Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Tomorrow, my beloved alma mater, the Washington State Cougars, plays in only its 5th ever NCAA tournament and its first in 13 years. This Nut is very excited. Of course, damn the Cougar luck that they would be pitted against a team with a 900-foot-tall Jesus on its side, Oral Roberts. Still, any shool that counts Kathie Lee Gifford and Ted Haggard amongst its alum doesn't deserve to go too far. Seriously, Kathie Lee Gifford??

Pray for her.

Indeed, the cultural differences between these two schools are vast. When I was a student at WSU, we were consistently ranked among the top party schools in the nation by Playboy Magazine. At Oral Roberts, students were finally allowed to wear jeans on campus last year. This, from Wikipedia:

Students are required to sign a pledge stating they will live according to the university's honor code. Prohibited activities include lying, cursing, smoking, drinking, gambling, and illicit sexual acts including homosexual behavior.
Hell, I majored in all but that last one at Wazzu.

In early 2004 the student dress code was greatly relaxed for the first time in forty years. Prior to that time, men were required to wear button-down shirts and ties, while women were required to wear skirts. The dress code could now be described as "business casual". In 2006, the dress code was relaxed even further, allowing students to wear jeans to class, and for the first time, allowing men to wear non-button-down shirts (i.e., t-shirts). However, restrictions for men on hair length and facial hair still remain.
Ummm, has anyone seen this Cougar team?

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Sinners, all of 'em. My goodness, we are going to scare the 900-ft. Bejeezus out of ORU when they see us. Good.

Come on Cougs, just play your game tomorrow... and bring the hellfire down on Oral Bob.

Go Cougs!

Game Preview
All Cougs, All the Time
NY Times:
WSU Driving Foes Mad
All About Oral:
The Man and The School


Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Members of Washington's team sit on the bench during the final moments of Washington's 74-64 loss to Washington State in a second-round game at the Pac 10 men's basketball tournament. (AP Photo/Matt Sayles)

Once again, the WSU Cougars put the UW Puppies in their place last night, this time with a gutty 74-64 victory in the Pac-10 tournament. Damn, how many times do we have to end your season guys? Really, it's getting kind of painful... in a sadistically enjoyable way of course.

Good luck in the NIT Dawgs. You'll be great, I'm sure!

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Sing it with me Puppies: Whoze UR Daddy???!

Hell, we even own you on your own alumni website. That shit's funny.


Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
Welcome to the Bronx. This is 'Suits'. He will break your face.

Ever feel like you're in an episode of Law & Order? If you haven't, you've never been to Fordham University in the Bronx. The 9th game in our little tour of Gotham college hoops outposts brought us to the infamous borough oft-associated with gang violence, widespread arson and the Son of Sam. Sure, we'd visited the Bronx before, but it was some fairy-tale, fantasyland version of the Bronx known as Riverdale. Doesn't count. This was the real shit.

My fellow Nut, referred to as both Ducats and Magellan in previous entries and identified by the handle of Briscoe here, gets huge kudos for her willingness to make the adventurous trek on a Thursday night to the upper reaches of the Bronx for a 9 pm tip time between Fordham and UMass. We met at a bar in the relatively safe oasis of Manhattan to drink enough courage before heading north nearly 200 blocks. The D-train (for 'Death'?) dropped us at Fordham Road, just south of 200th St. As we ascended the stairs to exit the station, we called our families to say goodbye and checked to make sure our firearms were locked and loaded. We were good to go.

Once we surfaced, we realized just how far from our destination (aka 'the nearest bar') we actually were. We quickly realized we were going to have to ride a bus. Oh the horror. Still, it got us right quick to Arthur Ave., the storied heart of old Italian Bronx. This is where Jake friggin' Lamotta used to knock the snot out of people. After retiring from boxing, Lamotta opened up a few bars in the neighborhood, one of which could have easily been Mugz's, where Briscoe and I ended up for a pre-game beer and a shot. And no, that's not a typo, that's exactly what the buzzing, broken neon above the door said.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting He didn't excel at spelling.

