by Craig Yamada
Perhaps I am going off a bit off the deep end, but I woke up with a mild case of emptiness and depression this morning. Not since getting dumped by my first girlfriend have I felt this way. Being this close and passionate for a team can sometimes be a dangerous commitment. For those of you nearing the end of your ropes, let’s look into the seven stages of depression which I just found online and apply to our current situation:
- STAGE 1: SHOCK AND DENIAL – Perhaps the initial denial felt during the three game skid that began in early January was more telling than most of us were willing to admit. I was one who did not think we were in any danger of losing out on post-season play given the talent on this team and seeing this team’s historical response to adversity. In essence, we were all just waiting for this team to show its true colors. Perhaps the pre-season hype the media (ourselves included) put into this team was blinding us from seeing what this team really is, simply ordinary. Pac-10 Champions and a chance to move beyond the Sweet 16? What seemed to be attainable goals at the outset of the season seem to be so impossible at the current time. For some reason, Joe Lunardi is still facing the same denial, as we are currently a #9 seed in his latest bracketology.
- STAGE 2: PAIN – One would just need to watch our play against WSU last night to truly feel pain. It was a tough pill to swallow to not just lose on our own home floor where we were 14-0 this season, but the manner in which we lost. Shooting 34% from the field and 63% from the stripe at this time in the season is just horrid. There was no hunger. No sense of urgency. No heart. No senior leadership. Loose ball efforts, hussle plays and concentration were all missing last night. It was the worst performance I have seen in the modern Romar era and I am sure most would agree. The chants of “Let’s go Cougars” were like nails on a chalkboard. Fighting the urge to tell the obnoxious 12 year old WSU fan infront of me that his future lied in a fast foot chain proved to be difficult. I just went on living my life taking solace in knowing that his future WSU degree is just one degree above one achieved at Devry. Yes, I am reduced to low blows to help me cope. It is a sad day.
- STAGE 3: ANGER – Frustration gives way to anger and you may be seeking a target to unleash your feelings toward. Enter Lorenzo Romar. I have read several posts on other boards calling for Romar to be fired. Just an example of anger at its finest during a temper tantrum that goes off everytime we lose. This remains to be a bit extreme considering the job he has done to bring our program out of the ashes. Let’s not forget about the team we were when Bender was here. Back in 2003, we were already thinking about when Football season started before the Basketball season even began. All being said, the anger with his coaching style this season is definitely warranted. Romar has been outcoached this season on multiple occasions. Coach Bone has simply owned Romar this season. We can’t put all the blame on Coach Romar as he can’t go out there and execute on the floor. But the preparation has been lacking for several games this season. Romar has yet to solve how to break a zone with the personnel he has available. WSU has provided the blue print to beat UW and one would just have to check game tapes in order to beat us. Finding a way to execute against half court zone sets will determine the rest of the season for this team.
- STAGE 4: DEPRESSION – Just when your friends may think you should be getting on with your life, a long period of sad reflection will likely overtake you. Encouragement from others is no help to you. Well, I think it’s safe to say most of us are occupying this state given recent events. We are preparing ourselves for deep dissappointment of an NIT invitation. Ken Pom and some of the national pundits are still thinking we have reason to believe. Fox Sports still thinks we are one of the 10 teams that could cut down the nets this year given the talent we have. Unfortunately, talent alone can only carry us so far. The light at the end of the tunnel is fading fast unless UW can string together two wins this week and we can make a solid showing at the Pac-10 tourney.
- STAGE 5: THE UPWARD TURN – As you start to adjust to life without your dear one, your life becomes a little calmer and more organized. Suffice to say, none of us will feel any upward turn unless we make the NCAA. That is the only thing that could salvage our year. This season has been nothing short of a dissappointment this year thus far. Some say that winning the next two games will earn us an at large bid. I for one will not feel safe until we hit the magic 23 win mark. We have our work cut out for ourselves. Romar needs to take a serious look in the mirror and assess what got us that four game winning streak to start the Pac-10 season. Injuries cannot be used as an excuse as we saw this team perform well without Gaddy in the lineup. The seniors on this team really need to step up. Venoy, Holla, and MBA – You have two home games left in your collegiate careers. How do you want to finish? This team will only goes as far as you believe it will. And Mr. Thomas, you just need to keep doing what your doing on the court. But you are the true captain of this team now. Brockman and Q-pon are long gone. Romar needs his general to not only lead by example, but lead with your voice. Get your troops ready for battle. Get pissed off. Get in the face of your teammates. Demand excellence.
- STAGE 6: RECONSTRUCTION – Romar, this is exactly where you need to be. A change needs to be made. You said our team would get back to fundamentals and that meant starting with defense. Please fix your teams defensive lapses as they are getting back door cut and beat off the dribble too often. You get Scotty Suggs back this week. A veteran. With him healthy, please find a starting lineup that works and keep it. At this particular juncture, this team can’t toy with different rotations as we should have a solidified lineup going into the Pac 10 tourney. Breaking the zone defense needs to be addressed for atleast 40% of your practices this week. UCLA is likely to play man most of the game, but if Howland is smart, he will mix in zone to get you off track. The answer is simple: Go middle. We all know it. You know it. Make your players execute it. Holiday, Wilcox, Gant or Ross can do the job if you just feed them the ball in the high post. They are all capable of knocking down a short range jumper. And if it’s not open, your wings will be open once the defense collapses.
- STAGE 7: ACCEPTANCE – I for one refuse to accept this effort from UW. And the rest of you should too. The players and coaches know what this team is capable of. So do we. We have seen it in small flashes this season, but we just haven’t seen it consistently. For me, it’s still too soon to accept this team as “just not that good”, but then again maybe I am still stuck in denial.
Here’s hoping the rest of you are coping in your own productive ways. I just hope this article is irrelevant in two weeks. Go Dawgs.