Writer's note: This post is the first of six to be written about the Global Sports Hoops Showcase tournament.
If there's a basketball game, and there's nobody to watch it, did it really happen?
At the start of the Global Sports Hoops Showcase in Eugene, there were 18 fans -- E-I-G-H-T-E-E-N -- in the whole arena. I counted more ushers than fans in the arena. That's what happens when you schedule a three-day tournament in the middle of December. That was exacerbated by the fact that the two teams, Prairie View A&M and Stephen F. Austin, came in with zero and two wins against Division I schools, respectively. (However, the Lumberjacks do have a Red Line Upset over UTEP, the worst team I've had the pleasure of watching so far this year.)
Also, what the hell is global about Eugene, Ore.? Or any of the four schools involved? Yeah. There's sports -- in fact, hoops -- here. But the only thing this tournament is going to showcase is the dominance of an above-the-line school playing below-the-line colleges from two or three time zones away on three consecutive days.
There was one unique quality of this game that I've never experienced at an Oregon sporting event, however. Complete silence. It made it perfect to hear every word, even from the rather removed press area well away from the floor.
It started before the tip by the Prairie View team huddled on the court: "P-V!"
First possession of the game, the Prairie View bench took it upon itself to be the team's cheerleading section. "DE-FENSE! DE-FENSE!" rang out, filling the arena.
Sure as hell, the Panthers started off with a steal.
But the bench wasn't about to lay off.
A few possessions later, a Prairie View guard drove to the lane and did a spin move as he went to the basket. "He's tight, he's tight!" exclaimed one bench member.
Stephen F. Austin's bench wasn't quite so successful, but it also put in much less effort than Prairie View's. First, it tried to co-opt the "DE-FENSE!" chant, but the two players putting any effort into it were barely able to muster a "DE-FENSE!"
"7-6-5-4-3-2-1" its members later counted down in vain as the Lumberjacks committed a shot-clock violation.
The officials even got into the action. One call seemed as if it came from right next to me: "HE kicked the ball, he kicked the ball. It stays here!"
It got to the point where everyone in the arena knew there was no one in the arena, and Prairie View's head coach, Byron Rimm, shouted "BEARCAT" at his team. "Bearcat comin' to you," his point guard responded as he pulled the ball back out to the top of the key.
The basketball itself was not a great example of the beautiful game. Neither team had a positive assist-to-turnover ratio; they combined to have 21 assists and 31 turnovers. The team's most frequent shooters both had pitiful nights from the field, hogging the ball for seemingly no reason. Prairie View's Ryan Gesiakowski shot 4-of-14 from the field (all but one from behind the arc), and had one assist, two turnovers and no steals from a guard position. Similarly, Stephen F. Austin's Antonio Bostic went 4-of-17 from the field, 0-of-5 from #superhoop range, had no rebounds or assists, three steals and three turnovers.
Prairie View led by one or two possessions for most of the game and Stephen F. Austin's largest lead was four with five minutes left in the second half. The Panthers rallied right away to take it back, held on and took their first D-I win of the season, two time zones away from home.
Panthers victory. You know.
PRAIRIE VIEW 53, STEPHEN F. AUSTIN 50 12/20/2011
PRAIRIE VIEW 4-7 (0-0) -- R. Wright 3-6 0-0 6; J. Demunyck 2-7 2-4 7; J. Montgomery 2-4 1-2 5; R. Gesiakowski 4-14 0-0 12; D. Chapman 6-9 2-3 14; T. Meadows 0-3 0-0 0; C. Bell 0-0 0-0 0; M. Adu 0-0 0-0 0; M. Scott 0-2 0-0 0; L. Munks 2-2 1-2 6; M. Riathin 1-1 0-1 2; M. Jackson 0-1 1-2 1. Totals 20-49 7-14 53. STEPHEN F. AUSTIN 5-5 (0-0) -- J. Scott 8-12 2-5 18; A. Bostic 4-17 0-0 8; H. Bateman 4-4 0-2 8; J. King 2-4 1-2 5; D. Haymon 1-4 2-3 4; J. Parker 2-3 0-0 4; D. Gardner 0-2 0-0 0; J. Bright 0-0 0-0 0; K. Broussard 0-1 0-0 0; M. Delph 0-1 0-0 0; T. Smith 1-1 1-2 3. Totals 22-49 6-14 50.
Three-point goals: PVAM 6-18 (J. Montgomery 0-1; J. Demunyck 1-2; L. Munks 1-1; R. Gesiakowski 4-13; M. Scott 0-1), SFA 0-8 (A. Bostic 0-5; D. Haymon 0-2; K. Broussard 0-1); Rebounds: PVAM 27 (J. Montgomery 6), SFA 26 (J. Scott 9); Assists: PVAM 7 (J. Demunyck 3), SFA 14 (H. Bateman 5); Total Fouls -- PVAM 21, SFA 17; Fouled Out: PVAM-None; SFA-H. Bateman.