Game #9-284: Montreat at Presbyterian Blue HoseJanuary 1, 2013 7:00 pm
New Year's Day for the most part is not very friendly to Our Game. It's not quite like December 24 through December 26, which has almost no games. But just like Christmas is dominated by the NBA (a tradition that is fairly new), New Year's Day is dominated by college football being played at neutral sites in warm weather places (a fairly old tradition). I had a college football team I follow that was playing in a bowl game that day in South Carolina. But since I was not going all the way to Tampa and spend a truck full of money, I really did not care about seeing that game even though it was headed for an exciting finish when I left home. Bowl games that are all about money do not interest me. Instead I wanted to see the lone college basketball game within 150 miles of me this January 1, a game between Presbyterian and Montreat. And this would be a game that would certainly not be about money at all.
There are usually few games for similar reasons on New Year's Eve as well. My tradition lately for finding basketball on New Year's Eve has been to go to the Beach Ball Classic, a high school tournament in Myrtle Beach. As far as high school tournaments go, the Beach Ball Classic is more about money than most as it draws teams from across the country in an effort to get top prospects. But I was lucky this year, as I arrived 45 minutes before the first game which drew few fans even though Myrtle Beach High School was playing. I beat the parking attendant to the lot, which saved me three dollars. Once I got inside, the ticket staff was not ready and told me to just go and sit down in the arena, saving me another 12 dollars. The only game most people were interested in was when Whitney Young High School of Chicago played Bishop O'Connell of Virginia in the championship, with Whitney Young led by Jahlil Okafor (the top ranked high school junior in the country). The memorable moment of the game came with just under five minutes until halftime when Whitney Young enraged the crowd by playing what can only be described as ultra slow tempo basketball. Whitney Young decided that they would not play against a zone defense, so they just held the ball upon crossing midcourt. Bishop O'Connell was not going to get out of their zone defense, so they just stood back. This went on for over four minutes (no shot clock in high school basketball) before Whitney Young was forced to attack with the first half clock running down. Whitney Young missed and lost the rebound out of bounds, and the under 4 media timeout (they had an under 12 and under 4 media timeout, a rarity in high school basketball) finally came with 1.2 seconds remaining. Bishop O'Connell came out of the media timeout without making an effort at a last second shot before the half, much to the displeasure of the crowd. A tournament committee member actually ran down to the court and got in a shouting match with the Whitney Young coaching staff as the teams headed to the locker room, one of the most surreal moments I have seen watching sports. But while few people liked it, Whitney Young happened to be playing smart basketball, as they ran away with the tournament title early in the second half.
But now back to college basketball. This evening at Presbyterian, I also got there before anybody was ready to sell me a ticket. But that was not the case for just me this time. Presbyterian knew that the crowd size would be too small to warrant selling tickets to this game. This is similar to at South Carolina State several weeks ago
, when SCSU granted free admission to a game two days before Thanksgiving. Presbyterian is mostly a residential campus of less than 1500 students, and Clinton is not a big enough city to support a Division I team solely through the town community. And many people both at the Templeton Center as well as at the Taco Bell just northwest of Columbia where I ate dinner were more interested in football, talking about the dramatic wins by South Carolina that had just ended and by Clemson the night before. Despite there being free admission, there were remarkably few fans at the game. Official attendance was 234, a very low number for Division I basketball (although more honest than most attendance figures, as it seems that PC was not factoring in no-show season ticket holders this time). It certainly hurt attendance that Presbyterian was playing NAIA Montreat, the third time the Blue Hose would play a non-Division I team. Attendance still however was only half that of the North Greenville game which was also a non-D1 game played without students in school (although the official number for that game may have been inflated). Presbyterian is near the bottom of the Division I rankings, which also hurts attendance. But if you liked college basketball, this was still a good deal. At halftime I heard one guy ask if the concessions were also free, to which the vendor took it as bad joke (although free concessions happen to be a real thing at another mid-major only an hour north of Clinton
Presbyterian is not a very good Division I team. But Montreat is also not a very good NAIA team, which made the chances of a Black Line Upset slim. I had seen Presbyterian against two non-Division I teams before this season: a 59 point win against Toccoa Falls and a narrow eight point win against North Greenville
. Montreat (located 20 miles east of Asheville) is better than Toccoa Falls, but not as good as North Greenville. They are essentially a western North Carolina version of St. Andrews
, but unlike SAU Montreat has always been a tiny Presbyterian college of less than 1,000 students that is not usually competitive in NAIA sports. But the Cavaliers could not be overlooked. I had seen Montreat seven years ago play at UNC Greensboro and gave the Spartans a good first half before UNCG pulled away in the second half. And six years ago I saw High Point get Black Lined in soccer by Montreat as well. So Montreat was not to be taken lightly. And given the Blue Hose's experience against North Greenville they were not going to play around with Montreat.