Mugz's is where we met Suits, who, despite the earlier reference to face-breaking, is actually a very nice guy. We asked Suits for a little history on the place, but sadly he did not regale us with tales of Lamotta and Cus D'Amato breaking skulls and sucking back Ballantine's together. No, instead he informed us that Mugz's 'has been a Fordham bar since 1989...' Then, before we had a chance to ask him what it was before that, he became distracted by the new episode of Smallville glowing from the small TV above the bar. Suddenly, things felt a lot less dangerous -- and whole lot less interesting -- so we downed our drinks and bade Suits a fond farewell. I'm sure he would've returned the sentiment had he not been so engrossed in the intense, on-screen chemistry between Lex and Lois.

As difficult as it was, we pulled ourselves out of Mugz's and made the short walk across a gorgeous campus to the dank, sweaty confines of the oldest gymnasium still in use in Division I college basketball, Rose Hill Gym. It was game time, Bronx-style.

GAME 9: UMass Minutemen (17-7) vs. Fordham Rams (13-10)
Tonight was special. Tonight, the bright lights of ESPN shone on this tiny gym at the center of the old Bronck farm. Ok, the dim bulbs of ESPN2, but still, the game was on national TV, and the crowd was pumped. The seats were filled. The students were loud. People sported body paint. And one guy had a Mexican wrestling mask on. Beautiful.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Briscoe and I quickly found a seat a few rows up from the UMass bench. Looking around, we noticed most of the bodies around us were 1) Not painted. 2) Not sporting Fordham colors. And 3) Old. We weren't having any of that noise. Within about 30 seconds we had done the right thing and crammed ourselves into the student section right behind the basket. I was within high-fiving distance of wrestling mask guy. It was perfect. It's been a few years -- ok, more than a decade -- since I last attended a basketball game in which I stood from start to finish. Tonight, fueled by the ale of Mugz's and the spirit surrounding me, Briscoe and I would pull it off.

We even remained standing through the lameness of this:

In case the video doesn't do this justice, that guy in what appears to be a turban is apparently supposed to be a Minuteman. As the two Rams mascots converge on him to either beat or possibly rape him, the great reveal shows that he's actually sporting a Fordham t-shirt. All involved become friends, the crowd roars, and we remained standing.

Frankly, as lame as that little sketch was, it was the only reason to stand during the first part of the game. By far, it was the most thrilling and best executed moment of the first 10 minutes. Check out the scoreboard at the 10:36 mark:

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Good god. Seriously, it was ugly. It was painful. It was slow. And yet, we remained standing. Seriously, a medal was in order.

Luckily, both teams picked it up after that point, UMass jumping out to a 10-point lead in a matter of minutes, only to be answered by a furious Fordham surge that brought the Rams within 3 at the break. And that's when I spotted this guy:

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

If you'll recall from our earlier experience in Riverdale, this is Freddy Sez, frequent pan-banging denizen of Yankee Stadium and what I thought was a loyal Manhattan Jasper fan. But now, seeing him here at a Fordham game, pan firmly in hand, I had to question the guy's allegiance. He was two-timing the Jaspers, dressed in Fordham scarlet. He was a scarlet harlot. It was a crushing realization, kind of like finding out that Santa Claus doesn't exist. I needed answers.

During halftime, I tracked Freddy down outside the gym to demand an explanation. I told him we'd seen him earlier in the season at the Jaspers game and I pleaded with him, "how can you cheer for both teams Freddy? how can you do it??" My voice rising in exasperation and anger, I was ready to go all Lamotta on him. And then, he answered: His one good eye looked straight at me and through a toothless grin, Freddy Sez said "I cheer for the Bronx."

Go on Freddy. Keep banging that pan.

After that, there really isn't much point in recapping the 2nd half, particularly given the fact that the hometown Rams completely ran out of steam and ended up losing by almost 20. Freddy's heartfelt profession of loyalty to 'da Bronx was more than enough to make for a satisfactory evening.

We did stay 'till the end, and we did remain standing the entire time. By the time we filed out of Rose Hill, we too were loyal to the Bronx. So much so in fact, we went back to the Mugz's to share in the revelry of a blowout loss with the Fordham faithful. It is, after all, 'a Fordham bar.' Since 1989 anyway. Suits says so. And if you disagree? Well, he'll break your face. Bronx style.

FINAL: Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting 74 Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting 59 (recap)

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting Bronx gypsy cab.


Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
Huskies senior Hans Gasser covers his head as he heads off the court.

Um, Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!!

COUGARS 65, puppies 61

From ESPN.com:
"Does it get any sweeter than crippling your arch rival's at-large hopes and moving a step closer to at least a share of the Pac-10 title? This is not a team to be ignored come mid-March. Dangerous opponent for a name team."
Damn straight.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Whoze 'dat dunkin on all ur doodz??!


Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting Philly got Fat Game.

We hit the Holland Tunnel just after 10:30 on a gorgeous Saturday morning, giddy with anticipation for the College Hoops Orgy we were about to partake in. I have never been to an actual orgy, but I imagine the feelings of anxious excitement are similar, just with more KY. Our bellies full of coffee, bagel and McGriddle, we were on our way, ready to journey into the heart of hoopness known as Illadelphia. What the day had in store for us we had no idea, but we knew the bag of rum minatures the Captain held tightly on his lap would come in handy.

With us on our trip is the aforementioned Captain, he of the up-for-anything attitude and inappropriate cheerleader commentary. Also with us is the previously dubbed Ducats, who shall be re-monikered Magellen for the purposes of this adventure due to her unique navigational abilities. Not only will she guide us through the wilds of South Philly, she will also lead us to an experience known simply as Route 73. But that is a story for later. Right now, Magellen is at the wheel, I'm riding shotgun, and the Captain is in the back seat trying to digest his McGriddle.

The drive to Philly is a short one, we were there just after noon, providing us plenty of time to get to our first game of the day, St. Joe's vs. LaSalle at the Palestra. What we didn't count on were those unique navigational skills Magellen brought to the table. The maps she had apparently had the game taking place at The Linc, where the Eagles soar. And so, we took the circuitous route through South Philly, an area once dominated by Italians but not, apparently, the thriving home to Vietnamese and Cambodian immigrants. Suddenly, I had flashes of Captain Willard's journey upriver to find Col. Kurtz.

Image:Apocalypse Now Smell Like Victory.jpg
'I love the smell of Yuengling in the morning... don't you?'

We really were entering the heart of hoopness. I was scared. Would we make it out alive? Would there be napalm on our soft pretzels? And who would be our Kurtz, Phil Martelli?

After a brief panic, we stumbled onto Broad Street and our path was righted again. Appropriately enough, the Nutsmobile took a turn onto Chestnut (or was it Walnut?) and took us straight to our destination, the U. Penn campus in West Philly.

It was just about tip time when we pulled into the garage. We gathered our supplies: Tickets? Check. Binocs? Check. Camera? Check. Collection of tiny rum bottles surreptitiously stuffed into my pants? Check. The bar was, appropriately enough, right next to my nuts. We were ready. Let's go see The Palestra.

Game 6: LaSalle Explorers (9-15) vs. St. Joseph's Hawks (13-10)
The date on the outside of The Palestra says 1926. The smell inside whiffs of 1978, and that's a good thing. It smells like Ed Pinckney's sweatsocks, like warm pretzels and popcorn, like what a Saturday afternoon in winter should smell like. It smells like college basketball. You can almost hear John Chaney's raspy voice bouncy off the cold, concrete walls. The plaques in the narrow corriders speak rapturously of tradition and rivalry and sportsmanship. The trophy cases are filled with timeless artifacts that don't necessarily glow or sparkle. No, these trophies look like something Indiana Jones dodged arrows in Guatemala to get his hands on. They are timeless, as is this place. And here's what it looks like:

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting (Click for video)

In preparation for this trip, I'd heard a lot about this place. I'd read the comparisons to other legendary venues -- Fenway, Wrigley and the like -- and frankly, I didn't believe any of them. As a kid growing up way out in the hinterlands of Seattle, I knew nothing of The Palestra, but I'd heard of those other places. And now, while I still can't rank it up there with the Fenways or Wrigleys, I can certainly understand the special memories the place must evoke for Philly natives who grew up seeing games here. It is what college basketball should be.

