11.26.2008

Bearcats disappoint again in bad loss to CCSU

First off -- please pardon my absence lately. I've been a poor blogger. I'm not at liberty to really discuss the primary reason why, except to say that it has to do with a very tumultuous period at the company that employs me. As much as I love this blog, and discussing the Bearcats in general, rocky times at my job have kept me from enjoying much of anything over the past month or so. Considering the very touchy nature of the subject, I will not comment further on the situation, other than to say I hope that from a personal standpoint, things will hopefully settle within the next couple of weeks.

That said -- I must admit that I have also been a poor fan in the last few weeks. I attended the Buffalo State win, followed with some encouraging commentary -- and then sort of skated through the past week and a half that included a win over a Division-II squad and two losses, including what Kevin Broadus called the worst loss of his life, a 25-point shellacking at Central Connecticut State tonight, featuring the worst three-point shooting display since that goofy frat kid during a promotional giveaway at the Buff State exhibition.

Oh-for-19. NINETEEN! According to Moritz, the dubious NCAA record is 0-for-22.

And, geez, it's not like they were playing Duke! These Blue Devils have squeaked past the Bearcats a few times in the past few years, and one would've expected tonight's matchup to be similarly competitive.

NOT! A 25-point train wreck against a mediocre opponent, with critics describing the loss as even worse than it sounds. I didn't see a second of the game, but I don't know how you can butter up 0-for-19 from three as a step in the right direction.

I can't get over this. NINETEEN misses! How do you miss NINETEEN straight threes? Was there an earthquake in Connecticut tonight? Were the Bearcats shooting at one of those amusement park hoops where the ball is bigger than the rim? Was this played under NBA Jam rules, where CCSU got 'on fire' and could goaltend at will, sans consequence?

Well -- no, no, and no. This was a regulation basketball game, against a team one could consider comparable to the Bearcats, considering their recent close results. And the 'Cats -- a team built around GUARDS, mind you -- missed every single three they took. EVERY ONE!

- - - - -

Not to get off topic again, but when I know something definitive about my job status, I will post a quick update. I really, really don't want to make this a personal blog, so if you want to know more about what's going on, send me an e-mail and perhaps we can chat.

11.14.2008

Exhibition Game - Bearcats 100-and-something, Buffalo State 64

I was impressed tonight with the Bearcats' hundred-point destruction of D-III Buffalo State.

Of course, every exhibition-game report needs the blah-blah-this-game-doesn't-really-count disclaimer at the outset. But there were some impressive things to take from this game.

The big story, to me, was D.J. Rivera. Nine-for-13 from the field for 21 points, Rivera's intensity is unmatched. His rebound-dunk combo about two minutes in energized the crowd and his teammates, and was hopefully just a flash of what's to come.

Ordinarily, I'd be wary about such intensity on the court, especially after watching cool-as-ice Mike Gordon lead the team for the past few years.

But Tiki Mayben's calm-and-confident demeanor seems to contrast Rivera's energy perfectly.

I've written before about Mayben's prior transgressions, and I still think there is a fundamental flaw in Kevin Broadus' recruiting philosophy.

That said, and not to downplay those reservations -- when you give these two guys the ball, special things happen. At least tonight.

There were other positives tonight. Specifically, Dwayne Jackson.

I have always been a fan of D.J. He came in as a freshman and worked his way through the system, doing everything right from the beginning. No legal troubles, no whining, no B.S.

Of course, the kid lit it up tonight, 4-for-5 from downtown, with another make questionably called back after a Jaan Montgomery foul. If D.J. has improved his horrendous rebounding skills, I think he deserves a spot in the starting five.

Having sung the praises of Mayben and Rivera, the spot for Jackson would be the 3-spot that now belongs to Sean Watson, who played the quietest 22 minutes-13 points-7 rebounds I've seen in a long time. At times, you'd just forget he was on the floor. That can be good or bad, but I don't see that style jiving well with the creativity of Mayben and the electricity of Rivera -- at least as a starter.

It felt good to see Jaan Montgomery succeed tonight. When you're five inches taller than everyone on the other team, it makes things a little easier, but it was nice to see him doing the things that I'm sure Al Walker dreamed of five years ago.

As for Reggie -- I wrote last year that I thought he could develop into a top-tier-type player if he could develop that 16-foot jumper. But I don't think that's the case anymore. In this system, I see Reggie becoming a solid role player, but he'll be shooting even less this season with these hired guns -- erm, transfers -- running the show.

I won't be able to make Monday's game because of work (can you tell how happy I am about that?), but I'll likely post some more on this game later tonight or tomorrow.

Thanks, as always, for reading.

10.14.2008

Are you ready to rock?

Welcome back, my friends, to the show that never ends ... except for a few months over the summer, when nothing's going on in Bearcat Country.

Well actually, a lot of stuff is going on, of course. Players are working hard in the gyms and on the practice courts, getting prepared for the fall season. And coaching staffs are spanning the globe, looking for the next great prospect to bring their team to the promised land.

Some America East blogs, namely America Least -- perhaps my favorite basketball blog, if not my favorite overall blog -- keep churning out posts all summer long, attempting to keep up with recruiting efforts around the conference.

To be frank, I don't have the patience to keep up with recruiting efforts. I'll take a look at the official Bearcats Web site once in a while to see how the roster is shaping up, but I don't have the time to browse hundreds of recruiting Web sites through the spring and summer. Some fans are fascinated by this stuff -- honestly, I just don't have the patience or the resources to keep up with it.

Obviously, recruiting is an incredibly important part of college basketball. I'm by no means trying to play down the need to recruit talented, well-rounded individuals. And if I were a pro basketball writer, with the time and resources needed to look into it, I'd love to become a high school basketball junkie.

Unfortunately, in reality, I'm holding down a full-time job, albeit at a newspaper. And it has just about nothing to do with basketball.

The cool part, though, is that my full-time job is right in the heart of Vestal, New York -- a frisbee's throw from the Events Center. So when the season starts again shortly, I'll be able to once again keep track of the Bearcats, from the opening tip to the, well ... probably, the first round of the America East conference tournament.

I won't claim to know everything about the Bearcats, especially at this point in the preseason. And I certainly can't claim to know everything about all the new blood around the conference at the moment.

But what I can deliver on this blog is a unique game-by-game perspective of the team that I have come to love over the past six years. I attended my first Bearcats game back when the team played in the West Gym in the fall of 2003 -- and here I am, five seasons later, still wearing the same green BU ZOO t-shirt to each and every home game.

The '08-'09 festivities kick off Friday night with Late Nite Madness, which, if history repeats itself, promises to be an underwhelmingly disappointing train wreck. I've always thought the athletics department could put a little more pizazz into the annual event, and I don't think this year will be any different.

The season opener is still about a month off, when the Bearcats will kick off against powerhouse Buffalo State. (Full schedule) As that epic showdown approaches, I'll try and piece together a more poignant season preview, and give my thoughts on how I think the season will shake out. (Hint: Not great.)

