Narratives are bullshit

I spent a lot of time on Twitter yesterday waiting for an article such as this one by Scott Hood of GamecockCentral, that was always going to make the claim that the reason the Gamecocks have lost their first two games by close margins in SEC play is that they simply needed to “learn how to win.”  This is, of course, bullshit.  Most narratives are bullshit.  But lazy narratives like this one are primarily the reason I started writing this site – I simply got tired of reading this garbage without having somewhere else to go.

I was particularly agitated by the following quote: “What have the opening two conference losses taught us? USC’s mental toughness down the stretch of close games leaves a lot to be desired.”  Well, Scott, let’s look at Carolina’s ability in close games thus far this season:

UWM
W 82-75 (OT)
Rider
W 88-76
Missouri State
W 74-67 (OT)
Clemson
L 64-55
Appalachian St.
W 74-69
@ Manhattan
W 63-57
@ Mississippi St.
L 56-54
Auburn
L 74-71

I think what makes this funniest is the implication Hood unintentionally makes.  If it’s the last two games that are so troubling him, let’s see what’s changed.  Well, you could say that LaShay Page was the guy who taught our team how to win, since the team won a close game LITERALLY THEIR FIRST GAME OF THE SEASON.  But he was gone by the time the Gamecocks went to New York City and won a close game on the road.

So if it’s not LaShay’s absence, what’s changed in the last two games?  You have two options, and I can already tell yo which one Hood would give – the rigors of SEC play are completely different!  Because Mississippi State got better once the games became conference games.  Sure.  The other change?  Bruce Ellington returned.  I wonder if Hood thinks that it’s Bruce who simply “doesn’t know how to win”?  We know he does on the football field, but can we really trust him on the basketball court?

I don’t think Hood is saying anything deliberately to suggest that Ellington is the reason for the team’s recent struggles.  Rather, he’s simply buying into the bullshit (or he’s simply writing to get you to do so, which is probably worse).  There was a lot of ink spilled on Nate Silver in the last election cycle, and while his methods aren’t perfect, they were certainly far superior to the pundits who wildly predicted whatever their “guts” told them.  Every move of every poll was a potential “game changer” and had some deeper, underlying meaning.  As we said above, bullshit.

The Gamecocks lost two close games because close games are inherently random.  If the referee calls the foul against State and gives Bruce three free throws, Carolina may go on to win that game.  There were a number of close calls in the Auburn game that went against Carolina that reflect nothing of their skill.  I repeat – the results of these games could have changed based on something completely out of the control of our basketball team.  And that would entirely change the narrative.  Which is why the narrative is bullshit.

One last way to hammer the point home.  Matt Ryan has gotten a ton of grief lately for “not being able to win the big game,” until of course, he did.  Another guy who took a lot of stick for that in his career was Jim Kelly, notorious loser of four Super Bowls in the 90s.  So, what’s the difference between Matt Ryan and Jim Kelly?  Well, a kicker.  Simply, Scott Norwood missed a field goal, and Matt Bryant made one (he also hilariously trashed talk a Panther earlier this year (slightly NSFW), but that’s sort of beside the point).

What else did Matt Ryan have nothing to do with?  Well, his defense’s inability to stop Seattle.  And I don’t just mean giving up points.  Let’s say Atlanta stopped Seattle twice late in the game on Sunday to bring up 4th and goal.  If this happens, either Atlanta has to burn both its timeouts to save clock, or Seattle runs the clock down all the way to where their fourth down attempt is the last play of the game.  If they make it, what the hell does that have to do with Matt Ryan’s ability as a quarterback?  Nothing he would’ve done or not done would’ve changed (except, he wouldn’t have had time for a last-second drive because the clock would have expired), and yet he still wouldn’t have been able to win the big one.

Reading that, it sounds like bullshit because it is bullshit.  Most narratives are bullshit. And the Gamecocks not being able to win close games is clearly one of those narratives.

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About marvinnedick

Blogging from the mid-Atlantic on Gamecock sports, as well as general musings on sports theory otherwise.
This entry was posted in 2012-13 Basketball, Miscellany and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Narratives are bullshit

  1. Pingback: Better Know An Opponent: LSU |

  2. Pingback: Missouri dominates inside, but sinks Gamecocks with outside 3-pointer to win 71-65 |

  3. Pingback: David Cloninger trolls world |

  4. Pingback: What I said, but said better |

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