To me, the best part was seeing a packed house crowd into the hot gym to see two mediocre teams. The records don't matter so much when it's a Big 5 game, I learned that quickly. The only thing that matters is beating the other team. It's rivalry, that's what it is. And a Big 5 game at the Palestra means a strictly divided house. Today, one side was clad in St. Joe's red, the other in LaSalle yellow. Situated behind the baskets, the students stand the entire game, cheering their teams and attempting to shout down their rivals across the court.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting vs. Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Throughout the contest the students produce large, long, homemade banners taunting the other side. These are the "rollouts", and these are tradition at The Palestra. The idea is not just to produce the most banners during a game, but also to come up with the most clever insults. It's sort of like a giant 'zingers' or 'snaps' contest, but with magic markers. On this day, St. Joe's fans won the rollout battle almost as easily as their team won the basketball game.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
LaSalle's inability to compete in the Atlantic-10 conference was a recurring theme of the St. Joe's rollout show. One banner said, "LaSalle: Future MAAC Champs". Of course, the A-10 is kind of a shit conference this year, so they best tone it down less the MAAC coming looking to kick some ass.

It would've been awesome to see a tight game to experience The Palestra when it's really rocking, but this is one element of our day the Nuts cannot control. We are powerful, but we are not that powerful. On this day, St. Joe's thoroughly dominated. The Hawks simply rolled, leading 37-19 at half and never letting the lead slip below 16 the rest of the way. LaSalle just looked lost, which is funny, cuz, you know, they're the Explorers. It wasn't even an entertaining blowout. The most exciting thing that happend was some guy from St. Joe's extended his 35-straight free throw streak. Whoo boy. Thankfully, we had the Palestra, and the cheer squads, to entertain us in this one.

The Captain reprised his role as our resident spirit squad scientist and dance team critic. He quickly assessed the situation, judging LaSalle's cheer team superior to St. Joe's (at least they won something). Of course, LaSalle's spirit unit should've quit while they were ahead. The Captain had been pretty convincingly swayed to dub them the winners, but then LaSalle had to go and introduce their 'dance team', The Xplorettes. They not only sound like a cough suppresent, they dance like one too. It's a shame really, the way they managed to snatch defeat out of the jaws of victory. It just wasn't LaSalle's day.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting Turn your head and cough.

Just to be clear, and to protect the Captain's good name, this isn't just some perverted exercise by an older man with rum in his pants, the Captain judges these teams on their skill, their enthusiasm, and their ability to fire up the fans. He judges them on the shortness of their skirts too, but mostly it's about the skill.

As the clock wound down and St. Joe's scrubs starting scoring on the Explorers, many of the LaSalle faithful valiantly attempted to hold their heads high, including these two guys. This shot is with about a minute left in the game and their team down by 20:

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

This is them seconds later, their team now down 22:

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Keep the faith guys, we're making you honorary Nuts for the spirit you showed. Good work. And remember, you'll always have Lionel Simmons. Oh L-Train, where have you gone to?

FINAL: Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting 72 Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting 50 (recap)

Our thirst for some quality college hoops action barely whetted by the 22-point blowout we'd just witnessed, we bunkered down at a too-quiet pizza place to plot our next move. We managed to re-fuel with some beers and, in my case, a shot of Jaeger (hey, if you're gonna go college, go all the way...). We caught up on games from around the nation, noticing that WVU had upset UCLA while we were suffering through an Explorer massacre (dammit, why didn't we roadtrip to Morgantown!). And we had two very important questions answered: Where was the nearest liquor store? And where was the nearest Irish pub?

After re-stocking the bar in our pants, we got our courage up and readied ourselves for the next leg of our journey: A trip to The Bad Part of Town.