Like against their other non-D1 opponents, PC did not dominate upon winning the opening tip-off. But they did get the early lead, and unlike the NGU game Presbyterian would not let up. Presbyterian did not have a particularly great first half shooting the ball. But unlike against North Greenville, that would not matter when playing Montreat. PC big men Will Truss and Josh Clyburn were way too much for the undersized Cavaliers to handle, and the Hose dominated in the paint. Outside the arc neither team shot well, which was bad for Montreat as North Greenville was able to stay competitive through the #superhoop. Montreat was not making shots outside and could not handle Truss and Clyburn inside, so the result was very few points. Presbyterian led 37-13 at halftime in a game closer to being like the Toccoa Falls game rather than the North Greenville game. Presbyterian did not dominate the second half quite as much as the first half, but they were still the much better team until the put in the walk-ons for last few minutes. The final result would be a 77-35 Presbyterian win. Beating a NAIA weakling may not be worth much, but for Presbyterian it is as good a result as they can get right now.
It was not a great basketball game. But as I have said before, any basketball game that you can get is worth seeing, especially if it is free. It is too bad that few people can get into basketball while football is going on. My Twitter feed on this evening was dominated by a tackle made in the South Carolina football game by Gamecock defensive end Jadeveon Clowney. Even people who do not normally care about USC football were talking about how hard Clowney could smash into somebody. I saw one tweet saying that Clowney was a dirty player and had made a helmet-to-helmet hit. When I saw the replay on YouTube and paused the video at the moment of impact, Clowney's helmet was lowered into the shoulder of his opponent while making the play, which meant that in football he had made a legal play. What Clowney did was not dirty; it was just American-style football. And unfortunately American-style football has often become a game where the goal is to crush your fellow human being as hard as possible. Basketball on the other hand is a sport that is about athleticism and power as well, but where you are not trying to hurt somebody when knocking the ball away from them. Truss and Clyburn displayed great overwhelming power in this game without needing to pulverize their opponent as Clowney did. And that is why any kind of basketball is better than American-style football.
at PRESBYTERIAN 77, MONTREat 35
PRESBYTERIAN 3-11 (0-0) -- K. Mutakabbir 4-6 0-0 11; R. McTavish 3-6 0-0 6; J. Downing 3-9 0-0 8; J. Clyburn 8-11 0-3 16; W. Truss 7-7 2-2 16; R. Hargrave 3-7 2-2 8; A. Anderson 0-3 0-0 0; M. Lake 2-3 0-0 5; J. Thibodeaux 2-2 0-1 4; M. Citron 0-1 0-0 0; R. McCray 1-2 1-2 3; R. McCray 1-2 1-2 3; R. McCray 1-2 1-2 3; R. McCray 1-2 1-2 3; R. McCray 1-2 1-2 3; R. McCray 1-2 1-2 3; R. McCray 1-2 1-2 3; R. McCray 1-2 1-2 3; R. McCray 1-2 1-2 3; R. McCray 1-2 1-2 3; R. McCray 1-2 1-2 3; R. McCray 1-2 1-2 3; R. McCray 1-2 1-2 3; R. McCray 1-2 1-2 3; R. McCray 1-2 1-2 3; R. McCray 1-2 1-2 3. Totals 48-87 20-40 122.
Three-point goals: - , PRES 6-17 (R. Hargrave 0-2; K. Mutakabbir 3-4; J. Downing 2-6; M. Lake 1-2; R. McTavish 0-2; A. Anderson 0-1); Rebounds: , PRES 70 (W. Truss 9); Assists: , PRES 18 (R. McTavish 4); Total Fouls -- , PRES 25; Fouled Out: -; PRES-None.