BLOOMSBURY, N.J. (en route to Charlotte) -- Hello again, friends, and welcome back to TMM's regular schedule. This here is The Daily Paragraph, which is specifically designed to be triply too clever for it's own good: it's a play on existing basketball literature
, is a sarcastic/ironic attempt at one-upsmanship, and it features a similar built-in misnomer to boot. It's neither daily, nor a paragraph long.
You can reasonably expect four mid-major missives a week from this space, each with a specific orientation. Tuesday is Top Five Tuesday (because people like lists), Thursday is mailbag day and the venerable Mid-Major Baller Of The Week award, Friday is for weekend previews, and Sunday (or in this case, Monday) is for recapping.
There's other stuff too. On Fridays at 3pm Eastern, head over to ESPN.com SportsNation
to chat with me. Or wait until Monday, when you can convene with Bally
in a new cartoon or game.
Now, a few of the things in that list probably triggered some vague and distant memories from 2005-06, which might lead to some questions, like:
Q: What happened to your ESPN Insider blog?
Jay Bilas will be filling that space with all your favorite big-boy basketball this season. Don't complain, this is going to be free.
A quick note about stats, performance stats, boxscores and othersuch: we're trying some new stat-gathering mechanisms this season around here, and there's about as much gear-creakign as you'd imagine for a 331. Therefore, the stats that are being picked up are about as useful as high desert gills, and occasionally as hilarious as a face-slap with a cold cod. You don't want to see them until they've been cleaned up, trust me.
This is actually a similar situation to last November, actually, and longtimers may remember that the "stats" tab up at the top of the screen didn't work until November 20 or so. We'll do better than that this time, and once everybody has a game under their belts, they'll be back up. Your patience is appreciated, required even.
Housekeeping out of the way, so let's get to the action. Go!Upset!
(sorta)at Bradley (MVC) 78, DePaul (Big East) 58 (Saturday)
- Thought all that Sweet Bradley magic left along with newly-minted Golden State Warrior Patrick O'Bryant
? No POBin' way! After the banners-an-stuff, the Braves led wire-to-wire with an inside-outside performance against a Big East team, one that served notice to everyone who's been selling them short in the Valley race. Hot Mid-Major on Mid-Major Action!at Northwestern State (Southland) 88, Utah State (WAC) 71 (Friday)
- In this return game from February's BracketBuster, few thought a Round-Of-32 team that had lost four starters would have much of a chance against a the Round-Of-64 New WAC Swing of the Aggies. But USU lost its first season opener in 13 years after a 12-4 run down the stretch put the Aggies away. Did the blazing hot Natchitoches heat finally get to them, or was it the orange shoes
?New Jersey Tech (Ind.) 56, Manhattan (MAAC) 55 (Saturday)
- All NJIT did in its Division I debut was to walk into the emerald cavern of Draddy Gymnasium and beat a team that went to the NIT last year. Clayton Barker hit a take-the-lead layup with :30 to go, and the Jaspers could not respond.
And whatever marketing genius came up with the idea to brand the school with initials, you're fired. It's Tech as inWreck
, baby!at Albany (A-East) 55, Bucknell (Patriot) 49 (Saturday)
- I don't remember any TV cameras there, but I hope this wasn't on ESPNU2 or something. Albany shot 35.2 percent, Bucknell 29.8, and it wasn't "effective defense" that kept folks from scoring. Just two teams still trying to find their groove, and in Bucknell's case, this likely spelled the end of any at-large possibility. No disrespect intended to the eventual America East champs... but no matter how well the Bison do for the rest of the year, this is the type of result that the RPI loves to punish.at Savannah State (Ind.) 67, Jacksonville (A-Sun) 64 (Sunday)
-- Speaking of the RPI: when Chris Dortch, Ken Pomeroy and I diced together the Blue Ribbon Power Poll this summer based on 2005-06 results (keep checking this space for a full table), it wasn't RPI anchors Prairie View A&M or Savannah State on the bottom, it was Jacksonville. JU gets RPI help from playing in a conference with decent teams, but not from us. This game, which may well end up being Sav-State's only win of the year, goes a long way towards validating our results.Also...
I attended the inaugural Maggie Dixon Classic
yesterday in West Point, in small part to check up on Western Michigan as they start out on the long road to what looks like an easy 2008 MAC Championship (from this perspective, anyway). They won the second half against a nationally ranked team
But there was, as they say, the reason everyone was there
: Pitt coach Jamie Dixon's late sister, the Army women's head coach who died suddenly in April after elading the Black Knights to their first-ever NCAA berth. Dixon only came to the USMA a few short weeks before the season began, and had little time to get the team oriented to her system. It showed early on, as the Black Knights were throttled early, but a strong run in conference play and a nailbiter win in the Patriot League championship sealed the bid. A month later, she was gone, and everyone at the academy considered it a deep loss to the family-at-large. She also holds the distinction of being the only non-graduate buried in the West Point Cemetery.
Greatness is generally measured in years and decades: we build "Halls of Fame" to honor those with long and distinguished service. On the flip side, when people come to be defined by actions that take small timeframes to complete, it's not usually good - one-hit wonders, axe-murderers and Wimbledon streakers, for example. (I thought how my career could be instantly transformed forever if I were simply to pour my Diet Coke into the laptop of the New York Times reporter next to me who was feverishly trying to meet a buzzer deadline.)
So here, to me, is what Maggie Dixon's life says: it's amazing how much greatness you can achieve in such a short time.