What once seemed so promising has rapidly unraveled, as a string of close losses spiraled into a pair of desultory efforts, leaving our William & Mary Tribe losers of six straight. The Tribe is coming off a 74-58 loss to Georgia State in a game they led by 13 late in the first half. Prior to that defeat, W&M fell at a Hofstra team that's without four key contributors who were arrested for a skein of burglaries. The Wrens sit at 7-9, 1-4 in the CAA in advance of this afternoon's home contest against similarly disappointing Drexel.
And that's all we really have to say about Tony Shaver's confounding collection. Today, in an effort to make ourselves feel better, we commiserate with other fanbases across the country that are sitting in their pajamas, drinking coffee and lamenting their teams' poor starts.
On December 22, Illinois State was 9-3, with wins over Dayton and Drexel. The Redbirds took Louisville to the wire in the Yum Center, falling by three. Considered sleepers in the tough Missouri Valley Conference, Illinois State entered conference play on a four-game winning streak. They haven't won since, falling to 0-6 in MVC play after a 74-62 loss at Wichita State on Wednesday.
Penn has a proud history as one of Philadelphia's Big 5. The Quakers have played in 25 NCAA Tournaments, and even reached a Final Four way in 1979. Penn alum Jerome Allen led the team to a second-place Ivy League finish last year in his second full season as head coach. But this year, after a failed drug test led to suspensions and controversy in the City of Brotherly Love, Penn stands at 3-13 after a narrow win over NJIT.
Even the bluest of bloods have struggled in 2012-13, giving those of us with different hues at least some succor. From my humble perspective, there's no NCAA program more entitled, more arrogant, and more hateable than North Carolina. While the Heels' 11-5 record is respectable, it counts as disappointing in Chapel Hill, especially when it includes losses to Virginia and Miami, and whispers of poor team chemistry. Anything that makes UNC supporters unhappy is okay by me.
Rick Barnes' Texas Longhorns beat UNC by 18, but they lost to Chaminade by 13 on the way to an 8-8 start. Myck Kabongo's charade of an NCAA suspension has been a huge distraction for Texas, and a big loss on the court. After a pair of overtime losses to start their Big 12 schedule, Texas just got buried by Iowa State. They play Kansas at home today. That won't end well.
As of this writing, Illinois is the 23rd-ranked team in the country. They won't be when the new rankings are announced. The Illini started the season ablaze, winning their first 12 games, and carding impressive victories over Butler and at Gonzaga. Since that heady peak, John Groce's team has gone 2-5, losing to Purdue by the same margin as did the Tribe, and getting hammered last week by Wisconsin and Northwestern. Illinois did thump #8 Ohio State during their skid, showing that they still have promise. The bloom's off the rose just a bit, however.
Closer to home, there may be no more disappointing and perplexing Division 1 squad this season than Old Dominion. In their farewell season in the CAA, the Monarchs are 2-15, 0-5 in conference play. They handed W&M its only league win, for Chrissakes. The perennial bully are suddenly getting sand kicked in their face by the likes of JMU and UNCW. Enjoy CUSA next year, ODU fans.
Lots of other teams are giving their fans the sadz, from Pittsburgh (2-3 after a 12-1 start), to UMES (0-13), to Utah (winless in the Pac-12 after a dreadful 2011-12 season), to most of the SEC (which outside of Florida, Missouri, and maybe Ole Miss, is a fairly terrible league), to 0-15 Grambling State. So you see, Futile Superfans, it could be worse.
We could have had our hopes dashed in March instead of January.