Tuesday, March 09, 2010

This Week in Wrenball: Not Done Yet

I know we’re supposed to be sad that William & Mary fell a step short of making the NCAA Tournament yet one more time. We didn’t reach the summit, so we’re to be disappointed. But here’s the thing: as I sat in the Richmond Coliseum and looked at the scoreboard showing W&M trailing conference regular season champion ODU by 5 points with 5 minutes left to play, I realized that the outcome was almost secondary to me. I desperately wanted them to complete their second-half comeback, to be sure, but the game reminded us, once again, of the joy inherent in the pursuit, in the small moments.

In a Danny Sumner drive and dunk over a bigger opponent, contested three-point baskets, and one-man effort to bring the Tribe back from a 15-point second-half deficit.

In David Schneider’s all-akimbo three-point shot, and full-court intuition, instinct, and drive.

In Quinn McDowell’s gritting his teeth through the pain of an ankle injury to limp to the line and drain a pair of free throws.

In the increasingly urgent back-and-forth roars of two engaged fanbases.

In Marcus Kitts and Steven Hess taking everything Gerald Lee dished out in the paint (and I hope your small children weren’t watching, because Lee did unspeakable things with his knees, elbows, and hips) and giving as well as they got.

In Tony Shaver’s unceasing optimism, patience, and perspective.

And finally, in realizing that William & Mary – picked to finish 11th in the 12-team CAA – proved yet again that they belonged on that stage. ODU was bigger, stronger, and better. But the Tribe scared 'em, and if that Sumner three had dropped to cut the deficit to 4 in the final minutes, who knows what might have happened.

Damn, but that team doesn’t have an ounce of quit in it. Even if we as fans wavered in our belief.

The fact that this isn’t the valedictory for what may go down as the best team in W&M history is victory in some sense. We’re almost certain to be previewing an NIT game here in a week or so. To paraphrase FOG:TB Michael Litos (who, once again, was awesome in his coverage of the CAA Tourney and in his generosity to us in Richmond), if I told you before the season that the Wrens would be going to the NIT, would you take it?

Hell, yeah, I would.

75 comments:

rob said...

nitology has the tribe a 3 seed in the nit, taking on north carolina in the first round. awesome. as is the fact that nitology exists.

http://www.nitology.com/bracket030910.html

Shlara said...

I love this team and I think we can beat UNC

Dan said...

when's the last time you guys went there, to the NIT?

Ploz said...

After this season, I am confident the day will soon arrive when we expect the Tribe to win before the game has started, and my daughter will no longer start her morning by asking (like she did this morning), "The Tribe lost, didn't it?"

TJ said...

It's March 9th...pour a little of that 40 oz out for The Notorious B.I.G.

jerome said...

William and Mary is an outpost of Buffalo.

rob said...

first and only time was 1982, dan

rob said...

just the hoops squad, jerome. the rest of our athletics programs have been highly successful historically.

TR said...

I think we may be the most fired-up fanbase of any NIT school.

The depressing thing about the loss yesterday is not that we were the better team (we weren't) or that we have somebody like the refs or the fans or our coach to blame (we don't). The depressing thing is that we were one shot away from REALLY making things interesting a number of times in the second half and gave away possessions. I started the game late on Tivo and was tempted to rewind the second half to see how many possessions we started down 5-7 points. In seemingly every one of those instances, we executed badly. I think there were two consecutive poorly executed penetrations (ngs) that resulted in costly turnovers, as well as a TON of missed shots, although some were pretty good looks.

What really surprised me is that ODU ignored the inside-out game for the entire first half. Their height was a clear advantage, but they never looked to exploit that opportunity against our zone. It was highly effective in the second half and allowed them to trade baskets successfully with us.

But it's good to lose a game and still hold your head high, unlike last year's football playoff debacle. I wonder if Shaver will get picked off by a bigger program.

rob said...

totally agree, tr. we were thisclose to really giving odu something to fret about. and they're not a good free-throw shooting team. wouldacoulda.

re: shaver, i had a conversation on that very topic with a member of the w&m athletic administration at the mason game. shaver's got a kid who's a freshman at w&m and his family loves the 'burg. he'll probably get some looks, but i don't think he'll go anywhere for at least a few years.

TJ said...

http://www.beerhaikudaily.com/

rob said...

strasburgmageddeon off to a nice start in florida this afternoon.

