It’s really difficult to tell whether a team such as this one is progressing, and sometimes it’s difficult to agree on how one defines the concept of “progress.”
This team is a collection of players who are one or more of the following: long time role players being asked to do more, guys playing hurt at one time or another, and guys who are green (in the sense of experience as opposed to carbon footprint). Two steps forward and one step back, or (the less happy reverse of that), is just going to happen. And this happens in a relative world in which other teams, some of which might have fewer variables with which to contend, are “progressing” on more of a straight line progression. So slight progression looks an awful lot like regression in the relative world of competing against conference opponents.
Bob McKillop likes to withhold information about lots of things, but when he actually does talk about something, history indicates that he’s being truthful. When he describes the team (paraphrasing the WCU postgame comments) as “far away but not that far away,” he’s probably telling us that the team needs to be a whole lot better, but “getting there" is actually doable and requires execution of all the steps to make a play or a defensive stop successful, and not just most of them. Obviously, he thinks these guys are capable of the offensive and defensive assignments they’ve been given, and that they are not so physically/athletically/mentally overmatched that they have got to go to a zone or some other solution that people are talking about. If he in fact installs such a thing, it will be an objective commentary that I personally won’t be happy to hear. [I know reasonable minds are disagreeing about this.]
02 identified things that are improving; we’ve all seen the types of things that aren’t. It’s tough for us, and even tougher for the players and coaches, to know that this hasn’t “come together” yet, especially when we also know that, absent a collapse by Wofford, we’re nearing a point at which it might come together too late to avoid a play-in game. So anxiety gets added onto the mental and physical slip-ups that have been costing them games. Bob analogized to the home loss to WCU in ’06, which fanatics will recall to be the kind of gut check/crisis of confidence moment from which a team can pivot in either direction. The ’06 team righted the ship, though mixed in there were losses at Ga So and Wofford, and they trailed The Citadel by something like 17 points in the SoCon quarterfinals before blowing through that tournament and putting Ohio State to a severe test in Dayton.
Because I like it
Eddie on Cats.com: