CLEVELAND -- What is the truth? The truth is one part fact, one part perspective, and zero parts perspiration. The truth is the vessel, the conduit that carries it, and it cannot survive without a fixed context. The truth is a woman... except for the times when it's something else entirely. The truth has no temperature or consistency or weight; life would certainly be easier if it could be picked up and examined like that.
Speaking the truth is never a mistake, especially when spoken in one's own defense... or in the defense of one's dreams. The truth will set you free, but it may end up costing you everything.
Sometimes the truth is hidden, secret. Sometimes one chooses not the divulge the truth as a matter of principle, which is a shade of difference removed from not telling the truth. There is a painful consequence to silence, however. It allows for others to insert their own details, to fill the spaces in between with opinions, to fulfill tiny agendas. If these versions are broadcast far and wide enough, many might simply accept these unchallenged third-party distortions as the whole truth.
And indeed, the truth is relative... absolute truth collapses, absolutely. Every war ever fought by human beings has centered around a clash of competing truths -- while this method has been effective in redrawing maps and consolidating power, very few have ever truly murdered an opposing version of the truth, or exterminated every last true believer. You may be able to kill me, but you'll never kill my five-eyed Lizard God.
I think that one of the great unexamined elements of our culture is its use of sports to fill a void where no absolute truths exist. No matter what religion you subscribe to, no matter your ideology or political affiliation, everybody has to accept what the scoreboard says. You can niggle about perceived superiority, or the minute details of "why," or who's the "best ever," but you can never question 68-59 or 65-42. Those numbers will never change. When there are rules and referees and countervailing forces in a controlled arena, indisputable winners and losers and facts are possible and real.
Eventually, the game ends and it's time to leave -- too much time in these careful confines can result in an advanced stage of mental infancy. But we'll linger here a few moments more, before we swing wide the doors and continue attempting to navigate the scary and chaotic morass of moral relativity. Together.
Horizon League: Butler made it dramatic for about a half in last night's G!O!T!N!, but clamped down defensively and on the boards to come away with a clean nine-point win against Green Bay (6-2). The Bulldogs are now 17-1 overall for the first time ever, have nine straight wins and remain undefeated in the league at 8-0. Milwaukee is up next, which was stunned by 3-6 Valparaiso last night in the ARC. The Panthers dropped their second league contest 63-51 thanks to 29 percent "shooting," a team performance that yielded only 15 field goals. Hard to fully credit Valparaiso with that, as they've been the Horizon's third-from-worst team in defensive FG percentage so far.
West Coast: There may not have been as emphatic a conference statement anywhere in Hoops Nation this year -- in a battle between two league-undefeated WCC teams, Saint Mary's (5-0) pummeled San Diego 65-42 on the road to win its 15th straight game (the nation's longest active victory streak). Powered by the best frontcourt in mid-majordomâ„¢, the Gaels shot 56 percent and doubled USD on the boards 36-18, with Omar Samhan doing the double-double thing with 16 points and 11 rebounds. Butler-Saint Mary's BracketBuster now! We're currently a week away from the first leg of the league's central showdown, as SMC will go to Gonzaga on Jan. 29. The Zags are 4-0, having disposed of Pepperdine easily last night.
Western Athletic: Utah State fans are a little sick of everyone bashing their schedule, but here's the SOS of two prominent one-loss teams on gigantic win streaks: Team X: 222; Team Y: 251. Give up? Here's a hint: Team Y is nationally-ranked Saint Mary's. USU won its 13th consecutive last night, winning at San Diego State by four. The heroes, as has become custom for the Aggies lately, were Gary Wilkinson and Jared Quayle (combined 38 points), who could run for office on a ticket if there wasn't that name awkwardness. Lurking a game behind is old foe Nevada, who beat Hawaii at home by nine and now awaits their shot at the leaders in Logan next Thursday. You might see an unprecedented double-G!O!T!N! on that night.
Northeast: Can't go without mentioning our game last night; Mount Saint Mary's escaped a late run by Central Connecticut and won 64-62, surviving an odd CCSU strategy that involved spending the first half burning the clock for 34 seconds before nailing perfect jumpers. Both teams are 5-3 in the NEC, and the entire 11-team conference was active last night except for league leaders Robert Morris (7-1), which is resting up for its virtually assured win at Fairleigh Dickinson, a team with a symmetrical 4-14 (4-4 NEC) record.
U'useless Stat of the Day
A lot of people sent this one in, and we'll get to another mailbag soonIpromise once things get settled down again, but Boston University certainly has played its share of overtime games lately. Last night at the venerable and historic Roof, the Terriers outlasted America East champions UMBC in an 80-77 double-OT thriller-chiller. This came just three days after a four-overtime win over Stony Brook. John Holland played all 60 minutes!
Add in earlier OT wins over George Washington and Bucknell, and BU has played eight overtime periods this year. It probably doesn't surprise you to know that that leads the nation, but there are three previously tied teams with six: William & Mary, Idaho State and Bucknell. And there are the 129 squads that haven't played any extra periods at all.
Boston University has already tied last year's national high in overtime periods with about two months to go in the season -- Quinnipiac played eight of them in 2007-08. BU's next OT period would match the endurance kings of recent memory, the Indiana State Sycamores of 2005-06. They played nine extra frames.