PAWTUCKET, R.I. -- It's Wednesday, and that's come to mean mailbag day around here -- that sack of letters is the hump. Your input is always welcome via The Form™, but that's not the only way to "interact" with TMM... we have another Chat Block coming up Friday at 4 pm Eastern, and if you've been to a game recently and want to share a few hundred words about it, we're doing periodic Friday practice runs for our 800 Game Project next season.
Just found your website. Love the concept, but where might be the Missouri Valley and CUSA ? Are they "too major" for mid-majority?
Welcome, and thanks! The last thing we want or need is some kind of misunderstanding when new folks drop by. Admittedly, there's so much stuff going on each day that we never have time to provide orientation services. Our in/out line for leagues is based on economics, and we have a few school-specific exceptions. But we love both of those conferences, talk about them as much as we can, and at the very least provide linescores for every game, and sometimes link to feature stories and pictures too.
Wow. That is definitely the best re-appropriation of the Pac-Man theme we've heard (eat it, Buckner & Garcia). And it is definitely smac, man. Mr. Mavunga is a fine and articulate gentleman and we've enjoyed watching him these last few years. I'm just a little worried about posting this, mostly because of its references to chasing paper like a track star. Plus, with the random way the NCAA police has been acting lately, there may be secret secondary violations in regards to offering others' girlfriends hotel room keys (or rhyming Ph.D. with OMG).
Sometimes a reminder of failure has to be so abject before it can truly be appreciated for the pile of dung it is. Long Beach State plays its home games at the Mike and Arline Walter Pyramid, one of only three perfect pyramids in the U.S. (see Memphis and the Luxor in Las Vegas for the other two). Despite its impressive appearance, the Pyramid is not lit up at night, leaving its dark, glass exterior indistinguishable against the evening horizon. Further, its inside is cavernous and somewhat unpolished since it was never built out to completion due to the California State University system's funds drying up in the 1990s. Welcome to West Coast mid-major hoops.
- Cornelius C.
We haven't been out to Long Beach State in nearly four years, but the strangeness of the building (and, by extension, the program) is hard to forget. I don't know if there's anywhere a giant blue aluminum pyramid would fit into a normal American landscape, but southern California might be the only place. And it's amazing how many exposed and unfinished surfaces there are inside, and how dark it is. The 49ers are still the only team I've ever personally witnessed quit during an NCAA Tournament game (the 121-86 loss to Tennessee at Columbus in 2007). This season, played out against the backdrop of another California budget crisis, is shaping up to be almost that weird. The Big West's current best hope, Long Beach has a 11-10 overall record and was 6-0 in the league until last week. Then, over the weekend at UC Irvine, they ran into a force more powerful than Pyramid Power: the Power of Shu.
I saw a bit of bowling, televised by a certain sports media company, that reminded me of the article you wrote about Lombardi, and how true victory comes when a man is defeated, but a survivor, proud just to have competed.
On the surface, most people would have seen the score of the bowling match, Mika Koivuniemi defeating Tom Daugherty by a score of 299-100 in the semifinals of the nationally-televised tournament of champions, and assumed that Koivuniemi was the happier man. The reactions, as told by the video, tell the true story.
Daugherty had 92 points through nine frames, and was working off an open frame. He got 6 on his first throw of the tenth frame... leaving the dreaded "Big Four" split, with the two outermost pins on each side. He needed to get two pins to reach 100. Obviously, the match had long been decided. But he got the crowd pumped up. He held up two fingers, to make sure everyone knew what he needed. The crowd was chanting "two! two! two!"... and he got the two pins, salvaging, at least, his dignity; he avoided being the first professional bowler to miss triple digits on TV. He pumped his fists, went through the crowd, double-high-fiving anyone he could. He'd at least gotten 100.
Koivuniemi was next, and was working off nine strikes in nine frames. He got a strike, and another strike, and was one throw away from a perfect game, 300. He threw the ball, nine pins fell down, and one rolled towards the last one standing. It made contact, but the final pin did not fall. 299. Koivuniemi, although victorious on paper, fell to the ground, unbelieving that he had not been perfect. If you did not know the score, you would think it was Koivuniemi who had lost by 199 pins. In short, it was a perfect example of the thrill of salvaging something from defeat, and the agony of a less-than-desired victory.
- Michael B.
