Game #9-326: Florida Gulf Coast Eagles at South Carolina-Upstate SpartansJanuary 10, 2013 7:00 pm
G.B. Hodge Center
As anybody is aware from having read my recaps on here before, I like going to basketball games. And I know other people on here like going to basketball games as well. In fact, some people go to more basketball games than I do. Matt Cayuela
went to ten more mid-major basketball games than I did last year during the 800 Games Project. And that is with Matt having fewer mid-majors within two hours of him than I do. Just think of what somebody who had more teams nearby could do! Well, here in Season 9 we do know somebody who has gone to way more basketball games than I have. Raymond Curren
has just about locked up a Hickory Picket Fences win by going to nearly 50 percent more games than I have at the mid-major level this year. Only the founder of this website Kyle Whelliston could potentially go to more games than Ray has so far. And it is possible that by the end of the season that Kyle's Mid-Majority record of 119 games in a season set back in Season 3 could be broken by Ray. But all of the time Kyle spent chasing mid-major basketball burned him out. Could we be doing too much of a good thing? Why do we go to basketball games? Isn't there other stuff we could be doing?
The previous night as I mentioned in my previous recap
I skipped a Charleston Southern game to watch Jeopardy
instead. But one night without basketball is too much. I then had to make sure I got to Spartanburg to see USC Upstate play Florida Gulf Coast. This would be a great matchup between two schools that have done well in the Atlantic Sun that did not debut at the Division I level until five years ago. And I would get to see Torrey Craig, the chosen favorite player of Season 9 for the Hopping Cats, play again! This would be the fifth straight game at home against a Division I opponent have seen USC Upstate play, dating back to seeing their last two home games last year (both of Upstate's home games I had not seen this year were against non-D1 opposition). I could have done what I did the previous night and just stayed home and watched Jeopardy!
There were more likely more people watching the syndicated telecast of Jeopardy
than the ESPN3 broadcast of this game between Upstate and FGCU. But basketball is something I care about, and I feel like I have watched these Spartans play to know them. And that's especially true with Torrey Craig, since I saw him play in high school. If I see the same player several years at a time between different levels, they feel like somebody I actually know.
But here is the thing: I do not actually personally know Torrey Craig. I do not personally know anybody in the entire Hodge Center
. That goes for players, coaches, and even fans alike. The closest I ever have come to knowing a star college basketball player was at High Point when I had a Spanish class with Arizona Reid. AZ recognized me on campus all the time and knew who I was when we crossed paths in the hallway. But the majority of athletes I watch all the time in person I really do not know any better than professional stars on television. The same is true of local baseball players in my hometown that I have watched go on from high school and then achieve success playing college baseball. I do not know any of them. I do not know their personal struggles growing up and their family background. That is why we see a lot of sportz stories that try to fill that gap with star athletes, particularly during NBC's coverage of the Olympics. A lot of us unfortunately do not care about the athletes we are watching unless we are given reason to care.
But back to the Jeopardy
comparison: the returning champion and star contestant on this evening's show was Kristin Morgan. And unlike the basketball players I would be watching this evening, I do
personally know who Kristin Morgan is. Kristin is the daughter of my dad's sister, making Kristin my first cousin. That is certainly a closer personal connection to anybody else who has ever been prominently featured on national television. I remember visiting Kristin's family as a child, although my memories are more strongly associated with her younger brother who had a huge collection of Nintendo games that really impressed me. Kristin's mom has always been one of the relatives on my dad's side I looked forward the most to seeing. And I even just under five years ago traveled thousands of miles to see Kristin get married in the Virgin Islands! And when looking through old family photo albums, I found a picture of Kristin as a 10 year old holding her five month old cousin at Christmas.
As you can probably guess, the baby Kristin is holding in the picture is me (the Mets cap I am wearing was probably placed on my head by her younger brother, who back in 1986 was a big Mookie Wilson fan). And now the girl holding me in the picture has actually won on a major game show! That is a bigger personal connection than I have to anybody who has played Our Game. And as somebody who does actually know famous people, that is kind of fun to think about. I remember my mom once mentioning to me that she received a Facebook message from her nephew in Ohio who happened to be watching a game between South Carolina and Tennessee when he saw me in the crowd. I had a cousin excited because he had never seen anybody he knew on national television before, and found seeing me interesting even though I was only spotted in the crowd for a few seconds. Meanwhile, Kristin had actually won a major game show, and with more wins could become a minor celebrity. So why wouldn't I watch her instead? I would not have to drive over two hours to Spartanburg, and instead would watch somebody I know on television!
