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Username Post: The Columbia Classic (part 1)        (Topic#13)
The Lion King 
Posts: 394

Reg: 11-21-04
11-21-04 07:57 PM - Post#73    

I arrive at the inaugural Columbia Classic about two minutes into the Morehead State-Mount St. Mary's game. MSM's uniforms are dark blue and white, somewhat like Yale's, so I decide to root for MSU, which is wearing a cubscoutlike yellow and gold. After watching several possessions, I decide that Morehead State looks a lot like Princeton, if Princeton couldn't shoot or play defense. They fall behind 13-4 and I think: I left work early for this? I could have been filling out my health-insurance form right now. But the Philsimmses come back to take a 31-29 halftime lead.

In the lobby at halftime, a pleasant young woman tries to sell me a season ticket. I ask: Since I've already paid $7 for tonight's game, wouldn't it be needlessly extravagant to buy the same ticket as part of a season plan? She is temporarily nonplussed before half-heartedly suggesting that I might be able to get a refund. But then I think of my aged parents sitting alone by the fireside while I watch the Columbia-LIU game on Thanksgiving Eve. I decide simply to order Penn and Princeton tickets in advance and trust the traditional Columbia sports apathy to keep them available for the other games. On my way back in, I realize that the three visiting teams in the tournament--Morehead State, Mount St. Mary's, and Longwood--all have names that Beavis and Butt-Head would chuckle over. That's not all they'd chuckle over, if they know anything about basketball.

Midway through the second half, Jason Epps of MSM gets the easiest rebound in the history of basketball. After taking a tumble, he is sitting on the floor, legs fully extended, when a missed three-point attempt literally falls into his lap. He nonchalantly passes it to a teammate, gets up, and runs downcourt, no doubt thinking: It'll look like a line drive in the box score.

The lead goes back and forth for most of the half, and with 21 seconds left, Mount St. Mary's hits a three-pointer to tie the game at 60. Morehead State gets the ball, passes it around a few times, and then commits an offensive foul with 11 seconds left. Not to be outdone, a Mount St. Mary's player dribbles the ball off his foot and out of bounds with 4.6 seconds left. In overtime, Morehead State tries assiduously to give the game away, trailing 65-61 with 1:40 left, but Mount St. Mary's misses 5 of 6 free throws down the stretch and Morehead State takes the clash of titans by a point, 66-65.

Speaking of a clash of titans, between games I dip into Boswell's Life of Johnson and encounter the following: "GOLDSMITH. When my taylor brought home my bloom-coloured coat, he said, 'Sir, I have a favour to beg of you. When any body asks you who made your clothes, be pleased to mention John Filby, at the Harrow, in Water-lane.' JOHNSON. Why, Sir, that was because he knew the strange colour would attract crowds to gaze at it, and thus they might hear of him, and see how well he could make a coat even of so absurd a colour." The witty byplay reminds me of Chuck Daly and Asia Sunset trading barbs on the old ivybasketball.com board.

Later I go into the lobby and ask if anyone knows where Longwood University is. Nobody does, and the general opinion is that it doesn't actually exist. One guy swears he saw Coach Jones on Amsterdam Avenue before the game handing out Longwood uniforms. I visit the men's room and note with dismay that it has not been renovated, then return to the gym for the Columbia-Longwood game.

(end of part 1)

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