As a former journalist, your humble blogger is usually reluctant to criticize those in that capacity, with this qualifier: As long as they’re responsible and offer well-founded opinions.
Otherwise, they’re fair game.
The latest case of a lack of a well-founded opinion: Andy Katz, a college basketball writer with ESPN.
Here’s an item from a recent Katz’ offering, taking a look at the early portion of the season:
Biggest disappointments: Siena and Creighton
"Siena can still win the MAAC and fulfill its goals, but the Saints were supposed to be better than they've been. Fran McCaffery's team missed out in each of its nonconference chances, losing at Temple, to St. John's in Philadelphia, at Georgia Tech and at Northern Iowa. There isn't a bad loss in that group, but like Creighton, Siena doesn't have a signature win to tout. "
To that, your blogger will say this: The only people who think Siena’s start to the 2009-10 season is a disappointment are Andy Katz and the die-hard, green-colored-glasses wearing Siena fans whose knee-jerk reaction is utter despair after every loss.
Those who truly know college basketball recognize that Siena’s play to date is far from disappointing.
Siena is off to a 7-4 start prior to its Dec. 29 meeting with St. Joseph’s. It would take an extremist to classify any of those four losses as “disappointing.”
Here they are: to Temple, to St. John’s, to Georgia Tech and to the University of Northern Iowa.
All on the road.
Cumulative record of those four opponents as of the morning of Dec. 28: 37-7.
Georgia Tech is clearly one of the top three or four teams in the ACC this season. Northern Iowa has every player back from a 23-victory NCAA team last season. Temple is probably the second-best team in the Atlantic 10 and recently beat No. 3-ranked Villanova. And, this is the best St. John's team in a decade with a roster of the type Big East-level athletes Siena doesn't have.
In each of those games, for those who notice, Siena was the underdog in betting lines.
Yet, somehow Siena’s start is considered, by a writer at a major sports internet outlet, as one of the two most-disappointing starts by any of the 330-plus Division I programs nationally.
Just amazing ... amazingly shortsighted.
Maybe the disappointment is about Siena not living up to some preseason hype (one very unresponsible outlet tabbed the Saints as No. 15 nationally in its preseason prediction, another put Siena at No. 20).
Could it be that the preseason hype was the problem, and not Siena’s play thus far?
Could it be that the early expectations were unreal and unmerited for a mid-major program that wasn’t in anyone’s top 30 nationally last season, even after a first-round NCAA tournament over a solid, at best, Ohio State?
And, remember, Siena lost its best player (Kenny Hasbrouck, the MAAC’s Player of the Year) after last season.
Where did the overly lofty expectations come from? Mostly from outlets that rarely, if ever, see Siena play, have rare contact with the program’s coaching staff and players and have never witnessed the team in a practice setting.
This point has been made countless times in this forum, and needs to be stressed again: For real perspective about any mid-major level program, a level all but overlooked by the national media outlets, one needs to read the respective home town newspapers covering those programs. For Siena coverage/perspective, my friend Pete Iorizzo of the Albany Times Union is far and away the best at what he does.
Of course, those seeking that type of mid-major level perspective about this conference in particular could do far worse than to check in here regularly, too.
It says here that a 7-4 start to Siena's 2009-10 season was surely a far more realistic expectation than a foray into the nation's Top 25 polls.
The only disappointment is directed toward those who fail to see that.