SOMEWHERE IN MISSOURI -- Our Ultimate Project contest ends today -- or rather, the first phase of it. There were so many great entries (over 40) that I personally can't decide on who The Mid-Majority's No. 1 work-in-progress big man should be. So we are going to put it to you, gentle readers. The field has been narrowed to three very large and under-developed finalists, and you can vote on your favorite via the "free web poll" below.
Finalists were chosen for their uniqueness and the forcefulness of their defenders' arguments. "C. Colton" would like to introduce the story of redshirt junior Adam Thomas
of Cal State Fullerton, who weighs in at 7-2 and 230 lbs.
Thomas, best described as the "gangly white kid" on the CS Fullerton hoops team, didn't even play ball at his high school -- a la Mark Eaton -- in Lee's Summit, Mo. Thomas was working in a grocery store before taking to the hardwood and per his CS Fullerton bio: was "described as fat, dumpy and awkward" when he arrived at his JC before dropping 70 pounds during conditioning drills when he played at Penn Valley CC. Fat, dumpy and awkward! At least he lost the weight, but this kid needs a big break! Ultimate Project!
Jake out in Philly thinks Kennesaw State's sophomore center John Allison
The gangly, 7'1" 220 lb (15.71 stone) Allison is the first Scottish player on scholarship in the history of Division I, which is important for 3 reasons: 1. He has a funny accent. 2. He represents a perfect excuse to make a "Braveheart" joke without having to make reference to Mel Gibson. 3. He comes with a sublime ready-made nickname - "The Scottish Owl" After a redshirt year and a lackluster freshman debut, Allison scored 15 points two weeks ago in a loss to James Madison for his first career double figure-scoring performance and knocked down his first 3-pointer of the year in a 66-64 win over Nick Schneiders and USC Upstate in your G!O!T!N! Who doesn't love a 7-footer shooting 3's (other than his coach, perhaps)?
"Gangly" is a popular word when describing candidates for Ultimate Projectship. In many cases, it's easier to pronounce than the player's name. Matt thinks 7-0 Presbyterian Blue Hose redshirt freshman Steven Yien Gatkuoth
is worthy of the title.
Mr. Gatkuoth is a native of Sudan and has come to this small college in order to get an education. His current major, undecided, sounds like it may be a cross between Philosophy and Neuro-Science, which shows his intellect. According to his bio, he's been making "tremendous strides" with his strength and stamina. Obviously his strides are very long, but with some strength and stamina to go along with that, he could be a major asset for a team transitioning into Division 1. Last season he accidentally left a suit in New York, where his team traveled for a game. Sure, for you and I that's no big deal, try being 7-foot and getting a suit!
So who should it be? Who will be the 2008-09 Ultimate Project? (We're planning to make this a yearly thing, you know, like People's
Sexiest Man Alive.) Make your decision! Voting closes on Monday.Red Line UpsetTexas-San Antonio 78, at Rice 75
-- The Southland's Roadrunners knocked off a very good baseball school last night in Houston, despite being outshot and outrebounded by considerable margins. People who go to Rice may be smart, but schools in conferences below the Red Line can be crafty -- the difference in this 55th RLU of the season, a nice comeback win by the SLC over C-USA, was the seven-turnover margin. The uptempo Roadrunners followed up being torched at Navy to a 71 percent tune by allowing Rice 58 percent shooting, and UTSA now has the nation's worst field-goal defense, allowing 58.5 percent of opponents' shots to fall.They Came CloseConnecticut 68, at Buffalo 64
-- I got a few notes from people wondering if my ranking computer was broken when it put the Bulls at No. 9. While the standing won't last for long, the notes stopped after 9 p.m. ET, around the time Buffalo was nearly pulling off an upset over UConn. The score was tied with less than a minute to go, all the more remarkable because the Bulls did everything they could do to throw the game away -- dumb fouls, 39 percent shooting and an 0-for-10 performance by senior leader Greg Gamble
. Big Buffalo ups to Rodney Pierce
, the former Rider Bronc who kept it close with his career-high 28.U'useful Stat of the Day
In our game last night, an instant Badlands Conference classic, Oakland's Eric Kangas
dropped a game-icing 3-pointer
on the stingy UMKC Kangaroos to secure an 84-78 win
, also head coach Greg Kampe's 400th career victory. Kangas is one of those long-bombers who have had a small bit of difficulty adjusting to the new arc -- his 3-point shooting average, up over 40 percent during his sophomore and junior years, is now an even third.
But some shooters seem to like the increased distance. Take Rhode Island's Jimmy Baron
, for example. The Rams coach's son has gone completely insane this year from 3, hitting 29 of his 53 attempts for a staggering 54.7 percent... and this has come against teams like Duke, Villanova and VCU. He shot "only" 40.6 percent from 3-land last season.
Another player who hasn't been confused by the new candy-striped double-arc is Jamarco Warren
of Charleston Southern. The emerging Big South star was a pedestrian, forgettable over-shooter during his freshman season, but he must have put in a lot of offseason work. Warren has converted on 51.6 percent of his 3 attempts (33 of 64), upping his year-over-year average by 17 percentage points.Finally
This is Company A of NMCB 27, a band of Navy Seabees
currently stationed in Iraq's western al-Anbar province. They are trained to dig water wells, and digging water wells in the desert is one of the most difficult things you can imagine, right up there with rolling Sisyphus' stone up a hill or squeezing water from concrete (metaphorically or otherwise). But they are incredibly good at what they do, being a part of the world's greatest military and all.
Recently, they successfully dug a well near Marine Combat Outpost Tripoli in a support operation
, and here they are gathered around their completed work. There, second from the right in the picture, is The Official Wife of the Mid-Majorityâ„¢, the bravest person I know. I am incredibly proud.