Let it be know that we love WAC basketball and want every team to do well. But, from results to start the 2019-20 season, that seems to be a stretch right now. Sure, winning games by 20-plus points looks good on paper. Having Myles Carter, go off for 37 points and 15 rebounds on 11-12 shooting and 15-17 from the free throw line to help head coach Jim Hayford earn the 400th victory of his coaching career is impressive.
If we are being honest about the start to the new season, it hasn’t been all bad. California Baptist just showed that they are capable of battling with anyone in a 13-point loss at Texas that is much closer than the final score indicates. Kansas City didn’t shoot well but hung around for the majority of its game at Oklahoma State on Saturday. And CSU Bakersfield nearly upset South Dakota State before the Jackrabbits won in double overtime.
So why the gloomy headline? Here is a stat that will explain. WAC teams are a combined 11-12 to start the season. Of those 11 wins, only one, ONE, has come against an NCAA Division I opponent. Every other win has been against Division II or NAIA opponents. That says a lot right there.
Now, an argument can be made that there have been games against Power 5 Conference foes or defending conference champs. This is true.
But in games that are winnable, the WAC has failed miserably thus far. Sorry, there is no way to sugar coat it.
Grand Canyon hasn’t done itself or the WAC any favors. The Lopes have opened the season with back-to-back home losses. And Grand Canyon plays at San Diego State on Wednesday night so it quite possibly could be 0-3. One of the losses came against Division II Davenport who led from start to finish.
Utah Valley lost by 12 at Denver on Saturday. Well, Denver up and lost by 31 points at Utah State on Tuesday night. Seattle, which is supposed to be a team to keep an eye out for in the WAC, lost at home to in-state foe Eastern Washington. And while the final score indicates just an 8-point loss, its difficult to not see that as an eyesore on the conference’s resume.
Let’s add to this that Chicago State got beat by 64 on Tuesday night at Eastern Illinois. 54 points! The Cougars didn’t even break 40 points in the game, losing 98-34. This is the same Eastern Illinois team that Chicago State beat a season ago. Even WAC Hoops Digest had higher hopes for Chicago State.
And now, add in New Mexico State’s loss at UTEP in the Battle of I-10 and it paints a picture of pure bleakness to start the season. Sure, injuries have hit the Aggies hard. However, with all the depth we thought they had, it’s hard to see them getting thoroughly dominated and “taken to the woodshed” like Chris Jans said in his post game press conference.
Here is the Good News
While there have been some ugly losses and only one win against a Division I opponent, there is still a lot of basketball to play that will change that.
Adjustments will be made, shooting percentages will go up, and WAC teams will get wins. It is early. And while there have been quite a few disappointments for the conference early on, we have to remember exactly that. It is early on in the 2019-20 season. Considering the WAC is a one-bid league, getting better on a night-to-night basis is essential. Teams want to be playing their best basketball come March and can use this time as a learning curve.
So, let’s not full overreact just yet. The WAC is better than it has shown to start this season. Like Herman Boone said in Remember the Titans, “Like novocaine. Give it time, it always works.” And thus it is true for the 2019-20 season.