After UConn's loss to Michigan State in the Final Four last April, I tagged the reaction post with the question "what do we do now?" - the first thing any fan asks when a season comes to an end.
Here we are, asking the same question, probably seven weeks earlier than I thought we would.
UConn lost for the sixth time in eight games, 82-69, at Louisville Monday night. The loss drops the Huskies to 13-9, 3-6 in the Big East. UConn's offensive problems continued, as the Huskies fell behind by 14 at halftime by shooting 28 percent and turning the ball over eight times. The Huskies were better in the second half, pulling as close as seven, but the lack of shooters, silly turnovers and some questionable defensive efforts kept Louisville at a safe distance.
The pundits keep insisting that UConn is still alive for an NCAA Tournament bid, but they're gonna have to, you know, beat somebody. The Texas win was wonderful, but losses to Michigan and Providence undid whatever benefit came from that game. UConn has shown no ability to play on the road, no ability to close out games, and the team looks worse and worse with every passing game. Add it all up and 13-9 is not likely to turn into 20-11.
At this point, it may be time to put those NCAA Tournament hopes to bed and to start considering the future.
Jerome Dyson, Stanley Robinson and Gavin Edwards are who they are. Kemba Walker continues to force the issue and play out of control. The freshmen - save possibly Ater Majok and, for a couple brief moments, Alex Oriakhi - appear to be unable to play at this level right now.
The 2006-07 team was 15-7 at this point (against an easier schedule, albeit). In their 22nd game, they beat Rutgers at home in overtime in one of the worst wins I can remember during my four years on campus. That team finished the year losing seven of nine games. It was a terrible team.
This team is 13-9 with regular season games remaining against the first, second and third-place teams in the league, as well as two teams they've already lost to (Louisville, Cincinnati) and two tricky end-of-season road games (Notre Dame, USF). There is a possibility UConn only wins two or three more games to finish the regular season with 15 or 16 wins. At this moment, I consider it a greater possibility than UConn suddenly going on a run and winning 7 of 9 to get back in the NCAA Tournament hunt.
But the difference is obvious between 2006-07 and now. That team had eight freshmen and five sophomores. They looked awful, but showed enough flashes that we knew they'd get better. And they had two more years together to grow into a Final Four team.
This team has three seniors who play starters' minutes, a couple promising underclassmen, and a load of non-contributors. The corps of this team (minus Kemba) is gone next year, to be replaced by another crop of freshmen who may or may not be as good as Jim Calhoun says they are.
I asked the question at the beginning - where does UConn go from here? Right now, I don't have a very optimistic answer, because UConn appears to be headed for the worst season since about 1993, with a lot of bad omens on the horizon.
In a related story, the SBNation Curse appears to be alive and well. UConn is now 2-6 since we sold our souls to our new corporate masters. If the women lose a game (or win by only single digits), then we'll know it's for real. I mean, Bill Friggin' Pullman couldn't break it. What good can us mere mortals do?