So What If Towson’s Losing Streak Ended? One 90-Year Old Alumnus Shows It Matters…

Posted by rtmsf on February 3rd, 2012

Last weekend the longest losing streak in NCAA Division I history finally — mercifully — came to an end. The Towson Tigers defeated conference foe UNC Wilmington by a score of 66-61, ending a 13-month winless streak of 41 games for the school. Often we as media get caught up in the esoteric and mundane, focusing on the statistic and accompanying storyline rather than the fact that there are actually people involved in a story such as this one.

Towson Lining Up to Shake Hands After Its First Win (credit: Baltimore Sun)

Certainly a major burden/albatross has been relieved from the backs of head coach Pat Skerry (responsible for 22 of those losses) and his players — they are now free to move on with their season with the goal of building for the future (the Tigers lost to Hofstra, 74-49 on Wednesday night). But there’s also an element of relief for students, alumni, and fans no doubt fatigued with seeing the (negative) publicity rained on the school as a result of this losing streak. If you ask the question, why does this matter, take a look at the prose of one of Towson’s oldest living alumni, QD Thompson, in a Letter to the Editor posted on Sunday in the school’s newspaper.

Speaking as a 90-year-old Towson Tiger, and with tears in my eyes after reading a long summary of the Towson Tiger men’s basketball team’s recent victory (66-61) over UNC-Wilmington that broke the Tigers’ 41-game losing streak, I just wanted to say hallelujah and congratulations to Coach Pat Skerry, his staff and players, whose warm victory blood I am sure is still bubbling in their vessels. It reminds me of my days at the Towson State Teachers College in the late ‘30s, when I was a sophomore. One day, I was speaking with the Director of Athletics Dr. Donald I. Minnegan, who was also my coach and mentor, and he heard me say, “But, Doc, I can’t do that.” And with that, he clamped his hand over my mouth and screamed out, “Thompson, don’t ever let me hear you say, ‘I can’t’ again, because there is always a way to accomplish anything.”  I soon learned that Doc was absolutely right. Attention Coach Skerry, I pass this little story along to you and suggest you place it in your pipe and smoke it.

Thompson Still Clearly Loves His Tigers (credit: D. Gross)

According to the Towson sports information staff, Thompson played basketball for the school in the late 1930s/early 1940s (Class of 1942) and clearly still has a very strong emotional connection to the university located just north of Baltimore, Maryland. This once again shows that the bond between alumni and their schools (and by proxy, their school’s teams) is exceptionally strong. Professional teams are represented by an amalgam of logo, colors and personnel both past and present, but with few exceptions does physical location actually mean anything — Lambeau, Fenway, Yankee, and a few others — but mostly not. Universities, on the other hand, have all of those things too, but more importantly, the essence underlying the connection is one of place. Location matters, and that’s the primary advantage that college sports has over the pros.

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Where 2011-12 Happens: Reason #21 We Love College Basketball

Posted by rtmsf on October 14th, 2011

Another preseason preview gives us reason to roll out the 2011-12 edition of Thirty Reasons We Love College Basketball, our annual compendium of YouTube clips from the previous season 100% guaranteed to make you wish games were starting tonight. We’ve captured the most compelling moments from the 2010-11 season, many of which will bring back the goosebumps and some of which will leave you shaking your head in frustration. For the complete list of this year’s reasons, click here. Enjoy!

#21 – Where The End of the Interminable Happens

We also encourage you to re-visit the entire archive of this feature from the 2008-09, 2009-10, and 2010-11 seasons.

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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?

Caltech Celebrates Its First Conference Win in 26 Years (LA Times/G. Friedman)

Your Watercooler MomentCaltech 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?
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ATB: Wake Us When You’re Ready For Prime Time

Posted by rtmsf on January 22nd, 2009

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RTC corresponent Ryan ZumMallen contributed to tonight’s ATB.

#1 Falls – Do Not Fold, Spindle or Mutilate. Virginia Tech 78, Wake Forest 71. It seemingly never fails – whenever Wake starts to get the nation’s attention, the Deacs cave like Roger McNamee in front of a Congressional hearing.  We watched most of this game, and two things were apparent from the get-go: 1) the Deacs were not sharp on either end of the court (evident by Va Tech running out to a quick 30-14 lead); and 2) it is clear to us that Wake relies too much on pure athleticism and skill rather than actual execution and know-how.  This was especially true in the last few minutes of the game when Wake continuously took forced shots and made inexplicable fouls instead of managing the clock effectively, even though the game was still in the balance.  From the 1:42 mark, Wake threw up five desperate-looking three-pointers (making none), even though the lead was never greater than six points until there was 0:14 remaining.  Additionally, the Deacs fouled Virginia Tech eight times during the same period, and even though the Hokies were missing their FTs (7-14 down the stretch), the smarter move would have been to simply play defense (remember, Wake was #2 in defensive efficiency coming into this game) and continue running the offense to get layups and dunks.  Didn’t happen.  We’re not buying the Wake was mentally fatigued argument; the Deacs need to learn some discipline to maximize their potential this year.  As for Virginia Tech, at one point in the second half they were shooting 70% for the half and 56% for the game, which shows just how effectively they were picking apart that Wake defense.   Malcolm Delaney, AD Vassallo and Jeff Allen combined for 53/21, as the Hokie won their fifth of six against Wake in the last few years.  We’re not ready to anoint the Hokies as an NCAA team just yet, but at 3-1 in the ACC and only one loss in their last nine games (@ Duke), they’re a team to keep an eye on.

