(photo courtesy: Monmouth Athletics)

Slowing Down The Monmouth Hype Train

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:

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.)

4 thoughts on “Slowing Down The Monmouth Hype Train

  1. NEC Fan

    John Templon are you kidding me? Monmouth is still a 7-point dog to Dayton. So what? They should be. Dayton is really good and recently pounded Alabama and then beat Iowa.Give this team the credit they deserve and quit being a wet blanket. Little schools never get any breaks when they play the big schools and yet Monmouth has 2 impressive wins. Who cares that they had to hang on to beat Notre Dame? It’s still a great win. Nobody is saying that Monmouth is going to the Final 4 and evryone has the right to hype Monmouth up after to big wins. I have hated Monmouth since the Wayne Szoke days but give credit where credit is due.

  2. MUalum

    Monmouth may not be deserving the “hype” but they certainly have deserved the adulation. They are a small school that most of their opponents have probably never heard of. To have the two victories over storied programs such as ND and UCLA are certainly worthy of praise. This is a team that has been 2 years in the making and now you are seeing King Rice’s first solid recruiting class come of age. I’m hopeful for a win vs Dayton tonight, however I will take a solid showing that proves they are no fluke. It’d be interesting to see if they can keep up this intensity throughout the rest of the season vs MAAC schools. This team stood toe-to-toe with USC for most of that game as well. Monmouth should be proud of their performances but not complacent. However, the hype that has been created is certainly warranted and will make the rest of their OOC and the MAAC take notice. FLY HAWKS FLY!

  3. Joeb

    Your article smacks of some weird bias you harbor against Monmouth. Monmouth’s notoriety (it’s not ‘hype’) has come well-deserved. I haven’t heard any crazy predictions going forward, just normal enthusiasm for the rest of the season. They’ve beaten UCLA, ND, come 1 shot away from going OT with Dayton, and played USC toe-to-toe until falling out of it on foul shots in the last few minutes. But you’re still a ‘doubting Thomas’, as you’re entitled to be. But when you focus on what you consider negatives — they beat a ‘down’ Drexel team (you only can beat the teams on the schedule, good or bad), their performance is not indicative of a dominant conference run (who said it was?), they had to hang on vs. ND (really baffling, they won, didn’t they?), and if they were a stock, you’d be buying at the highest point (you KNOW this, I presume?). Every season there’s a Cinderellla, but you seem intent on not allowing Monmouth might be this year’s darling. If I were to guess (not predict, as you seem to want to), I’d say you are an alum of some other MAAC school, and pretty jealous there might be a new sheriff in the conference this year!

    1. John Templon Post author

      I would just like to note here (and for the rest of the comments) that I have nothing at all against Monmouth. I was impressed by the victory over USC, good revenge, and the Hawks currently have an excellent resume. I just don’t anticipate this run of play continuing all season.

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