Every day I will give a new reason to be pumped for the upcoming college basketball season. We are about 73 days from the start of meaningful college basketball. I'm a few days behind, so here's reason 76.
In sports, losing streaks create a cycle of emotions for fans linked to the team who can't buy a win.
First there's frustration. After a few losses you grow impatient with the poor play, but you are still optimistic you can right the ship and win.
Next comes anger. You start pinpointing mistakes and blaming everyone possible for the team's demise.
Then comes pity. By loss nine, you begin asking God, your mother, and the secretary who couldn't tell you whether Tom Brady is a football or mechanic for a win. You beg for mercy for the opposing team to miss that easy layup or drop that foul ball, just so you can end that streak of futility.
And then you reach the breaking point at loss 15. You realize the losing streak your team is on could reach epic proportions and begin to actually root for your team to continue to lose. You realize, "Hey, if we are going to lose, we might as well be special doing it."
Well, fans of the New Jersey Institute of Technology reached that breaking point about 18 losses ago.
See, the Highlanders haven't won a game since 2007. That equates to a 33-game losing streak.
NJIT finished the 2008 season 0-29. Their coach Jim Casciano stepped down during the season, but the Highlanders are back for the 2008-2009 season with a brand new coaching staff.
NJIT hired Jim Engles to take over the program and will look to have immediate success with Engles at the reins. He has a history of turning programs around. As assistant coach at Wagner, he helped the Seahawks complete one of the best winning percentage turnarounds of the year in 1991.
Engles has done the same at Columbia, and during his tenure at Rider, he maintained a high level of excellence.
NJIT hired a winner to improve a team that was dead last in the country in offensive efficiency. The defense wasn't much better, as they ranked 299th in country in defensive efficiency.
Engles will have a nice young core of players to work with. Last season the Highlanders put the 37th-most inexperienced team on the court and now return five of their six top players in minutes played.
NJIT will have several opportunities to pick up victories in 2008-2009. The Highlanders have several beatable teams like Longwood, Utah Valley, and Houston Baptist on the schedule twice.
NJIT was even invited to participate in the Philly Classic, a decent eight-team tournament held during the last week of November.
So while Coach Jim Engles may have a very difficult time making noticeable strides in the win column his first year, he'll have in place a deep group of young players that he can turn into winners a few years down the road.
Reason number 76 you should be pumped for basketball season: You can root for NJIT to break its 33-game losing streak, or root for more losses and see how long the Highlanders can go without a win!