Once upon a time there was a tiny little cell, one among a million billion, sloshing and sliding inside a gigantic and vibrant and heaving body. The tiny little cell did its tiny little job as well as it tiny little could, and during its time off it had fun bouncing around with other tiny little like-celled cells, having tiny little conversations on its tiny little cell phone (sorry).
In due course, it was time for the tiny little cell to come of age. It was tiny little puberty time! Inside its tiny little globby cell walls, the tiny little cell was feeling changes -- big
changes! Chromatin was condensing, and cytoskeleton microtubules were collapsing! Soon, the tiny little cell had pulled apart from itself and become two
tiny little cells, appearing to be exactly the same! This is what tiny little scientists -- great big ones too -- call "mitosis."
But oh no! Something went wrong during the tiny little process... these two tiny little cells weren't alike at all! They were tiny little mutants!
One tiny little cell was brooding and wordy and presumably self-absorbed, and the other started spouting statistics and numbers, becoming insufferably geekish! It even had a little pair of horn-rimmed glasses and a tiny little bowtie!
OK, OK... back to life, back to reality. If you've been visiting The Mid-Majority over the past week, and this is something you've done before, you've probably noticed the cell division around here. Things are different on these restored, remastered pages: a pleasing light-brown background and general airy feeling, tags, reassembled three-year archives with all the broken links and 100 Games Project
photo galleries fixed.
But a lot of last year's site, the left-brain stuff that always had an uneasy coexistence with the writing since its installation, is not here anymore. The stats, maps, 500 news sources, tempo-free boxscores, Tournament brackets and grids are in a new place. It's called Basketball State
. Before I talk about the new site, which launched on November 1, allow me a second to get my keynote on.
Basketball State is, quite simply, the best college basketball site ever. It's the iPod, the iTouch, the iPhone, the Leopard
of college basketball sites. It's everything that was on The Mid-Majority last year, the stuff that brought thousands of Google users to the site's back pages every day (all of whom left without reading the blog). It's real-time scoreboard maps
, Tempo-Free Aerials
, athletic budget information
, sortable stats
, game-by-game performance data
, player cards
, all those things.
But it's so much more. There are a host of new features for the 2007-08 season. There's stuff like The State Of College Basketball
, a ratings system that uses things like possession stats and Location-Based Performance ™ and science
There are Game Maps, which let you see exactly how far your team will travel this season on a game-to-game, point-to-point basis. It gives you a list of the games with the number of miles between it and the last one, and adds it all up at the end. Then there's a map with everything shown visually. For example, here's what Coppin State's map looks like.
And I also want to tell you about the personalization features, something we had two years ago. There's a lot of potential to customize the new site, a just-for-you newsfeed that will show you just the headlines you want to see (up to two conferences and three teams) in web or RSS form, and a front-page map that will just show you which games are in your area (get off the couch and go!). Don't let me forget to tell you about My Team, which lets you put your favorite school's logo up in the top corner with its record and the last and next time it's playing. When a game's on, it gives you score updates as you browse around the site. Most of the time, it looks like this:
Isn't that great? Oh, and one more thing
... Tournament Wiz
. This is the coolest wiz ever. You ask it a question about the NCAA Tournament via a series of pulldown menus, and you get your answer in one of three ways: a number, a team record or a grid of all applicable results. Show me all the times the MEAC has won!
We at TMM Basketball Partners loved creating Tournament Wiz, and we know you're going to love it too.
Basketball State is what's going to make all of this make sense. There will be no more donation drives or fan clubs or white screens here. Because, as you've probably noticed if you've clicked on a few of the above links, Basketball State costs 20 bucks a year. (Well, it does now... it'll be 26 bucks after November 18.)
We've implemented a "humane" system that doesn't slam the wall down on you until you've loaded five screens on a given day, but c'mon, you know all that stuff is worth the cost of a bad cup of joe per month. Sally Struthers can wait until April. And you get a full calendar year (UPDATE: to clarify, that means 12 months, not until Dec. 31!
) of hot college hoops action, for the same price one of "those" sites charges per month. Put simply, Basketball State is basketball porn.
So act now. Help me fill the gas tank.
All of this is not to say that I won't stop sleeping in the car or spending too much time at truck stops, keeping my ass three feet from asphalt at all times. That's who we are, that's how we do it, and it's how we will always do it. Anybody who wants to cover the mid-majors as comprehensively as I do will have to do the same thing, there's no other way. There are no airports in Itta Bena or Alcorn State or Boiling Springs, you have to drive there. This is how these teams roll, how they travel from game to game, so that's how I do it too.
And this season, that's a lot of what I'm going to be writing about. The road, the people you meet on it, the journey and the struggle. You know, just like the first year we did this.
It won't be all wacky-Kerouacy, however. Every Monday starting Nov. 19, we'll dip into Basketball State's database, post and dissect "The State Of The Other 22," the top 20 mids in Hoops Nation. Who's hot, who's warm, who's ready to strike deep into March -- all in a format that will give bored sports information directors something to reference in their news releases. We'll do the same daily capsule rundowns as before, and bring back a couple of popular-demand features from two seasons ago: the Baller of the Week (a profile framed in heroic prose), and the daily Game! Of! The! Night!, spotlighting a game to watch in the mid ranks. Those will start next week.
But semantics and schematics will be kept in their rightful place, a small one. We have fun here, you and I. There will be a new Bally cartoon
every Wednesday, and this season our little orange pal will have plenty of high-flying hijinks, and find and face his mortal enemy. I'm working with a company to produce stuffed Ballys (that squeak!), so we'll have random trivia contests and trivia nights and essay questions that may result in you winning one. December will see the return of Finals Week
, which was a lot of fun three years ago. The size and scope of that will depend on the willingness of The Official Wife™ to grade papers.
So there you have it: The Mid-Majority v4.0. We're done with the long-winded speechifying and ready for real, honest-to-goodness college basketball. Today, the 9th of November, marks the beginning of the non-exempt season, and we've already had a garden of Gardner-Webb thrills in the first few days. With more to come. Join me for it all, won't you?