I know I've said this a few times now, but ... stay tuned.

9.04.2008

Bearcats overseas

A comment left on the last post by 'justin' (do I know you?) wondered on the whereabouts of Bearcat alums, in light of the photo of Duane James and Nick Billings I posted a few days ago.

I can't claim to know too much about what's going on with all the old guys, but here's a few tidbits I do know:

--Duane James and Nick Billings were playing together somewhere in Denmark

--Sebastian Hermenier, last I checked, was playing with Besancon Basketball Club in France, but it appears he has left that team

--Troy Hailey had planned to play ball somewhere but his contract fell through

--According to his Facebook, Mike Gordon is heading to train overseas.

I'll try and post more later; I'll check things out and see what's going on. Hope that quenched a bit of your thirst for now.

BTW -- I will be back, soon, to posting on this blog regularly. I promise.

7.21.2008

ESPN.com rankings

ESPN.com ranked D-I programs from top to bottom. The Bearcats are ineligible for this list, having played less than 15 years of D-I.

Here's the rest of the AE rankings:

America East
108. Boston University
159. Vermont
T-256. UMBC
270. Hartford
T-278. Maine
297. New Hampshire

7.10.2008

Minja's mug on CNN front



This has become a truly global story now.

(Thanks to Brendan Dischinger for pointing the CNN.com story out to me)

If you haven't seen this video of Minja's parents being interviewed, it's worth a watch (1:21)

... and here's a link to Minja's Interpol Arrest Warrant.

7.08.2008

Vacation week

I'm off from the Press & Sun for a week, and I'm not allowed to blog for them off the clock, so I figured I'd check back in at the real Bearcat Country and catch up a little bit.

First off, a few people have asked whether or not this blog is done for. The answer is no -- I just don't have much time to follow much of the off-season recruiting like some other bloggers do. (And if that's what you're looking for, this is another great opportunity to plug America Least, where Drake's doing a terrific job following recruiting efforts by all nine AE schools.)

Once the season starts up again, I'll be back with preseason predictions, game-by-game analysis, etc.

The big topic surrounding Bearcats basketball, of course, has been the Minja Kovacevic case -- one of the most revolting cases of blown justice I've ever heard of. (Personal, unpaid blog = Strub can let the leash out a little bit here.)

Joseph Cawley needs to lose his job over this. Letting Kovacevic go on bail, and not properly monitoring a man who very nearly killed someone, is absolutely inexcusable for someone entrusted so deeply by the public. He needs to at least be publicly reprimanded for his actions in the case.

I'm sort of surprised that no one has contacted ex-coach Al Walker about this case. I'd be interested in hearing more about what made him think Minja would be a good representative of Binghamton University when he offered him a scholarship. It was obvious from just one look at Kovacevic's Facebook profile -- which has since either been taken down, or made private, or he just de-friended me -- that he was an, as we say, accident waiting to happen.

Another part of the case that's burning me up is the ethnic divisions being drawn in the sand. As I wrote in my professional blog on pressconnects.com (here), the whole thing has nothing to do with Kovacevic's ethnic background. NOTHING. Clear enough? This punk -- pardon my Daily News-ism -- is hiding from justice, then having Mommy and Daddy tell the reporters to blame the U.S. for his troubles.

That's right, Minja. Blame Binghamton University for offering you four free years of education that some of us -- myself included -- will be paying for for the next 20 years. Blame Binghamton for welcoming you with open arms, giving you standing ovations when you pulled off your practice jersey and represented our school and our area.

Let me try and take a "fair and balanced" view of this story for a second. Let's assume Bryan Steinhauer actually did pinch a girl's ass, at 1:30 a.m., at the Studio 54 party at the Rat.

That party is traditionally one of the biggest drunk-fests of the year, without a doubt. I went to the 2007 version of that particular party, and would've been at the '08 version had I not been stuck at work until 1:30 a.m. that night. I don't know Bryan, and don't know his drinking habits, but even if he was off-the-wall, blacked-out drunk, pinching a girl's rear end at the Rat is nothing out of the ordinary. It's almost harder *not* to pinch a girl in the disgustingly, obscenely close quarters of the Rat -- especially at 1:30 a.m., especially at Chrissy's Studio 54 bash, when a couple hundred kids are packed in there like sardines.

A pinch is a pinch. And nobody's saying that Steinhauer did anything more than that, if he was even "guilty" of this mere faux pas. Miladin Kovacevic -- allegedly -- stepped up and battered this kid within an inch of his life.

Assuming that this wasn't just a random act of hatred, I wouldn't be as upset if Kovacevic had simply punched the kid in the face, maybe given him a shiner or something. Heck, maybe Softic and Dzubur were friends with Minja, and there was some disrespect. You throw a left hand, or maybe a shot to the gut, to let him know you're there. One simple punch from Minja would have been, trust me, WAYYYYY more than enough to alert ANY drunken soul that they need to skedaddle.

But Minja felt the need to keep going. It's hard to believe that he did something like this consciously, which leads me to believe he was under the influence of something -- although I can tell you that I never, ever saw the kid with a drink in his hand. He must have not understood his own strength -- that, or he just didn't care about any possible consequences.

I need to get off this topic. It angers me to just think about it.

I wish all the best to Bryan Steinhauer and his family. I only write about this topic because I feel it is such a horrific injustice to Steinhauer.

6.25.2008

Minja makes Daily News cover



Holy crap.

6.17.2008

Seabass a solid sixth man

Looks like Sebastian Hermenier is doing okay for himself lately as a sixth man for Besancon Basket Comte Doubes in France.

5.05.2008

Minja jailed

I've got plenty of thoughts on this subject. I guess most importantly, I hope the kid he attacked is okay. I have not heard any word, official or unofficial, on his condition, nor his identity.

Let me get back to you on this one.

4.30.2008

Conover gets the ax

According to inside sources ... BU women's head coach Rich Conover has been fired.

4.06.2008

Final Four

So this is the first year in a while I've gotten 2/4 Final Four choices right, and even picked Kansas to go to the 'Ship.

Now if Texas can somehow pull out a victory on Monday night, I'll be in great shape ...

- - - - -

I'm starting to focus more on MLB these days; I ordered mlb.tv from mlb.com the other day, and it's well worth the $120. Just think of how many times over the summer you'll hear of a guy being perfect through six and be dying to watch?

- - - - -

Additionally, I'll be launching a new, official Press & Sun-Bulletin blog within the next two weeks. Stay tuned for more details.

3.31.2008

Laz is officially transferring

Damnit.

I know that there are growing pains associated with getting a new coach, but couldn't it be ANYONE but Laz?

