In the world of sports, most but certainly not all of those shivers-down-the-spin feel good stories come crashing down like a six year old about 8:30 or 9:00 o’clock Halloween night.
And so it has come to the point where I must offer my condolences to Glorious Editor at Card Chronicle.
His second most beloved team -- That would be the DePaul in case you hadn’t noticed -- was cruising along through the first month of the campaign.
Unblemished, actually. With victories over Iowa, Minnesota and Boston College among the Fairleigh Dickinsons on the schedule. (Actually BC and the Golden Gophers have fallen to a bunch of folks, who, for some reason, wear the victory like a badge. But that’s another story for another time.) DePaul even bested Texas Tech, another not quite as good as expected outfit, after we entered the Month of Festivus.
So, the Blue Demons kind of became a, well, Thing. Pundits wondered whether their sudden, unexpected onslaught of “competence,” meant they’d become The Nation’s Sweetie Pie. (Glorious Editor, heady with the thrill of victories, was heard to utter, “Jump on board the bandwagon, plenty of seats available in First Class.”)
So, at 9-0, up 24 spots in Ken Pomeroy’s rankings, and looking for its double digit W on Sunday, DePaul met a recent mid-major fave, Buffalo. At home in the Hog Butcher of the World. And held the Bulls at bay for most of the first half, which was as sloppy as my previous look see at the Blue Demons was. 24 turnovers between the two . . . at the break.
But as the clock wound down toward intermission, first-year coach Jim Whitesell’s charges fashioned a 13-2 run to take a 37-30 lead over the home team.
The teams cut down on the gaffes in the 2d, committing only 13 between them. But #105 Buffalo kept the Blue Demons measured and prevailed by five.
The nation’s erstwhile darling has now returned to where it once belonged, memehood.
The world of college hoops is no longer out of kilter.
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Speaking of bracing comeuppances: The Romeo Langford-less Indiana Hoosiers were also cruising along undefeated with an impressive 16 point smackdown of Florida State.
Badgers 84, Hoosiers 64. Ouch!
Given that it’s the northern territory of Hoopsylvania, the Hoosier State has always loved its hoops. Especially IU.
And, that goes back to the days before You Know Who was hired and fired. We’re talking Branch McCracken. The Hurryin’ Hoosiers. Kokomo’s Jimmy Rayl. Don Schlundt. Damon Bailey.
There’s is a proud history. But a program that really hasn’t found its footing since that Bobby boor wore out his welcome.
Tom Crean? Really?
Archie Miller seemed a pretty savvy hire. Coaching-wise. Personality-wise. But he’s been a slow starter in Bloomington. Even with the überheralded 2d second coming, Langford. (Bailey was the 1st second coming.)
So, this L for the candystrippers was a reality check.
Indiana can get back on track in the Garden against UConn in the nightcap, after U of L vs. Texas Tech.
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This week’s Really The Best Team with the Best Resumé But Which isn’t #1, to replace last week’s so titled, Michigan, is none other than the Wolverines arch gridiron rival, Ohio State.
Such has been their surge, the eminent Mr. Ken Pomeroy actually has placed the Buckeyes atop his standings, with a Top Ten rating in both offensive and defensive efficiency. The guys residing along the banks of the mighty Olentangy throttled in-state rival Cincy. Then blasted three Top 25 teams, all by 24 points or more.
Those vanquished would be Villanova, Penn State and North Carolina. They handed Roy Williams his worst home L in Chapel Hill ever, supplanting last year’s Cardinal beatdown of the Tar Heels in the DeanDome.
It’s not like this should come as a surprise. Especially to Louisville fans. O-H-I-O State battered the Cardinals in one of those now de rigeur preseason “secret scrimmages.” A POed Chris Mack admitted it.
Word is that Buckeye big Andre Wesson, the only senior on the squad, is a beast, and had his way underneath against U of L.
In the next month, they take on Kentucky, West Virginia and Maryland. All are Must See TV.
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I’m not going to rage on about Dayton. I’ve praised the Flyers and Obi Toppin enough already.
Sunday they blitzed Gonzaga’s whipping boy St. Mary’s.
In front of 10s of fans at Phoenix’s Talking Stick Arena, f/k/a American Airlines Arena. In some made for TV event called the Air Force Reserve Jerry Colangelo Classic Presented by xxxx. (No free plugs here. You want your name mentioned, come with the Benjamins.)
The gym was E.M.P.T.Y. To an embarrassing extent. Wonder what it feels like to play a game being nationally televised, but only a smattering of folks in the stands?
That didn’t prevent the hot hot hot Flyers from running out to 46-25 halftime advantage. In the period, they hit 10/15 treys, missing their last three.
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What the what with Florida?
But forget those underachievers, let’s talk about the Butler Bulldogs, who bopped the Gators the other day, 76-62.
In the House that Hickory High made famous, Hinkle Fieldhouse. Where the Bulldogs have now fashioned the nation’s longest non-conference home winning streak, at 56.
Butler’s a legit 9-0, but will be tested Tuesday when it travels to Waco to meet 7-1 Baylor. Must see TV @ 9:00 on the Deuce.
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Let me say it one more time.
Chris Mack TPing the trees in Scott Satterfield’s front yard is one of my five favorite Cardinal moments ever.
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Feel sorry for Charles Bassey.
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Three tilts to look forward to this Saturday, ye hoopaholics.
UCLA @ Notre Dame. Actually, just to trot out all those Digger Phelps stories we love.
Gonzaga @ Arizona. Somebody please tell me how Sean “Not So In Peri Delicto” Miller is still coaching? (In the world of the Law, that’s a term for “with clean hands.” Which Miller’s are not. They could use a good washing with Borax.)
And the bloodbath of the bunch: Memphis State @ Tennessee. Which rivalry has ratcheted up since the Moving Van Association Coach of the Year Penny Hardaway opened his yap, telling the Vols coach, “Rick Barnes, get the (expletive deleted) outta here.”
-- Seedy K