Game #9-191: Texas-San Antonio Roadrunners at South Carolina-Upstate SpartansDecember 8, 2012 2:00 pm
G.B. Hodge Center
I was excited for this game in Spartanburg between UT San Antonio and USC Upstate to start a full day of college basketball in the Piedmont region of the Carolinas. This would not be a mismatch game against a non-Division I team like with Presbyterian and Toccoa Falls
. Nor would this game be a boring game at a major conference school like the day before at South Carolina
. No, this would be a classic mid-major game featuring two programs on the rise, the USC Upstate Spartans and the UT San Antonio Roadrunners. USC Upstate has gained ground on the Atlantic Sun after struggling four years while transitioning to Division I. UT San Antonio has also risen in building its athletic program, but unfortunately like another commuter school in Charlotte the Roadrunners have chosen the American-style football route. UTSA this year jumped from the Southland to the WAC to play FBS football, and with WAC football about to die the Roadrunners will then zip along to another conference next year in Conference USA. The new UTSA football team meant that this would not be a conference game played in Matt Cayuela's Hyphen League
. But the best part of this game was that I was finally going to see the Hopping Cats' fantasy player in Torrey Craig play! I was looking forward to writing a recap about Torrey Craig and talking about my reasoning behind selecting him in the fantasy draft. I got to Upstate in plenty of time, and unlike their regular season finale last year against Stetson
, Upstate was ready to sell tickets when I got there and I got in with no problem. Everything was working well here this time. I noticed that the scoreboard and shot clock were not turned on to count down to the game, but that was no biggie right?
Wrong. It was indeed a biggie. I just thought they were slow in getting that turned on and going, but as other fans started to arrive the scoreboard was still off, even with Upstate's video board on. With less than 30 minutes until tip-off, the scoreboard had yet to be turned on. And when I saw workers huddling over the scorers' table, I figured that something was wrong. There was a reason they had not yet turned on the scoreboard. And I then heard a beat looking Upstate official talk to a season ticket holder and confirm what I had thought: the scoreboard was dead. The technology to power up and use the scoreboard and the associated shot clock/game clock over the backboards had failed. USC Upstate has spent a lot of money in recent years to upgrade the tiny Hodge Center, which in the renovations overtook Charleston Southern for the smallest arena in Division I. But this was a big problem they would have to fix, or they would not be able to handle the game this afternoon. I was once at a Minor League Baseball game near Birmingham, Alabama where the scoreboard also died. But in baseball, the scoring can easily be kept by the scorekeeper and umpire without the need for constant updates. Baseball also does not have a clock, so that is one more thing that makes not having a working scoreboard okay in baseball. Some low-level amateur leagues do not even have a scoreboard at their fields. At the junior college I did my internship at, our soccer field also never had a scoreboard. In soccer, that is usually not a big deal with fewer goals and the referee always keeping the official time on the field (although college soccer is much more rigidly timed than at the FIFA level). But basketball has lots of scoring and needs a working game clock and shot clock for successful game operation. Or at least I thought so. Since this game was played, I attended a high school tournament game that suffered a power failure that somehow was finished with limited lighting and no working scoreboard or game clock (I might elaborate more on that in this week's challenge). But this was a Division I college game. If there was no acceptable solution, there would likely be no game. And that would be really bad to drive over two hours for a game that was not played.
