CHICAGO -- Here at The Mid-Majority, the calendar is off-kilter. New Year's Day is November 1, and Auld Lang Syne is a refrain for March or April, not now. Most other people, however, strictly follow the more traditional Julian calendar, a grid of 12 months and not five. Still, December 31st is a day of reflection for all of us and each of us. It's a chance to pause for a second and consider the previous trip around the sun... before going off to try and drink as much alcohol as it takes to forget it.
I've chosen a non-linear life where every day and every year is never the same, and so New Year's Eve is the most frightening day of all the 365, much more so than the day that always directly precedes each TMM annum-opener, Halloween. This reminder of uncertainty is why I drink. Each year for as long as I can remember, I've written myself a letter, dated December 31, and it always says the same thing. I didn't see that coming, and I'm sorry I wasn't able to warn you properly. Sincerely, Kyle It's a Vonnegutesque kind of thing. When I open the letter every year on December 31, it will either be painfully poignant or, if it was a good year, ironically funny.
This calendar year, 2010, was far, far better than the previous one. Here at the site, it was by far the best January to December stretch since we began, full of adventure and fun and community and experimentation. We have picked up readers and friends along the way, and we've lost plenty as well. There's no telling who and how many of you will be here next New Year's Eve. But I'm most grateful for the people who were here at the very very very beginning, the ones who drop lines just to say that the seventh year has been a lot like the first, back when I was free not to give a f___, to put too much of (my)self in there, back when there were crazy and divisive things like kiddie recaps and old-guy recaps or that time I pretended to be the possession arrow.
Between January 1 and March 15 of 2010, there were only 10 instances of teams from the Other conferences (24 at the time) beating schools from above the Red Line. This is a trend that will no doubt continue in 2011, because of the onset of conference play. Beginning next week, there will be much more time to talk about the significance of events like Cleveland State's 73-55 beatdown of Horizon League upstart Loyola last night, or South Dakota State's 56 percent shooting performance in an early 91-71 Badlands result, the Jackrabbits' first league win of the season.
The RLU winning percentage for Season 7 won't waver that much from here until the national postseason; currently, it's .152 (or 111 wins out of 724 chances). That was the exact same percentage last year on New Year's Eve (120 out of 783). In March, last year's total jumped two entire percentage points after all those wonderful upsets. If we wish for anything in 2011, it's more of that kind of same.
There are still a few leftover results from 2010 to bring up, though. On Thursday, the 111th RLU of the year happened when former Missouri Valley member and current Conference USA outpost Tulsa took out the Mountain West's TCU and former Kent State head coach Jim Christian. The 69-66 final featured plenty of bad shooting and an epic final free throw shooting parade; the Golden Hurricane will head into conference play with seven victories against six losses, and it will be difficult for them to keep a four-year streak of 20-win seasons alive.
And there were five on Wednesday night: Saint Mary's, UTEP, Rice, Rhode Island and Richmond. While we were on break, there was a perfect Christmas weekend, as in perfect: every single chance was converted. On Saturday, all three of the Red Line games ended in our favor out in Hawaii (San Diego, Butler and Hawaii all won), and the only game on Sunday saw Richmond take out Seton Hall. Peace on earth, goodwill towards mids.
Game! Of! The! Night!
Presbyterian at Winthrop (Big South) Winthrop Coliseum - Rock Hill, SC 6:00 EST
The first time I applied for a driver's license, I filled out my written test incorrectly and was denied on a technicality. I was so unhappy that I had to wait another month to try again, because I had tried so hard (and I had that first evening all planned too). I wished the people at the DMV could have just recognized, as fellow human beings, that I meant to do well.
This experience came to mind when Presbyterian College's plans to compete as a full postseason qualifier a year from now were destroyed due to bad paperwork. So I understand the school's plight, but am not exactly sympathetic. However, the intimation that Al'Lonzo Coleman, Pierre Miller and Josh Johnson (who were strategically positioned have been seniors on that first Bison Fever-like Blue Hose team) are some freaked-crazy cyborgs from a Robot planet for even considering staying after losing out on a odds-negative chance at a No. 15 seed in the 2012 NCAA Tournament... well, that's just bizarre. I mean, really? That's the hook to this story? The Presby Three are simply looking at the big picture.
The Blue Hose (6-7, 1-1) beat Auburn and Wake Forest in a span of a week. Winthrop beat Wake Forest too, back on Nov. 22 when it was still a fad. The Eagles are once again waiting in the Big South's weeds, playing Randy Peele's grinding "boring" style on both ends (.87 points per possession, .99 allowed). Despite the loss of selfless defense-always anti-star Mantoris Robinson over the summer, Winthrop has plenty of low-shooting, high-energy players to come in behind him and try to return the school to the NCAA Tournament for the 10th time since 1999 (one favorite: sophomore guard Robbie Dreher, who's doubled his scoring average to 14.4 ppg on 41 percent shooting in nine games). That's the thing: even if Presby was eligible next year, they'd have to get past Winthrop.