But that is not what I do. What would I be accomplishing by doing that? I really would not be supporting my family in doing that, considering that I would be watching TV rather than be at the show itself in Los Angeles. It would be just like watching a sporting event on television rather than going to a game. And in this case, the show is not live. It was actually taped three months prior in October, so how Kristin fared was already determined. My dad avoided all news over Christmas on how his niece did, knowing that many people in his hometown knew how Kristin did. But there were people who knew, even though they technically should not have known how she did. My mom acknowledged that she had found out how Kristin did in discussion with family members, but made sure to conceal that knowledge better than others had. And while I know Kristin better than anybody this evening in Spartanburg, I have seen her about an average of one to two days a year during my life. I have seen TMMers such as Matt and Joe Wright
more often in the last couple years than Kristin. So I really did not feel I absolutely had to see Kristin again on Jeopardy
, especially when I had seen her debut the night before.
Ultimately, the reason I went to this basketball game is because that is what I like to do. Ray posed this question of "And I was going to a basketball game? Why?"
the evening following the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Obviously the reasons behind why we would re-consider going to a basketball game are very different here. In Ray's case, he was trying to understand why a tragedy would occur close to where he lived. In mine, I had a relative whose life was now becoming the opposite of a tragedy and whose success was now shown to millions on television. But this quote by Ray summarizes why we go to basketball games, "I briefly debated going home to watch television Friday. But what the hell was that going to do?" The answer of course, is that it will do nothing. Staying home would not help someone make sense of the Newtown tragedy, and staying home would not really be supporting my family either. And I figured I would be able to watch it online some way later, which I did. I was able to see Kristin's episode for this evening through an upload
a Jeopardy fan put on his website posted on a link on a Jeopardy fan site.
So why is it great to see basketball every night? The reason is because every night something new happens. More recently Ray got that through seeing a halfcourt game winner, something he had never seen before. And here was a basketball game between two rising programs in the Atlantic Sun, played in an arena that barely seats over 800. What is there not to love about this great game, Our Game of mid-major basketball?Like in Upstate's previous home game against Hampton
, the Spartans did not get off to a very good start. Unlike that last time, Torrey Craig played well throughout however to get the Hopping Cats points. Craig was more aggressive getting to the boards and took better shots this time. But the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles could not be stopped on the other end. FGCU played a solid first half with a good offensive attack that was evenly distributed between its players. FGCU scored 38 points on 32 possessions to lead by nine at halftime. While Craig had played well, Upstate got little production elsewhere while the Eagles were soaring to the basket.
But USC Upstate was not going to back down at home. Florida Gulf Coast began to miss a few shots and became a little careless trying to protect the lead coming out of the half. While USC Upstate did fairly well getting back into the game, they were still lacking a spark to get them going. FGCU never had a big lead, but Upstate really never threatened to go ahead. Florida Gulf Coast struggled more on offense in the second half, leaving the door open for a USC Upstate rally. And it would be up to Ty Greene, nicknamed by the PA announcer as the "Smoky Mountain Bear" (Greene is from Knoxville, Tennessee) to get the rally going. Craig and Greene put together a run to get Upstate ahead by one point with three minutes left. FGCU responded by scoring the next five points, and the Eagle offense seemed to have returned to get them across the finish line. But while Florida Gulf Coast would continue to get baskets driving to the hoop, it was the superhoop that Ty Greene was delivering frequently to send the near capacity crowd of 759 into a frenzy. Florida Gulf Coast after a missed Craig layup led by four with just over a minute to play and had the ball. But a player control foul gave the ball back to the Spartans, where a superhoop by Greene made it a one point game again with 50 seconds left. Florida Gulf Coast responded with a two-point basket, but Greene still had another superhoop in him to tie it 64-64 with 20 seconds left. Florida Gulf Coast held for the last shot and missed it, and we would go to overtime. Upstate entered with momentum at home, now they needed to capitalize.
FGCU had a slight lead most of the early portion of OT, but another superhoop by Ty Greene (who else?) tied it again at 69-69 with two minutes left. And Torrey Craig got inside to score with 90 seconds left to give Upstate the slight edge. But now Upstate was ahead, and seemed to tighten up at this point. Florida Gulf Coast was fouled on their next possession and made their first free throw before missing the game tying free throw. Upstate tried to hold on to the lead seemingly hoping time would run out as the Eagles knew they needed to focus more attention on guarding Greene. After Adrian Rodgers missed a potential superhoop with 15 seconds left, FGCU was able to coast down the court and pass their way around a scrambling Upstate defense playing on their toes. As the Eagles went in for a potential layup, I could see that the Spartans were not in good position to stop it.
