Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Survive and Advance - Big E Hoops Weekend Recap

That title is normally saved for post season tournament play in college basketball, where all that matters is that you survive the game and move on to the next one. Well, I think the same can be said for Big E Hoops Weekend. In a long, run-on sentence, here is a recap of the weekend: We came, we saw, we conquered, we watched hoops, we watched football, we danced, we ate, we drank, we dougied, we won, we lost, we played some hoops of our own, we stimulated the mind at a museum, we acted as if we were in college again, we laughed, we cried, and we dominated. In the words of the late Jim Valvano, "If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that's a full day. That's a heck of a day. You do that seven days a week, you're going to have something special." Well we did that for 4 straight days, and it was really something special.

Now a quick look back at the three college basketball games we caught live.

Brandi with Bob Morris
Bob Morris 60, The Mouth 57 - Due to (thanks to?) the Steelers playoff victory win against the Ravens, we arrived for the second half of this NEC matchup. Cost of admission was free, and approximately 150 people were placed throughout the stands. Highlights of this game included sitting two rows behind the Monmouth bench, catching some flack from the "Colonial Crazies," seeing the looks of shock on the Monmouth coaches and players when they realized they had a 9-person cheering section (as well as two signs - "The Mouth is in the House" and "Take it to the Mouth"), a successful alley-oop completed by Monmouth, and the purchase of 4 soft pretzels and 3 boxes of popcorn for only $10.50. Despite the Mouth falling by 3, it was an exciting start to the hoops start of the weekend.

Welcome to WVU - good luck finding your seats
West Virginia 68, Purdue 64 - In a semi-gold rush filled concrete jungle, aka The Coliseum (where it takes you 20 minutes to figure out their seating sections), the Mountaineers outlasted the 8th ranked Boilermakers from Purdue. When John Flowers and Kevin Jones are each knocking down a couple of threes in the final ten minutes of the game, you know things are going  WVU's way (not to mention the Turkish Hook from Deniz Kilicli). Purdue's JaJuan Johnson was fun to watch, as he put up 26 points and 7 rebounds. One downfall to the game included the fact that Gus Johnson was broadcasting the game for CBS, and we were not able to hear his calls first hand. The West Virginia home crowd was great down the stretch of the game, which was close the whole way. Purdue had a great look at a 3, which would have tied it with about 5 seconds left. We were a little disappointed to see the WVU student section "storm" the court after the victory. If you are 9 months removed from the Final Four, I don't think you should storm, especially when you are actually favored (ya know, that whole gambling/lines thing) by 3.5 points. Granted Purdue was ranked #8, but they had lost their previous game on the road in Minnesota. Bottom line, act like you've won games like that before. Overall, our trip to Morgantown was a success, as we even toured the campus, watched the Pats get dismantled by the Jets at a local bar after the game, and ended the night with a DP Dough.

The Peterson Events Center is a pretty damn tough place to play.
Pitt 74, Cuse 66 - I've seen a lot of basketball games in my life, whether it be as a player, coach, broadcaster, fan, spectator, whatever it might be, BUT I have never seen a half of basketball like what we saw at the sold-out Peterson Events Center Monday night. (12,995 was a record sell-out for them, aka the lower bowl of the Carrier Dome). Saying 4th ranked Pitt jumped on 3rd ranked Cuse early is an understatement. They opened the game 19-0, and Jim Boeheim had to burn two timeouts within the first five minutes.  I didn't think Cuse was going to score. With every missed Syracuse shot and Pitt make, the Oakland Zoo and Co. (including Pitt alum Larry Fitzgerald) got louder and louder. Without their leading scorer Kris Joseph (concussion), Syracuse looked scared from the start. Finally, Scoop Jardine hit a three pointer eight minutes into the game.  Cuse was on the board, and they didn't stop there. The Orange countered the Pitt 19-0 run, with a 17-0 run of their own. Then Pitt went on a 7-0 run to answer....then Cuse went on a 7-0 run. So with 1 minute left in the half, the score was 26 - 24, all scored in runs. Trading baskets didn't start happening until the final minute of the half, as Pitt grabbed the 31-27 lead.

Syracuse came out much better in the second half, and finally tied the game with about 13 minutes to play in the game. That tie only lasted a few seconds as Pitt answered right back with a 3. Syracuse would cut it to 1 point again a few seconds later, but from there it never got closer than 4 points down the stretch.  A little run by the Panthers (which included a few questionable calls against the Cuse) would push the lead up to 10. No more runs left for the Orange. With that said, if you are a college basketball fan, the Peterson Events Center is a great place to see a game, especially a Big East matchup of top-ranked teams. The Oakland Zoo student section is very good, despite their uneducated, "Overrated" chant in the final few minutes (the worst chant in sports).

On the positive side of things, Syracuse got great games from two of their freshman CJ Fair and Dion Waiters - probably their toughest game as a college player thus far. That will definitely help Cuse as the season progresses, but they clearly missed Joseph.  His status for this weekend's game with Villanova is still unknown.

And with that, Big E Hoops weekend came to a close. All the "local" home teams won, and Daily Onions was 2 for 3 on our predictions. We are hoping the basketball scheduling gods help us out again next year, as it looks like this is a weekend we'd definitely like to repeat.

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