For those of you who can't or don't listen to the AnonyPod (not that I blame you if you don't), one of the topics we addressed in the wrap-up edition was how to judge the relative success of the 2010-'11 season. Warrior Brad and Mr. Kensington both believe that this was Marquette's best year since 2003. I think this year was the worst we've had in the last six.
And now we want to know what you think. Below are the two positions (and if there's a third, go ahead and lemme know about that in the comments). Vote in the poll and let us know which one of us is crazy.
Because I didn't want to strawman Warrior Brad's argument, I asked him to briefly articulate his position. Here's what he had to say:
Except for college football and EPL soccer, teams are judged almost solely on their postseason success. Fans and media want to see a great performance on the sport's biggest stage and the NCAA Tournament is college basketball's biggest stage. Marquette had their best performance on the sport's biggest stage since the glorious 2003 Final Four run. That makes this season the best year since 2003. The regular season mediocrity is largely forgotten because of two wins in the tournament.
You can debate if that's fair or not, but that's not the argument here (or maybe it is????). Furthermore, it's not like Marquette has been killing it in the regular season. There's hasn't been a sniff at the conference crown. Sure, 2009 was fun, but that was largely built off a soft early BE schedule and then crashed into the side of the mountain with Nic's injury. Don't forget about getting clowned at Pitt and losing at home on Senior Night to a just-okay Syracuse team. When a sport's measure of success is determined inordinately on postseason success, and college basketball fits firmly into that category, and the team in question hasn't had a lot of regular season success, it's elementary to arrive at the conclusion that 2011 was the program's most successful year since 2003.
As you know if you listened to the podcast, I'm on the other side of this debate. I think this year was one of our worst since 2003, and here are a couple of my problems with Brad's position:
To assess the relative merits of the season based on a two- or three-game sample size and to relegate the rest of the year to the backburner seems, for lack of a better term, kind of silly. In terms of this season, anyway, you're throwing out the baby and the bathwater and all the bathtime accoutrement in favor of (a) a game against an overrated, one-man gang (b) a game against a conference foe that was missing its most important player in crunch time. That makes this year the best of the last eight? Really?
Moreover: if you think that a two-game run in the Tourney qualifies the season as a success, does the failure to get out of the first weekend cement the season as a failure? I don't think you can have one without the other; if you're going to overvalue March wins in the first instance, you have to overvalue March losses in the second. Taken to its extreme, this would lead you to make arguments like this one. And you don't want to do that, because then this happens.
For me, anyway, you have to consider the whole body of work when you're talking about the best seasons. Was 2003 great because of the Final Four run? You bet. But it was even better because of the excellent regular season -- wins over Wisconsin and Wake Forest in the non-con, a regular-season conference championship, winning on Senior Day against the brutes from Cincinnati, et cetera. This year, we failed to reach 10 Big East wins for the first time since we joined the conference -- and this happened in a down year, when Pitt was the only opponent that you said: "We've got no prayer against these guys." This season had some nice moments, but on the whole, it wasn't a great success.
Wins in March are nice because they leave a good taste in your mouth going into next season. But they can't completely redeem what was the worst overall year in the last six for YOUR Marquette Golden Eagles.
What say you?