There are instances where finding motivation to make the long drives to some of these games is hard to drum up though. When a team is facing a non-DI school, it is hard to come up with reasons, especially when it is over winter break and the stands might only be 10-20% full.
This is the dilemma I was faced with last Wednesday when I had planned to go see Rio Grande at Campbell. As the day wore on, instead of finding reasons to go up to Campbell, I was making excuses. I had never heard of Rio Grande, I had thought it was a school in Texas, but rather it is in Ohio, making the travel for the NAIA school somewhat more reasonable.
I had been to Campbell two times already this season, so seeing Campbell would not be anything new. Darren White, CU's best and most exciting player was also out with an injury, so I would not get to see one of the better athletes in the Big South play. Even without him, I figured it would be easy for the Camels since they did not have too many problems with non-DI schools Averett and Newberry earlier in the season.
The weather was not lending a helping hand either. It was cold, wet and gray all day with no signs of letting up. Usually, I do not let something like weather get in the way of a trip, but it was not encouraging for me considering what happened on my way home from my last game.
After pulling a Charlotte and Davidson doubleheader on Saturday, I had a close to four-hour drive home. I highly considered just getting a room outside of Charlotte and coming home in the morning. What caused my hesitation was the deer that love to hang out on the side of the road in the middle of the night.
It is almost a guarantee that I will see one on a drive home and once I saw a total of 14 on a two-hour drive home from Charleston. I know these big dumb animals are usually minding their own business and eating grass on the side of the road, but I never know when one might get spooked and jump out in front of me. Despite my apprehensions, I decided to just be cautious and drive a little slower on the way home.
I made my way, only seeing two deer on the drive with sporadic thick patches of fog. That was until I was four miles from the house when I saw one deer perilously close to the road which startled me and drew my attention for a split second. With my attention on him, I did not see his buddy standing in the middle of the right lane. I made a hard swerve to the left, but heard and felt a thump which turned me to the right. I over-corrected and ended up doing a 180 and slid into the ditch in the median.
My car never shut off and I did not know how hard I hit Bambi, but I did not want to get out and check with it being 1:30 a.m. and all. I was a tenth of a mile from the next exit, so I decided to check out the car there. I was expecting the worst when I got out of the car, but since I have a Saturn Ion, the car is essentially made of Rubbermaid. There were a few scratches with hair in them, but no cracks. The status of the deer will forever remain unknown.
With the poor weather, I just was not up for pressing my luck again. I would have to make up the time at work later in the week too if I went and just decided to stay in Myrtle Beach that night. Through the course of the night, I checked the scores throughout the country as I normally do and saw Rio Grande was up 42-34 at the half. Surely I was not going to miss a Black Line Upset, was I? Well Rio Grande ended up leading throughout and downing Campbell
. I was so pissed with myself, in the 800+ games we covered last year we did not cover a BLU and I would have had the first chance to do so.
This gave me somewhat of a glimmer of hope going into game featuring Toccoa Falls against Coastal Carolina. CCU had been the last Big South team to be black-lined four years ago against Coker in a game I had attended. While there was a chance for Toccoa Falls like there is for any other team out there, it was a very miniscule chance. Ian McCormick went in depth on the plight of the Eagles
when they went to Presbyterian and lost by 49.
While it was the last day of finals for CCU, there was still a decent crowd and more than what I was expecting. The official attendance said a little over 2,000 people and those numbers are always inflated, but it was still a crowd that would not have been able to fit into the old gym at Kimbel Arena.
The fans that were there were treated to a very boring game in the beginning. Everyone was expecting a blowout, but Toccoa Falls was up 8-4 after the first media timeout with all of the Eagles' points coming from the red-headed Josh Barrett. After his first made three, my friend Justin yelled out "Ginger for 3!" to which I reminded him there was a little red-headed kid a few seats down from us and we agreed that we should keep quiet on the ginger jokes the rest of the night.
Despite a decided size advantage, the Eagles remained close even implementing a four-corners offense in an attempt to keep the possessions down. This did not provide an exciting brand of basketball, as Chanticleer head coach Cliff Ellis looked about as enthralled with the game as many of us in the stands.
CCU was up at half 34-25, and it looked like Coastal's chances of getting a 100+ point victory were out of the window. The halftime entertainment of basketball musical chairs provided more of a show than the game itself. There was one girl that became an early crowd favorite. After the music stopped the participants had to go make a layup and rush back to get a seat. This girl decided chucking the ball at the backboard as hard as she could was her best way to shoot. Fortunately, she made it through the first round. The second round saw her not make the shot and just sneak back and get a chair.
The third round, it was down to her and a male student as the last to make their shot. The male made his first, but could not find the last remaining seat. The girl made her shot and proceeded to cross-check the boy out of the way and take the last seat. This had the crowd on its feet roaring in cheers and laughter. Sadly, everyone's favorite contestant was eliminated in the next round.
After this fun show, it was time for the second half and was all in the Chants favor. The Toccoa Falls from the first half turned into the Toccoa Falls that has been in lopsided box scores over the years. CCU turned up the defensive pressure and forced numerous turnovers and bad shots with a 30-2 run. Any chance of a Black Line Upset was over and we entertained ourselves while CCU coasted the rest of the way with its backups to a 75-38 win.
It figures that one of the games I decide at the last minute not to go to turns into a Black Line Upset. At least I am not alone in this misfortune. Here is the conversation I had with Ian McCormick right before I went to the game.Final Score: Anderson 65, Charleston 49