PAWTUCKET, R.I. -- It's a snowy Tuesday here at the office home, but that won't depress us, not in the least. Here, for the first time ever, a 100% positive Boubacar... Belmont.
"They" said it wasn't a "real" upset. Oh, it's just Cincinnati. Never mind that UC has five times more money to spend on athletics than Belmont does, which is a far wider budget margin than the 3X that separated Colorado and Boston
this past World Series (imagine if the Rockies had found a way to win that -- that's all anybody would be talking about). Beating the Bearcats on the road is not nearly as awesome as G-Webb winning at Kentucky or Mercer beating USC in their own building. That's what "they" said.
Well, "they" get a choice of having their own shoes steamed, sauteed or fried this morning... so bon appetit, b__________s. The Bruins went into Tuscaloosa and gave the Atlantic Sun yet another upset, turning the Crimson Tide into something you can call Deacon Blues. The 85-83 final
was iced by Bruin hero Justin Hare, the team's only senior, with a free-throw line J with two ticks left.
"He's just one of those kids who rises to the occasion," Belmont head coach Rick Byrd told me. That wasn't last night, that was last week. This guy does this kind of game-tying or game-winning thing a lot -- 13 times during the course of his career, in fact.
The win is double, triple, five times as sweet because it's an example of the conference's tight-knit programs all working together for a common cause. Last week, Mercer couldn't finish the job when it had Alabama in its own building, so Belmont went ahead and exacted revenge for the league at Coleman Coliseum, all Diego Montoya-like. The A-Sun: we are family! Ben Woodside, North Dakota State.
The Bison earned a conference home in the Summit League this summer, but lost their coach to the power conferences when lucky penny-carrier
Tim Miles left for Colorado State. No matter, replacement Saul Phillips is doing a fine job in his stead, opening the season with a 3-2 record. Besides, he's got a 5-11 dynamo for another two years, one who added to a legacy of great road performances last night.
Last night at Tennessee Tech in an opening round game of the Blue Ribbon Challenge (not
brought to you by these guys
), Woodside went boom all over the host Golden Eagles in a 90-72 win
. The pride of Albert Lea, Minn. made 11 of his 17 shots from the floor, all but one of his 14 freebies, and ended with a career-high 39 points
That's the second-highest scoring total in D-I so far this season (the top performance, ironically, was a 43-pointer put in by Miles' new protegé Marcus Walker at CSU). Folks over the age of two might also remember his heroic showing at Wisconsin on Jan. 21, 2006, when he nailed half his shots for 24 points in a 62-55 shocker. Big MACs.
The Mid-American Conference is so generous, so gregarious, that they give out two weekly player-of-the-week awards, one for each division. And Monday, the two awards couldn't have gone to a pair of nicer undersized bigs.Tim Pollitz
, hero of the 2007 MAC Tournament and star of the defending conference champion Miami Redhawks, won in the East for helping X out Xavier last week. The Muskies found out what the rest of the league, and Oregon, did last spring -- that for a big-shouldered 6-5 dude, he's incredibly difficult to stop in the paint. Joe Reitz
won in the West after averaging 19 in a road split at Loyola (Ill.) and Oregon, then the 6-7 senior center went out and celebrated the honor by going 4-for-5 in a 60-59 win at Detroit last night.
Because they're in different divisions, they play only once during the season. Are you excited for the only scheduled battle between Reitz and Pollitz (won decisively by Reitz last year)? Do you have the date -- Feb. 12 at WMU -- circled? Well, why the heck not?
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