"Lately it occurs to me What a long, strange trip it's been."
-The Grateful Dead, "Truckin'"
If a conference tournament is being played at campus sites, and games aren't close to sold out, doesn't that defeat the purpose?
And don't get me wrong, I realize the logistical hurdles that can be presented by having a home game announced just a few days prior. Fans haven't had the chance to circle the game on their calendar for weeks on end. But still, tonight's attendance at Bender was downright pathetic, smaller than all but one game I've seen there this year -- and the opponent in that game was an awful UMBC team. It's one thing to be perplexed when fans don't show up for a good basketball team at all. But when the fans have been coming out, and then stop showing up once the stakes are raised? My mind is blown.
I can understand the argument against a single-site tournament, but one of the primary benefits has to be large on-campus crowds. Admittedly, I haven't checked attendance numbers from Bucknell, Lehigh and Holy Cross tonight, but if they were similarly bad, does anybody win by using the campus-site format?
On the other hand, it's not as if the missing fans missed much; American jumped out on Army early on this Wednesday night, and never really looked back, cruising their way into the Patriot League semifinals on Saturday. Admittedly, the odds were long for Army to make their first NCAA tournament this year and snap one of the five longest tournament droughts in history. Even still, the Black Knights picked a bad time to turn in their worst shooting (26 percent) and scoring (40 points) performances of the season.
As the seconds ticked down on American's 57-40 win, I couldn't help but sympathize a bit with the Army bench. Their season was coming to a close before their eyes. Barring a miracle, my season came to a close when the buzzer sounded, too.
Naturally, I'm left to do a bit of reflection on the long, strange trip that has been my role in the 800 Games Project. It's been a heck of a ride -- 21 games, most of which I would not have seen had the 800GP given me extra motivation. Most all without owning a car -- all of my trips, save for Towson and Lafayette have been made without the assistance of a friend's vehicle.
I had decided to take up pen and paper (or, if we're being honest with ourselves, keyboard and monitor) this year not because of a love of college basketball, but simply because I missed writing. I had gone to journalism school, and gave up on the dream because I decided way too early that I didn't enjoy it anymore. Enter the 800 Games Project: a chance to write again? About college basketball, no less? Sign me up.
Somehow along the way, a chance to write about a couple of games turned into something much more. Any night I had off, I was looking for a DC-area game. Eventually I found myself as an editor, going further down the rabbit hole.
It's not the end of the college basketball season, or the 800 Games Project, by any stretch. There's still the week and a half remaining of conference tournaments, and then the three weeks of the NCAAs. But for me, this thing that started as a simple diversion and became much more over the last four months is effectively done, and that bothers me far more than I ever would have imagined.
It may always end in a loss, but it's definitely hard to put the last four months in anything other than the win column now that it's over.
When all was said and done, I headed back into the pouring rain, anxious to see what adventure life had in store for me next.
at AMERICAN 57, ARMY 40 02/29/2012
ARMY 12-18 (5-9) -- E. Ellis 5-17 1-2 13; J. Herbeck 1-8 0-0 2; M. Lenox 0-4 3-5 3; J. Simmons 3-9 2-3 9; M. Williams 1-4 0-0 2; J. Springer 1-1 0-0 2; A. Stire 3-8 0-0 6; C. Gramling 1-5 0-0 3; W. Thornton 0-1 0-0 0; P. Harris 0-0 0-0 0; J. Johnson 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 15-57 6-10 40. AMERICAN 20-10 (10-4) -- C. Hinkle 3-10 2-2 9; D. Munoz 3-7 2-2 11; T. Brewer 2-7 2-2 7; B. Jolivette 3-8 2-2 8; R. Grafft 1-1 2-5 4; S. McCormack 2-3 1-1 5; T. Wroblicky 1-3 2-4 4; J. Schoof 2-3 2-2 6; J. Hill 1-2 0-0 3; M. Bersch 0-2 0-0 0; D. Fisher 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 18-46 15-20 57.
Three-point goals: ARMY 4-26 (J. Simmons 1-7; E. Ellis 2-7; J. Herbeck 0-5; M. Lenox 0-1; M. Williams 0-1; C. Gramling 1-5), AMER 6-17 (T. Brewer 1-4; C. Hinkle 1-4; J. Hill 1-1; M. Bersch 0-1; D. Munoz 3-6; J. Schoof 0-1); Rebounds: ARMY 34 (E. Ellis 10), AMER 40 (C. Hinkle 9); Assists: ARMY 12 (M. Lenox 4), AMER 14 (D. Munoz 4); Total Fouls -- ARMY 18, AMER 17; Fouled Out: ARMY-J. Springer; AMER-T. Wroblicky.