View Full Version : Sporting News: The Rough Road

12-10-2010, 09:55 PM

Rough road. Michigan State is struggling. Butler is struggling. Gonzaga is struggling.

What do all three of them have in common, beyond their struggles? Each is burdened by a schedule that could be described as unmanageable.

Michigan State has played: South Carolina, Connecticut, Washington, Duke and Syracuse.

Butler has played: Louisville, Duke, Xavier.

Gonzaga has played: San Diego State, Kansas State, Marquette, Illinois and Washington State.

All of which helped to explain why the Spartans, Bulldogs and Zags have lost a combined 11 games Ė almost as many as the entire AP top 25 combined.

Butler and Gonzaga accept so many difficult games because they donít get a lot of opportunity to build their cases for NCAA Tournament bids and seeds within their conferences. But when they get early injuries such as the one limiting Zags forward Elias Harris (foot) or the one that knocked out Butler guard Ronald Nored for a couple games (concussion), they are disproportionately affected.

Michigan State has played suicidal schedules for years, and it generally has worked out OK in the end.

The gentle truth to the scheduling debate, however, is that teams playing brutal non-conference schedules generally donít win the NCAA Tournament. Since 2003, the average non-league schedule strength for the champion is 128. Floridaís two champions had the 253rd- and 159th-strongest out-of-conference schedules. When Duke won it last year with the 35th-ranked schedule, it was the only champion in that stretch with one better than 82nd.

12-10-2010, 11:01 PM
Words from the wise...especially the last paragraph. We need what we had last year..with a year's more maturity. Tough OOC this year. Aside from the travel (which was worse a few years ago), these opponents are just breathtaking...for anyone.

Let's hope for some common sense in the years to come. I like the tough games..but 3 or 4 Should do it for experience. We'll see how the team does tomorrow. Lord knows, the rest of this month is brutal. Aside from losing games, I wonder how the kids are holding up.

12-11-2010, 08:14 AM
Completely agree. I have been a big fan of the tough OOC and the need for it. In fact, I think it is one of many big components that have built the program to what it is today. But this year was simply too much. Tough to be sure a year beforehand, or - two years before in the case of Illinois, but still foreseeable.

The lack of two warm up games and then a real tournament format, like Maui, hurt us. The one reasonable win we have was against MU, the day after they played Duke - putting them in essentially the same place we were. WSU, we play every year and we now know that they are a solid program and will be a quality game, every year.

I wish we could get more games with Pac-10 schools, decreasing travel, good MWC teams scare the crap out of me, especially tournament time - why not play one or two before the tournament. (hat tip to BYU - 2 good games a year, to add two with SMC), and maybe one or two games in the east, preferably home and home or nuetral sites.

Would Duke be undefeated against this schedule? Maybe, but not for sure, K-State almost lost to WSU, nevermind that they didn't play Illinois 4 days before. I would say that there are maybe 5 teams in the country that could be 7-1, maybe 2 that could be 8-0.

I am not making excuses for the actual PLAY of this team, they could be 4-4 and not as "down" as they are, they have not even been competitive. And, now - it is so bad that unless it gets turned around in a couple of games, this team is going to be labled "vulnerable" going into WCC - may work for us, being the underdog, may work very very bad for us in that every single WCC team believes they have a shot.

I think we will see us back off a little in the next year and year after - we did decrease travel after the Virginia year, now we need to do the same with competition, especially with BYU coming into the league.

I like the guys on our team, even though it drives me crazy that RS can't catch the ball - who doesn't like the guy? They deserve to have a little better shot at getting themselves together. I do not think that Coach Few would disagree at this point with anything I have said, but he cannot change the competition now, so, game on guys.

Lets play some good ball, give it your best.

12-11-2010, 08:29 AM
arent the schedules set three to five years in advance?

With four transfers that no one new would happen, on paper it looked like GU would be losing just one player (no i dont count foster). On paper three to five years before hand this schedule seemed doable Im guessing.

12-11-2010, 11:13 AM
I believe that a series, such as a home and home, are set two or three years in advance, such as Michigan State, Illlinois, and Notre Dame - most one time games, are scheduled in the summer. Coach Few has mentioned several times that scheduling has surpassed recruiting in terms of frustration. I know that there were a few games we knew we would play coming into the summer, such as Illinois, WSU, Memphis - but I do not know for sure which games were scheduled over the summer, I think more than half.

As for three to five years out, well we scheduled Michigan State for last year and next year - but I think you are thinking of football, which is an entirely different animal, THOSE games are scheduled 3-7 years out. And only the year before in the case of an emergency.

12-11-2010, 11:22 AM
All the eggs are in the conference tournament basket. The WCC is only sending one this year.

From this point forward, everything Few does should be pointed toward that time frame.

He has time to experiment now. RPI doesn't matter. Potential seeding doesn't matter. All that matters is making it to post season.

The conference games will take on added significance because they will determine seedings and byes in Las Vegas. But even the conference games pale in significance to the conference tournament. Zags just need to qualify, and be at their peak at the right time.

With respect to the OOC, all that matters now is getting players coached up, finding a dependable rotation, and devising schemes to maximize strength and minimize weakness.

The team can shed a little self imposed pressure in OOC and just work on getting better. In OOC, they are in "We got nothing to lose" mode. Probably what this particular team needs more than anything.

12-11-2010, 11:23 AM
There's a joke to be made about the headline of "Road Rough" and Spokane's potholes, but I had one too many cold ones last night to be able to do that right now. I'll give it a try once the aspirin kicks in.

EDIT TO ADD: I agree with, Mick. Wins and losses, RPI, and rankings are pointless. The important things to see over the next ten week are individual player development and improvement as a team. Gotta tight some loosen ends (like defensive rotation), improve conhension, develop a consistent rotation, determine proper individual roles, and, most importantly, gain some confidence. Hopefully this happens before Vegas.

12-11-2010, 12:14 PM
When games are won, everybody wants more big name teams to play and come to the kennel. When the losses pile up, all the sudden we need to schedule more cupcakes.

Better to lose and know what kind of team we have than to beat up on a weak schedule and then get let down in the tourney.

The schedule is fine. Bring on the tough games. You don't do yourself any favors by avoiding challenges. Typically learn more from a loss anyway. Unforunately the team isn't playing to its potential right now. Teams have overachieved in the past. Gotta take the good with the bad

12-11-2010, 12:35 PM
arent the schedules set three to five years in advance?

Nope. That tends to be the case more with college football. Although the Zags have some set in stone games next season, there are still empty slots on their schedule. Their 2012/13 sked has even more empty slots.

I am expecting to see GU back off the scheduling a bit when BYU comes into the league. That's 2 league games for GU vs. a team that is almost certain to make the NCAA tournament every season. However, because of all the games that are already set in stone next season (Arizona, WSU, Baylor, Notre Dame, Michigan State, Memphis, Xavier, Illinois), we won't see the GU schedulers ease off the gas pedal a bit until 2012/13. Don't get me wrong, the Zags are still going to have to play tough non-league skeds in the future, but because of BYU and the 16 game WCC schedule (which takes away 2 non-league games from GU), the skeds won't need to be this insane.

Although next season's non-league sked is going to be horrific, at least 5 of the 8 really tough games will be played in front of GU friendly crowds (4 of them at K2).

12-11-2010, 02:17 PM
Arizona, WSU, Baylor, Notre Dame, Michigan State, Memphis, Xavier, Illinois <---oops. Bigger oooops with all the new faces coming. Baptism by fire comes to mind.

Before that OOC is complete, my guess is that Spangler....if he's as advertised...will be working his freshman rear off. Big strong physical teams.