A story of hope: Proceeding after a No
Myron Medcalf, ESPN
- Personnel WriterNov 1, 2023, 09:30 AM ET Close Covers college basketball Joined ESPN.com in 2011
- Graduate of Minnesota State University, Mankato
FROM HIS SEAT in the second row on the left side of Purdue’s coach bus, Matt Painter sat alone on a peaceful, 275-mile drive back to West Lafayette, Indiana.The early morning after
the No. 1 seed’s NCAA title dreams ended in a stunning, 63-58 first-round loss to 16-seed Fairleigh Dickinson at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio, Painter’s team was going home. They had just become the second No. 1 seed in NCAA competition history to lose to a 16-seed.
Frustrated and shocked, Painter grabbed a piece of paper and jotted down everything that had actually failed that night. For more than four hours, he listed the particular obstacles every player, assistant and staffer on his group would have to overcome to prevent the same fate the next season.And then it was his turn to blog about himself.”How in the hell can you let your
group get beat and not have the ability to score 60 points?” he scribbled.It was a sobering admission for Painter, who has never ever led Purdue to the Last Four. He had couple of responses.” Often, you address your concerns with other questions, which is bewildering,”he informed ESPN.”You walk away like The Riddler. And after that you question, ‘Why am I coaching?’Like,’ Why am I doing this to myself? ‘”Every year, the NCAA competition highlights heroes and discards dissatisfactions. The single removal format develops a crazy, three-week sporting event that mesmerizes the country in March and early April. It also suggests the success of a powerhouse program can be eliminated in just 40 minutes. For the teams that get in the NCAA tournament with title goals and go home after a major upset, the effect of that loss can linger.Editor’s Picks 2 Related Painter is not alone, though. A few of his training associates could sit around a campfire and tell comparable stories. The bright side for Painter?
Most of them moved forward after sustaining
those difficult losses and put those games behind them. Eventually.With the return of Zach Edey, last year’s Wood Award winner, and a strong supporting cast, the Boilermakers can compete for a national title when again in 2023-24. Painter also understands, nevertheless, this group can’t reach that objective until it deals with what took place in March.”The pressure you face when you are a No. 1 seed, that might be the greatest pressure you face, with that very first game,”said Scott Drew, whose Baylor squad was a top seed when it lost to 8-seed North Carolina in the 2nd round of the 2022 NCAA competition a year
after the Bears had won the national title. “Due to the fact that you don’t wish to be a No. 1 that loses that first game. So I understand what Coach Painter was feeling there. We lost the second game however still, at the end of the day, anything is possible.” BEFORE HIS group could begin the 2018-19 season, Tony Bennett positioned chairs on the practice court and
asked his returning players to sit down.According to oddsmakers, front runner Virginia had been a 20.5-point favorite to beat 16-seed UMBC in the first round of the 2018
NCAA competition. The Cavaliers had actually lost simply one game over the previous 3 months when they fulfilled the Retrievers in Charlotte, North Carolina. And after that history took place, and UMBC beat Virginia, 74-54, to end up being the first 16-seed to beat a 1-seed in the opening round.Sitting in those chairs months later on, Bennett encouraged each returning Virginia player to share the lessons they ‘d gained from that experience.
For the team that consequently won the 2019 championship game, it was a chance to purge the past.”For all those who belonged to that group that had gone through our UMBC loss, when it was their time to be in the chair, it was,’ All right, tell us, in your own words
, in your own experiences … What did you learn from the hardship of being the first string to lose as a 1-seed to a 16-seed? ‘”Bennett stated.”So each guy needed to say, ‘This is what it taught me, this is what I found out, this is the experience I went through.’That became part of the process. … We owned what had actually taken place. We didn’t consume about it.” Bennett is the only coach who truly understands the sting Painter felt eight months ago. He also knows what’s possible once a team overcomes that discomfort. However that progress required time, he said.He states he listened to TED Talks on difficulty in the weeks that followed the UMBC loss. And he tried to prepare for the following season without preventing the concerns, doubts and criticisms that came after that game.
Challenging the finish helped Virginia, which won 35 games the next season and secured another 1-seed. Then Gardner-Webb, a 16-seed, took a 36-30 lead into halftime in the opening round of their first round matchup in the 2019 NCAA competition, and whatever Bennett believed he ‘d absorbed began to haunt him once again.”You get to the tournament and
you know you’re going to have to address that and go through it,”Bennett stated.”We were down 14 in the very first half against Gardner-Webb. That was like,’I thought we handled all of this.
Why is this happening once again?'” Virginia recovered, however, won the game and advanced.The coaches who’ve conquered those upset losses, however, all understand it can take place once again. Kansas +1100 Purdue +1200 Duke +1200
Michigan State +1200
In 2010, Expense Self’s 33-win Kansas squad had secured a 1-seed after going into the NCAA tournament with simply 2 losses. The Jayhawks had actually nearly captured Northern Iowa late in the 2nd half of a 63-62 game when Ali Farokhmanesh hit a crucial 3-pointer to seal the second-round upset for the 9-seed Panthers.
