BROOKLYN, N.Y. - Look, I understand my job here is to try to make every game I attend as interesting as possible, but it's also to be honest to you. That's hopefully where my credibility and reliability come from; you as the reader can trust me to bring you the best stories I can find.
And I'm sure there was something out there I didn't see, but in an empty Barclays Center for a noon tip-off on a Friday, top-seeded Saint Louis continued its journey on what looks like it could be a great March run by leading wire-to-wire in a comfortable 72-55 win over No. 9 Charlotte.
Of course, you could have found that information anywhere, so I won't bore you anymore. I'm sure the 49ers are a solid basketball team, after all they finished ninth in a fairly loaded Atlantic-10 (which has 16 teams, remember) and have 21 wins on the season. But after a controversial and bizarre win over Richmond on Thursday
, Charlotte just never threatened the Billikens.
Twelve minutes in, Saint Louis led 32-16, and although Chris Braswell would finish with 20 points and 10 rebounds for Charlotte, who played their last game as a member of the Atlantic 10 (and probably the Mid-majority). Charlotte went and got itself a football team
(hurray), so it returns to Conference USA at the end of the season. We barely knew ye, 49ers.
My vast Mid-majority knowledge allowed me to share this tidbit with the kids sitting next to me, "The guy with the blue hair? He can shoot the ball." And when Cody Ellis stepped out to hit a #superhoop? I had my street cred. Because that's what it's all about these days. By the way, shouldn't those kids have been in school? I mean we all play hooky next week, but this was early.
Early afternoon games on weekdays, which a few teams will have to face next week in the NCAA Tournament, are always a little strange, bereft of atmosphere, particularly when you get a game like this that doesn't warrant it.
In what might be a scary fact of life for future opponents, the Billikens didn't even play that well, shooting 5-of-23 from behind the arc, and losing the rebounding battle 39-34. However, they forced 20 turnovers (10 from E. Victor Nickerson and Pierria Henry) and did go 25-of-31 from the free throw line. Center Dwayne Evans also deserves a mention, scoring a career-high 25 points on 8-for-9 shooting (and 9-for-9 on free throws to go along with nine rebounds), but as I mentioned, it wasn't a game that would have a long highlight reel.
The game was so anti-climactic that I barely noticed that the giant scoreboard in the center of the court was broken. Well, until I tried to take my traditional end of the game picture of it. Instead, all I got is this from the side boards.
For the first time in my life, I stayed over in Brooklyn Thursday night, and was again struck by the disconnect (sometimes) between the life of most of the people that live in a place and the grand arena that graces it. The neighborhood I was in had Arabic writing on most of the storefronts, and you could see people of all kinds of ethnic backgrounds (shocking in New York, I know).
With an hour or two to kill, I took the subway to Coney Island, with the temperature hovering around 40 probably not the tourist destination it will be in the summer. But I'd never been there, and I would likely not be that close for a while, so I checked it out. I was curious to see how recovery was going from Sandy (technically, they don't want you to call it a hurricane because it wasn't when it made landfall).
The aquarium - the stop before Coney Island - is still closed, but Coney Island had all kinds of construction going on as they say they'll open for business on time next week, and certainly be ready for the greatest show of gluttony our country has to offer on July 4.
Does that show resilience or stubbornness? Or maybe, as with most things in life, maybe a little of both. Just as on the court, we have to bounce back from mistakes, but there has to be a point where we have to be realistic about our place and what dangers there are lurking, not just doing things because it's the way it has always been done.
Or maybe my analogy is ridiculous, and my out-of-the-way trip to Coney Island has nothing to do with college basketball in any way, shape, or form.
I guess that's for you to decide.
Saint Louis advances to the Atlantic-10 semifinals with a routine victory in Brooklyn, while Charlotte waits on the NIT as it exits the conference for Conference USA.
Is that better?