I love the tournament set up. For all the greatness of football, everyone has a chance in basketball and that is great.
That chance isn’t as good as other teams’ but it still is a chance 1 and that is all you can reasonably ask for. Equality of opportunity, if not outcome, and so on and so forth. Still, with this coaching staff (read: Tony Benford) that chance hasn’t been so great. And come conference tournament time, the Mean Green fan base can only muster so much hope. His teams are now 1-4 in conference tournament play, still beset by injuries, and over reliance on one or two players. This latter point servers as a nice crutch to lean on when a man goes down. See his quote on the state of this horrendous season below.
“When you have five freshmen and eight new guys, it’s tough. When you have a guy like Jeremy Combs who is the heart and soul of our program, he can set the example. If the rest of the guys can make the improvement Jeremy did from his freshman to his sophomore year, we will have a good team next year.” 2
Are we to believe, as the ASN broadcast staff maintained, that Benford inherited an awful situation and is only now turning it around? I had to restrain myself upon hearing that. I realize the announcer was just being kind and saying the polite thing, but come on. Bedford inherited the best basketball recruiting class we’d seen in ages his first year, squandered it, proceeded to recruit a collection of guys that vaguely fit his ‘system’ that seemed like his philosophy was the same used when playing pickup — “he looks good, and I know this guy, and sure why not him that makes five”. One year we had a bunch of guys that couldn’t shoot. Next we had no point guards. The next we had no bigs.
Last year we looked forward to J-Mychal Reese and now to Keith Frazier. We are even making poor arguments for keeping Tony Benford, including comparing Johnny Jones to Benford. As if their starting points were even remotely similar.
This program is in a bad place. It has been for a while. While I am looking forward to seeing this team play with Frazier and Combs, and another year of the younger guys, do we really think we’ll see anything better than Tony Mitchell/Chris Jones/Jordan Williams first year?
While this iteration of CUSA is better than the Sun Belt, MTSU doesn’t seem to have missed a beat. They were good year in and year out in the Belt and now are in the CUSA title game. Remember when we used to compete for conference title games?
EDIT: @sayssilly said I should have titled this “Pay the Man . . .his buyout. He’s right.