GAME 7: Delaware Blue Hens (5-20) vs. Drexel Dragons (18-6)
According to one of Magellen's sources, the North side is the bad part of town. The North side is also where Drexel University is, and we're on a misson here, so we took our chances. And I must admit, we passed through some pretty rough terrain. Danger seemed to lurk on every corner. The shadows played tricks on us. We tried not to make eye contact with anyone or anything. It was a harrowing trek indeed, but eventually we made it. Yes, we'd gone the 3 blocks from the Palestra without losing a single Nut. The team was intact.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

We'd made our way to the Drexel Athletic Center, the DAC. We were now out of the Big 5, and far, far away from the majesty of the Palestra. They do things differently at the DAC, and as much as we enjoyed the thick tradition wafting through the halls of the Palestra, there was something about this little gym that really got our juices flowing.

The place can't seat more than 1,500 we decided, but it was jumping. The pep band was rocking, the DAC Pack (student section) was roaring, and there were cheerleaders everywhere. The Captain was ecstatic. It was a full house, a very hot gym and a fun place to watch a game. Hell, they even did the wave...

Normally, I would frown on this type of behavior, but not here. As cliche and tired as the wave is, it seemed to fit perfectly here at the DAC. In fact, I think that's the DAC's primary asset: It's obvious desire to have a good time, even if some of its methods are a bit retarded. And when I say retarded, I mean this:

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting Um, ok.

Yep, there's a little bit of everything at the DAC. In fact, Drexel's gym has something that every Division I arena in America should install immediately: FoosBall and Table Hockey.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Man, do these people know how to live or what??

Of course, in the midst of all this spirit, Magellen and I had the audacity to openly pull for the mighty Blue Hens of Delaware, the most dangerous 5-20 team in the nation. The Captain played it safe and stuck with the home team. A very nice woman sitting behind us very politely said, "you can't sit here and root for them." We smiled, then turned back around and continued to cheer for our Blue Hens. You see Magellen is from Delaware, so we did have reason. Plus, we Nuts love a good underdog.

Rooting for the Hens proved tricky for several reasons. For one, the gym was so small it was tough to be subtle (although, the more I drank my pants, the less of a stumbling block that became). For two, we were seated directly behind the Drexel bench. And when I say directly, I mean we could smell head coach Bruiser Flint's breath. We were practically in the huddle with them. For three, the Blue Hens suck.

Actually, that's not entirely true. Delaware hung in the game until midway through the second half. Up until then, Drexel couldn't shake them. For a while there, it actually looked as though we were going to see a good game. Sadly, it didn't turn out that way, Drexel would eventually prevail 77-62. Magellen and I didn't let it get to us for too long though, we were thoroughly enjoying the atmosphere, and by that I mean our rum buzzes.

But where oh where was The Captain? We noticed he hadn't returned after his halftime walkabout, which was only slightly odd. We checked to see if he'd joined the band, perhaps putting his nascent sousaphone skills to work, but no luck. We looked to see if he was offering choreography tips to the dance team, but no dice. Just when we were beginning to think we'd lost him, I received the following text message: I AM DRINKING A BEER IN THE PRESIDENT'S SUITE.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting Our hero.

The Captain had stormed the Castle. Awesome. And yet another example of why the DAC may in fact outshine the Palestra, at least in terms of amenities: They managed to fashion a 'president's suite' out of a walled balcony above the bleachers. And they serve free beer in this 'suite'. Eat that Palestra.

Between his infilitration of the president's box, Drexel's big victory, and this...

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

... the Captain was most certainly having his 'one shining moment'. Too bad it was at the expense of our beloved Blue Hens. Cluck.

FINAL: Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting 77 Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting 62 (recap)

(to be continued...)


'Cut me Mick...'

... I'd rather be in Philadelphia. And we will be, this Saturday.

