Wednesday, March 03, 2010

A Very Special This Week in Wrenball

Friend of G:TB Wheelhouse Jerry coined the phrase 'futile superfans' several years ago to describe our generally quixotic semi-obsession with William & Mary hoops. For a great many years before and after the birth of that appellation, futile was perhaps too kind a word. W&M's hoops history is the stuff of G:TB legend: the 9-45 combined record from 1988 to 1990; the 100-38 loss to Duke in 1988; never winning more than a single conference tournament game from 1985 to 2008 (going 3-22 in tourney games during that span); the never...I think you get the point.

Then we woke up on January 2, 2010 to find William & Mary ranked #2 in the NCAA's Ratings Percentage Index. ESPN's Andy Katz praised the Tribe and touted them as an at-large candidate to make the NCAA Tournament. Dick Vitale mentioned W&M in a national broadcast. They started showing up in mock brackets. Dogs and cats, living in sin.

G:TB readers know the rest of the story - the Tribe faded a bit down the stretch, going from 14-3 (and winners of 14 of 15) to 20-9. In-conference opponents had a opportunity to scout Tony Shaver's revamped offense, senior leader David Schneider went into a prolonged shooting slump, and the emotional highs of the early season proved impossible to sustain over the long slog of an 18-game conference slate. It would be entirely natural in the cold reality of the present to focus on W&M's 6-6 finish and feel just a little disappointed.

Entirely natural and completely insane at the same time. William & Mary, picked to finish 11th in the 12-team CAA did the following in 2009-10:
  • Won 20 games for just the third time in the school's entire 317-year history. Thomas Jefferson's teams never won 20.
  • Beat a pair of ACC teams on the road, something that had never before been done in a single season by any CAA team. Maryland is clearly the second-best team in the ACC, and the Tribe legitimately whipped 'em in College Park. Wake Forest is in top 30 of the RPI, and W&M's win in Winston-Salem was just as solid.
  • Topped in-state archrival Richmond, now ranked in the top 25.
  • Finished the regular season with a better RPI (60) than UNC (86), Memphis (66), Virginia (114 - and boy, did W&M have a better athletic year than our friends in Charlottesville), and UCLA (134), among a great many other traditionally strong programs.
  • Finished third in a very competitive CAA.

The Tribe gets an entirely unexpected day of rest this weekend, sitting out their customary first-round CAA Tournament game. W&M gets the winner of Drexel/JMU at 8:30 on Saturday night. The team that lived a charmed life during a thoroughly enjoyable regular season gets one more break from the hardwood deities: the Wrens are 6-1 against the 5 other teams in their half of the tournament, 6-5 versus the top portion of the bracket. The Tribe swept Drexel, their likely quarterfinal opponent.

As I've written before, yes we can. Keep hope alive. Pleasegodletusmakeittothebigdanceonceinmylife.

34 comments:

Dan said...

that day of rest could prove to be costly. i wish you no luck if playing the dogs of jmu.
tournament in richmond i assume? you going?

TR said...

Shaver resembles a poor man's Mike D'Antoni. Emphasis on poor. He probably makes about 3-4% of D'Antoni's $5MM/yr contract.

I do like that the Tribe has the prime-time game this Saturday night. I wonder if it will air live on ESPN8.

TR said...

And on the topic of D'Antoni, my bet with Mark has tightened up considerably in the last 6 weeks. The Knicks now have as many wins as teh Magic do losses (20). So we are now tied, although the Knicks have two games in hand. The team is a disgrace heading into the last 25% of the season. Anybody who shelled out money for tickets this year should be ashamed of themselves.

TJ said...

I plan to head down to Richmond with Tiny on Saturday...anyone else want to join our wolfpack?

Shlara said...

I've been looking forward to this post. I'm really excited about the CAA tourney but don't want to fully commit because they seem to play poorly when I do.

I attended that 100-38 loss in Cameron. It was my bday and I got to see my BF Danny Ferry destroy the Tribe. We're miles from that experience now, thankfully.

Go Tribe!

Dan said...

i too was really looking forward to another tribe bball post...really...i was. i can't wait for another...
as my friend who is still caught up in 90's catchphrases would say....
"NOT!" or...."AS IF!" i am doing the electric slide as i say these things.

TR said...

Why don't you step off, Dan?

(who can name that 90's quote?)

Greg said...

Tony!

TR said...

Tony says you better step off George.

Mark said...

George is getting angry!

Mark said...

Also...Zoltan -- I finally got around to listening to a sizable amount of Mayer Hawthorne. Damn fine stuff. I really like it. I have downloaded some already and plan on downloading more. It shouldn't taken me this long to check it out but I'm notoriously picky and/or snobby when it comes to music and rarely take suggestions from people unless I know our tastes are very similar as my tastes are pretty specific.

I have to place some of the blame for my procrastination on you though, Z. If you had told me he was on Stones Throw then I would've checked him out much, much sooner. Anything on Stones Throw is worth at least a listen.

Mark said...

Finally, if anybody likes downtempo/instrumental stuff I suggest you check out Emancipator. Soon it will be Cold Enough is very good and his new one (safe In the Steep Cliffs) is really growing on me.

zoltan said...

Then go get the new strong arm steady. And try to see peanut butter wolf live. He somehow hhoks his turntable up to a video projector. Cool effect.

Mark said...

I saw PB Wolf live in San Francisco a few years back with Cut Chemist. DOPE show.

Dan said...

i made us some sandwiches!
tony's so cool!

Mark said...

It ain't quite tournament time yet, but their are a couple high profile conference matchups worth all our attention tipping tonight in Duke-Maryland and Kansas-Kansas State.

Mark said...

Or not...

TJ said...

The Teej is very fired up for tonight's college hoops options Mark. Heck, on of you lucky pals might get a drunk dial/papal election dial.

Mark said...

I'm playing basketball until 9 so you and Greg should plan accordingly.

rob said...

the uconn/notre dame game as ugly as the score indicates?

TJ said...

Oh Greivis!

rob said...

maryland's only home loss this year? awww, yeah.

rob said...

terps pissing away a hard-earned advantage in the last 2 minutes of the half

zoltan said...

The blind governor of New York didn't pay the Yankees for his World Series tickets and may therefore lose his job. There's a lot to think about here, but my first impression was ... why the hell does a blind man go to a baseball game? Wouldn't it make more sense to listen on the radio?

Mark said...

You'd be hard pressed to find two premier college guards whose offensive game is less aesthetically pleasing to me than Grievis Vazquez and Jon Scheyer.

TJ said...

Maryland might want to score a basket.

Mark said...

Maryland's gold unis are awful but the students wearing all gold and essentially forming a bouncing gold ring around the court is pretty cool.

TJ said...

Yep, like I said...make several shots in a row, some of the insane variety.

Mark said...

Zombie Nation, on the other hand is fucking terrible. How did this become the in-arena/stadium pump up music for the new millenium?

Mark said...

Why can't anyone on Maryland guard Nolan Smith?

TJ said...

Wow.

We gots a ballgame.

TJ said...

He's had a terrible game, and he's a horrendous douchbag...but he's got a sense of the moment, I'll give him that.

TJ said...

Ab-surd.

Mark said...

TJs thoughts on Grievis Vasquez were spot on. Definitely a douche, but a clutch douchecwhich earns him a few points.