It seems that these days the most common sentiment that we hear in the postgame interviews of Texas Tech athletes is that we can't just have moral victories. In a sense that's true. No one remembers who got second place, the winner receives the crown. Not everything can be a moral victory. We blew a two possession lead to a top ten ranked West Virginia, we allowed a wide open three in the waning seconds against Baylor, and we forced overtime at a hostile road environment in Fayetteville, Arkansas. At some point these close games have to begin swinging in our favor. It's not for lack of talent, the talent is there. It's not for lack of coaching, rest assured that everything you, the fan, sees, Tubby Smith sees with ten times more clarity than you could ever achieve.
To many fans, this season has been a disappointment. A solid non-conference run and Joe Lunardi picking Tech as high as a ten-seed gave most all of us unreasonable expectations for this year. That's the problem with expectations: they fluctuate and change over time. If we turn back time a little, we can recall the portions of the Texas Tech fandom that are heavily into basketball being pretty pissed off at being picked by some to finish tenth in a conference of ten. Then as soon as we win a bunch of games, those same fans (myself included) act like we were once in the running for the Big XII title. Our expectations for this team changed drastically over the course of a couple of months. We have no one to blame for this emotional letdown but ourselves.
It would be really easy for me to sit here on my high horse and say, "Look how much better and rational of a fan I am, I'm being objective and taking the big picture into effect", but up until this point I really wasn't. I was never to the point of questioning the coaching staff and decisions, but the losses had begun to get to me a little. I started to distrust players, yell at my TV or Laptop in frustration, and go into every game with a pessimistic attitude. I was pretty frustrated with the whole ordeal, so I decided to go look at some preseason rankings to see how right they were about my team. What I found gave me hope rather than validate my frustrated feelings.
I picked the first five preseason rankings that came up when I googled, "Big XII Preseason Basketball Rankings 2015-16". On CBS, we were picked to finish ninth. On Althon Sports, Sports Illustrated, and Bleacher Report, the Red Raiders were picked eighth. Campus Insiders was particularly down on us, picking us to finish tenth. Currently, we're in eighth in the conference, and the only reason Kansas State is ahead of us is because they've played and won an extra game. We're exactly where we're supposed to be, and the season isn't over yet. We have a couple of very winnable games on our schedule.
We still have to play 3 of the 4 lowest ranked teams, and two of those (TCU and Kansas State) are at home. We go on the road to face the tenth ranked Oklahoma State Cowboys. We play Baylor in an away game, Oklahoma at home, Kansas in Lawrence, and WVU in Morgantown. Our next game is a showdown with Iowa State, a team we've upset at home before, at home. This is a manageable schedule.
I'm not trying to sit here and tell you that we'll run the table and be ranked heading into March Madness. I'm not sitting here telling you that we'll even make the NIT. What I am telling you is that maybe it's time to temper our expectations, and enjoy a team that according to most people who know things about sports is right where they're supposed to be.