WEST LONG BRANCH, N.J. -- One of the great traditions in college basketball is Senior Night, the last home game of the regular season. All outgoing seniors, no matter if they were four-year starters with awards and all-league selections, or guys who played the parts of opposing players on the practice squad, averaging 0.2 points and 0.1 rebounds in limited minutes.
It's a magical evening, with capacity crowds paying homage to careers great and small, offering cheers and respect to the players they'll always remember as being the ones that represented their school while they were there. Twenty years from now, when two VCU alums meet and catch up over a cold beer, one will say, "Remember Jamal Shuler
? Now there was a basketball player." And the other will nod and agree, they'll raise their glasses, and both will drink to the tough, gritty 6-3 guard who always played several inches taller than he really was.
Another of the great traditions in college basketball is the endless search for methods to unnerve and razz opposing players. During last night's regular season CAA title-clinching 72-58
win over UNC Wilmington, several VCU students displayed a sign featuring UNCW senior Daniel Fountain's
picture, in triplicate. Below, Fountain's cell phone number, each digit printed on a single 8 1/2-by-11 sheet of paper.
Fountain will get his own Senior Night on Saturday at home against Old Dominion, but the Siegel Center denizens made sure that his last visit there was an uncomfortable one. Over the course of the evening, fans posed for pictures with the sign, some holding their cell phones to their ears. Fountain, for his part, looked angry out on the floor, and struggled to a five-point, 1-for-5 shooting performance -- his worst showing of the year since November. After the game, we can only assume, he called up his service provider and changed his number.
"I sent him a couple text messages during the game," admitted one Ram fan
after the contest. "I don't think I'll get a response, though." Navy.
With a season sweep of American, completed by last night's resounding 83-68 thump
of the Eagles in the G!O!T!N!, the Midshipmen are tied for the Patriot League lead at 9-4 and hold the first-place tiebreaker.
In the battle of 3-shooting guards between American's Garrison Carr
and Navy's Greg Sprink
, Sprink's 34 points far outpaced Carr's 20. That was enough to put Sprink over the top for league POY in the mind of the league's foremost pundit
, and he was the subject of a nice feature in America's Newspaper
With one game remaining in the regular season, American has 6-7 Lafayette at home on Saturday. Navy has to go to Colgate, a team they've already lost to by seven
. The format for this conference is two mini-pods for the first and second rounds hosted by the top two teams; these two schools are already slated to host those, but the title game is at the higher seed. So we might be doing this again, at the same place, in a couple of weeks. Stephen F. Austin.
We've been trying to figure out these Lumberjacks all year, a team with one of the weirder profiles around. Slow as molasses (or Princeton), gentlemanly as all heck (they don't foul much), and ball control that ranks right up there with the Butlers and the Drakes. Beyond that, plenty of contradictions: great two field-goal defense but almost non-existent rebounding or two-point shooting. We've seen them on tape, sure, but neither we or our computer rankings know what to do with them.
Whatever it is they're doing is clearly working, however. SFA has won 23 games in total against just three losses (Texas Tech, Nicholls State and Sam Houston State), and has won eight straight to take control of the Southland West. And the nonconference schedule, while weak overall, does have two wins over maybe-possible-perhaps NCAA teams, San Diego and Oklahoma. What really hurts them is that they wasted four schedule slots on non-D1's, beating up on Texas-Tyler, Huston Tillotson, Paul Quinn and Wiley while they could have been out stealing guarantee games or building a better resumé.
SFA 2008 could be Akron 2007.
Hold up! Hold up! It ain't over! I thought y'all didn't like the beat? It's not over! The party's not over!How 'Bout™
La Salle? The Explorers are officially the second-hottest team in the A-14 behind 24-4 Xavier, having won five straight games; last night, they went to 8-5 with an 83-78 win at Fordham
. We're finally seeing separation in the standings, as a clump of eight-win teams is breaking away from the .500 pack. Saint Joe's is 8-4, but check out the others: La Salle (RPI: 158), Richmond (RPI: 106) and Temple (RPI: 81). With only two schools with 20 wins at this point -- and Rhode Island has been stuck at that number since Feb. 10 with a five-game losing streak -- there's a dwindling number of at-large quality teams making moves. If the cards come up the wrong way in Atlantic City, we're talking about two bids.
Or How 'Bout™
Davidson? The Wildcats are just one game away from a perfect 20-0 season in the SoCon. Last night at home against Appalachian State, super soph Stephen Curry
struggled from the floor again with 6-for-20 shooting to collect 17 points, but once again there was ol' reliable Jason Richards, whose 24 points and six assists helped pave the way for another Wildcat win. The 13-point home result
over Appalachian State, the co-NorDiv leaders, was seen as a possible trap, as the two hadn't played each other for three months. But as has been the case all season, nobody in that league is picking up any hints as to how to beat Davidson.
Finally, How 'Bout™
this State University of New York rivalry between Albany and Binghamton? UMBC may be running off with the America East, but that doesn't mean the other teams have put away their bulletin boards. After a January loss to BU
, Albany head coach Will Brown made a postgame statement
that Bearcat junior forward Reggie Fuller
wasn't quite Dikembe Mutombo. "He's a solid player," Brown said, according to BU's student newspaper. "But why not go right through the guy? Pump-fake, go right through him."
First-year head coach Kevin Broadus took it as "a slap in the face," and it was on like pajamas! Last night, the two teams faced off again, and Albany won by 12 points
. Fuller, for his part, had 10 points, nine rebounds, nearly doubling his production from the first meeting. He had no blocks, however, which left him bereft of the opportunity to finger-wag.
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