NORFOLK, Va. -- Sorry about the late post today. Full story later on, but in most of Southern Virginia, the internet is something to catch bass with. Not a slight against those good people, mind you, I'd trade it all in for a life in a place like Skippers
. Life down there brought to mind a modern tone poem I've heard lately.Changing, yeah, everything's changing
But I'm through with all this changing...
I like the way I'm living,
and I got my reasons why.
I'm not gonna go changing.
No, I'm not gonna go changing.
And while I'm at it, a note to the Emporia police department: if you're going to try to catch speeders by hiding between two "for sale" cars on the side of the road, you're better off doing it in an unmarked car with "$1100 OBO New Brakes New Trans" chalked to the windshield. You're not fooling anyone. Shooting 16.7 percent.
On Nov. 10, Manhattan College went into the New Jersey Institute of Technology to start the season and ripped them apart. The final score was 70-28, and the Jaspers held their hosts to 0.44 points per possession and 16.7 percent shooting.
Manhattan had its reasons. One year earlier, in its Draddy Gym, NJIT won this matchup 56-55, its first-ever Division I game in its first-ever Division I attempt. It was also the first game in the Barry Rohrssen era at MC, his first-ever game as a Division I head coach.
"Do you have any idea what that feels like?" Rohrssen asked rhetorically when I talked to him last week. "My first game, right here on our floor. Needless to say, we were motivated against those guys when we played them again."
This morning, North Florida's coaching staff and players must be feeling some NJIT-style humiliation did three weeks ago. Last night, the Ospreys lost 58-32 at Savannah State, matching the Highlanders' 16.7 percent shooting total and tying the two at the absolute bottom of the per-game shooting chart for the year (only one other team has shot worse than 20 percent: Long Beach State was 19.1 percent against BYU the same day the NJIT meltdown happened).
But this cannot be overstated enough: North Florida did that against Savannah State
. As far as I know, there's no bad blood between the fledgeling third-year A-Sun member and the independent program still digging out from a historic 0-28 season three years ago (although their 12-18 performance last year got Horace Broadnax some coach-of-the-year votes). They'd split their first two D-I meetings, and there weren't any fistfights in either. North Florida is just a really bad basketball team. Riding the church bus.
Last night, the WAC's Fresno State went thousands of miles out of its way to play new MEAC member Winston-Salem State. It was a thank-you return game after WSSU helped fill out FSU preseason tournament last year. The Rams, in their first Division I season, lost 85-63 out in California to open what would eventually become a 5-24 campaign... but they led for much of the night
on Tuesday before falling 74-64. They're going to be fine, eventually.
Walking across a nearly-empty parking lot towards the arena in Winston-Salem last night, I couldn't help noticing the big old church bus right out front -- "Saint John's United Methodist Church, Atlantic, VA" was painted on the side. They're kinda far from home, I thought, then forgot about it.
Until the game was over, when Fresno State guard Eddie Miller mentioned it in the postgame press conference. He's from Pocomoke, Md., and his old friends and family don't almost as much of a chance to see him as I do -- the Bulldogs play all the way out in California, rarely come east, and are even more rarely on TV. Turns out that about 100 people piled into the bus and made the 650-mile journey
to North Carolina to see him.
And Miller didn't disappoint. He shot 8-for-12 for 25 points, doubling his season average. He drilled 3's from the far corner all night, driving baseline to pop 10-footers.
"Yeah, they all came down in the bus from church," said Miller. "It felt good to have a lot of people I know come out and watch me play. That doesn't happen a lot out there."
Afterwards, the senior guard's friends and family, some in handmade No. 12 shirts, congregated in the LJVM Arena hallway, hugging, high-fiving, laughing and posing for cellphone pictures with the star of the game. And then it was time to get back on the bus, and time for Miller to go back west with his team.
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