Garden (State) or Bust

Let’s hold off on talking about hockey for a while, shall we? You know how we probably feel about the BC series at this point…pissed at the refs, proud of how the team competed, excited about how well they played, sorry to see Syner go and for Hobbs to miss the final game of his career, torn about the future, something about Mike Marcou, etc. We’ll have a full season recap soon…personally there’ve been some goings-on in my life that, believe it or not, are actually more important than UMass. (Just kidding, if they ever cut the hockey program again I’d probably literally die on the spot.)

No, kids, we’re here today to talk about a more fun topic: the NIT, baby! In front of about 200 rednecks in the middle of positively nowhere, the Minutemen brought their high-tempo game against the Bulldogs of once-ranked Mississippi State, endured some lapses and hot MSU shooting (and MSU “deciding halfway through the game that they would actually try,” which is hilarious sore-loser speak at its finest), and ultimately outlasted their first-round foes 101-96 in a double-overtime classic. But, you know, let’s all marvel at two 16-seeds fighting for the chance to get blown out in the first HAHA JUST KIDDING SECOND, BECAUSE THAT MAKES SENSE round of the “real” tournament. Good call, ESPN. Glad you’re paying for the exclusive rights to the NIT but you don’t feel the need to mention it on your bottomline, or website, or your flagship highlights show save for a highlight or two. You know, most brackets don’t even let you pick the play-in games anymore? Such bullshit.

Whatever. I’ve decided this week that I secretly love the NIT, because it’s not rigged like today’s Syracuse-Asheville game was, because the games are played on campus sites and not in complete random-ass places, and because as much as I do (in spite of what I just said) adore the Big Dance, I think the NIT is a great showcase tool for teams that are on the rise and just missed the cut. Teams like the Minutemen for instance.

Now, there are things I don’t like about the NIT. For instance, the Minutemen are advancing to play Seton Hall…at 11 AM. In a high school gym (because the Prudential Center doesn’t feel like they can draw enough fans to warrant playing an NIT game there, even though Seton Hall could probably beat the New Jersey Nets at this point). In a game whose starting time we literally just found out about last night.

Any team, any time, any place. That’s the attitude this Minutemen team needs to have, and they showed it on Tuesday. Now they get a chance to avenge this year’s preseason scrimmage blowout (if only hockey could get another crack at New Brunswick!) and knock off a team with a Cosby on it. A win would put them one shy of a return to MSG, and the quarters would either be a duel of one-time UMass coaches (Kellogg vs. Bruiser) in Philly, or, in a far less likely but more favorable scenario, one last tip at the Bill against Northern Iowa. First things first. Seton Hall just edged its way past freaking Stony Brook of all schools. We owe them for the last couple years. Plus, they’re in fucking New Jersey, and they’re making the Minutemen wake up early on St. Paddy’s Day to play in an awful venue, not to mention severely limiting the availability to those of us who might have otherwise made the journey to…eww, wait, New Jersey? Pass.

Anyway, bring the Chazketball again and run them off that tiny floor. Let’s make ’em wish they stayed in bed.

– Max


Miscellaneous notes…first off, congrats to the Militia members who made the trek to Atlantic City on being called out by DK, who demands their presence in South Orange on Saturday. I’ve been saying for a while that this student section needs leadership, and we’ve, you know, graduated and such, plus we’re just sooo busy. But these guys have done so much this year to help get folks psyched up for basketball again (20 wins helps, too, but just the same), and so it’s good that the coach is acknowledging their efforts. Shit, all we ever got from Travis Ford was a hug in the Ryan Center parking lot.

Hey, lacrosse is playing Saturday, too, down at Penn State. Sandusky joke. There, I got that out of the way. If UMass can pull off this win and get to 7-0, they play their next FIVE games at home. This is the #4 team in the country (#3 in the coaches’ poll!). Regardless of this weekend’s outcome, but especially if they win, get your Southwest-living, North Face-wearing asses out of bed and walk the five feet to Garber to see these guys play a few times. Speaking of which, anyone else notice that Building C in the new ComCol dorms looks like it might actually have rooms with a view of the field? (Assuming it’s a dorm. Details are vague.) Talk about having no excuse not to watch the games…those might be the “Wrigley rooftop seats” of college lacrosse. Too bad Tobin’s such an eyesore, eh?

Lastly, some alumni news…Marcus Camby is going to Houston. That sucks, I was seriously considering trying to get a Camby “Rip City” jersey, even though the Blazers’ online store utterly sucks and offers no Camby jerseys of any sort. C’est la vie.

Oh, have I mentioned Maroon Musket yet? Well, Maroon Musket. It’s pretty awesome…98.5’s Marc Bertrand and a few of his buddies launched it a little while back to cover football recruiting. Looks like Molner and his gang are off to a fine start. I do plan to ramp up football coverage next season a little bit, and we’ll certainly be reading whatever they have to say.


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