TR said...

Would be good for Shaver to stick around a la Laycocke. Any idea what he makes? I know it's public information b/c it's a state school. Anybody got the number? $200-300 K?

It seems like he could have a good plug-and-play system that benefits from smart guys who move well without the ball. It appears the program has started rolling a bit, and may bring in a good recruiting class. It would be fun to know we were slightly better than a .500 team year in and year out, with the occasional upside of challenging for the conference title.

rob said...

shaver made $180k in 2009.

according to several folks with better intel than mine, the tribe's incoming class is good to quite good by the college's standards. it'll get even better if we can get a 6'11" kid from chantilly who is considering w&m. of note, we've got a very quick point guard from chesapeake coming in. if we had a player like that last night it would've made a huge difference.

TR said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
rob said...

interestingly, shaver makes slightly more than does laycock.

TJ said...

ACC Coach of the Year? Gary Williams.

And the Player of the Year? Greivis Vasquez.

rob said...

tony shaver and danny sumner pwned those motherfuckers.

Mark said...

I've spent almost all oft day less than a mile from the stadium where Strasburg is making his Nationsls debut. Of course, I've been working instead of at said stadium drinking beer, ogling women and watching a phenom pitch less than 100 feet from me.

This just in: Being an adult sucks sometimes.

rob said...

strasburg throws two scoreless innings, heals several sick elderly folks in the stands.

Mark said...

Several? That's it? Rob -- the entire area where the Nationals ST complex is nothing but sick elderly folks so I'd have to consider that performance a severe disappointment. Shit, I could've healed "several' elderly people and I can barely break 70 on the radar gun.

Mark said...

You know what else is disappointing? My punctuation and spelling thus far today.

Dan said...

i wonder how Mr. Toyoda is doing today.

zoltan said...

Akio Toyoda is the JaMarcus Russell of the auto industry. He has taken the world's premeire marque of reliability and rendered it pissburnt in a matter of months.

If your gas pedal gets stuck, don't call 911 like this jackass. Put the car in neutral. Apply the brakes. Use the handbrake if you have to. Once stopped, turn the car off and get out.

http://tinyurl.com/yl5w2br

rob said...

excellent rant. points for the use of 'marque'.

TJ said...

St Johns is going to beat UConn by 25 in this first round game. Way to not show up fellas.

zoltan said...

Marley Marls and I will be in the Garden for tonight's games. Look for two roughly middle-aged guys with modest potbellies and healthy dollops of hair loss rocking bee-cazh and Blackberries. We'll stand out like sore thumbs.

TJ said...

When's the last time both UConn and UNC absolutely blew in the same year? 25 years ago?

zoltan said...

Parenthetically, Marls is on a pretty fratty run here. Lots of college hoops and beer on back-to-back school nights.

TJ said...

That is a strong run by Toots McGee...I hear he's headed to the Pac 10 tourney at the end of the week as well.

rob said...

tribe's bad loss to uconn's gonna keep them out of the tourney.

Mark said...

And then he and Ernie Kent are going to Vegas for the weekend to blow off a little steam...

zoltan said...

What's the Wrens' RPI these days? Did you see the RPI graphic on ESPN last night?

rob said...

very impressed by the marls. he and the dlc had big boy seats at the caa final last night.

zoltan said...

They're bringing Iverson with them.

TJ said...

Big Ben heard about this great 18 and Over club...they all plan to hit that after Vin Baker picks them up.

zoltan said...

"hit that"! Ha!

TJ said...

Nice work z-man...that's why our show works so well.

rob said...

bee-cazh might be a bridge too far, z.

rob said...

tribe rpi is 56. y'know, i don't think i want to start comparing the tribe's tourney bona fides with some of the teams on the bubble, because i think i'd get angry. i'm just gonna be happy with the nit bid.

zoltan said...

Read between the lines roberto. I intimated that you should look for two dorks in the crowd. What could be dorkier than business casual? The answer is bee-cazh.

rob said...

for example, virginia tech. w&m has a better record against common opponents and the tribe's wins over maryland, wake, and richmond are all better than tech's best ooc win (seton hall).

okay, i'm gonna stop now.

rob said...

so eric massa, full on whackadoodle, huh?

Whitney said...