If you go to enough games, you will see technical problems. I have actually been to other baseball games where the scoreboard had been dead for sometime due to lightning strikes. And that is where Our Game is more fortunate, as we usually do not have to deal with weather interrupting an indoor sport. Sure, there are a few freak scenarios. The previously mentioned high school power failure was caused by wind damage. Many games have been postponed or cancelled because of winter storms, although those decisions are made because of problems known in advance. But I have been to a few football games delayed by lightning that shows up instantly. At least football can be played in the rain. In baseball, games get delayed or cancelled even after the storm passes because the field is too wet. At a summer league baseball game in Columbia last summer, a game I went to that drew over a thousand elementary school students through a reading program was not played because of rain that had passed the area over six hours before the game was to start. Baseball can be played earlier in the year in the South, but it cannot be played easily all year down here due to daily thunderstorms. Storms happen nearly every day down here in the summer. And if they don't, it takes little for the area to be declared in drought. Just imagine what the 800 Games Project would have been like if we were doing baseball. We could be going strong for a few weeks, looking like we would be headed for 800, and then BOOM! No games for a week in our area to cover as storms keep going through! And what if we were doing baseball in Season 9? One team could be attending a big game worth points to give them the lead in The Game standings, and then BOOM! A severe storm strikes in the third inning and wipes out the game! Now see what a great deal we have in basketball? We generally do not have to worry about this! Basketball is played indoors and you do not have to worry about a wet court, unless you decide to put it on a boat and the court gets soaked by dew
There have been other technical problems though. I went to a Charleston Southern game once four years ago at the North Charleston Coliseum against Virginia Tech. There was no basketball buzzer in place at the arena, so they had to use a horn from the minor league hockey team that was way too loud and out of place. Every time a player checked in you would hear a loud "BRONNNNK!" Parks Smith in a recap mentioned a past Virginia game he was at where the buzzer got stuck for five minutes. And Parks went on to tie that in with his recent Longwood game where the other team was late in finding Farmville
. When I was doing my internship at USC Sumter, we once had a postgraduate team from Charlotte that also arrived over a half hour late due to negligence on their part in leaving on time. And at the Tennessee Tech-Appalachian State game two years ago, the game was called off
when there was a snafu in hiring the refs for that game. I also once saw a minor league game in baseball at the AAA level postponed an hour due to a traffic jam holding up traffic coming out of Charlotte. So what Upstate encountered is not out of the ordinary, and they needed a plan to pull this game off.
The game was delayed 30 minutes after the gym filled in as Upstate was trying to configure its plan to get the game going. It was clear as things were coming together that we would indeed have basketball. But this would definitely be an unusual basketball game. The video board, which stands out at such a tiny facility, would be used to update the game score and time remaining. USC Upstate also pulled out a tiny flip scoreboard from a closet to update the shot clock and fouls on each team. Only one problem was that the scoreboard with the shot clock could only fit on the scorers' table and not over the backboard as typical. That meant that the PA announcer had to announce how much time was left on the shot clock at various intervals, and start counting it down once it got to five seconds. At NCAA soccer games, the PA announcer also counts down from ten seconds left on the game clock. But this was still kind of funny, as the USC Upstate PA announcer is a guy who often uses his voice to fire up the fans like a pro wrestling announcer would (Matt Cayuela has discussed him before here
). And here he had to serve in an official manner for game operations. The student section as they always do counts down the shot clock in a false manner to try and get opponents to rush their shot. But the referee at the media timeout spoke to an Upstate official to get the students to stop doing that since there was an official countdown here being spoken out loud. As the PA announcer explained, "Due to the circumstances of today's game, please do not interfere with the counting of the shot clock". Oh, and one more thing: the buzzer did not work. The buzzer normally is connected to the scoreboard, and thus had to be replaced as well. USC Upstate used an airhorn to signal the buzzer and player substitutions. That is also what South Carolina soccer games use, but in a small enclosed space that airhorn can get loud especially if you sit near it (which I was not). I would show more pictures of all of this, but again my laptop with the pictures is being repaired right now. But I can show you the dead scoreboard itself, since I posted that picture with my phone to Twitter.
But we still got what we were hoping to see, and that is a basketball game featuring Torrey Craig. The Roadrunners came out with two quick three pointers to give themselves a 6-0 lead. But then Torrey Craig by himself scored the next eight points, and the Upstate fans were happy as was I in wanting him to deliver the Hopping Cats points. Craig cooled off a bit late in the first half, but his teammates did not. Ty Greene and Adrian Rodgers would keep the scoring going by knocking down shots from the outside to overwhelm the UTSA defense. As my teammate James Squire noted
, Torrey Craig is not an alpha dog type player on this Spartan team. He is a star in that he is the best player on the team, but not the type of star who overshadows his teammates. Coach Eddie Payne makes sure other players develop as well and get their shots as well, and that made the trio of Rodgers, Craig, and Greene unstoppable. One problem with fantasy sports often times is that it emphasizes individual stats over team. While Torrey Craig has good stats and is a big time player in the Atlantic Sun, his stats are only part of the team. Sometimes I wish then I had not picked him, but Craig's stats are as good as any for a player around here and his commitment to helping his team win makes him a good fantasy player representative for the Hopping Cats. There were times I wish he played closer to the basket, since as a 6-6 mid-major player he has the potential to get more rebounds. Playing away from the basket probably gives him more chances at professional basketball however. It might help his Spartans as well with their inside defense if he played closer to the basket. But what was important is that he played the right way and his team kept going.
