|Monday, March 25, 2013, 11:59 AM- -|
I have heard from several readers of this blog, listeners from my radio show or friends calling and texting in the past 48 hours on the subject of the latest Cinderella teams in this year's NCAA tournament.
Several have asked, "If Florida Gulf Coast can have this kind of program, why can't Clemson?" Or they may say, "How can LaSalle recruit players good enough to do what they have done in the NCAA tournament and we can't?"
The last thing I want to do is take away from the accomplishments of Florida Gulf Coast or LaSalle but we must also remember that these are two teams that got hot at the right time.
We have to remember that neither Florida Gulf Coast or LaSalle won their regular season title this year. Florida Gulf Coast went 12-5 in the Atlantic Sun with losses to Stetson, Mercer and Lipscomb. LaSalle went 11-5 in the difficult Atlantic 10 this season.
I don't want our program to be a one-hit wonder. We have been that before. Stability and identity is more important than catching lightening in a bottle.
We have seen one-hit wonders. We saw 14th-seeded Cleveland State make it to the Sweet 16 in 1986. How have they been since? Anyone want to be be on par with their program?
Remember Chattanooga making the Sweet 16 in 1997 as a 14th seed?
There are plenty of examples of 13 seeds shocking the world in two games. Richmond did it in 1998. How have the Spiders faired since?
Valparaiso captured our hearts in 1998 and have had some decent teams since but I want to be more than Valpo.
We have seen Bradley reach the Sweet 16 in 2006 and Ohio last season but I don't want to trade places with the Braves or Bobcats.
If we are honest, we can admit that Clemson has been that kind of program in the past. We have seen a Sweet 16 season followed up with little sustained success.
We have been Cleveland State, UTC, Richmond, Valpo, Bradley and Ohio. I want to be more than a flash in the pan.
So I suggest we change our questions today. We should be focusing on ascending up the standings in the Atlantic Coast Conference. That task is about to become more difficult with the addition of Syracuse, Pittsburgh, Louisville and Notre Dame.
We need to figure out how we can compete with those new powers who join North Carolina, Duke, NC State and the rest of the powers in the ACC. We need to figure out how to do what FSU did last year and Miami did this year in winning the ACC tournament.
We have had short-term success when Rick Barnes and Oliver Purnell made some noise within the conference but sustaining it has become difficult. Can FSU? Can Miami?
The marching orders of our basketball program should be consistency. We need to try to build a program and not a team. That task has proven to be one of the most difficult in the athletic department over the last 60 years.
I get the feeling Dan Radokovich wants a new arena and maybe that will be the catalyst to more consistency. We have tried a lot of other things, maybe this is what is needed. I am not sure that is the answer but at least it is an attempt to make basketball more of a priority.
I love March Madness and excitement that Cinderellas like Florida Gulf Coast and LaSalle have brought to the sports world in the past four days. But I hope we don't use these teams as our barometer. Great temporary stories? Yes. Our goal? No.
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