Sunday, March 24, 2013
Why is the U Albany Men’s Basketball Team so smitten with itself after going to Philly and getting slapped by a pretty-forgettable Duke Blue Devils squad? I know the final score of 73-61 appears respectable, but let me tell you, it wasn’t that close. When Albany closed to single digits, Duke effortlessly retook control. Duke’s rotation worked the Great Danes. The outcome was never in doubt. But man oh man, our Albany boys act like they just went to triple overtime with Bill Walton’s Bruins. And that RUDY sentiment is supported by the coaches and the Capital Region Media. Read More:http://www.timesunion.com/local/article/Fans-hold-heads-high-in-defeat-of-UAlbany-4378239.php OR Read More:http://www.timesunion.com/sports/article/UAlbany-gives-Duke-a-run-before-falling-4376944.php
When does feeling good about just getting there end? Why shouldn’t U Albany make the Dance? All they had to do was win through the second-rate America East Conference. Every Great Dane player and coach with a microphone in his face after the loss talked about being proud of making it, holding their heads up, playing in a game they’ll never forget. What? Men, you earned the Philly trip on an automatic bid, got abused, then bussed it back to Albany. Now everyone involved will be able to tell their grandkids about the day they shared hardwood with the mighty Duke.
Here’s what I would’ve said after the game if I was a player or coach: First, I must congratulate the Duke Blue Devils for playing a complete game and earning a hard-fought victory. As for our team, we had one goal when coming here: Win the game. That goal was not achieved. There are no moral victories. This trip was an unsuccessful one because we lost. We must get better. Next season starts right now. That’s what I would’ve said. "But, Brian, these aren’t pro players, they’re kids, and kids have to constantly be told how great they are, because we don’t want anyone to feel sad, or bad, or mad about losing."
College basketball today is an apartment complex of talent. Anyone with a shred of game plays one year (maybe two) then jettisons to the NBA. Our Great Danes didn’t lock horns with Bobby Hurley or Grant Hill on Friday. I don’t know anyone on the current Duke squad. Do they have a single NBA player? Maybe. Duke isn’t gonna make the Final Four. No way. And why shouldn’t U Albany be able to play with this Duke team? U Albany has 20+ thousand enrolled students, top-drawer facilities, and a direct line to NYC and Boston talent. Plus, the academic requirements aren't exactly stringent. When does U Albany ever take the next step? I’m so tired of feeling good about making it to the tournament and getting TKO’d before the bus engine cools off. The school’s only qualified for the Dance three times in the Will Brown era, and are 0-3 in doing so. That would get a guy at Siena canned.
When the U Albany boys returned home from Philly, they were met with cheers for their “moral” victory, people telling them how good they should feel. I’m tired of this school that’s larger than many American cities willingly playing the part of David in every athletic venture. We’re as big as Florida State, and Auburn, and Michigan, right? I’m not saying U Albany was expected to win against Duke or should’ve won. What I’m saying is stop talking about how content you are with losing. I don’t remember Michael Spinks self-praising after going 90 seconds with Iron Mike.
To me this issue is bigger than 20 year olds drowning themselves in champagne for surviving the six-hour bus trip to Philly; it’s a societal thing. When did telling Little Billy he can’t kick a ball or shoot a jumper become so taboo? Then Little Billy enters the real world and is woefully unprepared to compete in a global market. The real world doesn’t care about Little Billy’s shaky self-confidence. If I stink at something, just say, “Brian, you need to get better or go elsewhere.” I’ll lick my wounds, come back stronger, and better, and tougher. That’s life. Who wants to live any other way? The only way to get better is to surround yourself with better people.
Am I being too harsh? Expecting too much? Why can't U Albany ever be a Cinderella? When I was in high school, Gonzaga was always the Bracket-Busting team, the dangerous 15 seed, every year. This year they were a #1 Seed. It can happen. You can move up in the world of NCAA Hoops. U Albany's been Division I for a while now. Let's go! Let's win something! Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe we should just celebrate 64th place.
Brian Huba: U Albany Class of 2003