"There's no real bracket busting in it... It's an extra game on your schedule"-- Billy Donlan, Wright State coach won't miss BracketBusters event
Game #9-426: Eastern Kentucky Colonels at Valparaiso CrusadersFebruary 23, 2013 1:00 pm
I agree, though there was nothing wrong with the concept. The 4-letter network dreamed it up as a way of giving mid-majors a chance to impress the NCAA Tournament selection committee. Who knows the real reason why the experiment has been ended after this year? I have not analyzed the impact it has had. All I know is how I have come to perceive it: like the gladiators in the coliseum, killing each other for the entertainment value while the ruling classes maintained the status quo. A few cases have been cited where a mid-major benefited from the event: George Mason in 2006, Virginia Commonwealth in 2011. I can't dispute those cases, though I'm always reminded of an early episode of "The West Wing" entitled Post Hoc, Ergo Proptor Hoc
, which Leo McGarry properly translated as "After it, therefore because of it".
And President Bartlett accurately pointed out is often not true. It's one of many so-called Logical Fallacies, and it's a very compelling one that sucks us in over and over again.
It sounds like they will try something new next year, so there is still enthusiasm for putting together a mammoth mid-major event. Perhaps they will schedule it in December rather than late February. One of the common complaints of coaches in the Horizon League (and even a few in the Summit League if I'm not mistaken) is that it interrupts conference season right at the time when teams are fighting down the stretch for seeding in the conference tournament. It's a game that doesn't count in which key players could get injured. 2 years ago, Valpo was in first place and controlled their own fate. They lost a heart-breaker
at Milwaukee (including an excruciating missed layup by Mike Rogers in the final minute that might have made a difference), then came home and dominated Missouri State with Dickie V in the house. To this day, Cory Johnson treasures
the little game of 1-on-1 he got to play with the Detroit Titan-coach turned celebrity pundit. Then Valpo returned to Green Bay and dropped another heart-breaker in OT in which Howard Little snagged a rebound with Valpo up 1 and 11 seconds to go, but stumbled and was called for traveling. Valpo returned home and promptly laid an egg against Loyola before securing the 4 seed with a gutty win against UIC. They made it to the semifinals at US Cellular Arena before losing to the host Milwaukee Panthers, who then lost the championship game to that little school that laid an egg in New Orleans against UConn for the national title.
Last year, Valpo traveled to the west coast to take on Loyola Marymount minus their ailing center Kevin Van Wijk and lost. This time, they returned home and clinched the 1 seed with an overtime win over Loyola and a win over UIC before dismantling Butler to end the season. Post Hoc, Ergo Proptor Hoc.
Eastern Kentucky is 22-6, and 11-3 in the Ohio Valley conference, good for 2nd place, 1 game behind Belmont. As of Feb. 18, Valpo's RPI was 84, Eastern Kentucky's was 68. As of this writing, Valpo's RPI is 67, Eastern Kentucky's is 72. Neither team has any top 50 wins. Both are 11-3 in their conference. Both have at least one bad loss (RPI 200+). In short, this game is probably not helping either team make a case for an at-large bid. Nor is it likely to help either team make a strong case for a higher seed. The best that can be said is that the loser might be hurt by it. More on that later.
Valpo is in a slightly better position conference wise: they have only to beat Youngstown State next Tuesday (3 days later) to lock up the 1 seed and host their conference tourney. They have clinched a double-bye all the way to the semifinals, but there is still something to play for. Eastern Kentucky has already clinched a bye and a top 4 seed in their conference tourney, but they would probably like to clinch a double-bye. In their case, the tourney is held in Nashville, so getting the 1 seed is not as important as it is for Valpo. Interestingly enough, 1st place Belmont is located in Nashville, but the tourney is held off campus. In short, both teams have other things on their minds as they engage in this relatively meaningless non-conference battle.
The fact that they have to interrupt their conference stretch drive to entertain a national TV audience is annoying, but not debilitating. After all, players are coached to take it one game at a time and to always play to win no matter what. On the other hand, this relatively meaningless game is an opportunity for injury:
They had to help him off the floor. Their coach thinks he will be fine
, but he certainly didn't look fine. Injuries can happen at any time, but it is disheartening when they happen late in the year in a game of very little consequence. Add that as a reason why some coaches won't miss the BracketBuster event next year.
The game itself was entertaining in the first half, and certainly pleasing for the home team in the 2nd half. It was also very up-tempo at times. One ragged sequence involved lots of deflections, hurried dribble-drives, and ended with Matt Kenney grabbing a loose ball after one of many Colonels' failed layups, racing up court only to have the ball poked by a defender. From my vantage point behind the Eastern Kentucky basket, I just assumed that the foul was on the defender, but it turned out that Matt Kenney reacted angrily to the poke and bounced the ball off the defender's head, earning himself a technical foul. Matt is a fiery competitor and has lost control like this before. The Colonels sank the 2 free throws, then it was Valpo's ball. At that point it was a one-point margin after Valpo had raced out to a huge lead from the opening tip. Valpo proceeded to go on another huge run to enter the halftime with a 10 point lead. They were never seriously threatened again.
As for this being a meaningless game, try telling that to Jordan Coleman and Vashil Fernandez, two Crusader players who had seen regular playing time until a few games ago when they suddenly dropped out of the rotation. Vashil Fernandez is a tall center who often looks uncoordinated, but Jordan Coleman always seemed to play well when he saw court time. I always noticed how aggressively he went after rebounds, for example. Valpo fans have been scratching their heads trying to understand his absence the past few games. But for this relatively meaningless game, and especially one in which Valpo seemed to be able to dominate whenever it wanted to, they were given a chance to get in some court time, and they both made the most of it.
at VALPARAISO 82, EASTERN KENTUCKY 60
EASTERN KENTUCKY 22-7 (11-3) -- T. Smith 5-10 9-12 21; M. DiNunno 7-18 3-3 19; G. Cosey 1-10 2-2 4; C. Walden 7-13 3-3 20; E. Stutz 3-5 4-4 10; M. Lewis 0-4 0-0 0; T. Johnson 0-2 0-0 0; T. Knipp 1-3 1-1 4; J. Johnson 1-3 0-0 3; D. Muff 0-1 0-0 0; R. Stenzel 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 20-61 13-13 60.
VALPARAISO 22-7 (11-3) -- W. Bogan 4-6 2-2 13; E. Buggs 3-4 0-1 6; L. Dority 3-6 5-5 12; M. Kenney 2-4 1-2 5; B. Boggs 4-5 0-0 10; R. Broekhoff 3-4 6-6 13; K. Van Wijk 5-5 1-1 11; B. Capobianco 2-5 0-0 4; V. Fernandez 1-1 0-0 2; J. Coleman 3-4 0-1 6. Totals 30-44 15-18 82.
Three-point goals: EKU 7-26 (M. DiNunno 2-7; C. Walden 3-5; J. Johnson 1-2; R. Stenzel 0-2; T. Knipp 1-2; G. Cosey 0-6; T. Johnson 0-1; M. Lewis 0-1), VALP 7-17 (W. Bogan 3-5; J. Coleman 0-1; B. Boggs 2-3; B. Capobianco 0-1; M. Kenney 0-2; R. Broekhoff 1-1; L. Dority 1-4); Rebounds: EKU 21 (E. Stutz 5), VALP 32 (B. Boggs 7); Assists: EKU 8 (M. DiNunno 3), VALP 14 (E. Buggs 5); Total Fouls -- EKU 19, VALP 18; Fouled Out: EKU-None; VALP-None.