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Friars Fall to Nova and All I Can Think of is Chumbawamba

There are two times and only two times when someone sings Chumbawamba’s hit song “Tubthumping.”

First, when they’re drunk at a college bar drinking the $4 pitcher beer special. Second, when they just watched their team get the snot pounded out of them, but know the team will somehow recover. For Friar fans, it’s probably both right now.

At one point during Villanova’s reign of terror on the hardwood, a fan tweeted that the Friars were shooting themselves in the foot over and over. Feeling drained of emotion from the impending defeat, I reminded the fan that they couldn’t shoot themselves in the foot because they’d probably miss that shot too. Ladies and gentlemen of Friartown, there is the extent of my wit.

Some games suck the life out of you. Tonight happened to be one of those games.

The way the game went actually felt like trying out for the track team and getting an early breakaway from the star scholarship runner, only to fall flat on your face, knock the wind out of yourself, and then stumble into a wall trying to stand back up.

At that point you know you’re not making the cut, but you still have to finish the race. Of course, by that point it doesn’t matter, you’re just completely drained and trying not to make it worse.

It’s an unfortunate way I’m talking about the Friars, because they looked so good in the first eight minutes. Villanova was making silly turnovers, missing shots, and leaving the Friars open for easy opportunities that Providence capitalized on. All it took was one momentum swing in Villanova’s favor to cut the lead to a single possession, then to take the lead itself, and then the game was theirs.

In a way, I wonder if this game hurts more because of the way it started. You would have believed the Friars could beat the number one team in the country! Fans try to temper their emotions when everything is going as well as it was, but let’s be honest: everyone who wore PC colors during that initial stretch had some variation of the thought ‘you know, maybe we really are that good! Maybe we could get far in March!’

And then, like Icarus, reality comes slamming upwards to meet you before you even realized you were falling.

But even as I write this, trying to digest everything and sort my emotions, there’s a thought that keeps coming back into my mind: for the Friars, this isn’t the last game of the season. For the Friars, this isn’t even the last time they could play the top ranked team in the country. There’s still so much basketball left to be played, so many opportunities for Providence to make their mark, and even after this loss the fact remains that Providence has proven themselves a more capable basketball team than originally thought in November. Thewin streak was evidence of that, as is the more developed level of basketball they’re playing. Was that shown tonight? Yeah, for a little while, and then it vanished. But that doesn’t nullify what the Friars have done, who they are, and most importantly what they can still do.

The fact remains that the Friars are in a very good position for having taken care of business early in conference play, and can still make plenty of noise in the weeks to come. This loss hurts, but it’s not a loss where your season comes to an end. The Friars aren’t going to lose a spot on a seed line because they lost to the top team in the country and projected overall #1 seed, so there’s no reason to panic.

When thinking about the angle to take in this recap, there was a lot to vent about and a lot that could be said. Most of that felt like nonsense, so I’m not going to write it. Instead, I’m going to remember that this team is still very capable and is still growing. If they’re still improving, even after the work they’ve done thus far, that only bodes well for them come March.