Today fans are routinely expected to make long, seemingly illogical trips very early in the post-season. I think it's rather crazy in some instances. Why should MACA and Minnewaska fans have to travel to Granite Falls for a second-round tournament game? This type of obligation has become typical, it would seem, but are fans complaining? Perhaps not. Perhaps this is just the new norm.
A long-time Tiger sports follower contacted me to say that realistically speaking, only the parents and some hard-core fans are expected at many of the post-season games of today. Why? We've conceded to the new model where there are so many activities and people are so spread out, we just accept some of these ragtag fan followings - no big deal.
I remember the days when the Wheaton girls basketball team would fill the P.E. Center here, with their fans all adorned in red and the band building a sense of drama. I'm old-fashioned. I still associate certain trappings for tournament games. I'm 61 years old and I guess I'm hopeless.
The MACA boys had just two post-season games, the second being played at the desolate place called YME. What a downer. Minnewaska absolutely killed us in the first half. Our fans must have been chagrined and upset. If they weren't, they're in a different universe from me. I bumped into a parent Sunday at DeToy's. That father said "we looked like we'd never played together before."
Why such a disaster? Fans invest considerable time and spend money following this team all winter. And it culminates in this? I have put my toe in the water and suggested that maybe coaching was a factor. Maybe it's time we all shed our inhibitions and talk more openly about this. Inhibitions? Yes, there are certain taboo limitations in Morris, inexplicably because sports would seem like a harmless, innocuous topic.
Back in the old days when Torgy first got the appointment, you didn't dare air a skeptical comment, because you'd risk being ostracized and being insulted to your face on the harshest personal terms, by people who built their bonds at house parties with popcorn, soft drinks and maybe an alcoholic drink or two. I had to occasionally make phone calls to such places to get sports info/comments, and I'd decipher all this with a background of the usual party noises and banter. What a waste of time (to be at such a party).
I felt that when Morris lost to Staples at Concordia-Moorhead in the year after we took second in state, it was the most clear-cut case of being out-coached I've ever seen. We had essentially our whole team back. My coverage after this suggested that all wasn't right in Tiger-ville. I made no blatant comments because I was shrewd enough to not cross the line, but let's just say I used some selective reporting. I felt I had to be honest: an attitude that has often made me an outlier in this community, because I don't go to those parties or join in with the good old boys. The good old boys of the community strive to keep everyone in line. As if the whole world cares about the state of Morris athletics anyway. Well I do care, and I care enough to try to share constructive observations irregardless of what way the political winds are blowing.
Staples in that pivotal game was constantly setting up drives to the basket. It was plain as day: Lynn Peterson had his players in a deliberate scheme to get high-percentage shots or to draw a foul. Time after time it worked. Morris? We would sort of lethargically pass the ball around the perimeter and sometimes there'd be an impulsive shot from outside, and sometimes there'd be one of those lob passes inside to Kevin Loge who would attempt a contested jumper while falling back. We lost.
Some parents made a maudlin display of assembling behind the Morris bench in the game's waning moments, showing the world "we still love our sons even though this game was a disaster." It needn't have been a disaster. Kevin Loge didn't have to withdraw from basketball in his post-high school years. I don't care if Kevin himself contacts me and says everything turned out fine - he definitely had a fire in his belly with hoops over most of his youth. I think he needed better guidance from coaches in his last two years of varsity play. I think he ended up feeling a little disoriented as he tried making the adjustment to Division I college basketball. You have to be prepared to the max to plunge into Division I, and even then it's hard.
If Kevin thinks he's happier now, then I congratulate him. But I think he had the potential not only to play Division I but of feeling fulfilled playing Division I.
It may be the whole community assumes our coach Torgerson has a lifetime appointment, and that we defer to him for an explanation regarding underachieving. I don't, but I guess I have never reflected the mainstream of thinking, or alleged thinking, in Morris MN. (I used to call us "Motown" in headlines.)
Dennis Rettke wanted to appoint Chris Baxter as boys basketball coach. We'll never know how that would have worked out, and that bothers me. It has never stopped bothering me. Why do I care? I don't know, maybe I shouldn't.