Here Comes Santa Claus

Hmpf. Sometimes, I hate to be right.

I was nervous yesterday because it hit me that ODU was walking into the exact scenario that was created for DePaul when the Blue Demons tipped off, and were eventually taken behind the woodshed, by the same ODU team. Road game. Two days after a huge win. Playing a team that was unfamiliar but one you knew you could–and should–beat. Just before Christmas and just after exams. (I hate to keep saying it, but people always forget that these kids are also students and human beings. They take finals that are hard, and they have family and girlfriends and get the flu. Oh, and they play basketball.)

This was a classic danger game, and it had absolutely nothing to do with regular media folks’ Lovefest with the “Princeton Offense.” That whole spiel is tired and quite frankly overblown.

No, I was worried about the Richmond defense. I had watched it force VCU into mostly uncomfortable shot selection, and until VCU turned up the defensive pressure and caused a handful of turnovers, the game was close. I was worried that ODU would face similar discomfort on offense.

Imagine my surprise when Jahron Giddings of UR hit a three and Richmond led 17-0 with 12:31 to play in the first half. That is correct. It’s 17, as in the “two touchdowns and a field goal” 17.

Richmond would run it to 24-5 with about six minutes to go in the half before ODU solved the Richmond defense and began getting decent looks at the hoop.

You know the rest: ODU got it to 30-17 by halftime, and a fun second half saw ODU finally climb even at 46-46 on two Alex Loughton free throws with 2:59 to play. (Side note: for the game, ODU was 22-22 from the line. I’ve seen a lot of hoops, but never 22-22.)

Nobody scored the remainder of regulation. ODU scored the first four points of the second half to take a 50-46 lead, and you could feel the suck of the vaccuum. Richmond faithful couldn’t believe their team was about to give away a 17-0 lead when only 50-odd points were going to be scored.

Ah, but “the play” intervened. On the way back up court, after hitting the layup to give ODU the four-point cushion, Isaiah Hunter and Spiders guard Peter Thomas engaged in the usual woofing. Thomas stopped. Hunter did not. Hunter was T’d up for taunting. Jermaine Bucknor made the two freebies, and Gaston Moliva hit a power layup to re-tie the game at 50-50.

ODU fans will scream and yell that you cannot make that call in that situation. It’s overtime, for criminy sake. Generally, I agree. But in this case, I don’t think the official had a choice. There was woofing back-and-forth, and then there was HUnter not giving it up. It’s kind of like when you have a new puppy that loves to chew on the sofa. You will nicely push his mouth away from the furniture and politely scold him. After the 46th bite, the dog heads to the kennel. Which is exactly where Hunter is probably spending the day today.

For his part, Blaine Taylor really didn’t put up much of a stink. He saw it and knew. Even in the postgame press conference, he didn’t even equivocate one bit. There was no “well, that’s a tough time for that call.” Taylor simply–and accurately–stated that he hoped a senior would have enough moxie to realize that was a stupid thing to do. (I am paraphrashing.) Taylor said he wished they’d send And1 to the North Pole. He knew.

That said, the technical clearly changed the game. UR made a couple of very nice plays to finish off the game, but this is a game that people can point to–and one person in particular–as a biggie in terms of losing an at large berth.

Just thinking about it has me headed for the fridge for another glass of egg nog. The good kind.

***

In attendance at last night’s ODU/Richmond game: NCAA tournament selection committee chairman Craig Littlepaige.

Excuse me while I head back for another glass of egg nog.

(I will say Littlepaige is very enjoyable to talk to. And for those Tom Yeager bashers out there, Yeager and Littlepaige had dinner last night. I could be wrong, but I’m doubting they spent much time talking about Littlepaige’s days at Penn.)

***

It may have been a two-day occurrance, or it may have been last night, but the CAAs RPI as a conference fell from 7 to 12. Yikes!

***

The Slate
Tonight, otherwise known as Four Win Wednesday
Hampton at George Mason
NC Greensboro at William & Mary
VMI at Towson
James Madison at Youngstown St.

Tomorrow, otherwise known as Three Win Thursday
Hofstra at St. Francis
Longwood at VCU
Old Dominion at UAB

***

I’ll get back at some point over the next few days, but no guarantees. We could all use a few days with the family, so I’ll be on a “check in when I feel like it” basis until Monday.

I wish everyone a happy and most importantly healthy holiday.

May your team always win, unless you’re playing my team. Or a CAA team.

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~ by mglitos on December 21, 2005.

2 Responses to “Here Comes Santa Claus”

  1. As a UNCW fan you have no idea had far my heart sank when I saw that ODU lost to Richmond. And then it dropped out of my body completely when you said that Craig Littlepaige was there to view it firsthand.

    Woe is my Conference…

  2. I couldn’t agree more. That was ODU’s (and the CAA’s) chance to make a statement to an NCAA selection member. Lost opportunities… kind of like the nice looking girl in high school that you almost dated. It always leaves you wondering what would have been.

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