Game #9-136: Toccoa Falls at Presbyterian Blue HoseNovember 27, 2012 7:00 pm
After a 0-6 start to the season, Presbyterian was looking to find somebody they could beat. The Blue Hose had lost those six games by an average of 28 points. And while most of those games so far have been guarantee games, they also lost badly on a neutral floor to Cornell and Florida A&M. Presbyterian lost its first Division I recruiting class that was supposed to take them towards a Big South title, only to be turned down by the NCAA
. The Blue Hose are eligible this year, but now have to rebuild again. And to make matters worse, last year's promising freshman point guard Eric Washington is injured. Presbyterian needed its own guarantee game to get them back on track. And that is why they made sure they would get at least one win this season by dialing up Toccoa Falls to come play in Clinton this evening.
Toccoa Falls College is located in Stephens County, Georgia, across the state line just west of the SC/GA state line near Clemson. Their location in rural northeastern Georgia served as the perfect spot for the producers of Deliverance
in 1972 to film in a remote backwoods place. Toccoa Falls only has 712 students to attend a school that has 28 majors and specializes in biblical education. Even Presbyterian, the smallest school in Division I, is a far bigger school with 1,133 students. Most importantly, Presbyterian has a lot more money than Toccoa Falls to spend on sports. For every dollar Toccoa Falls spends on athletics, Presbyterian spends 88 dollars. No, that is not a misprint. Presbyterian outspends their opponent in this game 88 to 1 in sports!
Part of that is because PC has twice as many teams than TFC has, particularly with the all-expensive sport of football. But even in the game we were watching tonight, men's basketball, Presbyterian still has an enormous advantage over Toccoa Falls. PC's ratio of spending for men's basketball over TFC is only a measly 55 to 1! Presbyterian spends just over 11 million on athletics with a little under a million going directly to the men's basketball program. Meanwhile, Toccoa Falls spends barely over a 100 grand on athletics with less than $20,000 going to men's basketball. At most schools, a college spends three times as much on paying one professor than Toccoa Falls spends on its basketball team. And that is why Toccoa Falls makes such a good opponent for Presbyterian, not to mention PC's Big South counterparts at Coastal Carolina as well as the MEAC's North Carolina Central. Even the severely cash strapped junior college I have volunteered and interned for spends twice as much money on its sports program than Toccoa Falls does. Only 25 colleges in the country (including small community colleges and other similar small schools) have a men's basketball team that they spend less on than Toccoa Falls does. The Eagles aren't even in the NCAA at any division. Heck, Toccoa Falls isn't even in the NAIA! No, they are in the National Christian Collegiate Athletic Association. And technically they are Division II within that, since Division I NCCAA schools have dual membership with either the NCAA or NAIA. Even by the standards of a typical guarantee game, this was not a very even matchup.
So how would Toccoa Falls fare against a Division I team like Presbyterian? There have already been recent examples of the Eagles facing Division I teams. Toccoa Falls can make all the money it needs from the small amount of money they get from heading to a mid-major arena, just like in other guarantee games. So Toccoa Falls often faces Division I competition that they are completely overmatched in. Seven years ago, Toccoa Falls lost 81-15 at Wofford. That's right; in a 40 minute game Toccoa Falls was barely able to scrape 15 points together. And then there was the big game TFC had at Western Carolina last year. A result so astonishing, it would make anybody wonder why Toccoa Falls would be considered a worthy opponent for even the lowliest Division I school. The Catamounts held Toccoa Falls to 39 points. And even if Toccoa Falls somehow was able to get a shot at the buzzer that was worth 100 points, they still would have lost
. Toccoa Falls lost to Western Carolina 141-39. Seriously, they played a middle tier SoCon school and lost by 102. Here is the box score
if you need hard evidence. So why play a bad NCCAA team like Toccoa Falls? Why not instead bring in a decent Division II team if you want an extra home game?
Because you might lose to the good Division II team, that's why. Ever wonder why there are far more Red Line Upsets than Black Line Upsets? It's not because there isn't good basketball below the Black Line. It is because all non-Division I games count the same in the RPI: not at all. So if your strength of schedule in the RPI remains the same, why not make sure that you will get an extra win? That is why it is a guarantee
game! The best non-Division I conference in the Southeast is the Peach Belt Conference. If we were to have a 12 game Big South-Peach Belt challenge, the Peach Belt would win at least one of those games, possibly as many as four if the matchups were favorable. But Peach Belt and Big South teams never play each other. And that is because the Big South team knows that the Peach Belt team could be real competition. And real competition does not work in a guarantee game.
