It’s a few days after the National Championship game of college basketball and the story of the contest was what was said afterward by the losing coach and possibly the missed calls by the refs. Whatever happened from the time the ball was tipped off and the whistle was blown to start the game until the buzzer sounded to end the game seems to have been condensed into a post game press conference and some referee complaints.
Don’t get me wrong, and trust me, I’ve got some things to say here, but I always think there’s more to a game than one thing. While I do believe that Kentucky did get screwed at times in their game against Wisconsin, they also did it to themselves and you have to battle back against adversity. In the heat of the moment, you have to take a step back and push back the emotion and look at it from a different perspective. The perspective is that there is always going to be adversity, whether you are battling the other team, battling yourself or seeming to battle the refs, there’s going to be a battle in every game. The coach has to step up and take the players to the side during a timeout and say “Hey, we’ve got to keep our heads, play our game and trust in ourselves. Keep it together.” You can’t always play the “us against them” card, sometimes you have to realize you have to pick your guys up and hold the team together as a coach. Looking at the Kentucky game, they couldn’t score baskets when they needed it, they got frustrated because of a call that was missed and the coach didn’t keep that youthful mentality in check. These are things have to be looked at.
When it comes to the National Championship game, honestly, I can’t stand Duke, so yes I wanted Wisconsin to win. Did I watch it? No. The reason I didn’t watch it is I had a feeling Duke would win. Just a feeling. It’s one of those things. I know they play in the same league as Virginia Tech who I like and there are Hokie fans who are saying how great it is that an ACC team won the National Championship, but not me. I can’t understand that. As a Tech fan, if Tech doesn’t win, I don’t care if it’s an ACC team or an SEC team, I want my team to win. Why should it be the ACC? To show that it’s a good conference? What is this nonsense about conference. This crap started in college football too. It’s getting really old. I’ve had enough.
As a coach or a fan you have to accept that refs are going to miss a call or two. In fact they are probably going to blow a call or two. There’s this whole thing that can be played back in your head, if you take a certain point where you think about a call that “might” have been missed, what do you think would have happened? Would it seriously have changed the outcome? We will never know. There’s a reason. The reason is that things happen and the best teams can roll with the punches and accept whatever happens and make the outcome for themselves. I’m not saying the best team always wins, just the team that’s better on that day in that game. This is how sports works. This is how it has always worked. Everyone now is pushing for replays and challenges and “getting the call” right. Unfortunately the more we throw all these things into sports the more we slow down the game and take away momentum and turn the games into boring replay fests. Are we going to get to the point that we challenge every call? Who determines what play is challenge-able? When you think about it, weren’t you happy playing the game in your backyard with your friends? Did you really have to argue about the calls?
You know, Bo Ryan complained about all the calls that Duke got and how that made all the difference for them. I saw a stat somewhere that I haven’t verified which stated that Duke had more fouls called for them than Wisconsin in the second half. Again as a coach you have to break yourself away from the emotion as tough as it is and learn from it, make the best of it and be the leader of your team. To be completely fair, it’s easy to sit here and second guess but I haven’t been coaching my whole life. I would think if you’ve been coaching your whole life you would understand you have to accept defeat not necessarily embrace it.
I don’t know, maybe it’s not as simple as these questions. Maybe there’s more to it than that. As fans we’re kind of spoiled because we’re not on the front lines and we’re not dealing with the press. But sometimes I ask myself, “what if the Hokey Pokey is what it’s all about?”