Game #9-328: Campbell Fighting Camels at Presbyterian Blue HoseJanuary 12, 2013 7:30 pm
I like simple things
. But while I am content getting a basketball experience that is both cheap and easy, I also like a variety of different basketball experiences. And the same holds true for a lot of what I like to do, and I know others probably have similar motives. TMMer Matt Cayuela has a website dedicated to bars and their happy hour specials in Myrtle Beach
. While I am sure there are bars he finds to have better deals and worth going to more often, there is probably some fun in trying out a variety of different establishments. And so I would be doing the same again this weekend in going to two games like most TMMers often do. But one of these games was at South Carolina, who would be in SEC play against Auburn and thus not be eligible for recapping on this site. But I would get to see the school I recently got a master's degree from play in conference, and it would set up in contrast with the game I would be seeing at Presbyterian. It would be going from a modern 18,000 seat professional-like arena to a facility about comparable to a slightly better than average high school gym. This would at least provide some variety, right?
But when I looked at the schedule for this Saturday, it did not feel like it. Of the 326 stadiums I have visited
since I started recording sports events I attended dating back to May 30, 2007, South Carolina's Colonial Life Arena is the arena I have visited the most regardless of sport. Beginning with what was Season 4 on this site, this USC game against Auburn would be the 130th different basketball game I have seen at that arena. At some point a stadium starts to become boring, and that point usually comes well before the 130th time you have seen it. On the other end, Presbyterian is a school I have seen quite a bit before as well lately. It is certainly not an arena I have seen an insane number of games like with South Carolina's venue, but this would be the fifth time on the year having gone to the Templeton Center. And most of those four previous games at Presbyterian have not been any good. With the Blue Hose struggling as they rebuild, their game against Campbell did not figure to be any different. This was a doubleheader of games that seemed quite bland and repetitive from what I have done in the recent past. As I mentioned in my last recap
, there is always a reason to go see some basketball. Something exciting had to be happening of some type.
So I started off by going to the South Carolina game. The Gamecocks were playing Auburn, a team that had a poor showing in the Charleston Classic I had been to earlier. Auburn had done particularly poorly in their game against Murray State
. Those games in the Charleston Classic were a reminder of why I love mid-major basketball, as I was seeing mid-majors do well against Auburn. Even in Auburn's lone win against College of Charleston
it was a game that many fans of the mid-major felt like they should have win. But in this game at South Carolina, I was reminded of why SEC basketball sucks. Or at the very least why watching Gamecock basketball is not a fun thing to do. Two years ago, Auburn had suffered a rash of Red Line Upsets as they were rebuilding. A quarter of the Big South's present membership (Campbell was still in their last year of the Atlantic Sun) beat Auburn that season. So despite South Carolina's struggles, I had unusually high hopes when they played Auburn in 2011. But then the Gamecocks were blown out at home by a team that some thought would go 0-16 in SEC play. That game may have been the knockout blow that accelerated the program's downward spiral that led to the coaching change at the end of last season. So why would I want to see that again? The change in coaches between Darrin Horn and Frank Martin has not had a major impact yet with Martin inheriting a bare cupboard of players. Yet I showed up at the Colonial Life Arena again, paying a combined total of $20 between parking and a ticket to see really bad SEC basketball. And the game followed a predictable pattern of South Carolina holding a narrow lead much of the game with Bruce Ellington performing well, but nobody else doing so as Auburn took a late lead and held on while the Gamecocks made fatal mental mistakes. It was the same South Carolina basketball with another bad loss to Auburn. It was only a three point loss versus a 16 point loss two years ago, but it was still not fun to watch. And with the original start time of 1:30 pushed back 15 minutes due to the SEC's syndicated telecast of the game and lots of fouls, the game did not end until 4 P.M. That would not be early enough to make it to Clinton and see the tip of the women's game between Presbyterian and Radford. I probably would have been better off if I had just gone to the Templeton Center for the Presbyterian games only, as it would have saved $14 while still seeing two games.
But I was still able to drive to Clinton and get there in plenty of time for the men's game against Campbell. No longer really caring about the women's game, I went to eat at the Taco Bell in downtown Clinton before heading over to the PC campus. It's the same Taco Bell I have gotten used to eating at in Clinton, as Clinton does not exactly have a lot of options for food. When you keep traveling to the same venue, everything becomes way too familiar. The same roads, the same traffic lights, the same restaurants, the same routine and feeling you get when you do the same thing over and over again. It's the same as when you go to work and school, and your routine becomes the same. It's not fun to have that happen to a hobby you like, as you want it to stay refreshing and fun. When I showed up midway several minutes before halftime of the women's game to buy a ticket, the ticket taker joked, "You're late!" I explained that I had come over from the South Carolina game, and was still going to get more than a full game of basketball. But I knew the reason for her joke, which was that in my four previous games at the Templeton Center I arrived before some of the game day staff did. And I realized that I was not the only person there who knew I had been coming here often. They knew who I was! I was becoming a regular at Presbyterian games! I knew now that I definitely needed to mix up the games I was going to more, even at the risk of being an outsider everywhere.
