As the final seconds ticked off the clock Saturday in the men’s Pac-12 basketball tournament championship game between UA and Colorado, some interesting tweets began to stream through my Twitter timeline.
They went a little something like this: “Go Buffs! A Wildcat loss is a Sun Devil win!”
Wait, what? What does that even mean?
By your rival losing, that somehow makes you feel better about a 10-21 season?
No thank you, I’ll save my words of Sun Devil pride for when ASU actually does something worth celebrating on the playing field.
Look, I understand the playful meaning behind the words, poking fun at your rival is always a good time and that’s what makes rivalries great. But consider this: Do you think UA fans were all giddy and thrilled when the Sun Devils lost in the Pac-12 tourney to Stanford? I doubt it. Instead, they were probably a little more focused on their own team’s NCAA tournament chances, something ASU supporters rarely ever get to experience in the post-James Harden era.
Isn’t it a little sad the only joy Sun Devils can get nowadays is from when another team loses? That’s not how it should be. Once the two programs are on an even playing field, then sure, go ahead and mock UA’s temporary misery. But for now, it just seems so trite.
By my measure, the ASU men’s basketball team did only one thing worth celebrating this season and that was defeating the Wildcats at home in its regular season finale, 87–80. In that contest, the phrase “A Wildcat loss is a Sun Devil win,” actually made sense.
I know all non-elite programs are expected to go through down years, but I’m just hoping that one day, a regular season win over UA might once again boost ASU’s NCAA tournament résumé, not just tarnish UA’s. How embarrassing was it when analysts talked about the Wildcats on the bubble, the first thing they mentioned was how awful their loss to the Sun Devils was?
Losing to ASU shouldn’t be humiliating and condemning. What does that say about the state of the program?
The Sun Devils have been in the NCAA field just twice in the last 17 years, so maybe long-term respectability isn’t in the cards for Tempe. I'd like to think coach Herb Sendek has lifted the program’s perception during his tenure here, but what exactly is there to show for it?
With the recent departure of freshman wing Chanse Creekmur, 10 scholarship players have left or transferred from ASU over the last four years. For the most part, that’s either an indication of recruiting the wrong players or something wrong with the program once they get here. Either way, that high of a number is alarming.
I don’t know what’s in store for the ASU men’s basketball team in the future. I just hope something or someone can give me anything to be proud of.
Here’s looking at you, Jahii Carson. No pressure.
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