But don't worry ... I'm sure Broadus will quickly replace him by giving another fallen star a fifth or sixth opportunity at Division-I. /sarcasm

- - - - -

For the record, I'm still bugging Christine about writing a guest viewpoint for me ... Granted, she was busy, as the women's team at UH made it to the second round of the NCAA's in Louisiana. I'll keep pestering her ...

3.17.2008

An open question to Mark Macyk

... Still think UMBC wins its first-round matchup? :)

Also in the "ouch" department: Cornell draws Stanford in Anaheim.

The Hartford women, on the other hand, could land a 12 seed and as close to home-court advantage as possible with a first-rounder in Bridgeport. Congrats to the Hawks, who have become one of the most dominant women's programs in the America East the last few years.

3.15.2008

UMBC's dancing

82-65.

Sort of disappointing that the game was over in the first four or so minutes, but certainly not disappointing for everyone watching at the RAC, folks who I'm sure are still partying as I write this.

With nearly everyone coming back, save for Von Rosenberg, Hartford must be an early sleeper pick for 08-09, but let's get through this season first.

Mark Macyk picked UMBC to win the tournament - no shock - but also to win in the first round of the NCAA tournament. That's a bold statement, one I must disagree with.

Winning a game in the NCAA tournament as a low seed -- UMBC will probably salivate at the notion of a 14 -- requires magic. And a lot of it.

Back in '05, Taylor Coppenrath was that magic. T.J. Sorrentine was that magic. That was a team destined for an upset like that, and Syracuse was the perfect victim.

That won't happen again this year. UMBC does not have that same magic, nor the NCAA tournament experience that the ubertalented Catamounts had in '05.

I just realized I'm going to be late to work -- sorry Eric.

More on UMBC later, as well as the guest viewpoint I promised you from everyone's favorite cheerleader, Christine (who was behind Howie the Hawk for much of today's game, if you're wondering).

Six-minute drought

Holy cow, this has been ugly.

The home-court advantage seems to be helping UMBC significantly.

3.14.2008

Slowing down, but ...

With the AE down to one final game this season, and the Bearcats all drunk and high multiple times by now (let's just be honest :-D) ... I'm trying to figure out what to do with the blog from this point forward.

The Hartford Hawks will take on the UMBC Retrievers for the conference's lone bid to the NCAA tournament tomorrow at 12 p.m. on ESPN2, and although I certainly won't be making the road trip, I do have a special report, from someone closer to the action than even some of the bench players, lined up, exclusive to Bearcat Country ... Let's just say, she'll bring a very cheery perspective to our conference's last game.

Check back here later this weekend as I'll post my thoughts on the championship contest, followed by an exclusive live-from-the-scene commentary from Hartford junior cheerleader Christine ... the cutest cheerleader in the America East. (Look for her on TV!)

By the way, if you're seeking a prediction ...

UMBC 86, Hartford 81.

3.10.2008

All-Tournament question

Has anyone who lost in the PIG ever made the All-Tournament team?

Mark Socoby may well be the first.

Great PD photo

Anyone who's ever conducted an interview at Binghamton University has to appreciate how great this Pipe Dream photo is.

Best pep bands

Brian Moritz, in his latest post, expresses his desire to rank the pep bands in the conference, but holds back, claiming that he doesn't want to offend any non-scholarship students in the conference.

I guess I'll also play it safe and say that the UMBC band was particularly enjoyable, Boston was right up there, Stony Brook was very good, Hartford was good, and Mo is still clearly the best director in the conference.

Monster Day 2 wrapup, and some other feelings

I'm not going to lie to you -- I was a bit down on things after watching my team lose on Saturday afternoon, and I was pretty freakin' tired from blogging all day long. I overslept today and missed the entire UMBC/UVM game and the first half of the Hartford/Boston game. I guess that's the disadvantage of only being accountable to yourself.

I just read America Least's monster recap, and I feel like he took a few unwarranted shots at me for requesting a media pass, blogging live during the tournament, etc. Kinda stings a bit; since the first time I saw a 'glog' (game blog) on CBS.sportsline.com, I thought it was kind of interesting to follow along with someone somewhat knowledgeable who was there watching the thing live. They can bring a lot more to the conversation than people just quietly watching a Realvideo stream. So I'm sorry if I offended anyone by accepting the media pass I requested, but I hope at least someone enjoyed following along with me yesterday.

As a Bearcat fan, I'm overjoyed that Vermont lost today, of course. If I put my "objective" hat on -- you could see it coming. UMBC is the dominant force in this league this year and I definitely cannot see Hartford stopping them next weekend.

But. Everyone's been underestimating Hartford all year long. Maybe it's finally time for the Hawks to get a little bit of dap ... or maybe they just got a great draw with a short-handed, soft-and-chewy-in-the-middle UNH team and a we-always-choke-in-the-playoffs Boston team. That sure would've been a beautiful draw for the Bearcats, I'll tell you that much.

Boston's really the tragic hero of the weekend; taking out the Great Danes with a ballsy effort on Saturday night, despite a couple of very bad calls and some awful free-throw shooting; followed by a win-by-the-three, die-by-the-three death this afternoon.

I can't see the Terriers really getting any better than 9-7 if they continue to play the style that they do all year long. They have some great three-point shooters, but they can't always hope to make the miracle threes (I'm thinking of this year's and last year's Carlos Strong jumpers) that propelled them to victories against Bing last year and Albany this year. Yes, it works sometimes, and when it works it looks great, but in the postseason it's interior play that wins games.

I was very, very impressed with Joe Zeglinski and Morgan Sabia this afternoon. Zeglinski definitely showed he deserved to be on the first team, while Sabia showed a strong inside/outside game that is sure to present matchup problems for years to come. (Sabia/Laz could be a great battle for the next couple of years.)

It was ultra depressing to see Mike Gordon in the postgame yesterday. It's always difficult to see the departing seniors, and of course 8 out of 9 teams' graduates will go out with a loss in their last game. But Gordon's story, after three years with Walker, where he was really counted on as the man, is especially sad -- (and I wish one of the local newspapers could've put this story together).

The tale of Mike Gordon has to be one of the most compelling personal stories you could write. Everyone pointed to Mike, Mike, Mike last year, playing his SportsCenter clip over and over, and indicating immediately after the Boston loss that 2008 would be the year of Mike Gordon, and that the team had plenty coming back to support him.

Except its coach. The referendum on Al had to be a direct shot at Mike, and I can't even imagine how hard it was for him to understand -- even thought it was never explicitly spoken -- that the job that GORDON had done was not good enough to keep his coach's job.

And after all that, this new guy from Georgetown waltzes in ... and immediately hands No. 5 the keys. How difficult must it have been for MG to regain his confidence after the man he entrusted with his college years was axed?

It could make for a great story.

- - - - -

As complicated as this game can be, sometimes it just comes down to how the ball bounces off of the rim. I thought Albany could've won last night's game, but there were just a few shots that came bouncing out -- there was at least one Lillis drive that immediately comes to mind -- that, if they had fallen, you might be looking at the Danes heading to the RAC next weekend.