The Nuts are going on the road. We've gotten a taste of hoops in the Big Apple, so now we're hitting the road and heading to the burgh that spawned Liberty, Ben Franklin, and World B. Free* to see how they do roundball down there. Yes, at the crack of 10 this Saturday morning, the Captain and I will be piling into the Ducat's jalopy and cruising down the turnpike with the soothing soul sounds of the Delfonics, the O'Jays and LaBelle ringing through our ears.

Our ambitious schedule has us tackling a tripleheader. After a bloody mary breakfast, we'll be heading to the world-famous (ok, Philly-famous) Palestra to see a Big 5 matchup between St. Joe's and LaSalle. At 4, we'll be popping over to the DAC to see the Illadelph-leading Drexel Dragons take on the Delaware Blue Hens, the most dangerous 5 and 20 team in the nation. And then it's back to the Palestra for an Ancient 8 battle between Harvard and Penn to cap the night. Somewhere in there we'll be sure to cram in a cheesesteak, wit whiz.

According to this story, Villanova already wrapped up Philly's coveted 'Big 5' championship with a win over St. Joe's earlier in the week. We on the Nuts Competition Committee have an issue with this assertion given the fact that the Drexel Dragons aren't considered part of this old boys network. Looking at our own Illadelph Division standings at the right of this page, it appears to me as though Drexel is the class of the city, looming over all other comers, including 'Nova. Want proof? How about tonight's game in which they knocked off Hofstra, the leaders of the Empire Division, ending the Pride's 28-game home winning streak. Or how about earlier this season when they bested Villanova. That proof enough for ya? Honestly, what's so small about these Dragons that they aren't considered 'Big'? Perhaps it's time to change the moniker to "The Big 6"? It is this lack of respect that is driving us to visit the DAC Center on Saturday afternoon, where we'll be seated right behind the Dragon bench. Of course, all huffing and puffing aside, we'll be rooting for Delaware. Sorry Drexel, I feel your pain but do you really think we can cheer for a team that has the audacity to beat our beloved Pride? Get real. Go Blue Hens.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting Much disrespect.

While all this basketball action on Saturday is sure to be exciting, there's really only one reason we're heading down the turnpike this weekend: Simon Kirke. Who is Simon Kirke you ask? A hot-shot point guard for the St. Joe's Hawks? Legendary coach of the LaSalle Explorers? Trainer extraordinairre for the Penn Quakers? No, no and no.

You wanna know who Simon Kirke is? This is Simon Kirke:

That's right, he's the drummer for classic rock bands Bad Company and Free. He's a Straight Shooter and a Shooting Star I tell ya, and he'll be rocking the kit at halftime of the Penn/Harvard game. Whoo ah! If that's not reason enough to drag your ass down to Philadelphia, I don't know what is.

Let's get Nuts y'all. Philly style.

Road trip!

* For the record, Free actually cut his teeth in Brooklyn. So there.

Labels: , , , ,

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
Stanford guard Anthony Goods, left, forward Brook Lopez, and guard Mitch Johnson look on as the final seconds tick down in the second half on Thursday, Feb. 8, 2007, in a college basketball game against Washington State in Pullman, Wash. Washington State won the game, 45-58.

This photo looks awfully familiar to me... where have I seen it before? Oh yeah, here. Honestly, the sight of dejected opponent benches in Pullman is becoming quite commonplace.

Loved this little bit of the AP story reporting on the Cougar victory:
Indeed, players were asked if it was too early to dream about the first Pac-10 title in the program's history, especially for a team that was forecast to finish last.

"I think about it every night," Clark said. "It's a very realistic goal for us."
Damn straight. Shock the world Cougs.



Well, we're about halfway through this nutty little ride, about to make our mid-season turnpike trip to the land of Dragons and cheesesteaks. As we turn the corner, I think it's an appropriate time to check in on the standings. So far this season, we've let the Captain loose on an unsuspecting Ivy League, we got drunk cheering the Pride and frightening children at Madison Square Garden, and we explored the far reaches of a magical fairytale land called Riverdale. Oh, and considering this blog is supposed to be focused on NYC hoops, we probably spent too much time talking about the Pac-10. But hey, my Cougs are kicking ass, so deal.

