Like the saying goes, we do indeed get letters.
Dude, you're only at 37 and you have two and a half months left. You're never going to make it to 100. Good luck though.
Thank you for writing, highly-ranked power-conference friend. If I am between 45 and 50 by the end of January, I will be in good shape. Twenty games in February (including the six on the Red State Basketball Goodwill Tour) would take me to 65-70, which would set up the final frantic push in the most wonderful month of all.When I attended 82 games last year
, I was at 50 at the close of the regular season and used some serious vacation days to go out on the road and notch 25 clicks in a seven-day period (as well as an 85-mph speeding ticket between Cincinnati and Indianapolis). Details, itineraries and logo t-shirts will be forthcoming, but a fierce rush during this year's conference Championship Week will yield up to 30 games in a 10-day span. Add a slate of six first and second round Tournament games plus a few regional NIT contests, and a 35-game March is not out of the question.
So what I'm trying to say is that save for seasonal illness, severe car trouble and/or the whims of Hoop God, I'll make my hundred. The great mystery of the 100 Games Project
, hidden to us all, is related to where and when the odometer rolls over to three digits.
You generally write an interesting and insightful article each day about the MM teams I favor, but what's your deal with the Z*gs? Is it just a bad running joke, like Jay Leno? Or maybe some Jesuit school rejected your application as a HS senior? First you don't even write their name (shunned?), but use some dumb letter code. They are not only a mid-major, but the best in the past 5 years (I'm not an alum) - they have achieved parity, or more, with the best high majors in the country in a mid-major conference. Isn't that what most, or all, MM's want to achieve?
I get quite a few letters like this one, but yours is one of the few that doesn't make use of potty words, so I appreciate that. I've always been more of a Letterman guy (so much so that I successfully applied to Ball State
out of high school), and I have nothing but mad love for the Brothers.
There was a time, back in November, when there were no games to cover - so I padded The Mid-Majority's archives with essays. One of them
was about the strange Urge that propels athletic departments to spend gobs of money and conduct academic fraud - all in the name of national attention, moving up in the ranks, and Tournament success. The school in Spokane went a different route: continuing to bully their small conference instead of moving up to a league of equals.
But no Bulldog envy here. In December, when they started knocking off power-conference teams, I began offering detailed analysis of their run and suggested that they might get even better
. In retrospect, I realize that was a mistake. Folks e-mailed and posted elsewhere that I was treating a mid-major like a major on a mid-major site, and that I was a major hypocrite for doing so. The new middle ground: I cover them only when they lose, and I refer to them as the Unnamed Major Program From the Northwest.
Yes, this is a site that covers mid-major basketball, and one that attempts to recognize successful teams for their fair play, honesty and good system-ball within their respective strata. And call me old-school, but I'm a fan of one conference, one bid
So having UMPFN
smack-dab in the middle of the West Coast Conference presents a quandary. They are not a mid-major program anymore, what with the massive basketball machinery they've built. On the other hand, they have indeed given folks in Moraga and Santa Clara and San Francisco a viable model for success (and late-night ESPN time). But despite recent results, the only parity in the WCC is two-through-seven, and the other teams have not "caught up." Ten-minute efforts like the one the other night against San Francisco
are disgraceful, and I'm secretly glad they weren't able to get away with it. Me, I want UMPFN to move up to a conference like the WAC or Pac-11 - but since that's not going to happen, the five uppercase letters stand as my silent protest. Thanks for writing, James.
The other thing about UMKC is their two big transfers - Quinton Day and Tim Blackwell - who became eligible at semester. I believe (but don't quote me on it) that they are winless without them, and undefeated with them. Are they the best team in the state of Missouri?
Trickle-down economics might not have worked, but trickle-down basketball does. One of the greatest things to happen to mid-major basketball in recent years is the influx of power-conference benchwarmers that those smaller schools lost recruiting battles for. Day, an explosive 6'1" guard, is a local product who went out to Southern California
for a spell, and Blackwell's a wiry 6'4" guy who left Creighton
. Both arrived in the midst of the Kangaroos' seven-game losing streak, and played their first game together for loss number five, a nailbiter against Central Florida
. Blackwell had a 25-point outburst at Centenary, but Day's had the most impact of the two - he's scored in double figures nine out of 11 times, and dished 10 assists in a losing cause against Wichita State
So yeah, Eric, I may have simplified things a bit yesterday when discussing UMKC's
eight-game streak. It's guard depth, too. They now have three little guys who can shoot the lights out, and then there's a huge 325-lb. dude named Carlton Aaron who holds down the middle. Who's that third shooter? We'll probably meet him on Monday (hint).
An All-Missouri tournament - held, say, right now
- would be interesting. Southwest Missouri State
is probably the best Show-Me team on paper right now, but they're going through a tough stretch. Southeast Missouri
and Saint Louis
would be out in the opening round-robin. But if the Tigers and 'Roos were to meet, the satellite school might win out if they could find a way to contain extended runs (the only chink in their armor lately). Something to discuss with my PlayStation later.
Just wanted to drop you a line to let you know how much I've enjoyed the site. I started reading after a link to the NC State "report" (from a bulletin board on Duke Basketball Report [my mid-majority creds, Penn class of '01, are probably undermined by my "other" degrees - from Duke]) and you've inspired me to indulge my love of watching hoops live even though I'm spending a few years working in the Great Red Beyond. Going from the Palestra to Cameron Indoor may well have spoiled me for life, venue-wise, but I'm planning a road trip to Murray State to check out the Racers pretty soon nonetheless.
Thanks, Jen. See, now that's what I'm talking about (even though some of us Philly boys would consider Palestra-to-Cameron a step down, ha). If this site has inspired one single person to make their own mid-major pilgrimage, then I've done my job here and can retire from blogging a contented man. Of course I won't, but you get the idea. I'm overjoyed.
Over there on the right-hand panel, there's a schedule of today's games. You can enter your zip code and sort the list by geographic proximity. Jump in the car, take the kids to a small-college basketball game today. Unless, of course, you live in the Northeast - we're supposed to get three feet of snow tonight.
I had a guy at the game, and he said Gathers took an extra step after the beautiful feed from Key of Eastern Connecticut. It was a good no-call. Next trip down: trailing by two, Coach Valvano calls a TO, asked his longtime assistant Al Maguire for a suggestion. Al replies: Jimmy Boy, you gotta dance with the girl who brought you to the dance. Bingo, God's squad ran Reggie Lewis off a double screen and and somewhere in the heavens the shot hit bottom-net. Jimmy V was seen running from cloud to cloud.
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