Saturday, February 23, 2008

BB liveblog: Miami (OH) at Valpo

Announcement: I said the past two days I'd plow through the Kent St.-St. Mary's game tonight, too, but ... no one's reading. I seriously doubt I'll come up with anything interesting to add to the straight play-by-play, given that the well is already dangerously close to dry and that the game won't start for another three hours. And I'd like to watch a game that should be as good as that one without having to look down every few seconds to type something. So I'm bailing. I've got a brief wrap post planned for tomorrow and if I have anything to say about the Kent-St. Mary's game, I'll say it then. G'night.

Tim Pollitz: a star in a just world.

We're picking up this one on ESPN Classic and this one's for nothing more than the pure joy of watching basketball, and specifically, Miami's wonderful 6-5 power forward Tim Pollitz, one of those guys who makes up for his height deficit with a stunning overabundance of smarts and guile. He got them to the NCAAs almost single-handed last March (with the help of a buzzer-beating, banked-in three) and then carved up Oregon in the first round.

So, yeah, even after four other games already today, I'm looking forward to the last, let's see ... 13 minutes or so of this game.

7:24 p.m. And on cue, Pollitz pulls down a rebound, starts a fast break, and finds his brother Eric. Eric winds up on the line and makes two, and the RedHawks go up 46-42 after seeing a big lead sorta disappear over the last minute or two.

7:26 p.m. Valpo has their goofy Crusader logo painted in giant size across the middle of the floor, and let me tell you, having it 10 feet across does nothing to reduce the goofy. I'll give them credit for not following the sort of nationwide trend of picking out the most initimidating, bad-ass and ultimately corporate-looking logo possible, but ... seriously, the guy in this logo looks like he wandered in from a half-assed Nickelodeon version of Don Quixote. The switch to the Horizon means Valpo's going to be taking on Butler, UW-Milwaukee, Wright St., etc., and now they select a logo that looks like he's ready to take on windmills instead? I don't get it.

7:31 p.m. Jake Diebler hits a pair of free throws to bring Valpo within one, 50-49, despite his Phantom of the Opera mask. Somewhere, Rip Hamilton is asking his lawyer about the trademark infringement possibilities. (Yes, I know I should be above mask jokes, but I've been at this for eight hours now. Whaddya want from me? Besides, I know they're necessary and all, but they look silly and there's no arguing that.)

7:36 p.m. The last several minutes (the game's got 7:55 remaining)have followed the following pattern: 1) Miami turnover 2) Valpo score 3) crowd goes nuts 4) timeout 5) Miami turnover. I swear this cycle seems to have happened three times, minimum. Valpo's gone up six. And now Jarryd Lloyd hits a three for a nine-point lead. Too bad Miami's probably out of timeouts by now.

7:43 p.m. Wow, Diebler's got the Hamilton mask and it turns out Urule Igbavboa has the Ben Wallace 'fro. Now if they can find someone with some variety of baldspot, they can recreate the champion Pistons in their entirety. As is, they're at least doing a good job of mimicking the Pistons' tendency to win: they're still up seven, with six to play.

7:45 p.m. Pollitz hits a couple of free throws to bring the RedHawks within three. But he's got a knee injury and isn't moving quite as well as I recall. And as our color guy (apparently he's named "Cedric") points out, the Valpo dude he's covering on D (Shawn Huff) has sorta noticed. Huff hits a three as Pollitz gives him too much room in an effort to stuff the dribble. Valpo by six, 67-61, 4:17 to play.

7:49 p.m. In an explanation of some of Valpo's struggles this season, Cedric mentions the move to the Horizon, which is 10th in the RPI as of now. If you haven't noticed, that's higher up the RPI than 1. C-USA 2. the Colonial 3. the WAC. Quite an accomplishment for a conference for whom most casual hoop fans would say "Oh yeah, that's the league with Butler and ... uh, Butler."