Next Best Upset of the Night. Northwestern 70, Michigan St. 63. A Tom Izzo team faithfully followed tradition and lost to a team they should have beaten, allowing Northwestern forward Kevin Coble to hang 31 on the Michigan State defense in a 70-63 Wildcat victory.  MSU’s 28-game home winning streak was snapped, and the Spartans drop to 5-1 in Big Ten play while the mighty Wildcats improve to 2-4.  Wildcats Coble, Craig Moore and Michael Thompson combined to score just one point less than Michigan State.  Izzo had this to say about losing at home despite outrebounding his opponent 39-19: “That’s what happens when you don’t make shots.” Ha! Or when you commit 18 turnovers and only force seven yourselves.

More Tremendousness on a Wednesday Night.

  • Connecticut 89, Villanova 83. UConn point guard AJ Price nearly doubled his scoring average in the first half tonight, as the #3 Huskies held off a scrappy Villanova team to win, 89-83.  Price had 20 by halftime and abused ‘Nova for a career-high 29, outdueling the Wildcats’ leading scorer Scottie Reynolds – held scoreless for the game’s first fifteen minutes, and finishing with 14.  How good is the Big East right now?  A 14-4 Villanova team currently sits in tenth place with a 2-3 conference record.  If Haseem Thabeet can properly execute a dropstep at some point this season, the Huskies are right up there with Pitt as conference favorites.
  • UNC 94, Clemson 70. Avoiding upsets likes those that befell the likes of powerhouses Wake Forest, Michigan State and (of course) Bryant last night, the #6 Tar Heels continued their complete dominance over #9 Clemson with a 94-70 victory. Wayne Ellington poured in 25 on 9-15 shooting to lead the way.  The victory improved North Carolina’s home record against Clemson to… wait for it… 54-0.  For those of you who think you’ve figured out how to stop Tyler Hansbrough, I hope your idea had nothing to do with elbowing him in the teeth because THAT DOESN’T WORK. The human-like-robot-warrior just shoved in a mouthpiece and kept on trucking his way to 20 and 10.

Almost As Good As Cleveland St. Marshall 53, SMU 50. Just watch.

Better than Cleveland St. and Marshall. South Carolina 70, Florida 69. This would have never happened under Dave Odom.

51-Pick Up. NJIT 61, Bryant 51. Definitely RTC-worthy.  Check our post on this here.


Other Scores of Narrower Interest.

