HIGH POINT, N.C. -- In a world of Bill Simmons this and Dennis Miller that, there is no worse crime than blowing a pop culture reference. You know what I'm talking about. I think all of us, at one time, have tried to pass ourselves off as having seen a movie (by looking at the list of quotes on iMDB), then have dropped lines whilst hanging with our cool friends. Later, we realize -- after we finally see the film -- that we totally tanked on the delivery.
Those are minor, everyday blown references though. Over the summer, I mixed up Li'l Bow Wow and Li'l Romeo in an ESPN chat. It started innocently enough, when I said that Bow Wow was the one who was signed by USC. When I was caught on it by a bunch of chatters, I kept it up for a while -- it was a decent joke about stupid rap names, and it gave me an excuse to talk about Like Mike
. But the joke juice ran out, and I came clean.
But last night at Old Dominion, I really
screwed up. Folks who go to Monarchs games know about the Blues Brothers act that the band does -- two dudes come out at halftime and do "Soul Man" and "Can't Turn You Loose." But after the game, when I approached John Belushi, I called him Elwood. My only excuse is that I haven't seen the movie in over a decade, and that was the edited TBS version.
I thought of a name for this last night while I was driving across Virginia: reference dyslexia
. And I want to start a support group. Send me your most incredibly embarrassing blown reference story, and your full name, and the worst one will get a free stuffed Bally, delivered in time for the holiday season. Go! Old Dominion.
Last year, the Monarchs shocked Georgetown despite a 43 percent shooting night, and did so because they won the turnover and rebounding battles. This game illustrated a big reason why Our Game is so wonderful: you can overcome your bad attributes by performing well in other categories. To borrow the style of ODU head coach Blaine Taylor, always one for a sparkling yet ultimately puzzling metaphor, basketball is sorta like a girl in high school with "great personality" who's still able to get lots of dates anyway.
This has to be said: ever since Alex Loughton graduated, this team has not been able to shoot straight. Shooting 55 percent
against the top-rated team in the nation last weekend is an exception that proves no rule. In 2005-06 and 2006-07, in both years, the Monarchs had 13 team shooting nights of under 40 percent, propping up their averages against the Mount Saint Mary's and South Carolina States, with the occasional shock night against Drexel (ODU really does have the Dragons' number). But the Monarchs made the NIT semifinals, and then the NCAA tournament, anyway.
But in a 66-48 loss
last night to the Hoyas, despite another rebounding edge, the ODU shooters bottomed out with a 31.3 percent mark -- which obscures the 3-for-15 that the guards shot. And this had very little to do with tough, in-your-shorts GU D. Georgetown zoned almost all night, and many of these shots were open looks. I do wish we had a stat that measured "unguarded shooting percentage."
I often say there's no such thing as ugly basketball, but there is definitely such thing as frustrating basketball, the kind that makes your blood pressure go way up into the 300's. ODU's frontcourt and mid-sized players are so good, and so improved, and they fight so hard to earn those extra looks... I mean, little in basketball is as heartbreaking as a series of cuts and bumps that scrambles the defense, a kick-out to an open shooter, and a hard clank against the rim. Over and over and over. Old Dominion is a team that will make you want to tear your eyes out. Many fans were heading for the exits, muttering, at the eight-minute media time out, and I don't blame them.
There are a lot of teams out there that shoot badly, but very few of them have as talented and amazing a player as Gerald Lee
, the 6-10 sophomore who showed no fear of Roy Hibbert last night -- he drove the lane like he owned it, went over and around and above Hibbert, making the future NBA star look like a 7-foot-2 pylon anytime they faced up. ODU will be good again, very good, but it's going to take a few cap-and-gown ceremonies to get this generation of brick-handed guards out of the program. Brick, N.J.
This is a cheap joke, and an overdue one... but since we're talking about bad shooting, here's one for you. Marist has a four-year walk-on named Joe Keegan
. In his college career, he's shot just four baskets from the floor and connected on none of them. There are a few players in this position, but none of those come from Brick, New Jersey.Keegan is our new hero.
When he makes a basket, this site is going to go crazy. Red Foxes fans, keep us updated. Defending champs that start with "W."
Conference USA -- a favorite punching bag around here for its high budgets and low performance (it's like the 2007 Chicago White Sox of college conferences) -- took two more hits last night. Winthrop, which is 4-2 and looking like last year's supporting cast is stepping up nicely, knocked around East Carolina 72-57
. Michael Jenkins and Taj McCullough both shot 8-for-14. Wright State is a perfect 2-0 after beating Marshall 77-70 at home.
Sophomore Todd Brown
, a utility player for the 2007 Horizon League champeens, is really shining with increased PT. It's early, but he leads all HL players in scoring with 21.5 ppg. VMI.
Try and try and try as they might, the Keydets just can't seem to break that 156-point barrier. Someday they will, though, just you watch. That's the number of points VMI put up in last year's game against Virginia Intermont
, and there was more ESPN ticker shock-and-awe last night. Against Columbia Union
, the defending Big South runner-ups set a school record with a 65-point margin of victory in 1 156-91 win that featured 119 VMI possessions
, the highest number since this madness got started last season (previous high was 116, in the 144-127 win over Southern Virginia on Nov. 20, 2006).
They get the yellow arrow because they're .500 now (3-3), and because of their new, hott yellow unis. And keep in mind both of these games were against non-D1 opponents, but Columbia Union does have a dude who used to play for Eastern Michigan
. Red-headed cheerleaders.
Every once in a while, I just want to do something special for all the ladies in the world. And the girls. I won't name specific schools or names, or post gratuitous pictures, to avoid looking like a sick stalker, but I want to send a special tribute out to all the red-headed cheerleaders out there. The Mid-Majority loves y'all.
Redheads make up only 5 percent of humanity (a number that dwindles every generation, sadly), but only about .05 percent of the Division I cheer-force. I go to about 100 games a year, and I know that having a real, honest-to-goodness, non-Cheetos-hair-color redhead on a spirit squad is as rare as a triple-double in a college game. Rarer still is having two. When that happens, I can usually be found on press row, crying real tears of joy into my tie.
Redheads generally don't cheer for things, they don't need to have their self-images validated by performing to large and leering crowds. Besides, they're too busy getting awesome grades (they are quite smart, you know), or trying to figure out how they're going to stay out of the sun next summer. But don't take it from me. Lucky for us, we have an expert on this subject in-house.
"Redheads, by and large, are a tempermental lot, prone to mood swings, and as such are not always a 'cheerful' bunch," The Official Wife of the Mid-Majority™ said in this space three years ago. "We may be able to tumble and make pyramids and shout with the best of them, sure, but do we reeeeallllly want to?"
So if your favorite school has a redhead on its cheer or dance squad, know that you are among the precious and few. And the obscenely lucky. Take a moment today to thank her for her service to the school, the team, the program.
Then run for cover before she beats the living ^$&( out of you.
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