Game #9-495: The Citadel Bulldogs at Presbyterian Blue HoseFebruary 23, 2013 7:45 pm
As most on here are aware, BracketBuster weekend is going away. BracketBuster weekend started mainly as a way to help get mid-majors better opponents to boost their RPI when they otherwise might not get a chance during conference play. Oh, and also to as Kyle put it, feed the "content monster".
But today that is less relevant, as there are plenty of opportunities for mid-majors to get on ESPNU, occasionally ESPN2 and at least online at ESPN3. Many mid-majors do not like breaking up conference play to play a non-conference game in February to accommodate television schedules (and I have noted the problems in doing so before)
. And for every win by a mid-major in one of these events, some school is hurt with another loss. Mid-majors in good conferences can help themselves with a regular season title, while everyone can help themselves by winning a guarantee game. But by losing BracketBuster weekend, we lose more opportunities for similar quality mid-majors to play each other. And that is where this game between The Citadel and Presbyterian matters.
Lost in all of the BracketBuster focus on mid-majors in conferences like the Missouri Valley that can produce multiple bids are games between Presbyterian and The Citadel, both near last place in their respective conferences. ESPN invites often entire conferences (as is the case with the Big South) to participate. The reasoning for ESPN is that if some team unexpectedly catches fire, they can be featured in a game. And if they do not have a good season as expected, they still need a game to fulfill their commitment to the event. And that is why Presbyterian would be playing The Citadel here. I have compared Presbyterian to The Citadel before in talking about the unfortunately high number of struggling teams in South Carolina this year
. But these schools would otherwise not be playing each other. Presbyterian and The Citadel are both football schools who have struggled in getting competitive basketball, particularly this season. The Citadel and PC are only 170 miles apart on Interstate 26 in South Carolina. The Citadel only has Furman below them in the SoCon, and Presbyterian only has Longwood below them in the Big South. But they did not work a game with each other into this season's plans. Having these teams play each other might not boost anybody's NCAA Tournament chances, but it gives them an opportunity for a rare Division I win. And better yet, Presbyterian will have to play at The Citadel within the next two years. That means that there will be less of a need for Presbyterian to schedule a guarantee game, and less of a need for The Citadel to schedule a Super Guarantee Game
(as Presbyterian did with Toccoa Falls and both schools did with Montreat).
And this is what will be going away that will be missed the most. As conferences realign in increasing ridiculous manners, we need some common sense in scheduling. ESPN has a lot of blame on it going the opposite way, as teams are increasingly trying to position themselves for ESPN air-time in conference play. Someone, whether the NCAA, another media organization, or someone else needs to somehow step up and make sure logical games like this game in Clinton continue to keep happening.
I planned this game on my schedule at the beginning of the year, even prior to knowing who Presbyterian would play. That is because Presbyterian knew there was no chance at them getting a television spot, so they made the game the second half of a women's/men's doubleheader at the beginning of the season. Once I saw the other games, I decided to see if I could do another game this day. Winthrop seemed too tight time wise in making the trip, so that was out. Western Carolina seemed more doable, except that I would have to get up early and drive way more than I should as that would be close to a five hour drive. So ultimately I decided to stick with Presbyterian and see both the women's and men's games. That would sound great since the PC women were playing High Point at 5, but the previous two times I saw the HPU women I came away frustrated. And both HPU basketball teams this school year have struggled somewhat when I have seen them play. So I decided to take a different approach to this game, and make it like I was not there as much as possible. I decided that there would be no, "Go High Point!" after the national anthem, no vocal support at all. Just plain silence, as if I did not care about the women's game at all. And I also decided to sit in the far corner of the Templeton Center to make myself less present. Unfortunately, the bleachers in that corner of the aging Templeton Center are not very sturdy and I lost my phone when it fell out of my pocket and down a crack in the bleachers. I was able to get it back by contacting a maintenance person who brought a ladder out for police to go up and get it during halftime. The maintenance person was aware of the problem with the bleachers there, noting that a cell phone had fallen through there just a week before. And that is what I got for trying to stay less visible. Oh, and High Point still lost. The HPU women were able to catch up after a poor first half through ball pressure, only to have that pressure catch up with them through fouls by having their big women out of position down the court. So my plans did not work here.
But the men's game would be something to look forward to, even though most casual fans would see this as a game between two really bad teams. Initially, it did not look good for the host Big South school. After scoring the first four points, Presbyterian would give up 13 of the next 15 points as the Bulldogs got excellent penetration. Many times the Bulldogs are only able to use Mike Groselle effectively down low, but P.J. Horgan and Matt Van Scyoc were doing just as well. Marshall Harris also shot effectively from outside as well. But this BracketBuster game would be Khalid Mutakabbir's Senior Day game, and he needed to finish his career in Clinton strong. Mutakabbir led a 10-0 run to give Presbyterian the lead again, which they would narrowly hold on to the rest of the half for a 30-28 lead.
