Cryin’

I’ve got to stop it. Right now. UNCW took one free throw and that was it. They lost. Life goes on. When writing about the CAA, it’s tough enough to avoid editorializing. On this friggin blog, it’s nearly impossible. So I apologize and will strive to avoid the pitfall. Consider this my mea culpa…

***

Light night tonight, which gives me a chance to finish off Christmas shopping. Hofstra hosts Stony Brook, who is 0-5, although according to Jeremy Kniffin, Hofstra’s outstanding basketball SID, “it has lost a pair of close contests to Lehigh (58-54) and Columbia (55-54).”

Priceless. (And more proof that being an SID is not always easy.)

Kniffin did, however, point out the incredible global presence of college basketball with this note:

“The Hofstra-Stony Brook game will also feature a pair of high school
classmates going head-to-head against each other. However, the connection has very little to do with Long Island. Hofstra freshman forward Arminas Urbutis (Kaunas, Lithuania) and Stony Brook freshman forward Stephane Bakinde (Yaounde, Cameroon) both attended Montverde Academy in Montverde, Florida before signing with their respective colleges.”

(Useless side note: I got to type “Arminas Urbutis” again…twice.)

If Tom Pecora was ever going to blow a gasket, tonight could be it. He understands you will get blown out in tough conference road games. He understands you’ll lose close, hard-fought conference games. But there is absolutely no reason Stony Brook should be within 15 points of Hofstra late in the first half. The Pride desperately need to get its freshmen and sophomores some playing time, and this is the perfect opportunity for extended minutes. A sloppy game might send Pecora over the edge.

***

Mini Season
For a head coach, entering a college basketball season a little like walking into an amusement park. You know it’s going to be a long haul. Days will begin early. End late. Food is grabbed on run and it’s usually not very good. You will be surrounded by thousands of strangers. The players, as well as the individual moments, are going to both thrill and annoy you. But you wouldn’t want it any other way and you love it, and that’s why you do it.

Because of the new 12-team CAA, scheduling the 18 conference games no longer is the province of post New Year’s planning. Games must be scheduled for early December, two for every conference team. They also need to be played early in the month in order to avoid exams and Christmas break. (VCU and Georgia State rescheduled a February 18 game to December 20 in order to accommodate VCUs entry in ESPNs Bracket Busters tournament.)

This two-game “mini season” is harmonious with the amusement park metaphor, representing the initial scary rise to the heights of the rollercoaster. Nothing is decided in this December mini season, yet many things are set up for the inevitable ups and downs of the ride/season. You both dread and excitedly anticipate what is coming. You know both emotions will occur.

You poke the guy next to you, your top assistant, and say those three words, with apologies to comedian David Brenner:

Here we go…

Blaine Taylor was nonplussed in his feelings about the two early December games.

“College basketball is like a triple crown,” Taylor told me in reference to the fact that the upper tier teams in the conference play twice in the regular season and then likely meet again in a third game in the post season tournament. “The idea is to beat the best teams more often than not.”

Granted, thanks to the new, unbalanced schedule, also a part of the expanded CAA and also highly criticized, Taylor was a bit off. For example, Hofstra and VCU will meet just once during the regular season. Some teams’ paths are easier than others.

But Taylor’s point is well taken. You will lose games. You cannot avoid it. Beat the great teams in your conference and you stand a much better chance at winning championships. Play them when they’re scheduled.

Final note: Taylor and ODU own the CAA championship. They defeated both Hofstra and VCU two of three last year, splitting the regular season and then winning in the CAA tournament. Hmmm…beating the great teams more often than not…yeah, Taylor knows his stuff…

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~ by mglitos on December 14, 2005.

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