There is no doubt that Seton Hall basketball has lost its way over the past month of Big East play, as fan morale has plummeted from lofty preseason aspirations of trips to the Sweet 16 and beyond.
But I’ll be daring enough to pose the question: So what?
As of now, Seton Hall has lost six of their last nine, are in danger of seeing a losing conference record if they falter at scalding hot Xavier on Wednesday, have slipped from a three- to a borderline six-seed in the NCAA tournament, and at a macro level, have come up way short of preseason projections not only from the local fan base, but on a national level.
And yes, it’s fair to say the blame resides both with the seniors — who have often resembled their freshmen selves — and head coach Kevin Willard, who has yet to win an NCAA tournament game with this group.
Do you have all the negativity — valid, but negative — out of your system now? Good.
Because again, so what?
In America, followers of different sports entities are called fans. Short for fanatic of course, which as defined by Cambridge Dictionary is “a person whose strong admiration for something is extreme and unreasonable.”
Anyone who follows European soccer knows that they largely use a different noun to describe those who back a particular team: supporters.
To me, support means helping someone out when they are down and out. You go to support a friend or family member when there is a death. You give moral support to someone who is anxious about an upcoming event.
Support is something this team is hungry for right now. Sure, maybe in the ideal world of most fans, a seasoned head coach and a group of seniors should be able to perform in an empty gym.
But forget that ideal stuff. In one month yesterday, we will know who is going to be Dancing.
Just one month is all you — the fans — and people like me — a reporter (but also a fan) — may have left with this group of seniors.
A group which has reached collective milestones of points scored (they’re at what, 300 million now?), has incredible individual achievements like Angel Delgado’s rebounding record, has seen things through in the classroom and on the court as a unit, and has probably made you (but definitely made me) tear up when they brought home the Big East title just a mere two years ago.
The list can go on for why you should shed the negativity and simply support these young men.
And I know what a percentage of you are thinking either consciously or subconsciously: You don’t mind the short term losing because you want Willard gone so that an integral limit to the program’s achievement can be lifted and a whiteknighting Hurley can come in and save the day.
I was very much subscribed to that way of thinking late in the Bobby Gonzalez reign, but also during the dreadful 2014-15 season, and we all know how that unique situation turned out.
While I won’t debate Willard’s utility with anyone at this stage, I will say that it’s easy to forget the horses who got you here. Hint: they are the same horses who are still here.
But if you are remotely close to this camp of fans who are actively rooting for Willard’s demise, or have packed it in for the season saying you have seen enough, I’ll challenge you to stop being a fan.
And become a supporter.
Get out to Newark on Sunday to perhaps snap a losing streak or applaud the beginning of a winning streak after an upset at Xavier.
Buy tickets to the St. John’s game at the Garden — quick, they’re going fast and it’s going to be packed.
Clear your calendar for the Villanova game, because a big-time upset would do wonders at the tail-end of a season, just ask the Red Storm.
And heavens forbid, don’t let the first Senior Day that falls on the last game of the season since 2013 turn out to be a sorry showing in the stands like the one Jeremy Hazell received in 2011.
If not the program as a collective, at least support the players. They deserve more, just as you rightfully deserve more out of them right now.
While it does seem like this four-year journey is headed down the wrong path in the final chapter, you’ve stuck around this long and most likely much longer than that and you’re still here; these last four years are still another galaxy compared to the 5-10 years prior.
So what that the team is struggling right now and are a disappointment in your mind. Stop raging in your Seton Hall echo chamber about the disconnect between what you thought would happen and what has come to be.
The ink has not yet dried, and you can help the team you love write that final chapter. You’ll likely regret it if you call it quits now.
Here’s to another month of unconditional support… Because what’s the alternative?