By Eddie Cotton
In sports, the success or failure of an individual or team is defined by perception.
One person can perceive a team’s results to be a success, because those results met that individual’s expectations or exceeded them. Another person could see the same exact result and describe it as a failure due to their own personal expectations.
With that in mind, what should be your expectations for this year’s Indiana Basketball team? A team that beat Minnesota on the road and Notre Dame at a “neutral site”, and lost to Fort Wayne and Indiana State in Assembly Hall. A team now without its starting center De’ron Davis. A team appropriately filled with seniors, but seniors from a different era. A team led by a sweaty and passionate head coach in his first year at the program.
Dear g-d, the answer to this question is so simple. You shouldn’t have any.
You shouldn’t have an ounce of expectations with this basketball team, and that’s okay. Indiana is going to lose some games that they probably shouldn’t and they’re going to win some games they probably shouldn’t either. None of it is ever going to make much sense, and that is the beauty of this phase of transition.
Part of that need to embrace transition comes from Archie Miller introducing players that he never recruited to a system that those players never expected to play. That is obvious. Another element to it all comes down to something that Archie Miller has been sneaking into press conferences on a subtle week-by-week basis. The current roster simply lacks the mentality that Coach Miller yearns for.
“There’s a lot of different guys that have leadership qualities,” Miller said during his weekly radio show. “In many ways, emotion and passion and wearing stuff on your sleeve, I’m not sure we have a lot of guys that have that as part of their deal…without question, it’s one of the things we’ve really searched for on this team, to have a burning fire.”
Not only is there a lack of a fiery leader in Archie Miler’s eyes, but we’re in the middle of a blatant culture change.
“There’s a lot of different guys who can help you win games,” Miller said. “But part of winning is confidence and attitude and a passion to play. You have to be totally engaged. Sometimes the most frustrating part is having to create that culture of passion and excitement. When it’s not there, it deflates you. More than anything, you have to find guys who embody what you do and understand that’s the most important thing.”
With a transition abound and a recently developed lack of front court depth at the fore front, all that’s left to expect is oddity itself. Things have been weird and will probably remain weird for the foreseeable future.
So, I think it’s a good time to dive into the difference between “expectations” and “hopes.”
Expectations are a source of entitlement. You’re prepared for an event to occur based on previous precedent and when it doesn’t you are let down or upset. When it does occur, you lose out on this feeling of passionate joy, because, well, you thought you were entitled to that result.
Expectation is demanding what you want to happen without an understanding for what may actually occur.
Expectations are fixed. Expectations are rigid. Expectations are overwhelming and when they go unmet it almost guarantees agitation.
Hope, simply refers to a want and avoids tying yourself to a need. Hope refers to wishful thinking and awareness that nothing is guaranteed. If one hopes for something and it doesn’t occur, it’s okay. However, when a hope is realized, it’s almost like a gift. And not like socks on your birthday kind of gift, I’m talking about a metaphorical pony.
Hope is what helps individuals move forward and keep going even when past experiences don’t happen to warrant it.
That is why I implore you, an individual that probably has unjustifiable expectations, to simply have hope when it comes to this Indiana Basketball team.
There is a time to have expectations, and with everything in flux for Indiana Basketball, now isn’t that time.
When Indiana plays Penn State on Tuesday, hope for a win. Looking ahead at the season, hope to make the NCAA Tournament. Even when looking at recruiting, hope to land Romeo Langford. Hope for a National Championship while you’re at, just as long as you don’t expect it.
Fandom comes down to perception. You can choose to have lofty expectations, or tame ones, or none. That’s all at your discretion as an individual. Just know, I warned you.