All along, we've had a special eye on the Iona Gaels, who up until this past Saturday were on the verge of something magical. Then they had to go and ruin it with a win over Rider. It's been bugging me ever since. See, the thing is, the Gaels could've done something special, they could've been somebody. A loser somebody yes, but still, a somebody. Now, they're just another pack of losers, a 1-win team at the bottom of a shit-ass conference. It's sad.

As far as I'm concerned, the University of North Florida is the only school left with something to prove, and that makes them our new special favorites. The Ospreys are 2-21, their only wins coming over non-Division I teams Concordia College and Skidmore, which I don't even think is a school as much as it is a nickname for that kid in the 4th grade who always crapped his pants. Unfortunately, unlike previous Google image search results for Iona (see here), when I search for "Ospreys", this is the best I can come up with:

Not hot. And terrible at basketball.

Oh well, let's check in with the rest of the Empire, shall we? Up-to-date division standings can be found on the right-hand side of the page. Here's the mid-season rundown:

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
For the most part, Long Island's own Hofstra Pride have battled it out with the Poughkeepsie kids from Marist College for the top of the Empire Division. The city teams really haven't been anything more than mediocre, although Fordham has shown some flashes and could challenge if they can get hot again after a tough loss to Rhode Island on Saturday. Prior to that, the Rams had won 5 in a row, beating two teams, LaSalle and St. Joe's, from the Illadelph Division. We'll be up in the Bronx next Thursday for a key game vs. UMass at Rose Hill Gym. Stay tuned.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
Meanwhile, the Manhattan Jaspers have been inconsistent at best. At times, they've looked like the best in the MAAC conference, as they did when we saw them knock off Marist in Riverdale last week. And yet, despite the fact they are currently in second place and only a game out of first in the MAAC, they sit in the middle of the pack in our own Empire Division with a 12-11 record. Not impressive. As for the Empire's lone Ivy entrant, Columbia, I wanted to write them off after they lost three in a row, but then they went ahead and won two this past weekend to stay in the upper half of the Empire. Too bad there's no Ivy tournament, otherwise I'd say the Lions had a shot. Still, they're clinging to life here in Nuts land.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
And then there's St. John's, a maddening team going nowhere in the Big East but hanging around the Empire. They've had some quality wins, besting both Notre Dame and Syracuse back-to-back a few weeks ago, but then they got smashed by Georgetown and Pitt. They're 13-10 and sitting in fifth place right now, just ahead of Army. That Army? Yes, that Army. The Black Knight's 13-11 record is deceiving however as almost all of their wins came out of conference. I think they played the Coast Guard 13 times before Patriot League play even started. It's understandable really, they're probably too worried about being 'surged' into Iraq by that moron in the White House to worry about some stupid basketball game.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
Bringing up the tail end of the Empire are the two Brooklyn entrants, St. Francis and the LIU Blackbirds, and the boys from Staten Island, Wagner. Oh, and Iona of course. Funnily enough, of all these teams, Iona may have the best shot of actually going to the NCAA tournament. Yes, you read that right, Iona does. See, all MAAC teams make the conference tourney, meaning the Gaels are guaranteed a shot at the automatic bid. In the Northeast conference however, the bottom three teams miss out on the conference tourney, meaning LIU and St. Francis' seasons are probably already over. That said, I'll still suffer with a few dozen other fans at both a Blackbirds and Terriers game in the second half of our experiment.

And finally, as bad as these teams are, they can at least take comfort in the the fact that there may be an even worst team in the area then all of them, Iona included. The St. Peter's Peacocks from Jersey City have lost 19 of 20 games, including 15 in a row. They currently sit at the bottom of a very poor Outsiders Division here in the RBN league. They suck.

But hey, at least I get this in my Google search:

Mmmmmm, sexy. Seriously nice plumage.

Later this week, in anticipation of our Saturday tripleheader in Philly, I'll give a quick rundown of the Illadelph Division, the Nuts alternative to the famed 'Big 5'. Seriously, how 'Big' can it be if it doesn't even have a Dragon?

Labels: , , ,