Mid-Major Morning Mashups is a daily review of the previous day's events in the world of mid-major basketball complete with some opening thoughts from yours truly as well as those from who cover the teams and players closer than anyone. Have a story or post that you think needs to be mentioned? Let me know!
The listed attendance at Chase Family Arena in Hartford, CT last night for the America East Tournament play-in game between Binghamton and UMBC was 1,069. For a weeknight game between a pair of schools that finished a combined 13-47 during the regular season, fighting for the right to play top-seeded Vermont on Saturday, I'd say that's pretty good.
The game was over by the half with the Bearcats leading 52-29 largely on the strength of 30-point efforts from Greer Wright and Moussa Camara. By all accounts this wasn't captivating game - other than a 17-for-32 showing from beyond the arc by Binghamton - it was simply a case of one bad team trouncing another. But as fans filed out of the arena and as the Bearcat players walked off the floor, their season extended for another two days, I wonder if the importance of the win was tangible for anyone in the immediate aftermath.
At this time last year, the Bearcats weren't playing in the America East Tournament - their university wouldn't allow them.
We remember the story, the embarrassment, the altogether nightmarish 2009-10 season that the Binghamton men's program endured. Six players dismissed from the team, head coach Kevin Broadus placed on administrative leave and investigations into the athletic's program by both the NCAA and the school itself. Just months after the school had celebrated a 2009 conference championship and a berth in the NCAA Tournament the bottom dropped out.
This story ultimately will come to a predictable end tomorrow when the heavily favored Catamounts face Binghamton for a third time this season (Vermont won the two regular season meetings). The scars of last year could certainly have a long impact on the program, to the point that we may go a decade before the Bearcats are back among the America East elite. None of these possibilities are the point though. The point is that the beauty of college basketball is no matter the circumstances, every game has meaning.
On the surface this looks like nothing more than a paltry contest of underachieving, unsuccessful basketball teams. Yet just one year removed from perhaps it's lowest point, the Bearcats won a playoff game.
On to the others.
Frank Schwan of The Gazette: "'Jeff Reynolds will be back in 2011-12 to coach Air Force men's basketball. Athletics director Hans Mueh said Reynolds will return after guiding the team to a 15-13 record so far this season, including a 6-9 record in the Mountain West Conference, with one regular-season game remaining. 'He's my head coach,' Mueh said. 'I have him under a three-year contract and I'm very happy with that.'"
Ryan Young of The Sun News: "Coastal Carolina is back in the Big South tournament championship game and, after everything, right where it left off last season: one win away from that elusive NCAA tournament berth. The Chanticleers weathered four second-half lead changes and fended off one of the Big South's hottest teams to the end Thursday night to hold on for an 89-81 win over VMI in the teams' conference semifinals game before a mostly full and noticeably frenzied Kimbel Arena crowd. With that, top-seeded Coastal advances to face UNC Asheville on Saturday at home in the tournament championship game as it looks to move on to the NCAA tournament for the first time in 18 years."
Steve Porter of The Telegraph: "Those Dawgs from Southern Illinois University Carbondale snarled loud enough here Thursday to bark for at least another day in the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament. The Salukis outlasted Illinois State 57-54 in the opening game this weekend's Arch Madness at Scottrade Center. SIUC, beating ISU for the second time in three games, improves to 13-18 and plays at noon today against top-seeded Missouri State (23-7). The Redbirds close at 12-19. 'It's the most important time of the season and anything can happen,' SIUC coach Chris Lowery said. 'Everybody has a chance to lose their last game of the season here. There's no advantage when you get to St. Louis.'"
Robin Schuppert of The Quinnipiac Chronicle: "For the third straight year, the Quinnipiac men's basketball team won its Northeast Conference quarterfinal matchup, as the No. 2 seeded Bobcats beat No. 7 Mount St. Mary's 78-59 at the TD Bank Sports Center...[Justin] Rutty's 41st career double-double got him past one milestone and close to a second. He now has 1,015 career rebounds and is only the third player in Quinnipiac and NEC history to accomplish this feat. Rutty needs only eight rebounds to move past Ron Robinson (CCSU ‘00-'04) and into first place on the All-Time NEC rebounding list. The senior forward now also stands at 1,499 career points."
Dan Green of SI.com with a brilliant feature on Duquesne's Bill Clark (from Wednesday): "But less than a year ago, Clark was so far in Everhart's doghouse that he wasn't even on the team. He sat alone in his dorm room last March, listening helplessly to the online radio feed of Duquesne's loss at Princeton in the opening round of the College Basketball Invitational, a postseason tournament that ranks below the NIT. He planned to leave school after the semester, having been suspended indefinitely by Everhart the week before, after a steady stream of back-talk culminated in a pre-practice confrontation in front of the team. 'It was a behavioral situation that had to change," Everhart said. "I felt like if he [learned] how to keep his composure and handle things better, the sky was the limit for this kid.'"