Game 089: (1) Miami (Oh.) 85, (8) Bowling Green 65Mid-American Quarterfinals
Thursday, March 10, 2005
Gund Arena - Cleveland, OH
There's no doubt in anyone's mind that the Mid-American Conference is a classic high mid-major conference. You can tell that just by attending their annual basketball championship, a well-oiled enterprise if ever there was one. The tourney is sponsored by large corporations, held at an NBA facility, and administered in a smooth, efficient fashion.
But there's one crucial difference between power-conference life and existence in proud old medium-sized leagues like the MAC, and that's television. The basketball-playing members are a tight regional cluster of colleges centered around Ohio and Michigan, schools that usually send graduates to work in local areas instead of flinging them far and wide. Therefore, masters of the airwaves like ESPN and CBS aren't necessarily willing to extend offers of 25-game national broadcast contracts. Miami
of Ohio, the MAC's best squad over the course of the 2004-05 regular season, has been at the center of two notable incidents involving telecasts, or lack thereof. On February 9, in a game at Ball State
, RedHawk sophomore forward Nathan Peavy tapped in a jumper as time expired to give his team a 54-52 win
The only problem: the shot came well after the buzzer, and with no television coverage of the game, the officials couldn't review the play to reverse their call. When conclusive footage from sideline camcorders was shown on local stations in Indianapolis, Ball State students, grads and fans howled. In the wake of Buzzergate, the BSU athletic department filed an official protest, which was gently denied by the conference. The result stood.
Just two weeks later, another TV controversy involving the eventual league one-seed. Moments before the Game of the Week regional telecast at Bowling Green
on February 27, a game that had been scheduled to be broadcast around the Midwest since the start of the season, Falcon player Mawel Soler shattered a backboard with a powerful dunk in pregame warmups. After a one-hour delay to install new glass, BGSU won a pivotal contest, 57-56.
Unfortunately, hardly anyone saw it happen - save for the ticketed public. The telecast had been cancelled when the delay was announced, due to issues involving satellite-time windows and the costs of such. You can be sure that this kind of thing never happens in the Big Ten.
It's a shame, too, because Miami is the kind of exciting team that looks great on television. Their point guard is a flashy dude named Chet "The Jet" Mason who can run, pass and shoot with the best one-slotters in the league. Down low, they have a tough post presence in former MMBOW Danny Horace
, a man who averaged just short of a double-double for the year. Their supporting cast contains characters as well: there's Peavy, a tough 6'8" greyhound with soft hands and a sweet release; Monty St. Clair is a big, tough and pink inside banger who can also knock down an outside shot or two.
On occasion, the RedHawks can turn out a high-octane, explosive, ready-for-prime-time extravaganza. This was the case in their Backboard Game rematch with Bowling Green - they shot a blistering 58% from the field, dropped runs of 16-3 early and 11-4 late, and showcased their two stars, who combined for 49 points. Horace unleashed a series of post moves to score a career-high 28 points, and "The Jet" drained jumper after jumper on his way to 21.
But the only people who were able to truly enjoy the show were the five or six thousand fans who made the trip - the television cameras that line the Gund Arena's mezzanine were covered with grey canvas tarpaulins and bound with rope, a long line of closed and sleeping eyes.
All except one manned station, that is, a constantly-shining red light atop its swiveling machine. But the video collected by that camera would be edited down afterwards to form a 15-minute highlight reel that to be bounced off C-band satellites from Cleveland to Bristol and Los Angeles and Atlanta. Many sports cable outlets, however, declined to broadcast any of the footage. They opted instead for extended coverage of the ACC first round.
The MAC's "Game Of The Week" package contains both tournament semifinal games, so Miami's quarterfinal victory had earned them the right to take their show to the television public. Fox Sports Ohio was scheduled to pick up the broadcast, but in a case of critical mass, viewers in the southern half of the state (which includes Miami University's hometown of Oxford) would be seeing the Atlantic 10 semifinals instead. Those games wouldn't be half as exciting as the MAC semis, but this wasn't a basketball decision.
On Friday afternoon, the school's official athletics website
feverishly compiled a patchwork of local alternatives: the game would be carried on channel 99 in Cincinnati, 35 in Dayton. In Columbus, check channel 24 - but it would be on 53 in Adelphia Cable's zone, and 36 if one's carrier was Insight Communications.
As the 7:00 PM tip time approached, many nervous and excited Miami fans in the Cincinnati area donned their RedHawk gear, popped their popcorn, dusted off their couches and switched on Channel 99. What they saw was a screenful of grey static.Photo Gallery (Games 087/088/089/090)