There was an old saying, I believe attributed to Bobby Bowden, that basically spoke on what happens when successfully building a program. The saying ends with "...then you win by a little and then you win by a lot..." Bobby certainly would know something about this but dagummit after that Miami basketball game where State led by as many as 9 late into the 2nd half, only to win by 1, it feels like we have yet to get to the "win by a lot" portion.
Our ACC games always seem like nail-biters, so that prompted me to use ole Wikipedia to see how many "decisive" victories State has had in the three years under Mark Gottfried so far. Now, I am arbitrarily looking for games where we won by more than 3 positions (so that would mean a 10 point lead or higher). Admittedly this does not take into account the games themselves where we may have been up big and the other team scored on our walk-ons or games where we pushed the lead out on intentional fouls leading to made free throws (ha!). Flaws aside, this is what I found:
2011-2012 (Games include ACC Tourny):
Won 11 Games
5 by 10 or more (2 against Wake, 2 against BC, VT)
Won 13 Games
7 by 10 or more (2 against GT, Wake, UVA, VT, FSU, BC)
Won 5 Games (so far)
0 by 10 or more
So what does this tell us...
- MGs teams have won 41% of their ACC vitcories by 10 or more points
- Obviously the high mark was the 2012-2013 season, which is also notable because of the expansion to 18 league games which can skew the perception of the numbers
- The teams we have beat by that much are mostly the bottom feeders of the ACC (with 3 against BC & Wake, 2 against VT)
- Of those 12 wins, none of the teams made the NCAA tourny and only 2 made the NIT
- While the percentage of wins by that margin of 10 are higher then I expected, it still speaks to an inability to close out games against what, should be, lesser or equal competition. The results are littered with games that should have had larger margins of victory (i.e. UNC, GT, VT last year; Miami, GT, BC in 2011-2012)
- On the reverse we've been beaten "decisively" 11 out of 21 games we've lost for 52%. That is unacceptable.
Yes, we've won 5 ACC games this year but in almost every case they could've easily been losses with one moment here or there going the wrong way. If our goal is to be in the upper echelon of the ACC, we have to close out these winnable games decisively. We spend too much time letting teams hang around to regain their pride. In fact, we can use the Wake Forest game this year (or LAST year) as an example of what can happen. No one fears us because everyone can compete with us when, in many cases, we've had superior talent on the floor. The worst thing you can give an inferior team is confidence that they can beat you and we do that far too often during these early years of the Mark Gottfried error. While WAY too high, I can live with blowout losses to excellent teams like Duke, UNC, UVA this year, Miami last year. That's going to happen as you try to climb out of the 5 year (15 year? 20+ year?) hole that has been dug for you, but its about time we start taking care of business against equal/lesser competition and start winning by a lot...