When the postseason is all that matters, isn't it OK to enter the playoffs with a record that doesn't suggest a winning season?
Coach after coach is happy to tell fans and players that the new season begins Feb. 5 with the tipoff of the IHSAA girls basketball sectional games.
Each team's record is then reset to 0-0. All previous wins don't matter, neither do the previous losses.
There's a history of success in resetting the record.
Last year Castle entered the sectional with a 9-11 record. The Knights then went 2-1 in the new season, winning a sectional title and advancing to the regional round.
Knox, which beat Hanover Central in Class 3A for the sectional title last season, entered the playoff with a 9-11 record. Going 3-1, the Redskins put their name on a sectional trophy for the first time since the start of the class system.
Knox is 8-11 this year and drew the bye to open the postseason.
This year, Andrean plays one more game with a 7-14 record and on Sunday drew Hanover Central in the first round. Nine of those 14 losses were by less than 10 points.
"We've come through the season, and I think if we hit a basket here or played a full quarter differently there, our record could be a lot different," Andrean coach Tony Scheub said. "It's good to redeem ourselves from the season and make up for those blemishes. Now we have a chance to fix those mistakes."
Though Andrean lost to four of the five sectional opponents it faced this season, none was by more than eight points.
The 0-0 postseason is the reward for teams that slogged through a tough regular-season schedule.
Among the more redeemable stories is Lafayette Central Catholic, which has won a sectional twice in the last five years without a winning record. Last year, the Knights were 3-18 after the regular season, then went 3-1, winning a sectional title and reaching the regional final. The .140 winning record of the regular season becomes .750 once February starts.
Learning from mistakes and having the chance to not repeat them is what makes the IHSAA playoff system rewarding.
"We continue to get better every game and every practice," Scheub said. "Hopefully we're peaking at the right time. It's not going to happen perfectly every time.
"They see the improvement, and they see us getting better. The sectional is coming at the right time for us."
This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.