Last Monday on December 12, I graduated with a Master's in Public Administration at the University of South Carolina. The next day, I wrapped up my internship duties at the school's regional campus in Sumter. So I had a lot of free time over the holidays, and as I often do, I have managed to keep busy with basketball. After finishing up my internship meeting, I headed back to Columbia for a basketball game between South Carolina and Presbyterian in the same building my graduation was at the day before.
The next day, I headed back for a women's game in the afternoon, one of a small number of adults in the crowd, as the place was mostly filled with school field trips. I then headed home to try to fix my computer, and had dinner with my parents before heading back out for more basketball that Wednesday night. I went to Charleston for a 9 p.m. tip-off, where College of Charleston got the Red Line Upset against Tennessee. I did not get home until 1:30 a.m. Thursday morning because my car got stuck in a tight space in a Charleston parking garage and had to squeeze it out.
Thursday night, I would stay near home and see both the girls and boys teams from my old high school play, and then Friday I would head back to the coast to see Coastal Carolina play Lynchburg College. Saturday I headed back to Columbia to see a major-conference game between South Carolina and Ohio State at noon, and then headed back to Charleston at night to see a great mid-major game between College of Charleston and Charleston Southern.
Sunday, I would then head back to Myrtle Beach and saw a tripleheader of Division I women's games, and then back to Columbia Monday to see three games in a high school tournament that is ranked as the second-best nationally.
So all of that brings me to Tuesday, where I went back to the high school tournament starting at 11:20 a.m. I stayed through the first three games and most of the fourth, before I had to leave to beat most of the Columbia rush hour to go to Clinton for tonight's game between Presbyterian and Furman.
This would be my 19th game I attended in eight days, an average of over two games per day. To most people this sounds crazy, but as readers of this site know, Kyle has done a lot more. While Kyle did not usually go to this many games in eight days, all the games he went to were NCAA Men's Division I games that he had to put a great deal of travel into. While I have traveled round-trips of 200 miles in a day on frequent occasions, I am not sleeping in truck stops, but rather my own bed. At the same time, what I do has more insane elements to it as well. Like Kyle, I struggle financially at times as well, as the only money I get comes from my parents and part-time work. My season also has no end to it, as I do the same for other sports (primarily baseball). What I am doing here is what I do when I have time away from my grad school classes, and before that my classes at High Point.
So I arrived to Presbyterian somewhat tired. This was only the third time I have been to what Kyle referred to as "the Hose House," and there are signs on the gym wall welcoming you to "Hoseville." The previous times I came here, PC was playing HPU, with the Hose winning in January 2009 and HPU winning on a Tehran Cox buzzer-beater in December 2009. Despite all the traveling I had done, I had more energy than most of the crowd. Most of the crowd of 801 arrived late and did not make noise, despite the game being close and competitive. The fans doing promotions for the most part were not announced as being from Clinton, but rather from places throughout the state. Presbyterian is the smallest school in Division I, and Clinton is one of the most rural areas of South Carolina's Upstate region despite its proximity to Interstate 26. The cheerleaders for Presbyterian, with the students gone, weren't the regular Blue Hose cheerleaders, but rather from Laurens Middle School about 15 miles away. PC is using middle school cheerleading squads for all their home games over Christmas break, including Thursday against Navy and next week against Army. As a result, under the circumstances 800 was a pretty good crowd for tonight's game against the SoCon's Paladins from 50 miles away in Greenville.
The PC PA announcer was desperate at times to get the crowd going, urging fans to help give the Blue Hose a home-court advantage. But he simply came away as sounding desperate, and the Templeton Center was lifeless. Both teams showed signs of it on the court, playing a slow and methodical game.
But one man with a lot of energy was Presbyterian coach Gregg Nibert. If I were a coach, I would probably be a lot like Nibert. Nibert is very intense in shouting at players and officials, and focuses on good ball control and shot selection as a way to win games. But the same intensity also leads to the Blue Hose burning their timeouts frequently (although that would not be the case tonight) and committing numerous fouls on defense. PC's low-post players had a hard time successfully defending the basket without committing a foul. The Paladins would lead by as much as nine late in the first half, but the Blue Hose would come back and take the lead early in the second half, and led by nine with less than four minutes to play. But the fouls caught up with the Blue Hose, and three Hose fouled out. Most notably fouling out was Al'Lonzo Coleman, who led PC with 24 points. This struggle is not new for Coleman, who averages 3.5 fouls per game. Furman cut the PC lead to two, and looked to tie the game in the final seconds, but overthrew an open man downcourt. Eric Washington knocked down a pair of free throws to seal the 75-71 win for Presbyterian.
My travels will not end here. I now embark on a Christmas vacation with family to visit relatives, and will stop on the way Wednesday night to see my High Point Panthers play Wofford in North Carolina. After that, we will then head to Ohio to see the RedHawks of Miami play a guarantee game at Ohio State. Then, for four days, it will be nothing but family time over Christmas. But on the 27th, basketball will start up again with high school tournaments and an SIU-Edwardsville game in MVC country.
This will not go on forever. Kyle himself has suffered burnout from his travels, and that is why he is on permanent sabbatical, leading to this 800 Game Project. I have had a lot of burnout as well, being tired not only from driving and going to games, but also clearing computer file space so I can upload pictures from each game and my statistical database of games I attend. And for mid-major men's college basketball games, I then have to write my recap as well. Come January, I will have to take the next step in my life and use my Master's in Public Administration to find work and make a living. At that point, who knows where I will live and what I will be doing with my life. But until then, this has been a fun journey.
at PRESBYTERIAN 75, FURMAN 71 12/20/2011
FURMAN 6-5 (0-2) -- R. Brown 3-5 2-2 9; B. Sebirumbi 7-9 6-8 20; C. Reddick 1-5 0-1 3; B. Austin 2-7 0-0 4; B. Barnes 3-5 4-7 10; J. Loyd 2-4 4-4 9; D. Early 2-3 1-2 7; C. Toler 2-3 0-0 4; B. Irwin 2-3 0-0 5; C. Reddick 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 24-45 17-24 71. PRESBYTERIAN 5-5 (1-1) -- K. Mutakabbir 6-11 6-7 19; E. Washington 2-8 4-4 8; J. Johnson 3-9 2-2 9; P. Miller 1-3 2-2 5; A. Coleman 8-12 8-9 24; J. Reynolds 1-1 4-4 6; J. Clyburn 2-2 0-0 4; R. Hargrave 0-1 0-0 0; R. McTavish 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 23-49 26-28 75.
Three-point goals: FURM 6-13 (B. Austin 0-3; B. Barnes 0-1; B. Irwin 1-2; C. Reddick 1-2; R. Brown 1-1; J. Loyd 1-2; D. Early 2-2), PRES 3-13 (J. Johnson 1-5; P. Miller 1-2; R. Hargrave 0-1; K. Mutakabbir 1-2; R. McTavish 0-2; E. Washington 0-1); Rebounds: FURM 23 (B. Barnes 5), PRES 24 (A. Coleman 11); Assists: FURM 7 (B. Sebirumbi 2), PRES 8 (E. Washington 5); Total Fouls -- FURM 23, PRES 21; Fouled Out: FURM-C. Reddick; PRES-A. Coleman.