Upstate managed to pull out a 21 point lead at halftime over their WAC opponent, and would keep it going in the second half. The lead would remain at around 20 until Craig and his fellow starters were rested. And with the reserve Spartans in, the Roadrunners took off. For a minute, it looked like UTSA had a chance at a remarkable comeback. Upstate led by 21 points at the last media timeout, and then the Roadrunners came charging back against the Upstate bench to cut the Spartan lead to eight points with 45 seconds left. But the starters came back, and Craig would re-seal the game at the free throw line. The crowd groaned as the delayed game went even longer as UTSA kept committing hopeless fouls. But I was happy as that meant Torrey Craig would head back to the free throw line to deliver the Hopping Cats more points! Craig would as a result score 31 points, the most he had scored since his final high school game where he scored 36 in a state championship loss. But TC's performance would this time be part of an overall balanced offensive attack that would produce an 88-77 win. And that was what it was all about once we finally got the game to start.
Once the game got going, it was a good showing by the home team from the tip until the final air horn. And it was a good job by USC Upstate in finding a solution. My only qualm was that they should have known an hour earlier what they would have to do before they did it. I noticed the scoreboard not on when I came in, so somebody more official should have noticed as well. But Upstate can learn from this experience and improve on it in case of a future problem. And at least we got the game played, which has not happened in all sports when a game encounters technical problems. One more example I did not mention earlier was when High Point played Division II Chowan my sophomore year the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. HPU struggled to an eight point lead with 30 seconds left in the half when a storm knocked out the power. The teams came back early the following afternoon to finish the game, with HPU winning by close to 20. At least that did not happen here, and we had the game played efficiently and I was able to get to my next game in plenty of time. And at least this was not a wet baseball field we were dealing with. Technical problems can be frustrating, but the USC Upstate Spartans overcame them today.
at SOUTH CAROLINA-UPSTATE 88, TEXAS-SAN ANTONIO 77
TEXAS-SAN ANTONIO 3-6 (0-0) -- K. Anderson 5-13 0-0 12; J. Hill 7-19 7-10 23; K. Burrage 6-13 9-10 25; J. Sims 1-4 0-0 3; M. Hale III 6-9 1-2 16; E. McGregor 2-3 0-0 4; H. Thomas 0-3 1-2 1; L. Wilkins 1-1 1-3 3; A. Price 0-0 0-0 0; T. Wood 0-1 0-0 0; T. Mayberry 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 24-54 19-27 77.
SOUTH CAROLINA-UPSTATE 4-5 (0-0) -- T. Craig 9-15 11-14 31; T. Greene 5-8 0-3 15; R. Glenn 4-6 0-2 8; M. Blessing 2-4 0-0 6; A. Rodgers 4-6 5-7 15; R. Elam 1-4 0-0 2; B. Olumuyiwa 2-2 0-2 4; F. Miller 2-3 0-0 5; J. Maxey 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 30-49 16-28 88.
Three-point goals: UTSA 10-28 (J. Hill 2-8; J. Sims 1-4; T. Wood 0-1; M. Hale 3-5; K. Burrage 4-9; H. Thomas 0-1), SCU 12-20 (T. Craig 2-7; T. Greene 5-6; F. Miller 1-1; A. Rodgers 2-3; M. Blessing 2-3); Rebounds: UTSA 29 (J. Hill 10), SCU 26 (R. Glenn 6); Assists: UTSA 13 (K. Burrage 4), SCU 25 (T. Greene 5); Total Fouls -- UTSA 20, SCU 22; Fouled Out: UTSA-None; SCU-J. Maxey.