Far beyond the boilerplate lessons that NCAA hoops offers us (teamwork, competition, resilience) there are some much more tangible things that we can learn from watching the game.
This season's lesson: Managing Expectations
the 2010-11 team was a delight because we really didn't think they'd achieve all that much. Sure, the season ended poorly (what season since 1986 hasn't), but the path toward that outcome was an amazing ride fueled by the unexpected offensive explosion of PK.
This year, returning so many players plus the infusion of a strong recruiting class our hopes were much higher. Much higher. So even if you set aside last night's bumbling, inexplicable performance you are left with the same sneaky sense that this team was oversold. CRP (who I tend to stand behind) himself gave the fanbase reason to expect great things with the tone of his preseason chatter.
But here it is - Watching this team I feel almost exactly as if I am watching last year's team only there's no Preston magically dropping in 3 balls from crazy angles with his oddball shooting mechanics. Defense is generally good, but our offense looks like it was dug out of fresh grave. It's hard to imagine what a difference those timely shots of Preston's meant to last season. We've got almost the same record for this point in the season (conf sked notwithstanding) but I have ZERO confidence that we're going to finish above .500 in league play. Most of this feeling stems from the sense that what I see on the floor cannot possibly live up to my preseason/early season expectations.
Maybe Pitino finds a magic bullet, but at this point I have reset my expectations to zero and will follow along accordingly. If only I had started that way I might be able to enjoy this season and not get too distressed over some early losses.