If you're just joining us, or re-joining us, 2011-12 at The Mid-Majority (a/k/a Season 8) will feature an experiment in college basketball crowdsourcing. We're calling it the 800 Game Project
, and we're going to try to put together the biggest cross-referenced national spectator game report database the Other 25 conferences of Division I has ever seen. This, here, is the warmup, and a chance to find a balance between action, atmosphere, and context. On Fridays, we'll post a selection of entries from the past week. If you've gone to a game and have a few hundred words to say, or just have ideas as to how the 800GP can be better than we currently imagine it will be, please attach them to The Form™
First, though, a quick link-around recap a Thursday night full of upsets and big in-conference blowouts across Hoops Nation, courtesy of 360
:West Coast: Santa Clara upsets Gonzaga, 85-71Southern: Wofford Wins 88-56 Over ChattanoogaBadlands: Jackrabbits drop shootout to Oakland
(G!O!T!N!)Ohio Valley: Murray State Falters Late, Drops 61-60 Loss To Eastern IllinoisSun Belt: Arkansas State Falls At Denver, 74-36America East: Albany crushes Binghamton, 76-37Thursday's ScoreboardThursday's Linescores
Wright State's 69-64 win over Butler
on Sunday was shoehorned awkwardly into the traditional media year-after narrative
, but our reporter in the stands wrote in to say what the game was really like.
"Hope is a dangerous thing. Hope can drive a man insane."
Red was talking about Shawshank Prison, but the same can be said about the city of Dayton these days. The plight of the city was chronicled in Season 6, and things haven't gotten any better. Dayton ranked 5th in the U.S. in population loss from 2000-2010 according to the 2010 census.
The cities' two Division I basketball programs haven't done much to inspire hope this season. The red and blue squad in the center of town is having a decent season, but had just suffered another loss down I-75 at Xavier, where Dayton hasn't won since the lame duck days of the Carter administration. The green and gold squad in the suburbs is also having a decent season, but was still stinging from a defeat two nights earlier to the hands of Valparaiso. Neither team had a signature win that would jumpstart dreams of March.
Sunday night brought another opportunity for Wright State to get a signature win. Butler had travelled down I-75 after a clash with the Titans of Detroit. There wasn't the usual buzz for this game as there had been in the past between the schools only two hours apart on I-70. The message boards were fairly quiet. The students in the student section weren't armed to the hilt with signs. The crowd was large, but not near the sell-out levels of years past.
As the Raiders took to the court for final warm-ups, they were greeted by Tracks 1 and 2 off of Jock Jams, Volume 1. That being Michael Buffer blaring "Let's Get Ready to Rumble" followed by "Get Ready for This" by 2 Unlimited. I thought all things Jock Jams had been dead and buried since 1999, but they live on at the Nutter Center. Most of the music from the PA and the pep band didn't come close to the current Top 40. But the band plays a mean version of "You Can Call Me Al." Maybe the throwback tracks help remind the crowd of better times when Dayton was bustling and Vitaly Potapenko was patrolling the paint at the Nutter Center.
The game was not for the faint-hearted. In the Horizon League Octagon of Doom, teams scratch and claw their way around pick-and-rolls and through multi-player weaves. Wright State's Vaughn Duggins, playing with a stress fracture in his back, and Butler's Chase Stigall tackled each other fighting for a rebound. Butler took an early five-point lead, but Wright State, who was 0-7 against the Bulldogs over the past three years, refused to go away. The senior class of Duggins, Troy Tabler and Cooper Land knew this was their best chance to beat Butler. They would chip away at the lead again and again, and each time the crowd would get behind them trying to push them over the top. By the time 20 minutes had been played, no advantage had been gained; the score was tied at 34.
After a halftime of men using trampolines to propel themselves to great heights for #omgdunx, the second half was much like the first. Back and forth, neither team could get more than a one-possession lead. Wright State's N'Gai Evans started taking advantage of some favorable matchups with Butler's Ronald Nored and Shawn Vanzant in foul trouble, using his quickness to slash through the lane. With 45 seconds left, he bounced off of Butler's Andrew Smith, making an acrobatic lay-up and drawing a foul that would put Wright State ahead. A Butler miss and two more Evans free throws extended the Raider lead. An illegal screen by Butler's Matt Howard looked to seal the victory.
But the success wouldn't be easy. As the Wright State students started moving toward the court to storm it, Duggins missed two free throws. Butler missed a three, but got the rebound and a put-back two. Land missed one of his two free throws, and suddenly Butler had one last chance to tie the game. Shelvin Mack launched 25 footer from the top of the key, the ball rattled around the rim, halfway down, before popping back out again. Tabler grabbed the rebound and hit two free throws to clinch the win 69-64.
