February 17, 2009 11:10 am ET by Kyle Whelliston
SAN JOSE -- Hundreds of votes have been counted, and Lester Hudson now has a nickname. (Figures it would be the one with the cool poem attached to it.) In this space, all future references to Tennessee-Martin's future NBA star will include "Done Ruthless," which is a fantastic anagram of his name, or just "D.R.", which is an indication of how he surgically dismantles opponents.
Chris is our winner, and he's earned himself a Bally. If you'll just use The Formâ„¢ to pass along your mailing info, make sure you use the same e-mail address you used with your original submission -- so we know it's you. We just received a new shipment of Ballys at TMM Mobile HQ, so you'll get it within a week. (All Bally winners of the last month or so should be receiving theirs in the next few days, so make sure you take him to games and snap some pix!)
OK, on to our next contest, but first a plug. Since we're flying back east on Friday to the Butler-Davidson BracketBuster (thanks, voting donator people!), our massive BracketBusters marathon chat will occur on Thursday starting at 11 a.m. ET, live from Saint Mary's College in Moraga, Cal.. Last year, when we were working for Those Guys, we went over six hours and were temporarily the third-longest chat in that site's history behind two long ones by That Guy. (Neyer, Opening Day, we don't want to talk about it.) Let's see how long we can go this time now that we're indie rock again.
One of the greatest and funniest moments of the chats over there occurred in 2007, when I held a BracketBusters Poetry Slam on the Friday beforehand. The idea was to write a freestyle flo in which you would diss your school's BB opponent so hardcore that they wouldn't even show up for the game. Because this was the street, nothing was out of bounds. Players, coaches, everybody was fair game in the sport of spoken word. It was all inspired by this movie.
So this is the second non-annual BBSlam. Use The Formâ„¢, just spit some bars and come hard. On Friday, the best will be put to a vote, and the winner will be announced next Tuesday. If you can survive, you'll get both a Bally and the title of Mid-Majority Slam Champion of 2009, which comes with its very own championship belt.
It's been a struggle-filled year on this side of the Red Line, that's for sure. Just three years after deep NCAA runs, two years after everybody ignored our insistence that "parity" was a myth, and a summer after the number of mid-on-major games decreased by 300, many leagues are down and the vultures are claiming it's all the teams' fault. This year hasn't been easy on this site, for reasons known as well as those that will become clear when the end comes again, in just over a month. For the time being, we're hoping that the setbacks faced by the pool of smaller schools capable of reaching the Tournament's second weekend (a larger pool, mind you, than the ones in 2006 and 2007) can be overcome. Three mids in the Sweet 16 would shut a lot of people up.
Southern: The real ominous news out of the SoCon is pending cuts to minor sports, but in the short-term it's Stephen Curry's mobility deficit that's the key concern. He left the arena on crutches after landing on a Furman player's foot on Saturday, x-rays were negative and the injury was diagnosed as a sprain, and now it's being reported that he's a fast healer. Close one. The 15-1 Wildcats will take on the 12-4 Citadel on Wednesday, and we'll be watching closely. Hope he's back full-strength for the Butler BracketBuster, which was the winning game in our donor lottery. Bally and I are flying back on Friday.
Horizon League: Speaking of those Bulldogs, they took their first home loss of the season on Sunday against Loyola. We're happy for the Ramblers and for Jordan Hicks, the freshman who turned in the performance of his young career with 23 points and eight rebounds. But there's a tinge of regret for Butler (13-2), whose backcourt has been playing inconsistently of late and relying on super-soph/mini-Hulk Matt Howard for excellence. The turnover numbers are creeping up, and a defense that could slip by any screen a month ago is showing cracks. Fact is that Loyola's a year away, and Butler is Sweet 16-capable if it's playing at its best. The more teams we send deep into March, the less we have to defend the importance of what goes on at this level. Casual fans demand simple math.
Bizarro Valley/Colonial: I've been doing this for a few years now, and I've detected some patterns in the traditional media. Some writers will pick a mid-major team with a gaudy record and hype up that squad as The Next Big Thing; then when that team starts losing, it's under the bus, just another clear example of why this level of basketball is so bad. I choose to point out the flaws first, because nobody else seems to be interested in that job. Northeastern has lost three of four to fall back into a tenuous first-place tie in the CAA with VCU at 11-4, and Northern Iowa has seen a four-game BVC lead dwindle to one in a week. If you're milking clock to cover your weaknesses, then good, fast and athletic teams are going to push the tempo and beat you. Any questions?
Big South: There was a seismic shift in the BSC over the weekend, as the Virginia Military Institute took two consecutive road losses to fall back to 11-4. One was the kind of shootout the Keydets are winning two-thirds of this year, the kind they only took half of last season: a 100-97 drop at Coastal Carolina. Last night in Clinton, S.C., relative D-I newbie Presbyterian became the first squad this season to drag VMI into a defensive slog, pulling out a 63-57 TKO at the Hose House. All hail Radford, Brad Greenberg's incredible two-year turnaround success story. The Highlanders and their two scoring big men have claimed seven straight to build a 13-2 mark, including Monday's 80-71 victory at Chuck S..
U'useless Stat of the Day
Above is the lovely Rabobank Arena, home of a rare college basketball alcohol concession as well as the Cal State Bakersfield Roadrunners. They're in the second year of playing a full Division I schedule, and they've taken their lumps as an independent. The team is 6-19 on the season, but as they lined up for the national anthem for a game versus Seattle University, nobody knew what kind of bad history awaited.
Seattle, formerly a factory for NBA players, is on its way back to the NCAA's top flight after mass layoffs at Boeing in the 1970's caused the university to cut back drastically. The Redhawks are in their exploratory year, and will begin playing a full D-I slate next season. For now, the school is still listed as a D2.
Which brings us to our U'useless fact. Last night, Seattle absolutely embarrassed Cal State Bakersfield on its own home court in a 78-54 blowout. And they didn't let up, scoring 13 points in the final minute. It was a legendary asswhomping, for sure.
There have been 21 victories for non-D1's on the home floors of Division I teams this season, up sharply from 14 last year. One was this 21-point win by Coker at Coastal Carolina back in November. But in the past 15 years, there has not been a wider victory margin for a non-D1 over a homestanding D1 than we saw last night. And the strange thing is that hardly anybody left early. Must have been the cheap beer.
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