I really thought the Gifford intentional foul call was the wrong call, in addition to the Lowe and Brittain calls I pointed out last night. The refs really took over the end of that game, which was a little disappointing to see.

- - - - -

I've got some more feelings on the Binghamton loss, and why the team we had never really had a chance, but last I heard, Mark Macyk possibly wants me to write something for Tuesday's issue, so I'm going to hold back for now.

- - - - -

Got to see Christine again this afternoon. Congratulations to her and the rest of the Hartford spirit squad, and good luck in Baltimore next weekend -- I'll be watching intently on TV (if I can wake up).

- - - - -

Want to say thank you one more time to Sean Tainsh for allowing me to come courtside and blog throughout the weekend. With the way bloggers seem to be taking over the "real" media world, maybe I've opened up a door for the way AE coverage works in the future.

3.09.2008

DST

I want that hour back. And I don't even have to play basketball this weekend.

I'm a failure

40% on my predictions -- although I ended up with my best prediction of the year for the Bing game (I had it 67-60 UVM).

As for tomorrow, considering I got both teams wrong for the second semifinal, I don't even know if I should be able to make a prediction, but my gut tells me it will be the Hawks. Boston's shot selection is just so frenetic at times ... Hartford's a solid squad.

Hartford 70, Boston U. 62.

And for the first semi?

This one won't exactly be a defensive struggle, especially if Greene and Spadafora can just pop up and shoot the three at will like they did today.

UMBC 84, UVM 78.

Best sign of the weekend

NETO
=
NEAT-O

Overslept

Oops.

Off to the EC now.

Bye, Will

Really sad to see Will Brown exit tonight -- not. At least it wasn't a completely wasted day.

I'm not going to lie ... between almost 11 hours of blogging, having to wake up about 3 hours earlier than usual, and daylight savings time, I'm pretty much blogged out for the night. I'm also considering going gold-body-paint tomorrow to support the Retrievers to knock out the freakin' Catamounts. Not sure yet.

I hope that anyone reading this enjoyed my commentary throughout the day. I had a ton of fun, other than the extremely subpar media food. (I didn't think they could do worse than Boston '07, but they did.)

I'm still sort of stunned that Boston escaped with a win, despite several bad calls and their poor free throw shooting.

Also note that all three SUNY schools are out on day one. So much for a 'New York State of Mind.'

I also feel the urge to bring a 'VESTAL '09' sign tomorrow. The AE needs to know how much we appreciate the tournament continuing to come back. If only we could somehow keep the Catamounts from making the trip.

3.08.2008

And now Brittain fouls out

... on another bad call. And I don't like ripping the refs, but it was clear that Lillis was blatantly just slamming his body into the lane there. That call NEVER goes the way of the offense, especially when it looks that ugly. He hardly even shot the ball.

Foul on Lowe

That was a missed call. Looked like it actually should've been a foul on Turley.

If I'm a Boston fan right now, I'm livid.

Poetic justice

Of course we get OT in the last game of the night.

Wolff and Gifford are out for BU and Albany, respectively.

Lillis just airballed a three.

There's a few Bing fans here chanting "WILL BROWN SUCKS."

And BU's free throw shooting woes continue. To think that if they had made just ONE of those two misses at the end of regulation, we wouldn't even be having this conversation right now.

61-58, 2:52 left.

Strong

This game is very, very far from over, but Carlos Strong just hit a monster step-back three that put BU up 5. IF they hold on, ... what does that remind you of?

(Hint: I'm talking about last year's win over Binghamton.)

I'm just about out of battery so this will probably be the last post until I get home, unless we get OT here. Thanks for following, I will post more when I get back home.

Near collision

Jon Iati nearly came crashing over the media table at me and Dave O'Brian about 30 seconds ago.

And as I told Dave -- if that little (**$% comes over ... I ain't catching him. He's right up there with Cieplicki.

Hell of a Game

42-39 Boston.

It feels like this is shaping up to be another late-game disappointment for Boston. We'll see if I'm right about that in about 30 minutes ...

- - - - -

No. 14, Kate Stanton, is also pretty cute. It's close. Except there's no No. 14 on Boston, so that's sort of confusing.




Some good ideas

I must say, in getting to watch every team in the conference today, there are some pretty sweet fan tactics we could "borrow" from these schools.

Albany's chant of "SUCKS TO BE-U" was pretty cool.

Boston University's fans brought signs related directly to the dance team ... seemed to be enjoyed by the fans, the team and the dance team itself.

(By the way, the Terrier is now fighting the Great Dane ... reminiscent of J.J. Jumper, anyone? [And if you have no idea what I'm referencing -- the same incident Moritz referenced the other day -- you missed out on the greatest mascot fight ever, in 2006.)

Hartford's band screaming, "BOUNCE, BOUNCE, BOUNCE, BOUNCE, BOUNCE" every time an opposing player took a dribble ... I liked it.

Hartford's band also did a good job coordinating itself with the spirit squads, playing songs for them to dance to out on the court. Stony Brook did some of the same last night.

Boston U's band actually has a real solid line of trumpets. I know we'll take what we can get, but ... if you play trumpet, and you're going to Bing next year, I encourage you to join up with Mo. I guarantee a good time.

And -- I guess this is more game-related -- Vermont does a good job of somehow winning in the Events Center in March. That might be a good idea for the Bearcats sometime in the future, eh?

- - - - -

A couple Pipe Dream-related notes --

1) Ben Masur hints at a BU-Zoo-let-us-down column coming Tuesday. That's unjustified. The Zoo did an OUTSTANDING job in today's game. His argument is that the game wasn't over when Cieplicki hit the three. However, it was. Therefore, don't blame the Zoo for being silenced when you know damn well you wouldn't have the nerve to get the cheering back up after that. Props, too, to Taylor Watts, for attempting to get the local crowd fired up with 25 seconds left.

2) Win or lose, a daily would've been really nice to have for today and tomorrow. I know it's a ton of work, but it's not impossible. (And I know I'm going to get crap for saying that, but it really enhances the view of PD in the eyes of fans from all around the conference.)

3) How about one more look alike: Hartford assistant John Gallagher and Pipe Dream's own Randy Benjenk?



EDIT: Randy claims that Gallagher more closely resembles ESPN.com's Bill Simmons - what do you think?



- - - - -

The Terriers have just taken a 37-34 lead with 17:03 left ... so I guess I'm sticking around 'til the end here.

Depression

To all the Bing fans out there:

I know you're all depressed. I know that you are all probably drunk by now, trying to erase the sour memories of Kyle Cieplicki draining that (*$#W)%ing three that just killed us.

But if you love basketball, this is going to be a great America East game to watch.

Boston and Albany are closely matched, and with Hartford waiting in the wings, the winner of this game could well play spoiler to the Retrievers -- or take on the not-that-good-Catamounts -- for the title.

