Friday, January 13, 2006

The bus has been warm since they got here (BSC 73, CSU 61)

Karmic retribution: there's asking for it, there's begging for it, there's sending it an engraved invitation with a pre-stamped RSVP envelope, and then there's what one Birmingham-Southern fan did in the 73-61 BSC win over Charleston Southern the JCCW witnessed Wednesday night.
The Panthers led 45-25 at the break, thanks to both a fine offensive performance and Charleston Southern kindly playing Jack-a-Three all half. The game was over, done, more finished than Maurice Clarett's career.
But in the third row of the "Panther Pit," the student-fan-friendly seating section behind one basket, one misguided BSC fan starting jangling his keys at the visitors … LESS THAN TEN SECONDS INTO THE SECOND HALF.
Look, I'm a fan of the "Warm up the bus!" key jangle. It takes me back to rooting for BSC as a student. As both simultaneous celebration and taunt, it's efficient. A whole section of jangling keys also has a seriously interesting visual surreality to it—like a crowd demanding a gladiator’s death on one of those Like Earth, But Weird planets from Star Trek.
Still--the key jangle is for use only at the end of a close game your home team has sealed up. It is not for use (I swear I have seen this) when you are the road team, and the bus you are asking to be warmed up is technically your own. It is not for use at any time during a blowout—in these cases (as it was Wednesday) the bus never stopped being warm. And it for damn sure isn’t for use when there’s still an entire half to be played.
I mean, it doesn’t really give the basketball gods any choice, does it? Of course 'Southern starts missing free throws (12 of 21 despite shooting 68 percent on the year as a team) and of course Charleston starts hitting threes and of course BSC starts trying to thread passes into spaces they couldn’t have dished a tennis ball into. Result? CSU pulled within eight, 65-57, with six minutes to play.
Fortunately, even karma can only do so much sometimes. Especially when one team shoots better, rebounds better, assists better … yeah, just is better.
And maybe next time, Mr. Premature Ejangleation knows better.

--Ed Horton. Horton finished with BSC’s Line of the Night: 12 points on 4 of 6 shooting, 7 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals in 30 minutes. Picked his shots well and was all over the boards. More nights like this and I’ll rescind my assumption that Collins should be playing some of his minutes.
--45 points in the first half. Sure, the Bucs’ D had more holes than Independence Day’s plot. 45 points in a half is 45 points.
--BSC’s possession with 18:00 left in the second half. Inbound to Viglianco in the right corner. Three sharp passes around the perimeter (passing up decent shots), McMillan to Paul to Horton. Paul immediately cuts to the basket and Horton finds him with a perfect lob for the layup. Pretty, pretty, pretty stuff.
--Powe and Paul’s Post Presence. The Masters P combined for 23 and 17 (Powe went for a double-double) and shut down the Bucs’ interior game.
--Ifeanyi Ehirim. My first look at the freshman from Toronto, who got a DNP in the Bama game. 2-2 FG 2-4 FT for 6 points, 3 boards, 1 steal all in only 11 minutes. Very aggressive around the basket and looked athletic as hell. I’ll gladly take four years of “Ifi,” thanks.

--Charleston Southern. Just completely out of joint on offense for the last 15 minutes of the first half and BSC’s slower second-half scoring pace was much more missed free throws and general farting around than good defense. With the exception of C Fernando Cain’s half-pulse, completely nonexistent post presence. For reasons only known to God and coach Barclay Radebaugh, CSU’s leading scorer Dwayne Jackson played all of four minutes. (The Bucs’ website is no help, and to boot whines about the team being “road weary” when they’ve played three games in the last 14 days. Please.)
--Thomas Viglianco. I shouldn’t be hard on him. He did lead the team in scoring, with 14. He does stretch opposing defense in ways few players at the Big South level can. For all I know (i.e. very, very little) he’s doing exactly what Reboul asks of him. But is the coaching staff really happy when they look at the box score and see that their 6-9 power forward had two rebounds, no blocks, and no steals in 32 minutes? Should our tallest player really shoot 9 of his 10 field goals from beyond the arc? I have to wonder.
--Bucky McMillan. I was going to apologize for neglecting to give him his props for his wicked 2.1 assist-to-turnover ratio, and of course vs. Charleston he records one assist and two turnovers in 31 minutes. It’s a total fluke, but still.
--CSU’s freshman 6-9 “power” forward Giedrius Knysas, from Lithuania. I have never seen anyone look so miserable while playing NCAA Division I basketball. He looked as if he had once been having a fine time on the shore of the Baltic Sea until someone gagged him and threw him in the cargo hold of an old Russian steamer, and when he woke up he was wearing a basketball uniform and being screamed at to box out. I kept wanting to yell, “Giedrius! You don’t have to play basketball if you don’t want to! This is America!”

--My usual mode of encouragement is to yell “Let’s go, ‘Southern!” followed by a series of handclaps. But is this the same thing Charleston Southern fans yell? I mean, Lord knows no one at BSC games yells “C’mon, Birmingham!,” so is calling them “Charleston” for short a misnomer? Bottom line is, next time, I want to be sure I’m rooting for my team and my team alone.

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