, I guess…Ricky Harris and Anthony Gurley hit some awkward floaters. Big City hit a pair of free throws nothing but net (!). David Gibbs drove to the lane and scored, for perhaps the first time ever. The Minutemen even pulled off the “hey look, Riley is tying his shoe, everyone leave him alone and guard Ricky instead and OH WAIT JUST KIDDING OPEN 3” trick.
But in that same game, Freddy looked mortal, airballing a 3 at one point and missing treys on the final two possessions, both of which could have won the game. UMass actually got away with a few blatant hacks and still couldn’t win. Gibbs’s one drive to the hoop was just that: a one-time thing. Big Shitty (yeah, we’re going there) couldn’t have guarded James Marcou going to the basket in the last five minutes, let alone any of the Bonnies’ mediocre forwards. TV and Sean Carter were shockingly ineffective. Blah, blah, blah.
Matt and I are quickly reaching the ends of our ropes about this team. Like I said a few weeks ago, I’ll follow the UMass hockey team wherever it goes, in Toot we trust, oh captain my captain, and so on. I love DK and what he’s trying to do with this team (and with the fans), and I’m not foolhardy enough to expect too much from what is, at this point, most definitely a rebuilding year. But the point of a rebuilding year is to make progress, and at this point, I’m not really sure that’s what we’re seeing. I want to see this team grow and come together before our eyes. Perhaps I’m spoiled by the teams of old, back when we may have been underdogs to make the NCAAs, but where we at least expected UMass to beat St. Bonaventure by 30. But rebuilding year or not, this performance is just plain unacceptable. Our rope can only go so far before we, like (sadly) so many of the other die-hards, decide to do better things with our Wednesday nights and Saturday afternoons.
It’s like a decidedly less-expensive version of the Big Dig, where we’re still holding out hope that the end result will be beautiful – but maybe we should stop watching them build it, because the construction has been rather ugly.