I expect the --

Breaking news -- just got a hello kiss/hug from Christine -- my life is now officially validated.

-- Great Danes to take this one. I thought coming in that it would be close, but with the Maine, UVM and Hartford games all close, I'm changing that prediction a bit and saying this one will be your typical 9-or-10-point victory for the Danes. However, this game is still well worth watching at bubearcats.com.

Every single Albany fan looks like a punk. And not in the Kevin Broadus or Kyle Cieplicki way, either. (Apparently David O'Brian hasn't read that commentary yet.)

I can't believe I'm saying this, but ... Let's Go Terriers.

BU Dance Team

I don't know what I think about the Boston U. dance team's outfits. If you haven't seen them ... they wear these little jersey-type things, each with a number of a certain player.

On the one hand, that shows a certain level of team spirit. On another level, when a fan's looking at your school's most attractive collection of girls, I don't think they really want to think about Ibrahim Konate.


I think my favorite has to be the Carlos Strong dancer - Kaitlyn Busconi. Apparently she owns six donkeys:

16-10 Albany. Boston still has that knack of hitting unhittable threes though.

Blogger continues to lose my posts over and over again. WTF.

Update: There they are

Literally as I pressed the 'post' button - I saw them. Both of them.

A hot dog. And Jesus.

Near the BU Zoo end, if you're looking on the feed. I think I'm going to go say hi.

Hot Dog and Jesus

I'm going to be VERY disappointed if I don't get to see a Hot Dog AND a Jesus tonight.

Hartford 68, UNH 65

Well, we get bonus Christine tomorrow.

Hartford deserved to win the game there, but you've got to credit Abreu for the big shot to bring the Wildcats even. Gibbs' MAJOR choke -- to miss BOTH -- ended up really costing the Wildcats there, and I'm sure any stories about that game will feature that snafu pretty prominently.

The way it worked out though, UNH couldn't really ask for a much better bounce of the ball -- not two but three looks, albeit none of them very good. You can't ask for more than that kind of opportunity at the end there -- short of signing Mark Socoby.

Roger Neel's in the stands behind me, wearing one of the nicest ties I've seen all day.

- - - - -

UA's warming up right in front of me ... the guys with mohawks look ridiculous. Especially the big dude - is that Gifford? He was doofy to begin with -- add a mohawk and you're approaching Zoellner status.

Another barn-burner in Vestal

Alvin Abreu just nailed a three to bring UNH even, after it appeared that UH had this one sewn up.

Once again, the Hey Song ends up mis-timed, as UNH has all the momentum in the world and Hartford's band is playing it -- just as Bing played the Hey Song after the four-minute timeout in the last game when they were donezo.

The entire Albany student section just got here. I'm sickened. 50 kids who wish they could get into Binghamton will probably get to see their team in the semis tomorrow, if not further.

Let's go Terriers.

64-62 now ... here we go!

Lookalike

It wouldn't be a Chris Strub AE blog without your annual lookalike.

One of the following two guys is playing guard for UNH right now -- the other was involved in a well-publicized sex scandal with Paula Abdul a couple years ago, see if you can tell them apart:


I guess it's not as striking a resemblance as Boston University's Tyler Morris to Cameron Frye (Alan Ruck):


Hartford's pulling away here, 51-44 with 10:15 to go.

Binghamton postgame cuts

Kevin Broadus comes out wearing his dress pants and a BU Zoo t-shirt. It looks like he had recently been crying.

Broadus: "I wanted to start off by commending Vermont. ... They played a hell of a second half. That's what champions do. ... They were just the better team today. ... (On Binghamton's theme this year being 'family') We were a family. We were a dysfunctional family at times [hmm, understatement?] ... but we were a family. ... I'm sad that the season ended this way. But today, for 35 minutes, I thought these guys (motions towards Gordon, Laz, Jaan) were the better players. I hope I don't get in trouble for saying that. ... The champions came out of those guys (Vermont). I told these guys, I want to build a program like that -- five straight years (in the Championship game). That starts tomorrow."

"I thought a kid that was player of the year just stepped up. He (Lonergan) just told him (Blakely) to go out there and get every rebound --- and he did. ... (On the Vermont guys being experienced) Sla-picky (clearly mispronounced it, I hope someone has audio, it was classic), Trimboli, Blakely, McIntosh ... don't help me here ... McCrory ... those guys know how to win. ... They had that swagger. ... That's what champions do. ... (About Jaan) If he takes the offseason seriously, we don't need another big man. ... (About Blakely being defensive player of the year) He earned that award today. What'd he have ... (looks at paper) ... six blocks? ... (About going to Laz in crunch time) That's what you do ... You go to the well 'til the well dries up, and today, he couldn't get us over the wall. ... (About how good it was to work with Mike) If we could have 13 Mike Gordons, I'd love to. He was a treat. He was like having me out on the court. He was a treat on the court ... He came to work every day, lunch pail on, punch the time clock."

Laz: "(How was your back feeling?) It felt good ... Vermont is one of the toughest teams to play."

(Laz was very quiet postgame. I saw him after the interviews and said, "Thank you, Laz" ... he looked very confused, holding his box of pizza, and then said, "Oh, yeah. Thanks." He was definitely not pleased at all.)

Jaan: "(About Blakely) We just wanted to keep him from getting the ball ... make him take tough shots."

Mike Gordon: "(What changed in the second half?) They got a couple of easy buckets in transition ... I think we played hard for about 35 minutes. ... (What'd you say to the crowd?) The crowd, the coaches, they've always been behind me 100%. I wanted to say thank you ... (I asked him how he thinks the team is set up for '08-'09) Everybody's ready to do what coach Broadus wanted. They'll be a lot tougher. (How do you want to be remembered?) (Without a moment's hesitation) Aggressive team player. It's always about team."

- - - - -

I don't know how I feel about this Hartford "Hey Baby" dance. I think I kinda liked it last year ... ehh, it's sort of under tempo from the band ... I mean I'll root for anything Christine-related, but this dance doesn't really seem to pick up the crowd very much.

The Hawks student section has switched ends. The band's still down here. Weird.

Halftime in Vestal: Hartford 32, UNH 31

Hartford's Andres Torres is just a ball of energy out there. He appears to be going fast -- I'm going to go on a limb and say too fast -- on every single offensive play. He's almost sprinting with reckless abandon out there.

The Hartford dance team is quite good. I know I'm using a lot of superlatives to describe the dance teams (maybe if I had a girlfriend I could be a little more judgmental? :D just kidding) ... I will try and figure out my favorite once the night is over here in sunny Vestal, New York.

Like I said, the UNH "contingent" is absolutely pathetic -- even worse than Maine was last night.

UNH's band is playing "You Can Call Me, Al" -- brings back memories, eh?

I will post those Binghamton postgame cuts ... right now.