And there is another reason to schedule teams like Toccoa Falls: to remind your players that they are awesome at basketball! This may be forgotten after one too many games played in guarantee games above the Red Line. So remind your players that they are Division I ballers for a reason: because no average human can play basketball anywhere near what they can! So hit up a USCAA or NCCAA team and watch your players have fun against a team of mostly average high school players! And this fun is not limited to Division I schools either! Recently, Division III Grinnell College faced the Iowa equivalent of Toccoa Falls in Faith Baptist Bible College. Grinnell is known for its high flying offense that plays at 100 possessions a game. So Grinnell decided to see what happens if their offense that emphasizes teamwork can distribute most of their shots through one player facing weak opposition. And the result was that one player scored 138 points, more than any basketball player at a competitive level throughout the history of the sport. And because of that, Jack Taylor overnight became a famous basketball player. If you want to see the most ridiculous game in the history of basketball, you can watch it here
But do these guarantee games actually help Hoops Nation? I mentioned last year that guarantee games are often hosted below the Red Line as well. In that game I was at last year, Wofford eked out a win over UVA Wise, a NAIA school now transitioning to Division II. UVA Wise is a legitimate non-Division I opponent. But contests between Presbyterian and Toccoa Falls are actually more ridiculous than any guarantee game hosted above the Red Line, the ones often hated on here. The financial advantages Presbyterian has over Toccoa Falls as stated above are far greater than any we see between two Division I teams. Even the struggling Blue Hose would be in a more competitive game against an elite national championship contender than they would be in this game against Toccoa Falls. When I was at High Point, my senior year HPU scheduled Warren Wilson of the USCAA and Florida Christian of the NCCAA. The Panthers won those two games by a combined 151 points. As a High Point fan, those were fun games to watch. It was like a Harlem Globetrotters game, with High Point serving as the Globetrotters in running all over an opponent designed to be beat up on. But I remember remarking at the time that we were playing two of the worst teams in college basketball. And not two of the worst teams in their division either. Two of the worst teams in all
of college basketball, period. And that was our season where we were expected to do well with Mike Jefferson and AZ Reid both seniors. And as I mentioned before
, we did not turn out to have a great season. That was primarily because of an injury to a starter before the season. But what if we had played better teams early? And I certainly wanted to see a decent non-Big South team play at the Millis Center. We never hosted an out of conference team any better than a mid-level SoCon team when I was at HPU. That is a disservice both to the fans and to the players to not get a better team. Playing a NCCAA team defeats the purpose of wanting to be Division I.
When I got to Clinton, there were a few things that quickly told me that this game would be played in a bizarre world where Presbyterian is the big school with far more advantages than their opponent. Here is Toccoa Falls' transportation to the game. It looks more suited for a daycare center rather than a college basketball team.
The next thing you notice is the logo for Toccoa Falls. Just like Robert Morris of Chicago
, a top ranked NAIA team, Toccoa Falls uses a modified logo from the Philadelphia Eagles. From having attended high school games, it is way too common for schools to rather than draw their own eagle take advantage of fair use laws to copy a logo from a pro team. And from looking at non-Division I colleges and high schools, apparently the Philadelphia Eagles' logo is the only such drawing of an eagle out there. I really wish we would see more creativity in logos from schools below the NCAA level. But regardless, Toccoa Falls takes a high school approach to their logo. Not exactly who our schools should be playing.
And then when you watch warmups, you see the clear difference between the teams. Not that Toccoa Falls was botching simple warmup plays. It was just that they did not look like superhuman basketball players. The Eagles were just slightly bigger than average sized men, with nobody taller than 6-4 and close to half the team under six feet tall. They were not particularly muscular either, with one player actually looking too chubby to play college hoops. They were not actually bad at basketball when compared to you and me. It must be remembered that even players at NCCAA schools are actually good at basketball and few people can do what they can do. But they just look like regular people who happen to be good at basketball. Then you glance at the other side of the court, and you see Presbyterian's players. While the Blue Hose are not good for the Division I level, they have as much size as anybody below the Red Line, with one player seven feet tall. Each Eagle would be defended by a Blue Hose player who was about on average four inches taller. This was not an even matchup.
