It's been a quiet week for me, but I wanted to write a couple of words about two Northeast Conference teams before conference play starts up again tonight. Here I'll briefly talk about a team that couldn't contain a "juggernaut" St. Francis offense or a team that can't shoot the basketball with any sustained consistency.
This week, the Sacred Heart Pioneers and Quinnipiac Bobcats find themselves in a potentially precarious position heading into their arduous western Pennsylvania road trip - get swept by Robert Morris and St. Francis (PA) and be four or five games out of first place in the NEC, after only six conference games. It's a position that Dave Bike or Tom Moore couldn't have ever anticipated before the season began.
Usually, I'm never one to panic. I didn't panic when the 2007 New York Giants were a bad half of football away from dropping to 0-3 on the young season (they went on to improbably capture the Super Bowl later that year, I guess Tom Coughlin didn't lose his team after all). Nor did I panic when I was a hopelessly single 27 year old by signing up for every online dating site out there. Ok maybe I was a little panicked then.
This time around however, the fans of the Sacred Heart Pioneers (7-10, 1-3 NEC) and Quinnipiac Bobcats (8-7, 1-3 NEC) may have reason to panic should either team conclude their road trip with a 1-5 record in the NEC. Yes, less than one quarter of the season will have been played up to that point, but it may be time to worry for a couple of reasons:
- The schedule doesn't get much easier for both teams. Sure, SHU and Quinnipiac have yet to play Bryant, Monmouth, FDU, and Mount St. Mary's, however due to the unbalanced schedule, both teams only receive a total of five matchups with the four cellar dwellers. And given their inconsistency, no one can assume that means a 5-0 record. 4-1 or 3-2 is more like it, especially when a team like Monmouth gave mid-major powers Wagner and Harvard a run for their money recently.
- Even if they rebound from a 1-5 mark, the most realistic of comebacks would probably result in a six through eight seed at season's end. A first round NEC tournament date at Robert Morris, Wagner, or LIU? I doubt that's a blueprint for automatic bid success.
- This blog needs a semi-successful SHU season to carry it! As a non-sports writer who started a blog and Twitter page from scratch two months ago, I need my readers to be interested. Who will care if the Pioneers are 4-8 midway through the conference season? How can I continue to build my Twitter follower base of 28 people - and I'm not including the 2 followers that want me to have sex with them or rent a limo - if SHU can't even qualify for the NEC Tourney?
In closing, I'm not asking SHU and Quinnipiac to sweep Robert Morris or St. Francis. Just split the series and manage not to blow another lead late in a game. Show the ability to compete late. Because if neither team accomplishes this goal, it will be an interesting January 19th battle at the Pitt between these two struggling squads. There, one team will fall to 1-6 and have their season essentially end before I have a chance to watch the Super Bowl.
And that's no way to keep your small fanbase engaged in NEC basketball.