PS: Is anybody reading this? Even if you're not -- I'm having fun.

Hartford 32, UNH 27

This has been a pretty exciting back-and-forth game, with Hartford taking the lead in the last few minutes.

UNH is shooting the 3 pretty well; as Mo (who is sitting right behind me) just said -- "Shouldn't someone tell them they're the 7 seed?"

Christiansen hits 2 FT's to cut it to 32-29.

UNH leads 14-8 early

Hartford's got a nice crowd out there, and the band, and a dance team, and full cheer team.

UNH has, like, Bill Herrion's wife.

Heck, UNH barely has a team, much less a crowd. They've only got nine guys in uniform, whereas I counted 13 for Hartford.

I must admit I haven't followed these two teams as well as I could've/should've, so if my analysis doesn't seem especially gripping ... sorry. I'm trying to get geared up for Boston/Albany later tonight, despite being completely sapped from another killer Bearcat loss.

And by the way, hate to say I told you so. There's just no stopping a guy like Blakely, as Broadus repeatedly stated in the postgame. I've got a lot more feelings on the Bing game coming in a little bit.

But for now, I'm going to leave the lappy in here, in the media room, as the whole charging thing seems to be working this time (maybe the outlet I used during the Bing/Hart break didn't work or something.)

Back again at the 4:00 mark.

BU Dance Team

I don't know what I think about the Boston U. dance team's outfits. If you haven't seen them ... they wear these little jersey-type things, each with a number of a certain player.

On the one hand, that shows a certain level of team spirit. On another level, when a fan's looking at your school's most attractive collection of girls, I don't think they really want to think about Ibrahim Konate.


I think my favorite has to be the Carlos Strong dancer - Kaitlyn Busconi. Apparently she owns six donkeys:

16-10 Albany. Boston still has that knack of hitting unhittable threes though.

Cuts from Bing postgame

Lonergan:

"I wasn't looking forward to playing Binghamton. ... It's hard for me to be happy when you play your friends (Broadus)." ...

"You know, you play a team three times, you get scouted ... I told Mike at halftime -- you gotta guard. If you play real defense, we can still win the game. ... It was scary (the deficit), I'm not going to lie to you. ... We made plays today. ... (In the first half,) some of our guys settled for jump shots -- not open jump shots. ... (About the EC,) some day we're going to get a building like this. They do a really good job here (with the tournament) ... it's a beautiful place. ... I was glad they wanted to keep their bench (in front of the BU Zoo); they would've been right on top of us. ... (About owning Bing at home); hey, we lost the championship at home. That's the way the game is played. ... We really came here focused on Binghamton. I didn't even watch the (first) game (today). ... When they started that big lineup, I was like -- I wonder what he's up to? ... We love Binghamton's fans. We hope they come back and cheer for us tomorrow. (Smile.)"

Cieplicki:

"The biggest thing in this game, for us, was containing Laz. ... Marqus took a big charge at the end. ... (About his three) I was just happy to finally make one; I was trailing the play, and Mike (Trimboli) saw me out of the corner of his eye ... and it went in. ... (At halftime), when two of our best shooters (Ciep/Trim) are 1-for-10 and we can still be in the game, we feel like we have a chance to win. ... The crowd's great; it's something you really enjoy."

Blakely:

"We got them a little rattled ..."

Trimboli:

"You can't really be hesitant (playing with four fouls) ... (After the game talking to Mike Gordon,) I just wanted to let him know that he played his heart out."

My battery's running low -- I'll get Binghamton cuts in a little bit.

In more important news -- Christine's here! :)

Cieplicki

I hate you. I hate you.
I hate you.
I hate you. I hate you.
I hate you.
I hate you. I hate you.
I hate you.
I hate you. I hate you. I hate you. I hate you. I hate you.

Matt Ryan

Binghamton Mayor Matthew T. Ryan is in the first row behind me.

47-45 ... yikes.
We're approaching the aforementioned Minja/Chad Henry/Devon McBride lineup ... 4 on Jaan, 4 on Reggie ... Laz just came out with a calf cramp, forcing Fuller back in and he immediately picked up that fourth.

Trimboli also has 4.

Damn, our dance team is hot.

Three on MG

There's three on Mike. Another ticky-tack call.

Bearcats need to continue denying the second chances and hope that the rim continues to hate Vermont.

Milos

Anyone miss him?

Lappy's low

Laptop is running dangerously low, due to a lack of a power strip out here at the court. (12 minutes remaining ... not good.)

I'm going to leave my laptop in the media room until the 12 minute mark of this game, and I'll be back with some mid-first-half thoughts, as well as those Binghamton postgame cuts I promised you.

Check back around 6:30.

Halftime thoughts

Horrible job by Dwayne Jackson on the last play of the half. Maybe if the kid could learn how to rebound, he'd make it into the starting lineup.

The Bearcats are doing a good job with Blakely. Not great. As he showed on the second-to-last possession of the half, it looks like he can just go inside, take a dribble and a dropstep and score at will.

Our kickline is top of the line. The Zoo's energy has been up, and Mike Gordon really, really, really doesn't want to go down today. You could see how frustrated he was after that second ticky-tack foul -- and oh lord, I'm sure I'm not the only one who was super scared that the third foul was coming when he came back into the game with about 10 minutes left and got a block called at the top of the key. Risky, risky ...

The key to this game to this point has been Vermont's poor three-point shooting -- just 1-for-9. Kyle Cieplicki had an early shot go in-and-out that probably would've really changed the tone of the entire half.

The Bearcats have been throwing the backdoor pass pretty well, but they've got to realize Gio cannot catch that ball, and neither can Jaan. If you want to throw it in DJ, Reggie or Mike Gordon, fine. But there's no way #33 or #50 is going to handle that pass and get it up and in -- just no way.

I almost liked the Bearcats' chances better with the Zoo at their backs on defense. They seemed to feed off of that energy and UVM, especially Blakely -- especially when he tossed up an airball on a free throw -- seemed just a little bit shook. This is not the UVM team of 2005 or 2006.

BU Zoo starts a "fat and ugly" chant for the UVM Dance team -- perhaps the best-looking dance team of the day. Maybe they'll be at Sports Bar again tonight, as they were in '06 when they toppled Boston in the quarters ...

I think the early start really helped BU. I know that sounds simplistic and stupid, but the Albany loss really sunk in in the first few minutes, when the crowd was completely out of it.

This is going to be one hell of a second half.

UVM Dancers

I know the Zoo is turning around to make a point, but they're missing out. The UVM dance team is 10 times hotter than they were 2 years ago.

I think Blakely is sorta shook.

Steps

Both of the travels on Laz were bad calls.

This is the loudest I've ever heard the EC for a basketball game.

Mo just played The Horse -- you're the man, Mo.

Blogger sucks. I'll be looking for a new host after today. This is really embarrassing for such a big blog site.