One reason to be grateful for the NIT, beyond what Rob wisely penned:

David Schneider deserves to go out in a far better fashion than last night's game. Even if W&M is 1-and-done in the NIT, chances are that Schneider will contribute in a way more commensurate with his four years at the school.

Dan said...

heard his audio of the rahm/nude/gym shower bit...yes...he's nutty - certain to be on next season's celebrity apprentice, a la blago...does seem as if though he's gotten the shaft, at least from what little i know.

zoltan said...

Least fratty quote of all time.

"And I grabbed the staff member sitting next to me and I said, 'What I really ought to be doing is frakking you,' and then tossled the guy's hair and left, went to my room, because I knew the party was getting to a point where I shouldn't be there."

rob said...

i kind of agree with that, though watching scheider play in person really illustrates the value he brings in a way you can't get from the stat sheet or on teevee. (and yes, that's a minor shot, whit.)

schneider made half a dozen instinctual effort plays in last night's game, tipping a ball here, keeping a rebound alive, reading a long pass to make a steal. additionally, every time he was out of the game - every time - the tribe offense completely stagnated, lost poise, and failed to get good shots. when he returned, they still had a few loose moments, but they had a lot more effective possessions.

but yeah, it'd be nice to see him go 6-for-9 from 3 in an nit semifinal loss.

rob said...

apparently massa's also alleged to have groped at least 3 male staff members in the last 3 years. shaft may be the operative term, dan, but not in the way you mean.

TJ said...

Czabe and Andy are discussing the Tribe as an at-large right now on the radio. Amazing.

rob said...

do they have them as a credible at-large, or are they just pandering to the huge local w&m audience?

TJ said...

They fear the 10 loses are simply too much, but they're on the fence.

TJ said...

UCLA will finish this year with a losing record. For only the second time in the last 49 years.

rob said...

the vaunted byu, bearers of a 27-4 record and the sublimely named jimmer fredette, have beaten exactly nobody.

really, i'll stop.

rob said...

tribe baseball beat #11 unc in chapel hill, 3-0. they nearly beat #2 lsu earlier in the season, losing 10-9 after leading 8-0. the tribe plays top-ranked uva tomorrow in williamsburg. uh oh. i smell more futile superfandom.

rob said...

this is who memphis beat outside cusa:

Jackson St
Tennessee Tech
Central Arkansas
Oakland
Arkansas St
Montana St
SE Missouri St
IUPUI
Houston Baptist

someone stop me, please.

Greg said...

Rob, it's not your fault.

Greg said...

It's not your fault Rob

Greg said...

Rob, it's not your fault

Greg said...

Rob, his name was Robert Paulson.

zoltan said...

Marls and z-man walk into the garden, go to the beer line, one of these days starts playing. Good or bad omen?

Mark said...

How could that possibly be a bad omen?

As for the Tribe, I think they deserve an at-large bid based on their out of conference wins as well as the established rep of the CAA (and by extension where they finished in the regular season and tournament). I don't think they'll get a bid, mind you, just think they deserve one.

TR said...

Eric Massa is on Larry King right now, spewing all sorts of crazy.

"I may have cancer..."

"I haven't seen my wife in 5 years..."

Mark said...

I heart Eric Massa, no homo.

rob said...

it's funny - i really didn't think the tribe deserved a bid until i started looking at some of the other bubble teams. eye test, and all that. now, i think you can make a credible argument for their inclusion.

zoltan said...

You fools! Succumb to the negativity!

rob said...

don't get me wrong, z. they ain't making it.

Marls said...

The z-man singing sister christian. Priceless.

Eric (Extra P.) said...

As my friend Stormy (a former Asst. AD at American) pointed out, ODU evolved as a branch campus of W&M. So, in a way, it's safe to say that you have met the enemy, and they are you.

Marls said...

Eric,
Go fuck yourself. That is all.

zoltan said...

Eric, I need a toothpick from paul's. Clicks.

Marls said...

Goatate assclown.

Geoff said...

Massa the Harrassa also has a rep for being a crazy ragaholic. Seems like a quality person.

rob said...

marls and z-man get a few pops in them and puff up like gangsters.

Marls said...

No, we just puff up. Like middle aged white dudes.

Eric (Extra P.) said...

I am also a middle-aged white dude. Perhaps we can square off for seven to ten seconds of hardcore ass-kicking action some day. Then we'll be winded.