So the game started, and it was time to see how uneven it would be. The game actually started out surprisingly close. No, Toccoa Falls never led or was tied very long. But about three minutes in it was only 6-4 Presbyterian. And with 14 minutes until halftime, PC still only led by six points. That is not what one would typically define as a close game. But given the differences between the teams, every Toccoa Falls basket and defensive stop seemed like a victory for them. It must be noted that the very tall Blue Hose players were not athletically better than the players on Toccoa Falls, or more skilled at basketball. PC's tallest player in Jake Campbell only had three points in an effort off the bench, as Campbell was unable most of the game to get open and close enough to the basket to get good shots. And then you also have the problem in these games with players getting complacent, as many careless turnovers also prevented the Blue Hose from racking up points like Western Carolina did against the Eagles a year ago.
But that could only last so long. The mighty Division I Blue Hose outscored Toccoa Falls 29-5 over the last ten minutes of the first half to take a 34 point lead going into the break. While the Blue Hose were not always sharp on offense, they always could get a decent look at the basket. PC created spaced for Khalid Mutakabbir to drive to the basket without any problem. Mutakabbir often drove the lane so easily it looked like he was unguarded. 6-8 Joshua Clyburn and 6-7 William Truss also had an easier time getting to the basket than they will once Big South play starts, scoring 18 and 17 points respectively. On the other end, Toccoa Falls played a fairly clean game. But the Eagles did not have the ability to create quality shots for themselves like the Blue Hose did, and they couldn't exactly find any mismatches for easy points. Every TFC shot would be contested, and each basket would be hard to come by. This would continue going into the second half, with the Hose up 64-20 at the first media timeout of the second half. From there, the game got more normal as Presbyterian used their bench. All ten active Blue Hose players got at least seven minutes and three points. The final score would be 97-38 Presbyterian. While that seems like an outrageous blowout, there certainly have been more lopsided scores involving NCCAA teams and Toccoa Falls in recent years. In the most recent computer ratings, Presbyterian is ranked as the fourth worst team in Division I. Yet they can still find a team they can play and beat by 59 points.
Will this win help turn around the season for Presbyterian? Most likely it gives them confidence going into exams, but then reality will hit as the season resumes. Presbyterian still gets to play two more of these guarantee games later, with their next home game against Division II doormat North Greenville and then NAIA Montreat on New Year's Day, which just recently beat Toccoa Falls by only 11 points. And this won't be the last time Toccoa Falls shows up at a Division I school who wants a cheap win. The Eagles lost by 54 to North Carolina Central a week before this game. And next week Toccoa Falls will head to Coastal Carolina, a Big South school at an even higher level than Presbyterian. Like High Point five years ago, the Chanticleers will play two sub-NAIA schools this season (the other game was against USCAA Johnson & Wales
). But that begs the question of why keep scheduling these games? We should not point fingers at the schools above the Red Line, as these games are far more ridiculous than those. So we need to stop it, and focus on finding more Division I home and home agreements. And if that doesn't work, get a Division II team so you can have a real game, even at the risk of a Black Line Upset. at PRESBYTERIAN 97, TOCCOA FALLS 38
PRESBYTERIAN 1-6 (0-0) -- S. Chambers 4-8 6-6 16; A. Anderson 2-6 0-0 4; K. Mutakabbir 9-11 1-2 20; M. Lake 1-4 2-2 4; J. Clyburn 8-14 0-0 16; W. Truss 7-8 3-3 17; J. Downing 6-9 0-0 14; J. Campbell 1-2 1-2 3; R. McTavish 3-5 0-0 6; M. Citron 4-4 0-1 8; J. Thibodeaux 1-2 2-2 5. Totals 42-65 9-12 97.
Three-point goals: - , PRES 4-16 (K. Mutakabbir 1-3; J. Downing 2-4; M. Lake 0-2; R. McTavish 0-2; A. Anderson 0-3; J. Thibodeaux 1-2); Rebounds: , PRES 56 (W. Truss 11); Assists: , PRES 19 (A. Anderson 7); Total Fouls -- , PRES 14; Fouled Out: -; PRES-None.