The students, who had been in storming position for several minutes, even when the game's result became questionable, finally got to storm the court. The win gave Raider fans hope and bragging rights for a few days and Wright State stayed within one game of the Horizon League lead, being held by Valpo. Sunday night brought a little bit of hope to the East side of Dayton. Maybe enough for the insanity to last into March Madness.
- Mike M.
Excellent work, sir. But game reports don't have to be elaborate and ornate; we're trying to get as many voices as possible in this. Here's a short read on UNG Greensboro's 77-69 win over Davidson
from MLK Day, a great balance of recap and atmosphere.
The UNCG Spartans began their season on Friday November 12th with a 15 point loss to Virginia Commonwealth in Richmond. Even though UNCG has played the 94th toughest schedule in the country, I don't think anyone who assisted in making that schedule envisioned that they would lose 14 more games in a row after that, including 5 conference games, before finally beating Appalachian State in Boone, NC on Thursday January 13th. On Monday, UNCG had their first chance at a winning record as they hosted Davidson, at the cavernous and only partially-occupied Greensboro Coliseum.
The Spartans fell behind early thanks to sloppy ball-handling by UNCG and hot 3-point shooting by Davidson. But in the second half, Trevis Simpson started racking up points on his way to 33 for the night, and UNCG eventually built a large lead. You could feel the excitement build in a building full of people who, an hour earlier, mainly appeared to be killing time on a school-free holiday Monday night. As the time ticked down people remained on their feet and cringed every time Davidson had a scoring spurt. During each timeout that Bob McKillop or UNCG head coach Mike Dement called to calm down their respetive teams, you could hear nervous clapping and choruses of "Don't blow this!" from a fan base that has become accustomed to waiting for the other shoe to drop.
It never did, and UNCG finally picked up their first home win in ten tries. The fans and the players finally were able to exhale and able to add a notch to the win column. They may be 2-15 overall, but (2-5) in conference play is the one that really matters.
There will probably not be many more wins for UNCG this season. But on one cold night in front of a couple thousand loyal fans, a basketball team finally got to share a celebration.
- Terry H.
This one came in right after our 800GP post
last Wednesday, but we're morally obligated to post it because it's from the person who had the idea in the first place. Bucknell at Navy, January 8, 2011.
Okay, I guess I have to pony up a proof of concept. For better or worse.
At its Patriot League opener, Navy honored its most recent team to reach the Elite Eight - the 1985-1986 team. In other words: the Admiral was in the house!
If you can pick someone out from across a basketball arena when they're sitting down, using the cliche "larger than life" should at least be a pardonable offense. The pink button-down shirt probably helped, though. David Robinson played in the NBA during the only time in my life when I actually watched the NBA, when I was first becoming a basketball fan, so I have that awe of him that kids these days probably feel for Kobe Bryant or something. I briefly considered trying to get an autograph on my free commemorative poster/roster chart, but the line extending out of the concourse and down two flights of stairs suggested that it wasn't going to happen.
The honoring of the 1986 team had at least one ancillary benefit for the 2010-2011 Midshipmen: a pretty decent turnout for the game despite the students' not being required to "report" back to campus until Sunday afternoon. There was a resulting distinct lack of testosterone-fueled cheering, as the students typically form a small but loud section next to the visiting crowd. (Apparently, unlike football, the entire student body isn't required to attend basketball games.) They were replaced mostly by lots of small kids jumping, screaming and vamping for the free t-shirts and other flotsam periodically flung into the crowd. No t-shirt "cannons," though - surely one of the multiple defense contractors that sponsor the Navy athletics department could get on that. Apparently the tradition at Navy w/r/t t-shirts is that they are thrown into the crowd after each made 3-pointer. The Mids shot only 24% from the 3 point line, but that was on 8/33 shooting - a group of hustling interns was seen furiously tying up more t-shirts midway through the first half.
Visiting Bucknell, with a nice-sized crowd in the visitor's section (including someone with a banner that read, simply, BISON), rewarded their fans' efforts with a win. Pretty much everyone seemed to really want their (assuredly ill-fitting) t-shirt - on Navy's last three, I looked across the court and saw two arms in pink shirtsleeves waving furiously - over the head of a guy standing up in the row ahead.
- Jen A.
That's what I call t-shirt time, not that other thing. If yours isn't posted here, it just meant we're trying to keep these entries to three pieces a piece. Please feel free to post your 800GP practice runs on the Bally Club boards
, where the feedback is more immediate, as well as generally helpful and positive thanks to the barriers to entry cardmembership
provides. Also, when you write in, please note if it's okay to use your whole name. For the past two years, TMM policy has been to dot surnames due to voiced concerns in the past about clogging up Google results with non-career-related stuff. (For recent converts, that's why we do that.) Thanks to everybody who's helping in this preview to the grand experiment.