Game #9-354: Old Dominion Monarchs at James Madison DukesJanuary 26, 2013 4:00 pm
JMU Convocation Center
James Madison and Old Dominion are not, in the strictest sense, rivals. Virginia's most prominent and most vitriolic sub-Red Line rivalry is ODU-VCU, and JMU has a less-celebrated rivalry with George Mason.
But intrastate programs are natural foes nonetheless, and matchups between Virginia teams tend to get heated, rivals or not. This was no different.
"Journalists should... [r]efuse gifts, favors, fees, free travel and special treatment, and shun secondary employment, political involvement, public office and service in community organizations if they compromise journalistic integrity."
~ Society of Professional Journalists' Code of Ethics
I do not have media credentials, so I couldn't feel too
Players of The Game in our capacity as Game-players are not professional journalists¸ of course, which if not already obvious is made clear by the dateline of this recap--we don't write on deadline, inter alia
, which most professionals would agree is a major (and majorly inconvenient) part of their jobs. I do hope that we aren't seen as garden-variety bloggers, though. In my view, Game-players (and the 800 Games Project members who came before us) straddle the line between journalist and hobbyist--citizen-documentarians may be a proper hyphenate. We are amateurs, yes, but we travel to document the peculiarities of Our Game, from bizarrely endearing halftime shows to the players and coaches who differentiate it from big-time hoops. In that sense, we are journalists of a certain discipline.
So I felt a twang of guilt when handed a free knapsack by a smiling attendant as I entered the Convocation Center. On the one hand, a professional journalist would be required to refuse such charity. But on the other... I needed a place to store my handheld camera. Amateurs, indeed.
ODU may seem to have little to fight for at this point in the season. Entering at 2-16, the team had no chance at the alphabet-soup postseason tournaments, let alone the NCAA Tournament, on résumé alone. And under the CAA bylaws, the departing Monarchs are ineligible for this season's conference tournament, foreclosing their path to the postseason altogether.
Yet, while Blaine Taylor's 2012-13 team lacks the astonishing rebounding margins and defensive prowess of recent Monarch campaigns, it still knows how to #rockfight. Neither team shot particularly well from the floor in the first half, a consequence of both physicality and unluckiness on the glass. And while the box score was capital-u Ugly--the first half ended tied at 21-apiece with both teams on 33.3% from the field--the squads played with an intensity that belied the score. The shots weren't falling, but it felt like a rivalry game nonetheless, especially when Madison's A.J. Davis charged the lane uncontested for a huge #omgdunx
with 1:51 remaining. The crowd, relatively silent until that point, erupted like their Dukes had just won the CAA.
Recent events provide a convenient, if coincidental, time for a little TMM reflection.
Kyle's exposition of the Sports Bubble will endure beyond the end of this site. The Bubble's effects permeate every part of America's sporting culture, even trickling down to our area of interest--the allure of FBS money was too much for Old Dominion's institutional leadership, even if jumping to Conference USA meant dealing with this absurdity
From the perspective of a massive corporation such as Kabletown
, whose DC regional sports network affiliate covered this one, Our Game is a marginal concern. Basketball is already substantially less profitable than the major professional sports or college football, and games between teams lacking the viewership cachet of a national "brand" further attenuate the investment. Marginal concerns are still concerns, however, and so a sizable broadcast crew joined us in the stadium.
The Bubble subsidized this site once before, and it did so again, albeit in a far less direct way, on this day. Thanks to Madison's desire for a made-for-TV crowd--I'm not extrapolating that from context, an employee told us this was the reason--those of us with general admission tickets were told we could (and were quite encouraged to) leave the hard nosebleed benches for seats in view of the cameras. Thus, this:
In a way, this symbolizes the benefits that have accrued in our sphere as a result of the Bubble. The game was televised because Comcast recently signed a long-term rights deal with the CAA, primarily due to a need for more live content for its anemically-rated NBC Sports Network. In the pre-ESPN U, NBCSN, CBSSN, etc. era, mid-major conferences rarely received regular season TV exposure. For programs at our level, the Bubble-fueled expansion of mid-major TV rights help keep the CAA and similarly-situated conferences appealing in the inevitable next round of realignment, whenever it comes. They also help with recruitment, as coaches can entice high school students with the promise of being on national TV, as big-name schools have done for decades. And for us fans, just as TV indirectly brought me closer to the action on this day, more televised games means more opportunities to see our favorite mid-major teams and players when we cannot make it to a game in person.
We don't often discuss positive aspects of the Bubble, and that being said, it is far from clear that these benefits outweigh the Bubble's costs, from public funding of private-profit-making stadiums to a media culture obsessed with talking-head blowhards to the well-documented indiscretions and moral bankruptcy of the institutional overseer of the college sports enterprise. But it is something to consider. Perhaps when the Bubble bursts--and it will burst--we can do a proper cost-benefit inventory. I think we all know to which side those scales would lean, but at least we can enjoy the small perks while they last.
The second half was entertaining for its eventfulness if not its beauty. A restless crowd peppered the zebras for quite a bit, and ODU's Richard Ross continued to dominate in the paint, finishing with four blocks.
JMU had not led by more than five through the opening 29 minutes, but broke the game open from that point. Tied at 37 with 11:30 remaining, the Dukes produced a 9-1 run and never looked back, stretching the advantage to 12 with three minutes to play before settling on a 10-point final margin.
at JAMES MADISON 56, OLD DOMINION 46
OLD DOMINION 2-17 (0-7) -- D. Dudzinski 8-17 9-10 26; D. Hill 2-8 1-2 5; R. Ross 4-7 1-4 9; D. Painter 3-12 3-4 9; A. Bacote 3-8 2-2 10; D. Batten 0-4 0-1 0; K. Palmore 4-9 5-9 13; N. Wright 0-1 0-0 0; S. McEwen 0-1 0-0 0; A. Larsen 0-0 0-0 0; D. Clark 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 16-50 12-22 46.
JAMES MADISON 11-10 (5-3) -- D. Moore 3-8 4-4 10; R. Curry 5-9 2-3 12; A. Nation 4-9 6-7 14; R. Goins 2-7 0-1 4; C. Cooke 2-4 0-0 6; A. Davis 3-8 0-0 7; T. Bessick 1-2 0-0 2; G. Swindle 0-2 1-2 1; E. Hood 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 20-49 13-17 56.
Three-point goals: ODU 2-14 (D. Hill 0-5; D. Painter 0-1; D. Batten 0-1; R. Ross 0-1; A. Bacote 2-5; S. McEwen 0-1), JMU 3-13 (D. Moore 0-1; A. Davis 1-4; R. Goins 0-1; C. Cooke 2-3; R. Curry 0-2; A. Nation 0-2); Rebounds: ODU 31 (D. Painter 9), JMU 33 (A. Nation 7); Assists: ODU 6 (D. Batten 2), JMU 8 (R. Curry 3); Total Fouls -- ODU 18, JMU 19; Fouled Out: ODU-D. Batten; JMU-None.