PAWTUCKET, R.I. -- Folks sometimes come up and ask me how they can get started with their very own mid-major college basketball blog. "Read mine all the way through, then do it better," I tell them. "Put me out of business, so I can go back to what I really
love... 18-hour days of cross-checking my employees' PHP code, and traveling to client meetings where they say nothing but 'make the logo bigger.'
Others don't wait for my advice, they go ahead anyway. And who could blame them? Mid-major college basketball is something that's very hip and now, and the iron is too hot to stay unstruck. You might have run into some of these new blogs out on the Intertron, a few of them are even offshoots of giant corporate-owned blogging empires. It's too late for them, but not for you. When you start your own mid-major college basketball blog, don't do as they did. Don't:Bring a power-conference mentality.
Making fun of small schools on the basis of their names, nicknames or conference affiliations is something that Big XII fans do to pass time time during guarantee-game blowouts -- it seems really out of place from writers who are supposedly celebrating the little-guy. Not that I'd ever get in the way of your right as a citizen of Hoops Nation to go for a cheap laugh, but it doesn't make much logical sense to respect the disrespectful.Throw teams under the bus because they're losing.
If you know anything about this level of hoops, it's that things work in cycles. If you want to gush about teams like Butler and all the other current mid-major super-darlings, go ahead, just be careful who you're crapping on. The Bulldogs won 29 games last year, but it took two whole seasons for them to achieve that total earlier in the decade.Discuss any of Big Ten Wonk's FDT.
The Wonk is an ex-Wonk now, but his words live on forever. I'm working on a filter that will purge any blog from my Google Reader that uses the phrases "bad call" or "stupid announcer" in any capacity.
Now that that's off my chest, are you ready for the Boub job? Grinnell.
Finals week necessitates spreading the weekend's news over a several-day period. On Saturday, David Arseneault (no relation to this guy
) broke the NCAA assists record with 34 in a 151-112 win over North Central (Minn.). Perhaps, mayyybe, because he's the coach's son, Grinnell deviated from its usual and infamous five-in-five-out system and let the kid play and play. The old record was 26.
My first thought when I heard about this was, gee, what if he'd only had 25 assists, this story wouldn't have blipped across any wire because it was a D-III game. Then I thought about Grinnell, which made it to ESPN2 two seasons ago for its unique style of play, and, as some of you know, was one of the early members of the Missouri Valley Conference.
For 21 seasons, the Iowa college represented the MVC but had much more success in track, swimming and tennis than hoops. Through the Twenties, the Pioneers were often found at the bottom of the standings, spending the decade without a winning record. In 1939, Grinnell withdrew from the conference, but their last Valley go-round was a good one: a 14-7 overall record, tying for second place behind Oklahoma A&M (now State) and Drake with an 8-6 league record. The NAIA.
We spoke of the lower divisions' success against Division I last week, in light of Elon's home loss to Tusculum College on Dec. 5. But what we didn't mention was that the first three
non-D1 drops of the season weren't to D-II or D-III schools at all. Nope, Warner Southern, Texas College and Paul Quinn are all proud members of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics
, or the NIAA. They're champions... of character!
Last weekend, the NAIA stuck again. Against a Northwestern State team just 21 months removed from a stunning 14-over-3 NCAA upset, the Demons lost to LSU Shreveport
. The shocking thing about this is that NSU played from behind the entire first half
, and founds its advances slapped down by a Pilots team that had already beaten Southland squads Centenary and McNeese State in exhibitions. Speaking of five-in-five-out systems, Mike McConathy is a coach who's brave enough to use his preferred style even if he can't find the 10 guys to fill the roles. So far, he hasn't.
If you'd like to know more about the red-hot NAIA, know that Mountain State (W.V.)
is the current top-ranked team. The Cougars are 8-0 and have a hot rivalry with Union
. Give 'em some love! Coppin State.
Basketball State's brand new TV schedule
updates the scores of televised games in progress, so you can save those few minutes surfing around for a good game and cut straight to the best action. Last night, with only one game on, it was an easier choice, but the page alerted me to a potential upset in progress.
It was no misprint: Coppin State from the MEAC (3-6, 0-1) was really tied with Ohio State with 11 minutes to go. The sparse Schottenstein Center crowd was restless as the pesky Eagles hung around down the stretch. It took a few late buckets to finally shake free for a nine-point win
, but tOSU's sports information didn't mind disseminating a little misinformation afterwards. Shut down?
Coppin State always seems to be on the road collecting guarantee-game checks during the holidays, and I've been on the same Southwest flights into Baltimore three times in the past couple of seasons. One of my favorite road moments from 2006-07 is seeing the Eagles -- all in warmup suits -- sleepwakling through BWI at 5:30 a.m., asses dragging, lugging around a gigantic silver runners-up trophy from the Hawkeye Challenge
Coach "Fang" Mitchell's strategy in recent years is to conserve energy during their annual Big Ten/Big XII slog by playing deliberate four-corners basketball and milk 23 seconds off every clock, a style that's been so slow and ponderous that it's irritated the home-team radio announcers to the point of screaming. Cynics might think it's a way to keep the possessions low and the final score within 30 points, but it's been somewhat effective on certain occasions. Two seasons ago at Oklahoma, the Sooners were lulled into a slow game and only won by 10. Four years ago, when Missouri was actually good, CSU very nearly beat a Tiger team that wouldn't have been headed to the NIT if they'd lost that one. And then there was last night, which was a game until two minutes left and required a serious Buckeye bailout.
And I'm telling you, one of these times... this extreme slowdown style of theirs is going to help them break through and win one of these money games against a big, lunky power-conference team.
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