You ain’t seen nothing yet – the men’s basketball season starts Friday.
Star Vedran Vukusic’s gone, as is his sidekick Mohamed Hachad. Everyone on the team, starting with red-shirt senior Tim Doyle and going down to the new freshmen, is moving into a new role. Even though the Big Ten is at its lowest point talent-wise in at least a few years, even though coach Bill Carmody put together an easier schedule than Evanston Township’s (more on this later), there isn’t much to smile about at Welsh-Ryan.
WNUR Sports’ Guy Benson wrote this ridiculously optimistic piece in September about why the ‘Cats could post a winning record this year after three straight years of falling one win below a .500 record. Even he acknowledges that his heart “continues to defy all logic” while writing his column.
Now to be perfectly honest, I can’t fault Benson. Because logically, more than half the teams in NCAA Division I-A could win 16-18 games playing the schedule we have this year. Allow me to list a few of the powerhouses we have on tap: Cornell, Brown, Tennessee Tech, Texas Pan-American and – my personal favorite – Div. III school Wheaton College. Wheaton College! When I first saw the schedule, someone had to tell me what Wheaton College was – I guess they’re some Christian school that goes by the moniker “Thunder.” (Don’t worry, I’m just saving the politically incorrect jokes for when we play them in December.)
I really have no expectations for this year’s Wildcats. We simply don’t have the talent to compete with other Big Ten teams this year. There are some promising freshmen on the team, but besides that, all I see right now is another season of Carmody’s excruciating, inefficient, and downright boring Princeton offense. I don’t see Doyle as more than a role player forced into a leadership position on the team. I don’t see Craig Moore and Vince Scott scoring enough to make up for former players like Mo and Bernie Cote. I don’t see myself agreeing with Carmody’s dual recruiting philosophies of signing third-tier Chicago area prospects and turning Welsh-Ryan into a Croatian embassy.
And I definitely don’t see any reason to predict anything other than a finish at or near the bottom of the conference. The joke of a schedule will ensure the team wins 8-10 games, which should save Carmody’s job for a little while longer. But that’s all the enthusiasm I can muster about this year’s team.
But hey – at least there’s always football next year.