Heading to Ohio

Ready for basketball season to get back into gear this weekend and tomorrow I leave for Ohio to see Wooster’s Mose Hole Tournament. We open the first night with UW-La Crosse vs. Calvin and Ohio Northern at Wooster. Should be a doozy of a weekend.

I don’t have time to write a lot about this now but I’ll be blogging occasionally on the subject and we will be broadcasting. Hope to see people there.

Good news from Salem

I just got back yesterday from the Stagg Bowl, the Division III football championship game which is played in Salem. The teams’ annual banquet is held in the Civic Center, site of the Division III men’s basketball Final Four.

The Civic Center is going through some upgrades. The new seats, which went into the side of the arena with the benches last season, are now on both sides of the arena. The old sound studio-style brown acoustic tiles are no longer part of the decor and have been replaced by blue padding on each wall. And there’s a new scoreboard, which wasn’t completely installed when we were there but will be in plenty of time for March.

Tour de Tejas: One night in Abilene

The McMurry men led by 13 at the half. They were up 11 with five minutes to go. The lead was nine with 1:51 left and was seven entering the final minute.

Then, seniors happened.

Hardin-Simmons senior Zach Pickelman, who came in averaging 20 points per game but was held scoreless in the first half, hit a three-pointer in the corner to cut the lead to 61-57. After Terrance Booker made one of two foul shots for McMurry, senior guard Matt Brackett, finding nobody open, took the ball to the hole for HSU, cutting the lead to 62-59 with 30 seconds left.

Booker again made one of two foul shots. Then Brackett did the same thing — as a play to get Pickelman open was slow to develop, he took the ball to the hole one more time, cutting the lead to two points with 16 seconds left.

As McMurry was attempting to push the ball upcourt and stay away from HSU’s foul attempts, it threw the ball away, giving Hardin-Simmons the ball at the other end of the floor with nine seconds left. And Pickelman got the basketball with three seconds left, faked his man up in the air, got himself a wide-open shot and buried it with 0.9 remaining.

Pickelman stole the ensuing inbounds pass and it was bedlam, with fans pouring out of the stands and dancing on the floor at Hardin-Simmons.

The women’s game saw McMurry score the first seven points and hold a 16-6 lead but McMurry was stuck on 16 for an awful long time. Hardin-Simmons went on an 18-0 run to take a 24-16 lead. McMurry scored 10 of the final 13 points to make it a two-point game at halftime. The second half featured seven ties and nine lead changes.

Although the status of Hope/Calvin as the No. 1 rivalry in Division III cannot be questioned, McMurry/Hardin-Simmons is one of several in contention for the No. 2 slot. Amherst/Williams and Wooster/Wittenberg are on that list as well, as would be Bates/Bowdoin on the women’s side, and my fried brain is probably missing others. (And for those of you who would push for their own rivalry as being No. 1, let’s see you put 11,000 fans in the seats first. That’s the bar to reach right now.)

Great night of basketball, and a great capper to the trip. Thanks to the folks at McMurry for making this journey possible.

Now I’m going to go sleep for three days and I’ll re-emerge for the Mount Union/St. John Fisher football game. 🙂

Traveling Texas

U.S. HWY. 83, Texas — After 900 miles of traveling Texas roads, I’ve learned a few things.

Coleman, Texas It’s amazing what happens when roads don’t freeze. I drove quite a bit of Texas highway and didn’t see a pothole other than on an interstate around San Antonio. When roads don’t freeze, ice doesn’t force cracks and those don’t turn into potholes. How refreshing.

Drivers are polite. Excessively. Having driven a lot of U.S. highways, many of them two lanes, I’ve never been in a state where a driver will get over and drive on the shoulder so you can pass them. Most places I’m more likely to have someone try to speed up to cut me off.

Lot of small towns. A lot. Really, a lot. Saw a lot of places with population in the triple digits. Not Coleman, Texas, though. Woo hoo!

And it’s a long way in between them. It was so far from one town to the next on Monday that I nearly ran out of gas even though the warning light hadn’t come on when I passed the previous gas station. Note to the Big 3: Vehicles in Texas should be required to have their gas light come on earlier.

Cactus. Tons and tons of cactus. And goats. But only two longhorns. Perhaps UT-Austin should change its mascot. 🙂

Gas prices are OK but not great. I figured gas would be cheaper here than I’ve ever seen. But it was about 10-15 cents more expensive than New Jersey. Still, 15 cents cheaper than I’ve been paying in Connecticut.

And, well, I already knew this, but things are pretty far apart here. All I hope is that I avoid the propeller planes tonight and get a jet. Then I can sleep without having to worry about my stomach contents. 🙂

Been a good time. Will post separately on the Day 5 games.

Two hundred and one?

Two hundred and one points?

There’s been a lot of discussion about this total put up by Lincoln on Saturday afternoon. Most of the discussion appears to revolve around “class” and other abstract concepts. None of the people commenting on the game saw it.

Neither did I. That’s why I’m not going to jump to conclusions.

A box score isn’t available that I’ve seen. Salem International, the Division II school which invited Ohio State-Marion to its tournament, hasn’t even posted Friday game info on its site, let alone Saturday. But from looking at the site of UDC, another Division II school at this tournament, it’s not like trouncing Ohio State-Marion was unprecedented. On Friday, UDC beat this team 133-53 — scoring about double its previous season average in the win.

For Lincoln, 201 points is about double its previous season average as well. The Lions came into the tournament averaging 103 points per game.

Perhaps a little perspective before you jump all over Lincoln on this. Just a thought.