December 18, 2007 11:40 am ET by Kyle Whelliston
EMMITSBURG, Md. -- All three Ballys from Finals Week were sent out by The Official Wife yesterday, and the two from earlier contests are on their way as well. Still heartbroken that you didn't get one? Well, here's your chance.
Inspired by yesterday's announcement of the new ARRRGH! award, which led some frustrated fans to nominate their own team, we're holding an ARRRGH! contest. Here's the essay question: what's been your biggest mid-major ARRRGH! moment? It could be an NCAA Tournament first-round near-miss, an early conference tournament exit by a top seed, or maybe it was last weekend's Miami-Wright State game. Or something else. Detail the moment, and your experience witnessing it.
Use the feedback form to make your submissions, and your deadline is Friday morning at 7 a.m. Eastern. The winner will get a stuffed Bally, much like the one pictured here to the right, and the virtual award itself (which goes to a team that shouldn't suck, but somehow does) will be cast as a bronzed statue of the key player from the winning losing moment. (If you're having trouble getting into the proper ARRRGH! mindset, go out to your local mall and try to get from the highway to a parking space in under 20 minutes. That'll do it.)
Also, if you are one of the beautiful and talented recipients of a Bally, please please please take him to a game and snap a picture. We're trying to fully document his travels around Hoops Nation in a special photoset. You can either put him up on Flickr and tag the photo(s) "midmajority" or send them directly to Bally's e-mail address on the bag he came in. Make sure you include your Bally number (it's on the bag too) and any helpful description of the action depicted. This one here is from Youngstown State last night, where Bally joined the Penguin Club and his dues were waived. Little dude's a legend.
Mid-Mageddon. After all that trash-talking buildup to last night's G!O!T!N!, you'd expect a highly charged atmosphere for the Texas-Arlington at Texas Christian game (I'd like to thank the TCU message boards for its feedback... actually, I've never personally seen my mother do those things.) For the second straight year, a team with one-sixth the athletic budget of TCU dragged the Horned Frogs into an overtime battle which contained an OT-forcing NBA 3 from Ro'ger Guinard but ended in ARRRGH -- UTA (8-1) went cold in overtime, and TCU calmly sank their free throws. The home team won, 77-74.
Youngstown State. In our game last night, and in keeping with the theme, the homestanding Penguins came out flat last night against Robert Morris. They dug themselves into a quick 27-13 hole and played so poorly that folks started leaving at the 12-minute media timeout in the second half. Over and over, the Colonials sliced into a butter-soft zone for easy layups, and with 9:08 to go, YSU was down 67-53.
Those traffic-beaters (and trust me, Youngstown traffic can't be beat) missed a furious comeback. With little else than youthful enthusiasm, the home team cut a 14-point deficit to four in just six minutes. But that's when disaster struck, and repeatedly. A pretty Vance Cooksey drive was called off for a charge at 3:11. Vytas Sulskis travelled with 25 seconds left on a possession that would have tied the score at 72. Bad shot choices down the stretch were nullified by missed RMU free throws, but as the buzzer sounded, go-to 'Guin Byron Davis (20 points) unleashed the ugliest 3 attempt since ugly was invented. Final score, 73-70. ARRRGH!
Tennessee-Martin. The Skyhawks lost 80-75 last night in an ARRRGH at Morehead State, a team that has a bright future in the OVC. You may not have noticed UTM is at .500. Considering they have one winning season in their history (2001-02), that's not bad. A big reason for that is newcomer Lester Hudson from Southwest Tennessee CC, who poured in 36 points last night. No, really, he sat on top of the basket the whole night and literally poured liquid rubber into the hoop! Find me a witness that says otherwise.
Hudson made his presence known with a 35-and-10 double-double against Memphis back on Nov. 5, and the 6-3 transfer junior is currently tied for the national scoring lead at 27.4 ppg, with four dub-dubs. But UTM isn't 5-5 (1-1 OVC) because of its hot shooting -- most of the rest of the Skyhawks are having trouble locating the cylinder, and they're only averaging 41.4 percent from the floor. The biggest improvements are their rebounding (thanks to Hudson and holdover star Gerald Robinson, combining for 16.9 rpg) and their ball control. After years of gloppy messes all over the court, UTM has emerged as one of the very few teams in the top 30 of both speed (79.3 possessions per game, 11th quickest in D-I) and turnover rate (only 14.1 percent of those possessions end in coughups).
I'm all journalistically unbiased and stuff, but I'm a fan of this program and I'm glad they've become competitive. Not as big a fan of the instant-team-just-add-water transfer thing, but the Skyhawks have been so bad for so long that it's admirable that they've attracted good players to play in a remote burg. I enjoyed my time there, the people are great, and they were relatively tolerant when I wrote a feature about their men's hoops budget being the smallest in D-I. (They've since beefed it up.) It's an awesome little town with a great history of bootstrapping itself out of nothingness, and that's pretty much what The Mid-Majority is all about.
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