Competitors and critics will have varying opinions on the definition -- let alone the very existence -- of a "good loss" in sports. But all of them know what a "bad loss" looks like.
The Seattle University men's basketball team definitely had a few bad losses last season on its way to an 8-22 record (3-15 in the Western Athletic Conference). But none was worse than the 72-55 rout against Denver on Feb. 7 in the Mile-High City.
The Redhawks, who led the WAC in turnovers last season with 18 per game, shot themselves in the feet and ankles on this night by committing 26 turnovers against the Pioneers.
Of the 12 players that saw action for Seattle U, 11 lost the ball at least once. Seven Redhawks were responsible for three turnovers apiece, including three starters. Sophomore guard Jarell Flora, who played 24 minutes off the bench, was the only one who didn't turn the ball over.
Meanwhile, Denver capitalized on SU's slippery fingers to create a layup line on their end. The Pioneers scored almost as many points off turnovers in the first half (21) as the Redhawks scored total points before the break (23). Those transition buckets helped Denver take a 22-6 early lead, and SU could never catch up.
With starting forward Deshaun Sunderhaus limited to just two minutes by an ankle injury and fellow frontcourt starter (and SU's leading scorer) Clarence Trent on the bench for all but 14 minutes, the Redhawks had to find offense in unconventional places. Backup freshman guard Luiz Bidart led the way with 14 points and three three-pointers, while Trent was the only other SU player to hit double figures with 10 points. Denver guard Chase Hallem set a new school record with eight steals.
Oddly enough, evidence suggests that had SU just played its typical game and stayed below 20 turnovers, it may have been able to pull off an upset. The consistently inconsistent-shooting Redhawks made 55 percent of their field goals and 85 percent of their free throws against Denver. And even with Sunderhaus and Trent on the bench most of the night, the Redhawks outrebounded the Pioneers 29-20.
Even more frustrating was that Seattle U would throw up such a big number in the turnover column so late into the season. Three-quarters of the way into the schedule, when the Redhawks should have been improving in terms of executing their offense and protecting the ball, they played like 12 guys who had just met in the locker room that day.
Add on the fact that the Denver loss was SU's final televised game of the season, and it was enough to leave an ugly image in the eyes of Redhawk Nation.