ATB: Leave It to Beaver (After 26 Years)…Posted by rtmsf on February 23rd, 2011
The Lede. It was an interesting night of games out there in the college hoops nation, but the most intriguing part of the evening came from a Divison III school with a grand total of 950 undergraduate students, every one of whom could undoubtedly use our SAT scores back in the day as toilet paper. Pasadena, where you at?
Your Watercooler Moment. Caltech Ends 310-Game Conference Losing Streak. If there was ever a time for a fan base to RTC, it was tonight at Caltech’s Senior Night. We typically don’t delve down into Division III very often unless a D-I team is going slummin’, but something like this is definitely worthy as the WC Moment. The last time the Beavers won a game in its Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, January 23, 1985, none of its current players were even born yet (the school ended an overall 207-game losing streak back in 2007; things are looking up!). The losing streak had extended to a stunning 310 games in the intervening 26 years, but the lovable losers from one of the nation’s most prestigious universities put an end to it tonight when Ryan Elmquist hit one of two free throws with three seconds left to give his team a one-point lead. The ensuing half court shot by Occidental College was off the mark, Caltech won the game, 46-45, and the RTC was on. Congrats to the Beavers on their Senior Night. Let’s just not make it another generation until the next one, ok?
Tonight’s Quick Hits…
- Matt Dickey’s Fifteen Seconds. Well, actually 2.8 seconds, as that’s all it took for the junior UNC-Asheville guard to steal a long inbounds pass at halfcourt, take one dribble, and drop a leaning thirty-footer to beat Big South leading Coastal Carolina at the buzzer. If he isn’t already, he’ll be all over the ESPN highlight packages this week for this play. Wow. CCU is still a full game ahead of second-place Liberty in the loss column of the Big South, but that was a terrible way to lose at home right there.
- Bruce Pearl With His Dander Up. It seemingly never fails. As soon as the flames start licking at Bruce Pearl’s feet, his team comes up big with a win that nobody expects. A 29-9 run to close out the last twelve minutes of the game in Memorial Gymnasium is almost unheard of for a visiting team, yet Pearl’s guys came from eleven down to win by nine in a shocking display of defensive prowess over the last third of tonight’s game. Pearl getting notice of allegations from the NCAA today didn’t cause Vanderbilt to go ice cold from beyond the arc (Jeffery Taylor and John Jenkins combined for 1-9 from distance), but if we’ve learned anything about this man’s career, there seems to be a strong correlation between other teams playing badly at precisely the time we stop believing in him. UT isn’t a lock for the NCAA Tournament just yet, but tonight’s win will go a long way toward that end. Who here wants to bet against Pearl?
- Triple Holloway. Xavier’s Tu Holloway is absolutely crushing it right now, as the talented guard very nearly went for his third triple-double of the season (and second in a row) tonight against La Salle in a 100-62 win. Holloway had 12 points, nine rebounds and 15 assists in another versatile performance befitting a player who has clearly elevated himself to one of the top guards in the nation (despite what the Cousy Award folks say). Chris Mack put Holloway back into the game with four minutes remaining to make a run at the tenth rebound, but he didn’t corral one before coming out to a rousing ovation. Xavier has now won thirteen of fourteen games and appears poised to take the Atlantic 10 title again.
- Memphis & Virginia Tech. Both of these bubblicious teams helped themselves tonight by getting conference wins that they couldn’t afford to drop. Memphis won a home game over Houston, while Virginia Tech went on the road in the ACC to defeat Wake Forest. Neither opponent is having a very good season, but both the Tigers and Hokies have laid similar eggs already this year so you never know. With the win Memphis moves into a three-way tie at the top of Conference USA at 9-4, while Virginia Tech move into sole possession of the fourth spot in the ACC with an 8-5 record.
- Putrid Offense in New Jersey. We’ve been hyping up the job that Mike Rice has done this season at Rutgers, convincing his Scarlet Knights to play competitive basketball in the nation’s toughest conference night after night. Tonight was not one of those evenings. A 37-point stinker against Louisville tonight where Rutgers only managed a total of 13 FGs — the twelfth worst offensive points per possession (0.59) of almost 5,000 games this season — caused Rice to tell reporters after the game that he should have gone to the parking lot to apologize to the fans instead. We’d expect that this was an anomalous situation, as he’s done a nice job otherwise. But there’s no denying that this one was putrid.
- Middle of the Big Ten. Illinois and Minnesota both lost games tonight to Ohio State and Michigan State, respectively, putting the middle of the Big Ten in a precarious position where theoretically the nation’s second-best conference might only send four teams to the Big Dance. Illinois is now 7-8 in the league with two home games (one against Indiana, whom the Illini already lost to) and an away game at Purdue. Minnesota is now 6-9 with two home games (one against Penn State, ditto) and an away game at Northwestern. Both teams are trending downward badly, with the Illini having now dropped eight of twelve games and the Gophers losing six of seven. Both of these two teams are good enough to dance in March, but they need to start playing like it.
Tweet of the Night. Referring to the NBA head coach… well played, sir.