Hello Pick Axe readers. I’ve been gone a couple of weeks with Bronchitis, and apparently the 49ers have been playing like I feel. We are 1-5 after a 17-5 start for an 18-10 record that is 6-8 in the conference, and in danger of missing the A-10 Tournament. Do we have to worry about qualifying for a CONFERENCE Tournament every year at this school? Geez.
I’ve read the message boards and fans are panicking. This is our best year in three years, and it’s starting to turn out like the end of that one that ended the Lutz era. We finished 19-12 in 2010 after an 18-5 start. We finished on a 1-7 tailspin that included a loss at home in the first round of the A-10 Tourney on a 6-man penalty. Everyone’s drinking the panic Kool-Aid. Let’s give up on the season. Put a fork in us. We’re done.
Well, hold on. Let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater just yet. We still have two very winnable games left. We can still finish 8-8, 20-10, and that would get us in the A-10 Tourney because GW and Dayton, both of whom are 6-8 like us and have tie-breakers have to play each other on Saturday, so if we win both, we are guaranteed in the Conference Tournament in Brooklyn at the Barclays Center. If we go 1-1, in the final two, well, it will be almost impossible to go to Brooklyn. Let’s look at the first game, Duquesne in Pittsburgh, tomorrow night.
Duquesne is 1-13 in the league, so on paper they should be easy. That being said, we don’t play to our potential on the road, and Duquesne did upset Temple at Temple, a team that is 2-0 against us, blowing us out at home on Feb. 24. Sick with bronchitis wasn’t enough, we have to be humiliated on my birthday. However, Duquesne has done bad in the conference, with several losses worse than ours. And we have beaten some of the top cream of the conference in Butler, LaSalle, and UMass. And we didn’t lose to lowly Fordham. So while I’m not saying it’s easy in Pittsburgh vs. Duquesne, I’m not hitting the panic button like some of our masochistic fans.
On a side note, their name is the Duquesne Dukes? And we just played the St. Bonaventure Bonnies? WTH? Do people in the A-10 name their kids Mike Michaels and Jim James? Double names are so annoying.
The leading scorers for the Dukes are Derrick Colter at 13.1 ppg and Sean Johnson at 11.3. The leading blocker is Andre Marhold at 1.8 bpg, but also little used players Martins Abele is averaging 0.8 bpg and Derrick Martin at 0.7 bpg. Derrick Colter lights up the assists at 5.1 apg. He also gets 0.8 spg, while Jerry Jones gets 1.0 spg. But look out for little used Derrick Martin. He’s not only a block threat while hardly playing, but he also gets 0.5 spg in limited minutes. So when Derrick does come in watch out for swats and steals rampages.
We’ve long gone past NCAA Tournament talk. We’re now trying to preserve a NIT bid. I think if we go 8-8, 20-10 and get to the conference tourney we should be in. Go 7-9, 19-11, and miss the conference tourney, and we are in danger, especially with our 54 RPI having dropped to 81. If we go 6-8, 18-12, I say kiss the NIT goodbye. Hopefully we can make it happen to cure our February Sadness.
I don’t see this game even being about Duquesne. We are a better team. We started 9-0 & 17-5. We beat Butler, Davidson, LaSalle, UMass, won across the continent three games in Alaska in the dead of the night. It’s about can we get back to our defense? Can we get our confidence back? Well these guys may be young and short-handed, but they don’t know to give up. They’re too young to have been here for our collapse three years ago. I believed Alan Major when he said we could go Hoosiers on Butler and we did. I’m going to go on a limb and say he gets our youngsters ready to go 2-0 this week by beating Duquesne on the road & St. Joe’s at home.
How many wins do you fans think we can get? Are you going to give up and stay with our 18? Do you think we win the last two to get 20? Earlier in the season when we were doing well I thought we could get to 23 W’s. If we win our last two, that gets us to 20. Win 1-2 in Brooklyn and 1-2 in the NIT, and we can still get to 23.