I stayed sitting behind the benches during the first half, finding a nice empty spot that I could relax and watch the rest of the women's game from while waiting for the men's game to start. But the tricky thing was that the kids in attendance were using the vast amounts of empty bleachers at Presbyterian as their own playground. In the section to my left, one boy used the wooden bleachers to support his train set where he kept running around and pushing his train across where it would then run off the set and land in the aisle immediately to the left of where I was sitting. So once it was halftime of the women's game I decided to let the kids have their fun there and moved to the other side of the Templeton Center, since it is an easy facility in which you can do that. And then more hyperactive children began to fill in around where I was sitting there as well. It was unavoidable, considering that there was a face painting and a balloon artist in the Templeton Center lobby that seemed to draw an unusual number of kids to the doubleheader at PC this Saturday evening. This led to the crowd of 1,197 feeling a lot bigger than it actually was. The women's game was kind of interesting, mainly in that was the kind of game I mentioned in justifying all basketball games last recap as being so bad that it became interesting. Presbyterian held the Highlander women to less than 50 points, but yet managed to get blown out by a score of 49-31. It would have been one of the more unusual games in my statistical database had I gotten to Clinton early enough to count it. Next we then played the waiting game, as PC built in more time than they needed for the men's game by not starting it until 7:45 PM. This left nearly an hour between the two games at the Templeton Center, very high when the tickets purchased were for the doubleheader rather than one game at a time.
But eventually the game would start, and we would get to see another Big South North vs. Big South South battle as has been the case with most weekend games during conference play. Campbell had in December struggled after entering the season with high expectations, losing to NAIA Rio Grande the same night Presbyterian was able to avoid a Black Line Upset by squeaking past North Greenville. It seemed possible that this game could be a competitive matchup, especially given that Presbyterian was playing at home. But as the game progressed, I began to realize that once again I would be getting more of the same again today. It was just like the previous week against VMI in a game I was also at, where the Blue Hose hung around a little bit while their opponent over the course of the game showed that they were much better. There were some noticeable differences between this game and the previous week's game. Most notable of these differences was that this was a defensive game versus an offensive game the previous week. It was not quite as defensive as the women's game that preceded it, as the teams did much better than combine for 80 points. The Camels also had nobody like Stan Okoye to come out and light up the scoreboard with nearly 40 points by themselves. The Camels instead used a balanced attack led by Trey Freeman with 13 points, who has proved to be the difference maker for Campbell as Freeman was not present in their Black Line Upset loss. But the main similarity was that Campbell slowly pulled away from Presbyterian just as VMI had done the week before. Campbell led most of the first half, but never by much and never was able to go on a big Camel run. Campbell only led by five points at halftime. But the Hose could never break the Camels' back, and Campbell finally got the big run they needed by scoring the first 12 points of the second half to go up by 17 points. At this point the game lost most of its interest, and many of the families who brought their kids to the game headed home with it getting late. It seemed that Presbyterian might at the end make the final score closer than the game itself was, just as they did against VMI. But Campbell was able to make the final score lopsided again but making a slew of free throws at the end to win 62-46.
It was the same as usual for South Carolina earlier in the day, and it would continue to be the same for Presbyterian in Big South play as well. Both USC and PC have similar issues in trying to rebuild to the respective levels expected of them in their conference, although the Blue Hose have not been rebuilding as long as the Gamecocks. It was basketball, and seeing basketball all day long is always a good way to spend a Saturday where you have a lot of time. But the experiences could have certainly been better. So I will make an extra effort to try to mix up the games I see and the places I visit. This game has now been nearly two weeks ago, and it is with this past Saturday in mind I will try to mix it up for the Saturday I am actively planning on right now. Due to a time change at S.C. State, I will be able to do a doubleheader with the Citadel in the afternoon and S.C. State at night. While I have seen plenty of games in Orangeburg, it will be the first weekend MEAC game I will see ever at SCSU. It will be something different, as variety beats the same experiences repeated over and over again.
CAMPBELL 62, at PRESBYTERIAN 46
CAMPBELL 8-9 (3-0) -- A. Ryan 3-7 4-5 10; D. Hooker 3-7 2-2 9; M. Harris 3-6 0-1 6; T. Freeman 4-10 4-4 13; D. Leonard 4-7 2-3 10; R. McCarter 3-9 0-0 7; L. Leek 1-2 2-2 5; A. Oliver 0-0 0-0 0; A. Kalpic 1-1 0-0 2; D. Mason 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 22-49 14-17 62.
PRESBYTERIAN 3-14 (0-3) -- K. Mutakabbir 6-16 6-6 18; W. Truss 1-4 0-0 2; J. Clyburn 2-8 0-0 4; J. Downing 5-13 0-0 13; A. Anderson 1-2 0-0 2; R. Hargrave 1-4 0-0 2; E. Washington 0-1 2-2 2; R. McTavish 1-4 1-2 3; M. Lake 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 17-52 9-10 46.
Three-point goals: CAMP 4-11 (R. McCarter 1-3; A. Ryan 0-1; T. Freeman 1-2; D. Hooker 1-4; L. Leek 1-1), PRES 3-17 (R. Hargrave 0-2; K. Mutakabbir 0-5; J. Downing 3-6; R. McTavish 0-2; E. Washington 0-1; A. Anderson 0-1); Rebounds: CAMP 31 (M. Harris 13), PRES 27 (W. Truss 8); Assists: CAMP 9 (A. Ryan 3), PRES 9 (E. Washington 4); Total Fouls -- CAMP 16, PRES 19; Fouled Out: CAMP-None; PRES-None.