Winthrop 60, Providence 54 (story)
- The once-mighty Eagles of the Big South are rebuilding (only one upperclassman on the roster) but put in a respectable performance at the Paradise Jam, beating Troy State
and Austin Peay
after being thrashed by Arkansas
. The Friars gift-wrapped this one, going cold from the floor (19% in the second half) and letting Winthrop rally from a 16 point deficit. Eastern Michigan 90, Marshall 88 (story)
- The MAC's first game was a track meet between two teams on the move... the EMU Eagles towards respectability and Marshall to the C-USA. More comeback heroics in this one, as Eastern was up 17 with 10 minutes to go. Two last-second three-point heaves wouldn't go in for the Herd. North Carolina A&T 77, High Point 68 (story)
- Shockah! A teardown-and-rebuild from the MEAC (3 wins last year) beat their Greensboro neighbors from the Big South, a team that many were picking to prevail in that league. High Point was the victim of a 44-point throttling by Liberty
on ESPN2 this March, and they haven't seemed to have fully recovered from the trauma. They're 1-4 now, thanks mostly an 0-3 run at the Great Alaska Shootout which included a loss to D2 Alaska-Anchorage.
Some interesting results pertaining to the topsy-turvy Atlantic 10 conference: La Salle 71, Southern California 62
; Creighton 73, Xavier 72
; Boston University 73, Rhode Island 68
. Road-weary USC delivered Dr. John Giannini a memorable first win at 20th and Olney. The Musketeers got the business end of the Bluejay buzzsaw (6-0!), and lost their second straight at home for the first time since 1996. And is it too early to write off 1-4 URI?
Speaking of the Big South, the "Big South Boys" will be providing regular commentary
about a conference that has so much excitement and offensive firepower, it's a shame more games aren't televised. This week features power rankings and a look at early non-conference games for all nine teams.
A day after mentioning Evansville
coach Steve Merfeld, comes word that the Purple Aces have divested themselves of three bench players
due to a police investigation into off-campus thefts. Power team player scandals: accepting stuff. Mid-major player scandals: stealing stuff. Got it? Good.College Hoops Net interviews Middle Tennessee State
coach Kermit Davis Jr. about life in the Sun Belt conference.
In order to properly follow goings-on in the mid-major world, a reliance on Internet radio is essential. Even with DirecTV, most small conferences are only televised on a game-of-the-week basis (if at all), and an archived game from the SWAC or Southland goes great with morning coffee.
Listening to small-time college basketball is all about patience. Many of the broadcasters are 19- and 20-year old Communications majors, and to put it as politely as possible, their delivery is a bit "raw." Many of them have extremely limited vocabularies, blindnesses to the game's finer points, and/or inabilities to keep their microphones at proper distances from their mouths. Some are convinced they're destined for ESPN glory, and have adopted ridiculous catchphrases.
So I feel compelled to mention the sudden firing of Arkansas broadcaster Joe Kleine
. Joe is a former Razorback and Boston Celtic, and had been doing color commentary for Hogs games since 1999. Because Arkansas is one of the teams that is offered for free on Yahoo Broadcast, I listened to one or two of their offerings last December - if I remember right, I was trying to get an early bead on the Mid-Con's Oral Roberts
"Big Joe" sounded like he was in perpetual need of a glass of water, and if you didn't already know who Joe Kleine was you'd think you were listening to a 62-year-old, or perhaps the reincarnation of Wolfman Jack. But he knew what he was talking about.
As the ball came up the floor, he would usually give a quick detail of the exact play that had just been run, along with the defensive setup. And he told it like it was. The Fort Smith Times-Record
is closer to the situation than I, and explains it far better than I could
Admittedly, Kleine didn't have the smoothest radio voice. Yes, he did tend to groan and moan at poor and/or stupid plays by the Hogs. But he made up for that by giving insight that only a veteran player could provide. With Kleine, you knew why Arkansas was running certain plays against certain defenses. You found out what weaknesses in the Razorbacks other teams were trying to exploit.
He was, above everything else, brutally honest about what was happening on the court and with the team. And that's likely what led to his dismissal.
Granted, Arkansas is a big school and the Arkansas Razorback Sports Network has one hoof in the entertainment business. But decisions that favor style over substance filter down to the lower levels, inspire young legions of embarrassing imitators, and further fuel the idea that sports journalism and sports information are contradictions in terms. And that's not good. Here is a free archive
of this season's Razorback broadcasts; judge for yourself.