The nation adored us when we came out of nowhere in 1999 to claim an Elite 8 birth in the NCAA Tournament. A tiny Jesuit college from Nowhere, USA shocked the world. A true David vs. Goliath story. It was so much fun to realize that on any given night we could pull the upset, and we did it over and over again. Because of our unprecedented success we are hardly considered a mid major anymore. We own the WCC Conf Title, it’s just a given. Dance? We’re on it year after year, after year.
Flash forward 13 years and things have changed, a lot. We take the things we accomplish for granted, and scream for more. Not satisfied with a record setting pace of consecutive conference titles, or 13 straight years dancing, we want a national title. Heck, we’d even settle for a return to the Elite 8, an accomplishment that has eluded us all of these years since. We grow restless.
How come we cannot get back to the Elite 8 or perhaps even further than we did in the magical 1999 season? We have better players, with more talent. The core of the coaching staff is still in place. We have better facilities. Is it the coach’s fault? Are the players we recruit selfish and not "buying in"? Are we failing in recruiting and development? Is this simply the best we can ever hope to do?
I am mixed about all of this. On one hand happy for all we have achieved, on the other frustrated that we seem to have faltered, rather, stagnated…. and then there is the fear that things might actually be falling apart. Especially, since cupcake eating St. Mary’s just destroyed us.
There is a lot of season yet to unfold and it is not impossible to continue our record setting string of successes. We could still win two of three vs. St. Mary’s, win the WCC conference Title and Tournament. But, no matter what we might possibly accomplish, this team will be looked at as a failure by many, if it does not reach the Elite 8 or beyond.