January 8, 2008 11:39 am ET by Kyle Whelliston
PAWTUCKET, R.I. -- I want to share with you an idea I had this morning. I'll do anything necessary to make this possible, but I think that next November somebody should hold a Multi-Team Event just for relentlessly uptempo teams. The naming rights are open for purchase by any beverage manufacturer, but for now we'll call it the Caffeine Classic.
So here's the idea. Eight teams in a building, maybe the Pepsi Arena in Denver. The only barrier to entry is that you have to play really fast, at least 75 possessions per ballgame. We'll have VMI from the Big South, Duquesne representing the Atlantic 14, Texas State from the Southland, the CAA's James Madison, Navy from the Patriot League, SEMO from the OVC, Troy from the Sun Belt, and Pepperdine from the WCC. For one long weekend (three days, four games each), they'll run up and down the court, putting up triple-digit scores on each other. Fans get to listen to Pantera records over the P.A. system during media timeouts, and can drink all the free coffee they want.
Don't think this will draw? Too gimmicky for you? Admit it, you'd go see this.
Robert Morris. We've had the personal pleasure of watching Bob Mo three times this season, and the first two times (at the Philly Classic in late November vs. Drexel and Howard) we weren't really impressed at all. Too fast and loosey-goosey on offense, our notes say, and too willing to substitute a hack on a shooter's wrist for actual defense.
When we caught up with them again later, in mid-December at Youngstown State, we almost didn't recognize the Colonials at all. New coach Mike Rice, who spent most of the Philly Classic yelling from the sidelines about how soft his team was, had apparently gotten through to his team. There was a real effort to crash the boards, and a seemingly newfound premium on passing and careful shot selection. We felt there was still room for improvement, though, because the energy ran out after 31 minutes and they almost allowed a far inferior YSU team to wipe out a 14-point lead.
But nobody, not even you, thought that RMU had improved to the point where they could go into an ACC building and play an ACC team even on is terms and floor, and come away with an epoch-defining victory for the school. But, with that amount of lead-in, that's exactly what they did. In a stunning 57-51 win at Boston College, the Colonials emerged with the lead late in the first half and held off the home team. It's especially sweet because of the school's ongoing Charlestown, Mass. connection, and players like Tony Lee got to excel in front of large ticket allotments.
And yes, this is just as impressive, if not more so, than the Vermont thing last year. RMU forced 20 turnovers and allowed the lowest BC point output in three years. That's not soft.
Quick hitters that don't quite fit the format. Maybe we'll start putting these final nuggets at the end, all Katz-style. For now, we'll just give this section its own benign yellow arrow. Or maybe we'll just call it "How 'Bout?™," because that's usually what journalists start out with when mentioning things that aren't mentioned at least once a week.
How 'Bout™ Jackson State? No Trey Johnson anymore, so the Tigers were just another 2-11 SWAC team coming out of the nonconference portion of the schedule. But the defending champs have won their first pair of league games, including last night's nationally televised (if ESPNU's reach qualifies as a nation) 81-71 win over Alabama State. Jeremy Caldwell, a 6-8 junior who was a solid contributor for the 2006-07 team, had a double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds.
And How 'Bout™ Murray State? We spent some time slabbing about Southeast Missouri's uptempo fun yesterday, but the Racers slowed them down in a 79-51 blowout. SEMO shot just 25 percent, and got pounded on the glass by eight.
Finally, How 'Bout™ Savannah State? Beat Southern Miss from Conference U$A 61-56 last Friday, which may be the biggest win in school history. Oh, and they shot 16 percent and scored only four points in the second half in a 85-25 loss at Kansas State last night while fans chanted "mercy bucket." Total trap game, that.
Perry Watson. News came down late yesterday that Detroit head coach Perry Watson will take an indefinite medical leave. His Titans were 4-10 and 0-4 in the Horizon, having trouble defending its homecourt and replacing the output of last year's stars Brandon Cotton and Ryvon Coville. I speak for the entire Mid-Majority family when we say, "Get well soon, coach, the team needs you."
Watson has two of the three NCAA wins in Detroit's history (1998 and 1999 over St. John's and UCLA, respectively), and has the rare distinction of beating two future ESPN commentators (Fran Fraschilla and Steve Lavin). Of course, the other great head coach in Detroit history is also a member of the WWLIS' broadcast team, a man pictured in their arena's foyer in a sweater and nerd-glasses, a photograph not in circulation but a staple of slow ACC games when they want to get an "ohhhh, where did you did that out from?" reaction. Odd that both Watson and Dick Vitale would be on the sidelines at the same time due to health issues.
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