First of all, this is the best and greatest letter we've ever received about losing with dignity. This bowling match captures something we see in Our Game on an annual basis, but it's distilled into a convenient 100 seconds of edited video. Watching this, it's easy to imagine it (as Michael did) without announcers or chyrons; without that media filter, any discerning viewer would quickly assume Daugherty was the clear winner. To define victory for oneself is to bypass the printed rules, to transcend external expectations, to seize control and gain mastery of the game. It is a deeply subversive act, a redefinition of what it means to win.
Atlantic Sun:Down goes Belmont, and it's only fitting that the first conference loss comes to the Bruins' most hated rivals from down the street, 74-63. Lipscomb was down by as many as 18 late in the first half, but a Belmont defensive letdown in the paint translated into a 11-2 run the other way, and a second-half surge culminated in a full-on floor storming. And that may not even have been the craziest game in the A-Fun last night. Down near the bottom of the league, Florida Gulf Coast survived a homestanding Stetson team and three overtimes to win by 12. Meanwhile, East Tennessee State defended home court against last-place USC Upstate by a 67-52 count; for all the work Belmont put in with building an early 10-0 record, the two-time defending champions of the league are just a single game behind in the standings.
America East: We will get our very own first taste of #AEMadness tonight, as Boston University hosts Binghamton in the middle of a snowstorm. Both teams are mid-table at the moment, which is surprising for opposite reasons, but the leaders remain Maine. The Black Bears' latest conquest was primary hockey rival New Hampshire, a 64-50 job in which no Wildcat scored in double figures... or, for that matter, more than eight points. Vermont issued a standings correction on Tuesday night, taking out Hartford by 21. In keeping with recent Catamount blowouts, it was a four-point game after 20 minutes before a runaway 42-25 second half iced it. Sometimes, #AEMadness is self-perpetuated; it has to be taken care of early.
Independents: In the final season before the moratorium on new Division I members is lifted by the NCAA, it's harder than ever to go it alone -- six cautionary tales for all those schools who are considering making the jump from the lower levels without a conference. Savannah State (MEAC) and SIU Edwardsville (Ohio Valley) have eventual destinations, but the others are drifting in some way or another. Fast-paced Seattle, who won hearts in non-conference season with wins over Oregon State and Virginia, is finding that magic difficult to bottle. But it's not all bad out in the indie-rock basketball world. Last night in Bakersfield, the Roadrunners stunned and held off Cal State Fullerton 77-75, for CSB's first win against the Big West Titans in eight tries. It was the same Cal State Fullerton team that beat league leaders Long Beach State and the conference champions from UC Santa Barbara last week.
McNeese State at Nicholls State (Southland) Stopher Gym - Thibodaux, LA 8:00 EST
We've been meaning to check in on the Southland for a while, but there really hasn't been much of any pattern in the league so far. While parity is exciting and desired, it's kind of difficult to write about. But if the invisible camera crew can find their way along the dark bayou roads to Thibodaux this evening, tonight we will get our G!O!T!N! Louisiana style. As the friendly greeting-slash-invitation goes down there, comeon!
McNeese State has a team called the Cowboys that plays home games in an actual rodeo arena. It's been one of the quieter programs in the Southland since the peak years in the early 2000s under Tic Price. In the seven years prior to 2010-11, McNeese didn't win more than 15 games in a season, and bringing in Dave Simmons from Northwestern State's 2006 Round of 32 coaching staff that summer hasn't improved matters. But! This year, the Cowboys are 11-7, matching their 2009-10 season win total, even though they used all four of their allotted non-Division I slots for padding. Now they're one of the many 3-2 teams in the SLC, opening with three wins against Texas teams and dropping the last two at the road at megadirectionals Southeastern Louisiana and Northwestern State. Being away from the old horse barn has been tough: 10-0 at home, 1-7 on the road.
And the road is where the Cowboys will be tonight. Nicholls State (9-7, 3-2) plays host, where they're 8-0 (they have travel problems themselves, with an identical 1-7 road mark). But any discussion of the Colonels starts and ends with 6-foot-6 Sydneysider Anatoly Bose, the nation's eighth-leading scorer at 22.5 ppg and the source of no less than 33.4 percent of the team's points. He's perhaps the last of head coach J.P. Piper's grand Australian experiment. For much of the 2000s, he brought in players from Down Under, sometimes featuring up to five per season. But the lesson of Nicholls State is that you can't just plug in Australians and expect to be Saint Mary's. The Colonels have just one 20-win season (2008-09) to show for all those plane tickets and vegemite sandwiches; last year was a 11-19 comedown that was somehow even more disappointing than Samantha Stosur's third-round exit at the Australian Open last week.