Hi all – forgive me but I’m posting the game thread the night before this time around … Not sure when I’d have time to post a game thread tomorrow (Saturday) morning, plus Premier BJD has expressed reservations about opening game threads – so I figured I’d go ahead and get this one up 🙂 . I could have used the ‘publish timer’, but who am I to deny those who are hype about State playing BC and want to post thoughts tonight? Onward Red Army!
Not sure about you, but I’m still a bit hungover with my head still in the clouds after Tuesday night. As fans, we can afford that luxury – the team, not so much. Thankfully, Coach Gottfried and the players have expressed that they know what’s at stake with the BC game. This is a business trip. While recent ‘next game’ results are decidedly not in the Pack’s favor after beating either Duke or the Cheats (they’re so bad I won’t state them here), there are some other factors that do weigh positively in our players’ favor.
One of those factors is that this team has already experienced what can happen after beating a top ranked foe, namely Duke, earlier this season. Several State players expressed that exact sentiment after the win over the Cheats on Tuesday night. They know the kind of focus and composure that is necessary in order to hopefully avoid a ‘letdown’ performance. They also know that Tuesday night’s win is now firmly in the past, and a new challenge awaits. It’s one of those ‘thin line’ differences between consistent championship level Top 15 teams and those programs and teams that only catch lightning in a bottle now and then. State has always had the talent to win this season – some of it new and raw – but winning talent nonetheless. A number of State’s losses have been greatly aided by the mental/psychological side of the equation, leading to seeming inconsistency. That’s hopefully in the past for this season.
Another factor playing in State’s favor as they move forward is that this team is this team … it’s not the team from a decade ago, or even last season’s team. As they proved on Tuesday night, past results and trends are not necessarily indicative of current or future results. It’s like a new spin of the roulette wheel, just because you’ve hit black or green 11 straight times doesn’t mean you won’t hit red on the 12th spin. Most Pack players had no idea about any ‘losing streak’ in the Cheat Dome – they just went out and won. What this team’s players know is that they had a collective letdown after defeating Duke, and they know now to be focused from here out. To hell with any past results of other teams – those are completely irrelevant to this team.
All that said, even with great focus at 12 pm Saturday there are other challenges this game presents. One is that the Conte Forum is likely to be a near dead arena. It doesn’t matter who you are, it can be tough to generate energy for a noon start in a moribund setting. Thankfully, this is just as likely to potentially impact BC as it is the Pack.
The other challenge is the BC team itself. It’s been a tough season for the Eagles under first year coach Jim Christian. They’ve won only one league game to this point, and are on a prolonged losing skid. Still, they’ve been competitive in a number of their games and they do own a nice early season win over a solid Providence squad. Olivier Hanlan has been tearing it up in league play, and scored 39 in BC’s last contest – a 71-65 loss at Pitt.
Bottom line: Challenges aside, as in almost all games this team will play – if State can come out and play poised and determined they stand a very good chance of winning.