7:54 p.m. Pollitz abuses the larger Igbavboa, so they switch Huff on him and he gets around him to draw a foul. So, so crafty--like the basketball Iago. Too bad he bricks both free throws. Just three minutes left. That hurts. Huff's basket hurts even worse. This one's just about done.

7:59 p.m. Yeah, you thought I was kidding when I said Miami had taken a whole bunch of timeouts. Well, they just took their final one with 2:20 to play. That's the earliest I've seen in quite a while. They're down five after a three-point play, but making it all the way back without a TO ... that's a rocky road to travel.

8:02 p.m. Oh, ye fickle three-pointer. Valpo used it to roar back and take their lead, but now Miami's used it to come within four, and Valpo's attempted three bounced over the backboard. Pollitz mind-warps Igbavboa into leaving him a clear path to the basket on the slip-screen and suddenly it's 73-71. This is three straight one-possession games. That'll do, Bracketbusters Saturday. That'll do.

8:06 p.m. Huff drives and scores--he's been cash money since I turned the game on. Miami's Kenny Hayes hits two free throws to bring the RedHawks within two, but there's only 34.7 left. It's foul or bust.

8:07 p.m. Or not! Huff finds whatever the opposite of redemption is by first letting himself getting tied up and then throwing the ball directly to Miami's Alex Moosman. Moosman's got a wide-open layup .. but he misses! But Pollitz is there! Tie game! Valpo back the other way, shot, no good, Igbavboa a fadeaway, it sits on the rim ... NO! Overtime! Man, oh man, BB is bringing it this year.

8:14 p.m. Huff finds actual redemption, draining a sweet, sweet step-back three to put Valpo up five. Pollitz pivots all over the lane but finds a way to get the ball up and in in his delightful Pollitz-esque fashion, though. It's 80-77, three to play.

8:19 p.m. Whoa, the Pollitzes' dad went to Valpo Awkward.

8:21 p.m. Valpo again looks to maybe have things sewn up, up six with two to play, and again Hayes earns a trip to the line for two. He hits them and Miami gets a stop, but Pollitz tosses the ball out of the bounds. On the replay it's pretty obvious Valpo deflected it, but hey, the call in Hayes's favor (a foul on Igbavboa for what sure looked like a clean block) was more than a little questionable, too. So the karmic officiating scales always even out.

8:23 p.m. Hayes blocks a Valpo three at the shot clock buzzer, Pollitz scoops up the loose ball and finds him streaking downcourt ... Hayes converts the and-1! It's a one-point game again. 40 seconds to play.

8:24 p.m. Igbavboa misses a dunk! But somehow--seriously, how?--it squirms right back into his hands and he puts it up and in. Hayes draws a foul, though, and hits both. 85-84, 24 seconds left.

8:25 p.m. Miami nearly forces a TO, loose ball ... scoop to Igbavboa, dunk! He dunked it! 16 seconds! Hayes brings it up, launches from the parking lot ... GOOD! HE HIT IT! Valpo comes back, three by Lloyd at the buzzer ... NO! Double overtime! This thing has stretched more than 30 minutes later than I expected and I'm hungry! It's worth it! w00t!

8:33 p.m. The announcers are discussing the fatigue angle as Michael Rogers scores and draws the foul, but as we watch the Valpo fans celebrate ... how about the fatigue for the fans, huh? They've been cheering their lungs out for a long, long time. Hope they've got water.

8:36 p.m. Cedric has the line of the night as Miami's guard Michael Bramos shot fakes and just barely keeps his left foot planted before going on a drive and drawing the foul. "He must have taken ballet," says play-by-play guy, to which Ced replies, "Or he's got some long toes!" Heh. Both teams are two exhausted and foul-ridden to play D: they swap two layups each. Valpo's up 96-94, 1:15 to play.

8:41 p.m. Miami bricks a three, Lloyd scores on the drive! 15 seconds left, Valpo up four, Hayes with a three ... no! That should do it.

8:42 p.m. Bramos misses! No more miracles! OK, that is worth storming the floor for. Man, hell of a game ... again.

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