The crowd for this game was quite high for a Presbyterian game. The listed attendance was 1,780, which is unusually high for the Blue Hose who are last in the Big South with an average attendance under 800. I figured that there were two reasons behind this, the first of which was that it was Senior Day (which seemed to be behind the boost for the women's attendance). The other was that The Citadel has a very loyal and active statewide alumni base, even though they do not generally support their struggling basketball program in Charleston. But neither were quite true. As was the case when Matt Cayuela came here last year
, much of the crowd here was associated with a youth dance group from near Columbia performing at halftime. This was particularly true opposite where I was sitting, where the dancers were facing during their performance. I was not that fond of the performance, mainly because I felt that the outfits were a bit inappropriate for the age of the dancers performing. I don't consider my moral standards to be that high, but I don't like putting six year old girls in outfits similar to that of Las Vegas showgirls. I remember Kyle tweeting at a USC Upstate game a few years ago once on a similar phenomenon, "Creepy little girls' gymnastics show! Can't leave the South without seeing one of those." Generally I find the gymnastics shows okay and occasionally entertaining, but most of the halftime dance shows around here cross the line for me. But this was the source of the crowd, which like in Matt's game last year left early even though this was a good basketball game.
Some teams increasingly don't take BracketBuster games seriously, feeling that they are mid-season exhibitions in the midst of conference play. But that was not the case here. Presbyterian would get off to a good start here in the second half, leading by seven with 14 minutes left. But the Bulldogs would respond by continuing to pound the ball inside, and the Blue Hose could not stop them. Presbyterian has pretty solid size, but their forwards did not have the athleticism to slow down Groselle and Horgan. But PC's inside-outside threat in Khalid Mutakabbir would continue to have Presbyterian ahead most of the rest of the way. Mutakabbir started his career at Presbyterian as a freshman when Gregg Nibert redshirted starters Pierre Miller, Al'Lonzo Coleman, and Josh Johnson in an effort to make them eligible for the NCAA Tournament run that never happened unfortunately. Mutakabbir would during this game score 25 points to move him past Coleman for most points scored by a Presbyterian player in their brief Division I history. After the Citadel tied the game with seven minutes left, Presbyterian quickly went back ahead. But the Citadel still fought to stay in the game until the buzzer. But as Marshall Harris looked to set a game tying three to send the game to OT, Ryan McTavish stole the ball to preserve a 68-65 Presbyterian win. The Big South had a bad weekend, going 4-8. But PC was able to salvage the conference a much needed win over the SoCon here.
Most outsiders would have seen this game as not interesting. One team entered 7-19 (The Citadel) and the other entered 7-21 (Presbyterian). Even fans of mid-major basketball would often not be too excited about this game. When ESPN designed BracketBuster weekend, this was not the kind of game they had in mind. This game only happened because ESPN wanted these schools available in case they had a remarkable breakout season, and when that did not happen this was these schools were given as reward for their commitment. But yet this was a good basketball game despite the records. And within the next two years, the Blue Hose and Bulldogs will play in Charleston. That will mean one more close and exciting basketball game for those teams that they likely would not have had otherwise. One of the best basketball games I saw over the Holidays was back in late December of 2007 when Butler beat Southern Illinois at the buzzer in a return BracketBuster game. With BracketBuster weekend going away, it won't be the Missouri Valley vs. Colonial (which already opted out this year) showdowns I will be missing. It will be games like these, which help improve the quality of non-conference schedules. That will be what is lost from BracketBuster weekend.
at PRESBYTERIAN 68, THE CITADEL 65
THE CITADEL 7-20 (4-12) -- M. Harris III 2-4 6-6 12; M. Van Scyoc 4-9 1-4 10; M. Groselle 5-9 5-8 15; S. Elmore 0-0 3-4 3; A. Moore 0-1 0-0 0; J. Jenkins 1-3 2-2 4; D. Setzekorn 0-0 0-0 0; Q. Marshall 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 12-26 17-24 44.
PRESBYTERIAN 8-21 (4-10) -- A. Anderson 3-9 2-4 8; E. Washington 4-4 3-4 11; K. Mutakabbir 9-18 4-5 25; R. McTavish 3-6 2-2 9; J. Clyburn 3-6 3-6 9; W. Truss 2-5 0-0 4; M. Lake 1-3 0-0 2; R. Hargrave 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 25-53 14-21 68.
Three-point goals: CITA 3-9 (M. Harris 2-4; M. Van Scyoc 1-5), PRES 4-17 (R. Hargrave 0-2; K. Mutakabbir 3-7; M. Lake 0-1; R. McTavish 1-3; A. Anderson 0-4); Rebounds: CITA 16 (M. Groselle 9), PRES 22 (J. Clyburn 5); Assists: CITA 7 (M. Harris 4), PRES 7 (E. Washington 4); Total Fouls -- CITA 11, PRES 22; Fouled Out: CITA-None; PRES-None.
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