“I have not viewed [the tape],” Self informed ESPN. “They were a 9-seed, I believe. It sat with me for a year.”
For existing Houston and former Oklahoma coach Kelvin Sampson, one NCAA tournament loss in 2001 made him question why the basketball gods appeared to switch on him. The Sooners, who had suffered 4 successive first-round exits in Sampson’s very first four seasons, were a 4-seed when they suffered a 70-68 overtime loss to 13-seed Indiana State in the preliminary that year. On an unusual play, Oklahoma star Hollis Price accidentally struck Indiana State’s Kelyn Block with an elbow that knocked out 3 of the Sycamores star’s teeth. Price cut his tricep on the play and needed medical attention, so he needed to leave the game. He returned, however with a greatly bandaged elbow. To Sampson, it was an example of the chaos that can unfold in the NCAA tournament and cost a good team a chance to advance.
“Hollis Price, he gets a tooth bite,” stated Sampson, still incredulous about the whole thing. “It was s– like that.”
Every coach knows the NCAA tournament is a measuring stick that can make or break their professions. One upset loss might not put a tested coach in a bad area, however it can add pressure and prompt concerns about a program’s potential.Jamie Dixon, whose Panthers were top-five seeds in seven of his very first 8 seasons at Pitt, had been haunted by his group’s struggles in the NCAA tournament. His 1-seed Pittsburgh group’s loss to 8-seed Butler in the 2nd round of the 2011 NCAA tournament was simple to understand. The Panthers were a 7.5-point preferred, but the Bulldogs had gone to the 2010 nationwide title game and almost upset Duke Blue Devils. Still, fans were distressed.”If you’re excellent every year, it develops,”Dixon stated. “Once you start going to the
NCAA competition routinely, you got ta get to the Last Four or bust. ” Tom Izzo might be the lone coach to have never experienced that kind of pressure. In his 5th season, he led Michigan State
to the 2000 national championship– the Big Ten’s last nationwide title– and, overall, he’s coached the Spartans to 8 Final Fours. His legacy is undamaged. But his 2-seed group’s upset loss to 15-seed Middle Tennessee in the preliminary of the 2016 NCAA competition still hurt, due to the fact that Denzel Valentine, the Big 10 player of the year that season, and his colleagues had to end their professions with that loss.” The only sad part for me was walking in that locker space,”Izzo said.” I didn’t take anything from it and say,’Next time, I’m going to practice harder on Tuesday’or’Next time, I’m going to do more in the pregame talk.’ I drew from it that you must treasure every minute that you carry on since those things take place. I didn’t beat myself up over it but I cried with the players because that was an unique group. ” Abundant Janzaruk/Herald-Times/USATNSYNDICATION EDEY AND
HIS colleagues, too, were peaceful on the trip from Columbus back to West Lafayette after that first-round upset in March.”For me, it was simply the silence,”the 7-foot-4 Purdue star said he remembers most from that journey.” Not a great deal of words were said on that bus. I do not believe I promoted the next day. It’s a s– ty feeling for a season to end like that after all the things we did well. There are not a great deal of methods to describe it. It drew.”Edey stated the untidy surface influenced his choice to go back to school for another run. With four beginners back, the Boilermakers got in 2023-24 as the AP preseason No. 3 team.They likewise comprehend the spotlight, and the doubts that will follow them this season.Top stories of the week from Get unique access to countless premium
posts a year from
top writers. – Grading the James Harden trade”- NFL trade grades: Which teams won?”- What Duke is getting in Cooper Flagg “
More ESPN +content””They beat us fair and square,” Mason Gilis stated.” But we have actually gone to the drawing
board. We have actually beinged in that
feeling. And I believe we’re going to be prepared for anybody this coming year.”That’s the mindset Painter cultivated in the wake of the upset loss.He is also not modifying his method to this season, stating the team won’t “alter things that have been terrific for us.
“Even if the thought of the worst moment of his training career is an indisputable style at the start of the 2023-24 season.But, he also understands the Boilermakers only have 2 alternatives. They can either discover a method to put the loss behind them or permit the loss to weigh them down all season.”When you lose, you put your head in the sand for a bit,”Painter stated.” I’m not an excellent person to talk to about the 2023 NCAA tournament due to the fact that I didn’t enjoy any of it. You’re just on a consistent spin to attempt to enhance yourself and try to get yourself [to a national championship]”So, he stated he challenged his team to accept” the noise “around it right now, and hopes his players will be resistant when they deal with criticism, on social networks or elsewhere.Including in the aftermath of Saturday’s 81-77 charity exhibition overtime loss at No. 14 Arkansas. The loss does not alter Purdue’s ceiling, but the controversial overtime affair was an early example of the tests this group will face in its effort to compose a different ending this season.Painter does not want his team to pretend as if the Fairleigh Dickinson loss never took place. It just does not have to define their season.Has he himself moved on? He’s dealing with it. The note from that bus trip in March
is stowed away at his home. And yes, in some cases he returns and reads those ideas. “I simply put it in a file
,”Painter said. “You date it and have it there.”