And sure enough, all Upstate's Jodd Maxey could do was block a layup by Chase Fieler too late as it had already come off the backboard, giving a goaltending basket to FGCU and the Eagles a 72-71 lead with a second and a half left.
Coming out of one last timeout, Upstate could only manage a pass to Torrey Craig who did the best he could as he got cornered by two defenders at halfcourt, throwing up the final shot off the top of the backboard. Florida Gulf Coast had come away with an important Atlantic Sun victory on the road by a final score of 72-71, with USC Upstate coming away still needing more to take advantage of the progress made in the A-Sun last season.
And this is why I like to watch basketball all the time. This may not have been as exciting as the game Ray went to recently at Hofstra, but it was still a very good game in the A-Fun. I had skipped basketball the night before thinking that seeing a relative of mine on national television was a once in a lifetime event. It turns out that while it was a rare event, it would not be the only time. I found out at halftime that in that evening's episode Kristin had effectively won the game by tying this time, backing into the tie in similar fashion that she had won the episode shown the night before. I stayed home the next night rather than going to a high school game, and saw Kristin squeak out another win. Kristin was able to effectively do what Upstate did not, force overtime and win (and get credit for winning both games). I also skipped the College of Charleston-Citadel game that next Monday and saw her tie again, this time by making a conservative wager on Final Jeopardy to avoid a loss if she got the response incorrect. At that point I went back to going to basketball games again, and Kristin became a five day champion with $70,000 on Tuesday while I was at a high school game, which is a prestigious Jeopardy mark (five days used to be the limit until ten years ago). Kristin finally lost a week after she started on Wednesday while I did go to Charleston Southern that time, but had guaranteed herself a spot in the Tournament of Champions (basically the NCAA Tournament of Jeopardy). On the Jeopardy forum, I found it hilarious when I saw one person remark when she was a win away from making the Tournament of Champions that her squeaking by every game to make it would be like a 15-15 team making it as a 16 seed by winning the MEAC Tournament. And I will be skipping a MEAC game at SC State on February 18 to watch her again in the Tournament of Champions. I do not recommend watching her on February 18 in lieu of Our Game, but if you happen to be stuck at home that night it might be a good alternative to watching Big East basketball on ESPN. But for the most part, I will continue watching Our Game, because I like basketball. And if you like basketball, how well you connect to an individual team or player should not matter. Each game has its own story and highlight moments, whether it is a play that makes YouTube, a great individual performance, a dramatic finish, or a game so bad it becomes do in an interesting way. That is why those of us who participate on this website go to basketball games.
FLORIDA GULF COAST 72, at SOUTH CAROLINA-UPSTATE 71
FLORIDA GULF COAST 12-6 (4-1) -- S. Brown 5-11 2-2 14; C. Fieler 5-9 7-8 17; B. Comer 4-8 2-4 10; B. Thompson 7-15 1-5 19; E. McKnight 5-8 2-5 12; E. Murray 0-1 0-0 0; F. Cvjeticanin 0-2 0-0 0; D. Graf 0-1 0-0 0; C. Varidel 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 26-56 14-24 72.
SOUTH CAROLINA-UPSTATE 8-8 (2-1) -- T. Greene 6-12 3-3 20; T. Craig 9-19 3-4 24; J. Maxey 2-6 1-2 5; R. Glenn 2-4 1-2 5; A. Rodgers 3-10 1-1 7; M. Blessing 2-4 0-0 6; B. Olumuyiwa 2-2 0-0 4; F. Miller 0-3 0-0 0; R. Elam 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 26-60 9-12 71.
Three-point goals: FGCU 6-18 (S. Brown 2-5; C. Varidel 0-1; C. Fieler 0-2; B. Thompson 4-8; B. Comer 0-1; F. Cvjeticanin 0-1), SCU 10-23 (T. Craig 3-8; T. Greene 5-9; A. Rodgers 0-2; M. Blessing 2-4); Rebounds: FGCU 31 (S. Brown 11), SCU 36 (T. Craig 14); Assists: FGCU 15 (B. Comer 8), SCU 16 (A. Rodgers 5); Total Fouls -- FGCU 15, SCU 17; Fouled Out: FGCU-None; SCU-M. Blessing.
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