Airball

Does anyone else remember Taylor Coppenrath tossing up an airball late in UVM's 2005 win?

Eerily similar, except ... on the opposite side of the court ... and we're not losing by like 30 ...

Yet.

If we keep picking up fouls at this pace, we'll be playing Chad Henry and Minja Kovacevic in the second half.

Again, the 2nd foul on Gordon was BS --- everything else seems legit.

Fouls

All the Bing fouls -- with the exception of the foul moments ago on Mike Gordon -- have been legit.

Now is Richie Forbes' time to shine.

Giovanni Olomo CANNOT stop Marqus Blakely.

Blogger still sucks apparently.

Only Bing fans would boo the opposing team's cheerleaders off of the court.

Intros

Sure is weird to hear Bing introduced first ... at least we got to keep the home bench.

Jaan and Reggie starting? Huh?

The Zoo isn't quite *as* full as I was hoping -- but they are just about as loud as I've ever heard.

I may not post as frequently during this game as I will for the rest because I will be watching more intently. Check back during timeouts and halftime.

LET'S GO BEARCATS.

Last-second thoughts

Just a few minutes until tip of the big game of the day (at least for me).

I feel like a lot of people disagree with me that Bing doesn't really stand much chance in this game. I'm really not trying to seem overly cynical (although many of you criticize me for doing so for my whole time here), but it's going to be very, very difficult for Bing to overcome Blakely.

Laz wasn't even warming up in the layup lines; he was doing the Gio Olomo-stretch-under-the-basket calisthenics. That was not a good sign.

The Zoo has been equipped with a whole bunch of green-and-white balloons, several cool flags and a bunch of awesome signs.

And Dave Simek just cued the intro of 'Stronger' for the third time since the end of the SBU game; good thing it's basically my favorite song these days.

L.J. Spaet's in the house!

Food selection

Must say, the media food is much more disappointing than last time around at the EC.

ZOMG A blog?

Blogger's been down all freakin day. Ugh.

Here's what I've got so far. Who knows if this will even show up.

I'm sorry guys; not my fault.

- - - - -


It's 12:24 p.m. at the Events Center in Vestal, and after all the hoops we had to jump through to get courtside for today's games, of all things, Blogger refuses to work. It's like BU put a nix on it or something.
It's also comforting to know that when you log in to the wireless down here, you don't need to pass all the normal network requirements to get online. I originally tried to log in with my school username/password (it's not expired yet) and was told I didn't meet all the network requirements; when I plugged in the America East username/password, it was like – ok, sure! Go right ahead!
... Yes, there is a basketball game going on. It's UMBC 27, Stony Brook 18 at the moment ... even though by the time I get through to Bearcat Country, this game may well be over. Through 9 ½ minutes, UMBC was 5-for-8 from three, most of them from way behind the arc.
The Retrievers are way up, but I'm not ready to bury SBU quite yet.
- - - - -
12:32 p.m. - The Retriever band breaks out 'Spiderman.' It's now 34-23 UMBC, as it appears they cannot miss a three (except for the one Jay Greene just missed right in front of me, that resulted in a quiet expletive probably only I could hear.)
- - - - -
12:50 p.m. The problem is with Blogger, not with my computer ... holy *$#()% be right back, the UMBC dance team is on.
12:51 p.m. I'm okay. I made it. Apparently, the UMBC dance team doesn't like shirts. Anyway.
According to Brian Moritz, he can't get on to Blogger either, which doesn't bode well for either one of us. I swear, eventually this will get online, and you will be entertained, damnit!
It's 44-29 at halftime. And it's over.
Apparently, UMBC brought a “featured twirler” named Stacy – and she's not bad. (At twirling.)
- - - - -
12:56 p.m. Apparently, there's 20 girls http://goseawolves.cstv.com/trads/ston-trads-dance.html on the SBU dance team; but only seven here today. Last night, there were six, and for one dance, one of the girls had to sit out. Maybe she was suspended, or injured, or something – we were theorizing about it last night.
The UMBC cheer team is more like a traditional high school cheer team, leading fans with vocals instead of piped-in music.
- - - - -
1:00 p.m. I'm not sure why Emanuel Neto took off his knee brace and waved it to the crowd in introductions when he's got it on his leg now.
- - - - -
1:02 p.m. In case you're wondering – and this ever gets online – the live feed on bubearcats.com is 19 seconds behind real life.
- - - - -
1:06 p.m. I'm going to stop writing p.m. It's the middle of the afternoon.
SBU dance team rocking out to ... Billy Joel?
I don't think Stony Brook has the chutzpah to work its way back into this game, even though UMBC isn't playing like a truly dominant team.
- - - - -
1:12. 53-35 after a Cavell Johnson jumper ... it's over.
Like, really over.
- - - - -
1:23. Looks like Blogger might be back in action soon, maybe. 58-42 UMBC but I still wouldn't say the door's been slammed.
- - - - -
1:25. If you're going to foul, foul! No easy buckets, guys! Three straight and-1's for the Retrievers. Not a good winning formula for the lovable losers from Long Island.
- - - - -
1:27. They call them media timeouts, but don't blame me for stopping a 19-point game with 7:34 left – must be the TV guys or something. Radio, perhaps.
Bloggers can go all day long.
Unless, of course, their )($*%'in Web site goes down.
- - - - -
1:33. I've officially wasted 48% of my laptop's battery refreshing Blogger.
- - - - -
1:40. Julius Allen and Mark Macon had been sitting next to me for most of the second half.
Macon smells surprisingly good.
70-52 UMBC at the moment, 2:03 left.
- - - - -
1:47. 76-58, 22 seconds left. BU Zoo starting to file in.
- - - - -
1:48. It's a final, 76-60.
- - - - -
1:49. Neto walks off, again holding up the knee brace to the “crowd” (band). What is he trying to prove?
- - - - -

Updated Prediction

Embarrassment.

UMBC 89, SBU 70.

3.07.2008

Breaking News: We're in Business! / Stony Brook 73, Maine 65

Before I break down the game tonight - I got some great news when I got to campus tonight: my America East media credential was indeed granted, and so tomorrow, all day long, I will be at the media table blogging live from all four games. I will be updating every few minutes, if not more often, so if you can't make it to Vestal tomorrow, stick with Bearcat Country all day long for constant updates, live from the tournament.

A quick thank you to Sean Tainsh for coming through for me. It really does mean a lot.

Anyway.

... Just got back from the Events Center, where Stony Brook gutted out an ugly victory over Maine in overtime, 73-65. (I, too, am now officially 0-1 in my tournament picks.)

A few people asked me why I wanted to go tonight. Watching the 8/9 game is sort of like watching Timmy vs. Jimmy on South Park ... it's ugly, but for some reason ... you just can't turn away:


Regulation was basically the Mark Socoby show. The kid was raiiiining deep threes, with a back-to-back pair that I thought had buried SBU. But who came through for SBU in the clutch?