  • Iowa 73, Wisconsin 69 (OT). UW’s Jordan Taylor drilled a 30-foot three at the buzzer to send this game to overtime, but Iowa held on behind David Palmer’s 21/7.  Interesting stat – all five Hawkeyes hit at least one three in this one.
  • Kentucky 73, Auburn 64. Jodie Meeks watch: 31 pts (5-8 threes), 0 assists, 5 turnovers.  UK should be ranked next week.
  • Missouri 97, Oklahoma St. 95.  This was a big win for Missouri on the road tonight.  They nearly blew a 15-pt lead with four minutes remaining, as OSU missed seven chances to tie or take the lead in the last two minutes.  Mizzou has a favorable Big 12 schedule and already sit at 3-1 – this looks like an NCAA team to us.
  • Oklahoma 72, Nebraska 61. This game was much closer than the score indicates.  Blake Griffin had 27/18 as he faced constant double- and triple-teams.  Only when Nebraska had a very late scoring drought did the Sooners take over and put them away.
  • Baylor 83, Kansas St. 65. Wow, how quickly did KSU go from must-watch tv to irrelevance?  Baylor’s LaceDarius Dunn came off the bench for 33 pts on 9-12 from three-point land.  Baylor at Oklahoma should be a great one this weekend.
  • UNLV 76, BYU 70. Wow, it was understandable when BYU lost to Wake at home, but we didn’t see them losing a 13-pt halftime lead at home to conference foe UNLV three weeks later.  UNLV’s Wink Adams led the way with 22 pts for the Rebels.
  • Arizona St. 53, Arizona 47. Remember when the Wildcats would run and gun?  Things have changed in the desert.  What’s interesting about this one is that Jamelle Horne was indeed spotted on the floor in the final minute of a close game.  Yes, Russ Pennell must enjoy playing with fire.
  • Northeastern 58, George Mason 57. Northeastern got a necessary home win to tie up GMU at the top of the CAA standings (along with VCU) when Manny Adako’s layup gave them the lead for good with 25 seconds remaining.
  • Louisville 78, Rutgers 59. No RAC troubles for the Cards tonight, as T-Will dunked everything in sight on his way to 23/11/4 stls.  The Cards shot 60% as a team and are looking more and more like the team everyone thought they’d be when the season started.
  • Xavier 84, St. Bonaventure 64. XU dominated St. Bonnie from start to finish in a balanced effort (11 players scored for Xavier).
  • Davidson 83, Furman 43. Steph Curry watch:  30/5/5 stls on 12-18 (6-10 threes).  Is anyone surprised?
  • Miami (FL) 75, Florida St. 69. This was a must-win for Miami to keep itself in the race for 4th place in the ACC this year.
  • LSU 81, Mississippi St. 57. LSU is absolutely manhandling teams at home.  Too bad they have six road games remaining in the SEC.
  • Northern Iowa 66, Bradley 61. UNI continues to impress in another home win against a competitor for the MVC crown, Bradley.

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Breaking News: The Streak Ends!!!

Posted by rtmsf on January 21st, 2009

You thought we were going to mention Wake – Virginia Tech here, didn’t you (#1 Wake is currently down nine to the Hokies in the late second half)?  Nope, we’ll get to that later, but how about NJIT tonight, ending its streak of FIFTY-ONE LOSSES IN A ROW.  If there were ever an RTC that was deserving, this would be it (see below clip).  Kudos to the lads from New Jersey Tech – may they all be the toast of their corner of the world tonight.

njit-wins

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When Will NJIT Win a Game?

Posted by rtmsf on December 31st, 2008

Ray Floriani of College Chalktalk is the RTC correspondent of the MAAC and NEC Conferences.

njit-logo

NEWARK, NJ – Sunday afternoon brought a venture to this city to catch NJIT and Wagner in a non-conference meeting. The NJIT campus is located downtown walking distance from Rutgers-Newark and UMDNJ (University of Medicine and Dentistry in New Jersey). Outside the NJIT Fleisher Center is an inscription ‘The edge is knowledge’.

NJIT entered the game 0-11 and in the midst of a 44-game losing streak. While the basketball team is struggling to find their way in Division I, the inscription bears a reminder to visitors, this is one of the nation’s elite technological and research institutions. A virtual ’heavyweight’ in academia.  The modest sized crowd is into the contest and cheering the homestanding Highlanders. Winless, yet the effort is there. Defensively they get after it. Every time a run seems to be building or going their way the Highlanders miss a shot or lose the ball. Coach Jim Engles roams the sideline, intense and enthusiastic.

At the half they trail 34-22. The second half starts well for NJIT. They chip away at the lead and gradually draw even with 10 minutes to play. A free throw puts NJIT up one with just under nine minutes left. Wagner answers with two unanswered baskets and never looks back. With a minute to go the Wagner lead is double digits. There is a loose ball and an NJIT player dives across the floor in pursuit. In defeat, nothing is left in reserve. Wagner eventually closes out the 68-58 victory.  “Only a coach can understand the marvelous job Jim (Engles) is doing,” praised Wagner mentor Mike Deane. “They will win a few games this year. Guaranteed. I’m just glad they didn’t get a win against us.”

In the hallway Engles reviews the stat sheet that shows NJIT had four players in double figures led by Jheryl Wilson’s 16 points. Another thing crosses his mind. “We gave up rebounds off their (Wagner) missed free throws a few times down the stretch,” Engles notes. “Those are extra possessions we are giving them.” Engles notes the losing is tough but day to day the players come to the gym, resilient and eager to learn and get better. “Hey, teams are challenging us,” Engles adds. “They are getting after us and that’s the way I want it.” Upbeat despite the loss, Engles and his team will be back to work to prepare for Lehigh on New Year’s Eve. “”This is the first step,” Engles adds, “in a long process.” The loss to Wagner put the Highlanders at 0-12. The won-lost record unfairly does not measure heart and commitment.

(ed. note – here is NJIT’s remaining schedule and accompanying percentage chance of winning each game, according to kenpom.com. That Maryland-Eastern Shore game can’t come soon enough…)

kenpom.com

table credit: kenpom.com

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