Basketball on Victory Parkway began a second ago and yet my emotions for this team, and this season, have already run the (somewhat) irrational fandom gamut. In all honesty, I feel like a fan at the end of February already - weathered, anxiety ridden, flustered, and emotional. I’m barely surviving, people.
I’ve attended 3 of our 4 total games so far, and I have been barraged with a whirlwind of feelings to sort through after each one. With our trip to Maui on the horizon and some tough tests looming, this is as good as time as any to get my thoughts out in the open. Let’s try and unpack, shall we?
*Before I continue, I need to make it clear that I am a firm believer in the idiom “don’t throw the baby out with the bath water”. In other words, I can be frustrated with our current shortcomings as a team and also know it’s entirely too early to hit the panic button.
First, I have been wildly frustrated and disappointed with our lack of discipline during games thus far. That being said, I am not ready to condemn Travis Steele, as he deserves a fair opportunity to adjust as a head coach and it might take longer than 4 games. I’m also not ready to look at any one guy on this team and place the blame solely on him. It’s collective, in my mind. The group as a whole needs to tighten up - be smarter in a variety of ways, including; being disciplined on the defensive side of the ball (taking pride on the defensive end, in general), being disciplined in our offensive sets (not being so quick with an ill-advised pull up jump shot), and being disciplined when we make mistakes (don’t foul a guy simply out of frustration), just to name a few. All of these things have to be fixed, and relatively quickly, if we want to be successful at all this year.
Second, we have to get back to being the tougher team in all situations. This is something I’ve always been proud that my favorite team has valued. That willingness to go the extra mile, putting your body on the line for the greater good; it’s a mindset and a mentality that I think Xavier Basketball has always excelled in. For whatever reason, I haven’t seen that as the case so far this year. You don’t see our guys diving on the floor for loose balls, and even more maddeningly, you don’t see our guys throwing a body on somebody to box-out and get a scrappy rebound. I am hoping with all the new faces and changes that have taken place in this off-season, that we still are headed in that direction, but we NEED to get there eventually. It’s a must for this team to compete as we have in the past. Luckily, I think we have the personnel to get there, and I’m going to give them the benefit of the doubt for the time being.
For my own sanity, I need to keep reminding myself that it’s only November. The season is young and if it’s anything like it has been in the past, we will be firing on (hopefully) all cylinders come March. Time to buckle up and enjoy the ride.