February 2, 2008 10:11 am ET by Kyle Whelliston
NEW BRITAIN, Conn. -- If you've been reading along, you know how we feel about American-style football, which has its big over-bloated title game this weekend. The sport has come to define American maleness and took over the true title of "America's pastime" long ago -- not actually strapping the pads on and playing, but sitting around watching it.
Seriously, now. If being a manly-man in America means a.) sitting around getting fat on Thickburgers while watching rock-em-sock-em gladiator combat on TV, b.) alienating your wife on weekends, and c.) secretly popping Levitras in the bathroom when nobody's around, I want to run off in the woods with Robert Bly. (Whatever happened to him? Dude had some good points.)
Anyway... I have a little game I've played for the past 25 years or so, and it's an annual test of my ability to stay off the grid. It goes like this: I see how long I can go without knowing who won the Super Bowl, and then how long I can last without having the final score trickle through the elaborate screens and defenses. Last year, when I was in California, I didn't find out the winning team until Monday morning, when I saw a color picture of Peyton Manning with his arms raised on the cover of a newspaper (Doh!). The final score got through when I heard it on a radio news broadcast played over a truck stop P.A. system about two hours later.
My record was three days, back in 1988 when the Bengals played the 49ers. I was able to hold out against all Super Bowl-related information until Wednesday afternoon, but then again I was at a boarding school on the top of a remote hill in New Hampshire. This was literally the middle of nowhere, untouched by culture. I'm sure there are people there who still think Reagan's in office.
It's been a while since I've made it until Tuesday, but I'm going to do everything I can this year. No Google Reader, elaborate spam filters on the e-mail and feedback form, and I'm stocking up on supplies so I don't have to walk near any newsstands (Doh!). And you can be sure of one thing: I'm getting the hell out of New England.
Mai mid-majr swetshirts. Let me show u them. Travelogue followers know that I find all sorts of great mid-major merch in truck stops, especially Love's. Still haven't figured out why that is, why some of these places are like mini-Steve & Barrys.
We'll be clearing out the 'Logue backlog this weekend, but we weren't able to find spots for the recent hauls of goods. Since it's the weekend (whoo!), we'll burn a few pixels with a fashion show.
Probably the last place you'd expect to find a size L tribute to the two-time America East champions is northern California, a truck stop near Stockton. But there it was, an Albany sweatshirt for $9.99, ripe for the picking.
On the flip side of that, here's the Loyola Marymount sweatshirt I found in southern Virginia. I wrote about it in a previous Travelogue, just didn't have a picture of it. This was $9.99 as well. That's tackle twill, b*$#&s!
This one's quickly become a real wardrobe staple: a McNeese State sweatshirt we found at a Love's in North Carolina. Since the Southland's Cowboys play their ball in the heel of Louisiana's boot, it's doubtful that there are any McNeese alums within 200 miles of the point of purchase.
A lot of truck stops have racks of 2-for-$10 ballcaps. Most of them are SEC, ACC, all the ones typical frontrunning fans would buy. But every so often, there are real headscratchers, like this Mississippi Valley State hat. Because of its Christmasy colors, we didn't end up buying it because it would never be worn. But we regret that decision every day. If you're in South Carolina, near Charleston, the Love's there probably still has it.
Cornell. Brown has the most potent offense in the Ivy League, and you don't want to get into a free throw shooting contest with one of the top one-point shooting teams in the land (they have one guy, Chris Skrelja, who shoots them one-handed). But it's probably the most maddeningly inconsistent offense (ARRRGH) in the conference.
From last night's 75-64 home drop, you could probably edit together a five-minute loop that would make the Bears look like a Duke-beater, what with their runs and spurts and all. But the Bears' extended stretches of lollygagging allowed Cornell's consistency to roll over them, and they got in too big of a hole when it came to the charity shoot-off at the end. We looked at some of their old GameFlos, it seems to be something that's been happening on a regular basis.
But enough about them, let's talk Big Red. For the first time in who-knows-how-long, Cornell has weapons. And they're sophomores! Ryan Wittman is a 6-6 shooter with a range of at least 20 feet, he can hit bombs and bunnies with equal aplomb. He's averaging a team-leading 14.8 ppg and had 21 last night. Point guard Louis Dale has blurry speed, doesn't get in his own way at the line (95 percent on FT's), and can strike with a few quick makes, like a cunning hoops ninja. And Jeff Foote! He's a senior and a Saint Bonaventure transfer, but he's also the Ivy's Kenny George. At 7-0, he can shoot soft hooks over the Ivy sea of 6-4 dudes. We like this team a lot.
Also on the hardcore mid-major hardcourts:
How 'Bout™ Weber State? We don't talk about the Big Sky race that much during the season, because it's not really a "race" per se... the staggered schedule means some teams have played four games while others have played eight. Then, on the final weekend headed into the tourney, there will be at least 80 tiebreaker scenarios. Fun! But the defending champion Wildcats are out front again, with a 6-2 record that includes a daring Thursday thriller against Idaho State. Without scoring a field goal in the last 7:28, Weber escaped 59-57.
And How 'Bout™ that wacky Sun Belt race? We saw North Texas take out South Alabama by a couple to give Team USA its first loss of the year, and to the east, Western Kentucky was destroying UALR to draw even at 9-1. If pressed to make a choice on the regular-season title, we'd pick WKU and the effervescent Courtney Lee (21.2 ppg). Howwwever, the tourney is in Mobile, giving South Alabama the edge for the Dance ticket. That is, if the recent pattern of tourney hosts choking in the early rounds doesn't continue.
How 'Bout™ IUPUI? Though they lost in the big battle of Badlands Conference titans a couple weeks ago to Oral Roberts, the Jaguars aren't just a bunch of shoeless also-rans. Witness their 88-66 home beatdown of Southern Utah, which included 19 made triples. Eleven of those were contributed by Gary Patterson (37 points), who owns one of the sweetest 3-stroke engines we've seen all year. Though IUPUI (16-5, 8-2) is two games back in the loss column to ORU, the Jags do have two more overall wins, if that means anything.
And How 'Bout™ those Badlands newcomers? Uh, not South Dakota State (7-14, 2-8)... that's a team that's struggling like a newbie should. I'm talking about Indiana-Purdue Fort Wayne and North Dakota State, both of which are 5-5 in their new league. IPFW beat SD State by ten the other night.
Ooh, and How 'Bout™ Cal State Northridge? You take out that embarrassing loss out at Chicago State (prolly the last time Bobby Braswell schedules something like that in the middle of conference season), and this team is a perfect 7-0 in the Big West after a five-point win over UCI on Thursday. With a top 100 RPI (88), which means that you'll most likely get to see the Matadors on some kind of broadcast BracketBuster. If you haven't seen them yet, they'll likely tickle your fancy -- they play fast and fun, and force a ridiculous number of turnovers in the backcourt. A total of 19.8 per game in fact, which is third nationally.
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