PAWTUCKET, R.I. -- Here's the mail, it never fails... it makes me want to wag my tail.
Remember me? Im the guy from the espn.com chat that was talking about why and how Rhode Island would go into the Dome and take care of Syracuse on Saturday night. After laughing in my face and down talking a very good Rhode Island team, i was promised either an article or "a poem" IF Rhode Island won. Rhode Island did their part, so instead of ranking them the 28th best mid major and always pretend like they are not a real time i'd like my article (or poem) you so kindly offered me. Thanks.
- Zach (Kingston, RI)
Gladly.Rhode Island is a brave young team, they rise up to the fight.
They ventured into Syracuse, and served the Orange right.But the Rams give up so many points, you'd think they're in the SWAC.
At least they average 81, so can't knock them for that.
Rhode Island Rams, they beat eight teams, then 'Cuse and Providence,
But howsuch many of those schools will make the Tournament?Serious, look at the stats, the D's they've overcome...
In the Top fif-ty in efficien-cy, you'll find there's only one.That there is poor old UAB, an impressive win for sure,
And then there were those Big East teams, no seniors on the floor.Thrilling games, I watched them too, with pet peeve activation,
They're horrible at free-throws, bottom third in this Hoops Nation.In college as in free throws, six-five means "barely pass,"
I estimate this comes up soon to bite them in the ass.But all hail No. 28, fly light-blue banners high,
Now all we need is grammar class for fans at URI. Free Throw as Sales Tool.
OK, free throws are important, most so to teams that aspire to conference championships and want to win the close games that always come down to foul parades. You're going to drop a few of those if you're not shooting at least 72, 73 percent.
The aesthetics of the televised free throw are also very important, especially in March. Think of that high-intensity scene you've watched over and over, the baseline camera shot towards the free throw shooter, his full jersey in view as he thoughtfully measures his hoist. The school or team name is right there, front and center, burned into your screen for a few seconds. It's great advertising.
But free throws are just one ingredient of a winning team, and hardly anything to bring people to the gym. That's why I love this news release
from IUPUI. The first three paragraphs detail how the Jaguars of the Badlands Conference are the country's No. 1 free throw shooting team, then it throws in a few extra facts, and closes with a ticket plug! Love it. I know the good folks at Ooee-Pooee didn't intentionally mean it to, but it sorta reads like, "Get your tickets now to see the best free throw shooting team in the country."
I love teams that make their free throws, and am slightly biased against teams that don't... it's the one offensive component my game had back in high school. But if IUPUI, or anybody else, can successfully get fans out to see a team on the basis of its foul shooting -- like free tacos if the team shoots 100 percent from the line -- I want to know about it. The Missouri Valley Conference.
Good night for the MVC, a league that hasn't had two pieces of big, good news happen in one evening for quite a while. In the G!O!T!N!, Southern Illinois did finally break out of that shooting slump (this is all relative here... they shot 42 percent! Yay!) and made 6 of its 13 3-balls. But this was just classic Saluki basketball -- kill 'em on the boards (35-23 rebounding margin), make them cough it up (30.3 percent turnover rate, SIU's average for the year... insane), and limit their shots (the Gaels shot 48 percent, but only 40 times!). Eight minutes in, there was an SIU run and it was pretty much over after that.
Out east, Bradley went into Wright State and eked out an overtime grinder
at Wright State. This was the same Raider team that beat Butler last Saturday, and beat everything but a win out of Valparaiso last week... I talked to the Valpo coaches last week, who relayed to me how sore Wright State left them. To go to the Nutter Center and pull off a ragged victory like this is a sign that the Braves are ready for the Valley wars.
And hey, you know the Valley isn't half bad. While the lack of returning starters (only half returned) and the sudden lack of stable coaches (again, only half returned), most (including, um, the half of my brain that returned) thought that we'd see a down year. Wrong! The MVC is quietly piling up the nonconference wins (49-27), compiling a .645 winning percentage. That's down slightly from last year's .695 clip, but still. Unlike as in free throws, that's not a borderline grade in this particular arena.
All of which has put the Valley squarely in fifth position in the conference RPI (and sixth in the Basketball State ratings, plug, plug). Only one team, Evansville, has a losing record, and there are two one-loss teams left: Drake and Creighton. It's still possible that the Valley loses its last 29 scheduled nonconfs (not including unscheduled BracketBusters) to finish with a losing record, but that's not going to happen. I think Creighton's Dec. 20 home game against North Carolina Central might be a gimme. Alex Koford.
With the relative lack of on-court action this week, I will beg (and obtain) the opportunity for indulgence and meander.
It was no secret that the 2006-07 season was a down year for The Mid-Majority. If you look at the post count on the upper right corner of this page, you'll see that we've already eclipsed last year's post total in a single month. I could say that it was because I was too busy, or make the excuse that I was juggling work for too many outlets and was letting my own site slide. The truth was that almost every morning, I set out to write something here but couldn't figure out what to say.
But more importantly, I didn't know what to do with Bally. The little orange guy, who debuted at Christmas 2004, was enough of a hit in Season 2 (2005-06) that I felt confident enough to promise three or four new strips a month. But after a couple, the ideas just weren't coming. Sure, the joke went on without me
over at Deadspin, but over here on this site, a year went by without any new cartoons.
Over the summer, I came upon a clever webcomic about two hobo cats from the 1910's by a Mr. Alex Koford, with a
carefully constructed backstory that conclusively proved that Lolcat
-speak actually originated nearly 100 years ago. In an ongoing series of what is now over 600 one-panel comics, Kitteh (the older, world-weary one) and Pip (his adopted foundling friend who loves leaves) travel the country by boxcar, searching for something we viewers haven't been made privy to yet (it's probably not mid-major college basketball).
Beyond the entertainment value, though, I've been impressed by the way Mr. Koford has turned the Laugh-Out-Loud Cats into a successful cottage industry: gaining thousands of fans, and supporting himself via merchandise sales and fan club memberships (I'm No. 343). Talent, chutzpah, and a good product -- all the things we love about the teams we follow, and in an age of corporate this and downsize that, it's always great to see that can still be good business too. If you know the history of this site, you know full well that we've struggled to get those three key ingredients mixed correctly in the right proportions.
All I can say is that Mr. Koford has been an immense inspiration for me to take up my own I-went-to-design-school-for-this?
chicken-scratchings again, and Bally would not be around anymore at all if it weren't for Kitteh and Pip. Especially with strips like this, which he posted last weekend:
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