After yesterday’s victory over Notre Dame the hype around the Monmouth Hawks has reached a fever pitch. King Rice’s team has already defeated both UCLA and Notre Dame this season, which no one can deny are two really impressive wins.
If Monmouth manages to beat Dayton and/or their next opponent in the Advocare Invitational (either Xavier or USC), they certainly deserve to be ranked in the Top 25. The Hawks’ resume would be far superior to many teams already in the rankings, but while an excellent accomplishment, that ranking would signify almost nothing about the future.
This is what I was trying to express on Twitter, but 140 characters is a poor place to make an argument. What I meant here:
Can we just slow down the Monmouth hype a little bit? The Hawks did beat ND, but they’re still 7-point underdogs to Dayton.
— John Templon (@nybuckets) November 27, 2015
is that while Monmouth currently looks like a very good team, there are still questions about their strength moving forward. For one thing, the Hawks had a bit of good fortune on their side to pull out those two notable early season victories. They defeated the Bruins in overtime on opening night and, while the Hawks were up by 11 at one point against ND, they needed two late free throws to pull out the victory.
This is partly why, despite the victories, including an 8-point victory at a down Drexel team, Monmouth is ranked only 116th in Ken Pomeroy’s rankings today. (The other part is that due to their past performance and not knowing about the transfer of Je’lon Hornbeak the Hawks were rated 186th preseason.)
And while 116th is a good rating for a MAAC team, it’s certainly not indicative of a dominant conference run. The Hawks are currently rated similarly to Siena, and behind 1-2 Iona. Even if Pomeroy’s ranking is still a little low—and I believe that’s certainly the case and Monmouth will have a chance to prove that in its next two games—there’s virtually no chance they’ll get through a grueling 20-game MAAC schedule with four or fewer losses.
The Hawks have also had their full complement of players for every game this season. And when they’re healthy there’s a ton of talent on Monmouth. Hornbeak, Justin Robinson, Deon Jones, Micah Seaborn and the rest of the Hawks have all shown that they’re excellent players. (Robinson has been especially good early in the season, having looked nearly impossible to guard with the current rules.) King Rice has slowly and consistently filled with players who should be able to compete in the MAAC this season and the next.
But let’s slow down the hype train. The disclaimer with every investment advisor is that “past performance is not indicative of future results,” if the Hawks were a stock you’d be buying at naerly the highest point. Let the hype calm down before crowing them champions of New Jersey, champions of the MAAC, an at-large candidate or anything else. The Hawks have some darn good wins early in the season, but there’s no guarantee this will continue.
(And if Monmouth keeps getting better, goes 18-2 in MAAC play and gets a 12-seed in the NCAA tournament feel free to throw all this right back at me come March, but right now I like my odds.)