Saturday, May 31, 2008

News Flash: Your program is underachieving

We have two college basketball teams (ACC teams, in fact):
Over the past six years Team A has gone 122-72 (.629), had three 20-win seasons, and made the NCAA tournament three times, winning four games.
During the same six seasons, team B went 122-68 (.642), and also had three 20-win seasons and three trips to the NCAA tournament, winning four games.
Logic says these two programs are probably about the same caliber, and probably found themselves in the same state at the beginning of this 6 year period.

Let's expand the descriptions:
Team A:
2002-2003: 20-10, 6 seed in NCAA tourney, lost in third round
2003-2004: 20-12, 4 seed in NCAA tourney, lost in second round.
2004-2005: 19-13, lost in NIT semifinal
2005-2006: 19-13, got invited to the NIT, apparently forgot to inform the players, because they lost on their home floor to a team that only avid college basketball fans have even heard of.
2006-2007: 25-9, 4 seed in NCAA tournament, lost in second round
2007-2008: 19-15, lost in second round of NIT

Team B:
2002-2003: 25-6, lost in second round of NCAA tournament
2003-2004: 21-10, lost in third round of NCAA tournament
2004-2005: 27-6, lost in second round of NCAA tournament (in one of the greatest games in NCAA tourney history)
2005-2006: 17-17, lost in first round of NIT
2006-2007: 15-16, no postseason
2007-2008: 17-13, no postseason

So while the two teams have taken wildly different paths, the bottom line stats are still the same.

The teams? Team A, Maryland Terrapins, Team B, Wake Forest Demon Deacons.
My point here isn't to pump up the Deacs. In fact, these track records are somewhat uninspiring. It's to illustrate how disappointing the Terps have been.
In case you forgot, Maryland won the National Championship in 2002 after making the Final Four in 2001. They were the first team since the inception of McDonald's All-Americans to win a National Championship without one. Since then, they have been able to recruit some of the best players in the country.
Wake Forest, on the other hand, lost in the second round of the '02 tourney and has only played ONE postseason game in the past three years.

How is it that Maryland, since winning a National Championship has been riding alongside a school that, historically speaking, has been pretty unspectacular? And not only are they underachieving on the court, they're screwing up off it too. For several straight years, they've had the worst Academic Progress Rating in the ACC. The lowlight of this run was the class of 2006, which featured six players, none of which graduated, and played a combined zero games in the NBA. Also included in this run is the borderline embarrassing antics of the students, lowlighted by their "F*** you JJ" on national television a few years ago.

So the million dollar question is: how could a program that got so high be so average?

1 comment:

Alex said...

I call this the Billick effect. To the fan's delight, the coach takes their team to the pinnacle of their sport in only a few short years with a talented team. Then over the next 5-10 years they wallow in mediocrity for no apparent reason. However, it takes the fans 11 years to admit that their team does indeed suck and that it's the coach's fault.