Friday, November 13, 2009

Will Vanderbilt Basketball Ever NOT Be the Underdog?

This was going to be a comment, but I decided to turn it into a full-fledged post.
I'm on record for taking issue with Gary Parrish's prediction that we'll finish 5th in the SEC East. I'd like to make one thing clear, I'm not saying the Commodores get no love. As 2010 points out to us, Doug Gottlieb has picked Vandy as his sleeper of the year. Obviously the coaches think we can finish 3rd based on their poll. There's a lot more writers and observers who are taking notice. I respect their points, because they're based on observations and are actually researched.

I would also respect the points of others, if they had any shred of foundation whatsoever. The problem is that those picks, simply put, are a result of laziness. Pundits oggle over Kentucky's talent, Florida's previous championships and wealth of recruits, Tennessee returning everyone from a tournament team, and South Carolina being co-champ of the SEC East last season, and then they throw us towards the bottom simply because they don't have anywhere else to put us. And it's the vast majority of pundits who do this, there are much fewer who are sticking their neck out to actually pick us, even though if you look at our group on paper, we've got all the tools and talent in place. If they actually had a good reason to toss us towards the bottom, like say A.J. injuries, or maybe all those sophomores just haven't come around yet, then I'd probably say "wow, that's a good point." But the reality is most pundits haven't given this team more than a passing glance. And the one's that have, well, they've seen something that they like.

It all comes down to elitism, which ironically is what WE are most often accused of. Most of these picks by the pundits are simply based on history. Tennessee and Florida have had a lot of recent success, and Kentucky has their rich basketball tradition. Naturally, they tend to pay more attention to those programs, they observe their rosters and recruits, and they seem "smart" when they "go out on a limb" and pick them. Vandy's history is skewed because one, we haven't won a national championship in anything other than Women's Bowling, and two, our football team has a really dismal past. Because of that, you can assume that we will be an underdog until we prove otherwise.

But the best part about being the underdog is that when you DO surprise people, the victories are extra sweet. When this season is all said and done, maybe we will have given enough proof to earn a little respect.


2 comments:

Anonymous said...

All that you say is true, but it's the last paragraph that I most enjoy agreeing with. Being an underdog has its advantages.

jim said...

dr stan
great post!!
o'shea's old man