The Washington Capitals finished yet another disappointing season after getting swept in the playoffs. The Washington Wizards also finished another disappointing season, their third straight. That begs the question: is it worse to be a fan of a team that everyone knows is bad, and then performs exactly as expected, or to be a fan of a team that everyone expects great things from, and then fails miserably? Would you rather have six months of mostly unappealing basketball or five months of great hockey followed by two weeks of carnage? With apologies to Caps fans who still wake up screaming from images of Backstrom skating indifferently up and down the ice, I’ll take the hurt of unmet expectations over rooting for a bunch of ping pong balls one Tuesday night in May.
• University of Maryland Athletic Director Kevin Anderson had the unenviable task of selecting a replacement for a legend, Gary Williams. Anderson already caught some grief from the football fan-base when he hired Randy Edsall to replace Ralph Friedgen. He caught flack not because Edsall isn’t a good coach and hasn’t been successful, but because Anderson set forth the expectation that he was going to hire an elite coach, which Edsall is not (at least not yet). When Gary Williams made the decision to retire, names such as Jay Wright, Sean Miller and Mike Brey were thrown around. Whether Anderson actually had a shot at getting any of them is unkown, but we know he tried and failed. His hiring of Mark Turgeon was regarded as solid, if unspectacular.
Maryland fans have always had a bit of an inferiority complex (partially that is a function of Gary Williams’ attitude and coaching style, and partially from playing in the ACC with Duke and UNC, the Lords of Entitlement), but the fact that Maryland couldn’t land a star coach just reinforced it. Beyond Maryland’s great facilities and fan-base, one of its best assets is the rich recruiting areas in Baltimore, D.C., and its suburbs. Whether Gary’s approach to recruiting was the right one or not is arguable, but what isn’t arguable is that Maryland rarely got the top recruits in its own backyard. There is a huge question mark if Turgeon can address this weakness (although he got off to a nice start). Regardless, Kevin Anderson is now responsible for hiring the coaches for Maryland’s two most high profile sports, and he alone should be held responsible if expectations are not met (on a side-note, how pissed is Debbie Yow? She spent 16 years wishing Gary would retire, and a year trying to find a way to get rid of Friedgen; within a year of Kevin Anderson taking over, he succeeds in doing what she couldn’t).
• In a case of managing expectations correctly, the Washington Wizards unveiled their new uniforms. While most Wizards fans would like to return to the Bullets of old (at least the uniforms), Ted Leonsis made it clear early on that wasn’t going to happen. The team did just about everything else right though. The new uniforms look modern while integrating the heritage of the team and city well. The goofy Wizards logo has been minimized. Nice job by the team.