Let’s be honest. The SMU men’s basketball team hasn’t exactly sprinted to the finish line this year. It’s fallen, and fallen fast.
At this point in time last month, SMU was still being floated around as a bubble team. Now, the team stands at 16-15, losers of eight of its last nine. There’s now only one way to get to March Madness: the American Athletic Conference Tournament. To get in, they must win the whole dang thing.
SMU head coach Tim Jankovich is telling his players that they must not look to the past in the next few days. Instead, they need to look to the future, to the opponent ahead of them.
“It’s kind of zero-zero,” he said. “It’s a whole new season.”
Still, it will be a tough task. On Thursday morning the Mustangs will face UConn, a team that beat them by 11 back when Shake Milton and Jarrey Foster were still healthy. Now, they lack the services of the two players, both of whom will probably see some time on an NBA roster in the future.
With Milton gone, SMU’s offense has gone stale. The team could muster up only 37 points in a loss to UCF. It’s scored more than 70 points once in that span. To put it simply, SMU’s offense has just looked outmanned without its best player.
Against lowly USF last Sunday, whom SMU beat 79-39 with the services of both Milton and Foster in December, SMU could only put 54 points on the board. The team shot just four for 27 from 3-point range and just two of 12 from the line.
This was against the worst team in the conference, mind you.
“At some point, we have to put it in more than that,” Jankovich said.
Curiously, SMU is still a two-point favorite going into the UConn game. The people in Vegas still gives them a shot. Perhaps that’ll hold true. Cliché as it is, Ben Emelogu used an old saying during Tuesday’s media session.
“It’s March,” he said. “Anything can happen.”