One year ago, Solomon Hill had 16 points, 6 rebounds and an assist. Nick Johnson scored 18 points. In a combined 22 minutes, Jordin Mayes and Angelo Chol filled the stat sheet to the tune of zero points, one rebound, and two assists. And the team? They lost to D-II Seattle Pacific, 69-68.
What a difference a year makes. Or does it?
Those Wildcats were the preseason #16 team in the nation, boasting the fourth best recruiting class in the country, and expectations were high. Sky diving high and then the parachute just never released, the ‘Cats didn’t dance and the roster got another revamp; three more premature departures and three seniors were replaced by five highly touted newcomers.
And with the new came…expectations. These Wildcats are ranked twelfth in the pre-anything-played rankings and boast the third best crop of pups in the nation. If last year’s expectations were sky diving high, this year the expectations are Felix Baumgartner high. People are tossing around phrases like “top-10” and “anything but elite eight is a disappointment” as well as mentioning winning some Monday night game in early April.
People think the Wildcats are going to be good. I think the Wildcats are going to be good. People thought New Coke was going to be good. I thought Terminator Salvation was going to be good.
The hype isn’t doing it for me anymore. I’ve seen the team play now; streamed it one gorgeous Sunday afternoon from my brother’s couch and I saw that the freshman class indeed does not consist of Duncan, Howard, and Bosh. They’re just Jerrett, Tarczewski, and Ashley.
But that’s not bad.
Because tonight’s their first taste; our first taste. They’ll enter McKale to more traditional fanfare than a Red-Blue hype game. There won’t be pyrotechnics or the 1988 team and their harem of NBA championship rings. And don’t get me wrong here. It is McKale so it’ll be one of the best atmosphere’s in the country but the true beauty of tonight is that it all starts to become real. You no longer have to like both teams.
Tonight is the trailer to a season full of hope and excitement and all things that make up a Spring narrative. We’ve spent a summer conjecturing, debating, and sweating the smallest of news. Soon enough we’ll be engulfed in the reality of all we tried to prognosticate.
This year, the Seattle Pacific University Falcons are the tenth ranked D-II team in the nation. They return four contributors and undoubtedly are feeling lofty expectations. I expect them to have a very respectable season. We’ve already discussed where the Wildcats stand a year later.
And the four that lost to SPU – indeed the Arizona returners who lost an exhibition game – find themselves in a similar situation to one year ago against Humboldt State.
My lone expectation? That they play the game.