I really had a busy weekend of college basketball planned. I had gone to two games on Saturday and had another planned for Sunday in Greensboro. The game was at 2pm, so I knew I wasn't going to get to sleep in until whenever I felt like I normally do on Sundays. I'd been to Greensboro before and it takes close to 3 hours and 15 minutes to get there so I'd have to get up at a decent time to get ready. As I drove back from Charleston I knew I should have just headed home and gone to bed early.
Well as we all know things don't always work out as planned. The tourist season in Myrtle Beach is a ways off, but a Saturday night in Myrtle still provides plenty of things to do. After a few text messages and phone calls a night where I was supposed to get plenty of sleep before a long trip the next morning turned into another night of partying and waking up at a friend's house lying awkwardly on their couch with my phone and keys jabbing me in the ribs because I was laying on them.
I don't get hangovers as bad as most people and usually don't get any at all, but this morning was not the case. It wasn't anything too brutal, but it was a headache nonetheless. Adding to that fact was my stomach wasn't feeling so hot either which probably had to do with the gas station hot dogs that were purchased for me at 2:30AM. This was going to be a rough go of it, I could tell. The thought crossed my mind to just close my eyes and go back to sleep, but I made myself get up and drive home to clean myself up.
I still had plenty of time to make the drive to Greensboro, but I wasn't in the best physical condition. The radio wasn't helping much either since sports talk was dominated with Joe Paterno's death and previews of the NFL conference championships neither of which I had any interest in. I was too lazy to load up any of my own music, so I found a Greensboro radio station even when I was about 2 hours away and just stuck with it until I got there.
Even though I had been to Greensboro several times, I never was at the Coliseum. There are several buildings in the Greensboro Coliseum complex so I asked the parking attendant (5 bucks by the way) where the box office was. Her response of "over there" wasn't exactly helpful, but I was in no mood to argue so I went on my way. I was there pretty early, so there weren't many cars parked in the lot so I found a small group of vehicles and parked near them. I saw a few people walking near one of the buildings, so I decided to go that route and luckily it led me to the entrance and box office.
Once inside I walked around the concourse a bit and I was getting a bad feeling. Not the bad feeling of drinking too much Rumple Minze, but the feeling I got when I went to the RBC Center earlier in the year. This arena was way too big to be hosting a mid major basketball game. The arena was almost deserted with many of the concessions closed.
There were only 2 vendors open, and I knew I needed some sort of sustenance. You'd think I would have learned my lesson from the hot dogs of the previous night, but I didn't and got the hot dog basket which included fries. I got a drink as well and the total was $11; not exactly mid major prices. The hot dog was better than I expected, but the fries tasted like they were made yesterday and stored in the folds of a couch.
After reading Terry Hobgood's reviews at the Greensboro Coliseum I knew it wasn't the greatest environment for a game and I can agree with that fact as there were the dreaded tarps and ominous black curtain.
I can honestly say I didn't know much about Samford or UNC Greensboro going into the game. I read up as much as I could beforehand and knew that while Greensboro fired its coach midseason, they have been on a bit of tear of late. It all started with an Upset of Charleston and they followed it with wins over The Citadel and Chattanooga. Samford was coming in on a two-game winning streak with wins over Elon and the same Chattanooga team. It at least looked like I was getting a decent matchup of equal teams.
The game flew out at a wild start as it had the feel of a video game. The opening possessions went like this... Samford 3, UNCG 3, Samford 3, UNCG 3, UNCG steal and dunk. The Spartans would go on to throw down two more big dunks in the first few minutes to fire everyone up. I however stayed seated as I was in no mood to go crazy.
There was no way this pace was going to keep up and it did settle down, albeit way too much. Greensboro seemed to be in love with the 3 in the 1st half, but the shots weren't falling. Samford plays at a more deliberate pace and started slowing things down, but would end up turning it over at the end of the shot clock. Their supposed Princeton-style offense took 13 minutes to finally execute a really good cut and lay-in.
The Spartans were paced by two players in Derrell Armstong and Trevis Simpson as they did the majority of the scoring for UNCG. They took a 35-27 lead into the half, but Samford took control once things got started back up again. They were cutting into the lead as undersized Jeffery Merritt was effective down low along with Drew Windler from the outside.
The Bulldogs were creeping away with the lead, but Armstrong started to heat up for the Spartans. The teams started to trade the lead on each possession going into the final minutes and even I was starting to get into the game even though I had no rooting interest. Samford was up one late, but Armstrong buried a 3 with 30 seconds to go. Samford didn't take long as Windler hit a 3 with just under 20 seconds remaining.
Armstrong went for the win, but was blocked by Merritt. The Spartans got the ball and called a timeout. Out of the TO Simpson drove the lane and threw up a prayer that was nowhere near the rim, but David Williams was there to clean it up and score with a second to go. Samford's full court heave was no good and the Spartans pulled out the thriller 61-60.
Leaving the arena I felt great; the rush of adrenaline that you get from watching a close game can do wonders for a recovering body. I was questioning why I was making a trip to see two lower level SoCon teams, but I'm glad I was able to witness a fantastic game and finish.
at NORTH CAROLINA-GREENSBORO 61, SAMFORD 60 01/22/2012
SAMFORD 5-13 (2-5) -- J. Merritt 5-8 5-5 15; T. Hood 5-13 4-5 15; R. Kelly 2-4 1-1 5; D. Windler 7-11 2-4 19; W. Cook 1-4 2-2 4; B. Hayman 0-2 0-1 0; C. Miller 0-1 0-0 0; M. Friday 1-4 0-0 2; D. McNeil 0-0 0-1 0; K. Johnson 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 21-47 14-19 60. NORTH CAROLINA-GREENSBORO 6-14 (4-4) -- D. Parker 2-4 0-0 6; T. Simpson 6-18 0-0 15; D. Armstrong 10-22 4-4 27; D. Williams 4-5 1-3 9; K. Van Dussen 0-5 0-0 0; T. Hoffer 1-3 0-0 2; N. Paulos 0-7 0-0 0; K. Randall 0-3 0-0 0; A. Henry 0-2 2-2 2; A. Brackett 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 23-71 7-9 61.
Three-point goals: SAMF 4-14 (J. Merritt 0-1; D. Windler 3-5; W. Cook 0-2; T. Hood 1-3; R. Kelly 0-2; C. Miller 0-1), UNCG 8-28 (K. Randall 0-3; K. Van Dussen 0-2; D. Parker 2-4; T. Simpson 3-9; D. Armstrong 3-7; N. Paulos 0-3); Rebounds: SAMF 39 (J. Merritt 11), UNCG 30 (D. Williams 7); Assists: SAMF 7 (J. Merritt 3), UNCG 9 (D. Parker 3); Total Fouls -- SAMF 14, UNCG 22; Fouled Out: SAMF-None; UNCG-None.