That was a disappointing game. Despite a crazy stretch of three or four minutes where the ducks went 9-10 from the three point line and seemed to blow out the Beavers, they fought back and worked hard to make it a two point game before a few mistakes late cost them their shot. There were some mistakes in the game for sure, but there were defensive adjustments as the ducks went 2-12 the rest of the game from the 3 point line, and the Beavers scratched and clawed their way back from a horrid early deficit. In many ways it mirrored the football Civil War game in the fact that what started as a laugher, turned the Matt Knight Arena crowd into antsy worried and quite fans.
You could hear a pin drop at times in that game, except when I was yelling Go Beavs during their free throw shots. (like they were quiet for ours). The only times that place got really rocking was the first ten minutes and when they played Shout. The rest of the time it was a nervous crowd worrying that the ducks were going to blow an epic lead.
I also had the pleasure of sitting by some of the coaches Wives and seeing the coaches work with the players. What I heard was about an ego free coaching environment, a group of coaches that worked hard for the players and for the game and saw a bunch of coaches working with their players when they came off the court. Basically the opposite of what i was lead to believe was the case be reading message boards and listening to more ardent hoops fans. In talking to people around me, the coaches love being there, are hopeful and know that they have a tough job. They like working together and they try to get the most of who they have. The results have not been there, and ultimately that will decide the fate of the staff. But the people in the program love it and the players go to war for each other. We can be upset about losses, obviously, and there is a lot of work left to make this a tournament team, but in the conversations I had, the staff for hoops sounded a lot more like Mike Riley and his staff than I had been lead to believe.
So the lesson of this weekend is this:
Try and talk to people in the program if you can. Get a realistic idea of what is there and what they are doing. I write about what I see, but that is limited unless I go in and chat with people. My knowledge is limited unless I spend more time there. For a lot of fans, that is not an option, so people like the media and other fans like me need to do the same. If you are reading this for factual information and insight, then I need to make sure that I take every step to provide that. If you are reading it to count my typos or read funny jokes, then I need to make sure I stop spell checking and actually have amusing things to say. Regardless, I had a slight paradigm shift this weekend and it was much needed and appreciated.
Thank you to the hoops team for always fighting and always trying to win, even when the odds are not there. I can complain about individual things or why a charge on our end is a block on theirs, but ultimately, I cannot be anything but proud of the way you all fought and gave everything you had to win that game.
Good luck getting back on track this week! And as always, Go Beavs!