Eddie Castellanos? M'eh. Ricky Lucas? M'eh.

Nick Carter? Of my hometown, Huntington Station? Hells yes!

Carter's huge three -- I think -- put SBU up one (it either put them up or pulled them even for the first time) with just a couple minutes left.

It looked as if SBU had the game won in regulation, 57-54, until Socoby banked in a prayer with four seconds left. At that moment, for a split second, you might've thought Maine would sink the Seawolves in OT.

But other than the miracle three, almost all of the second half was going SBU's way.

Not that Emanuel Neto was any help. He flopped several times and screamed at the refs on a couple of occasions; he was lucky to not get T'ed up after one particularly scary yelp at a zebra.

I must say, though, that Stony Brook's band loves Neto. They started several 'Ne-to' chants and really seemed to embrace his energy ... I guess that's a sort of positive way to put it.

No sign of Troy Barnies tonight. I think he must be injured or something. Oh well, there's always next year.

The karma just seemed to be with the Seawolves tonight, like I said. Maine brought a couple dozen fans, if that, while SBU brought its very talented band (Shakira - Objection [Tango] ... wow!), as well as a six-girl dance team that we sat right behind. (I sat with some dude whose brother is in the SBU band; didn't catch his name. Nice kid.)

Randy Monroe was seated at the far end of the media table, basically the same spot he sat in two years ago. Mike Lonergan was in the far stands, while Lawrence Brenneman spent part of the first half behind the Bearcats' bench.

In terms of other bloggers, Sam Perkins made an appearance just before halftime. No sign of Jesus or a Hot Dog.

- - - - -

Remember to follow along with all of tomorrow's action live with me, starting around 11:45 a.m., at http://bearcatcountry.blogspot.com. If you're following action live online and you have a question about the game, leave a comment and I'll get back to you immediately. Or, if there's something you're dying to ask a head coach after the game, let me know and I'll see what I can do for you in the postgame.

Again, I'm really happy that the AE is welcoming a blogger into its media sphere. This blog is proof that anyone with internet access and a passion for a team can break into the business.

Guest Commentary

Here it is, courtesy of ... me.

Guest Commentary: Bearcats can shed punk label with victory
The Vermont Catamounts are a bunch of punks.

Two years ago, nearly to the day, Kyle Cieplicki and company came to Binghamton as the sixth seed and knocked the second-seeded Bearcats out of our own America East tournament.

And three years ago, nearly to the day, Kyle Cieplicki and company came to Binghamton as the top seed and knocked the fourth-seeded Bearcats out of our own America East tournament.

Punks, they are. I can’t stand ‘em.

But I’m not trying to make a character judgment about Mr. Cieplicki, or any other Catamount. I call these guys punks — because they beat us. And they beat us all the time.

These days, the Catamounts aren’t the only group of punks patrolling the America East. One other team is quickly making its case: Binghamton.

But here’s the thing: Binghamton is earning its reputation differently.

It’s not the BU Zoo. Our rowdy student section earned its sour reputation years ago, with vulgar chants and inappropriate gestures.

(But if this is the first time you’ve picked up a Pipe Dream since your last road trip to Vestal, know this: the Zoo has been — surprisingly — much more well-behaved.)

Nope; this year, the bad rep is coming not from us, but from a more unlikely source: our head coach, Kevin Broadus.

Some bloggers have referred to it as “post-game comment-gate:” After Binghamton won at Albany in January, UA head coach Will Brown declared himself an “Al Walker guy,” musing that Binghamton’s ex-head coach “left the cupboard full” — an obvious shot at Broadus and his staff. Brown also took a pot shot at Reggie Fuller, making a convoluted he’s-no-Dikembe-Mutombo comparison.

Wrong? Yes. A couple steps too far? Sure. But as the media firestorm set in, Brown says he extended the olive branch later that week, calling Broadus to offer an apology. Broadus didn’t answer. According to the Press & Sun-Bulletin, Broadus was waiting to speak to Brown “face-to-face.” And after Albany came to Binghamton and obliterated Broadus’ squad on Senior Night, the two coaches had that opportunity.

The facts here are still fuzzy, (as was the Time Warner Cable video — YouTube it if you want), but by several accounts, in the post-game handshake line — after giving Brown a half-hearted “handshake” (think: Down low — too slow!), Broadus proceeded to shove UA assistant coach Chad O’Donnell.

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m one of the biggest homers I know. (See the wiry kid in the Zoo, with his chest painted green?) I love the Bearcats.

But that, readers, is a punk move, straight up.

KB was subsequently suspended for BU’s final regular-season game, against Stony Brook.

(In retrospect, it’s a good thing we played the one team you don’t even need a head coach — or your injured best player — to beat … but I digress.)

The BU athletics department issued the following “apology” from Broadus last week:

“I regret my participation in any actions which might have brought negative attention to our team and to Binghamton University.”

Ex-head coach Walker did a lot of things wrong, culminating in his termination last March. (Just for the record, in Al’s defense, we would have beaten UVM in 2006 if Sebastian Hermenier could walk, and no Catamounts fan will ever convince me otherwise.)

It was obvious the men’s basketball program needed a new direction this season, and nearly everyone seemed overjoyed by the signing of a Georgetown assistant fresh out of the Final Four.

Say what you will, but, Walker never laid his hands on another coach. Walker never served a department-imposed suspension, especially in the last game before your team — nay, your community — hosts the conference’s biggest event of the year. Between Al’s antics, the Zoo’s frequent misbehavior and Binghamton’s constant assertions that we have all this supposed “talent” every year — despite our always mediocre record — most America East fans already were not enamored with good old SUNY-B.

Landing a new coach gave us a fresh chance to erase that bad reputation.

And in less than a year, Broadus has already managed to not only restore it, but enhance it.

Not that that’s necessarily a bad thing. Vermont surely embraces being punks.

More recently, Albany is becoming the new punks — with back-to-back America East titles … punks.

The difference is, Vermont and Albany earn their punk reputation by winning. Kevin Broadus earns us a punk reputation by pushing a coach in a handshake line.

This weekend, Broadus and his Bearcats have an opportunity to legitimize that rep. They’ll tip with rival UVM at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, and if they somehow survive the Catamounts, they’ll face top-seeded UMBC (barring a Maine miracle) on Sunday.

Back-to-back wins, and the America East will have to embrace us as its punks.

But if we lose — I can only hope our community is not again embarrassed by another thuggish handshake-line shove.

UMBC vs. Maine/SBU 12 p.m.; Hartford vs. UNH, 6 p.m.; Albany vs. Boston, 8:30 p.m.

Upsets aren't unheard of in the America East tournament. In fact, No. 1 seeds aren't completely untouchable, as Stony Brook, of all teams, actually pulled off a shocking first-round upset of Boston University in 2004.

That will not happen Saturday. UMBC is really, really good. Stony Brook and Maine are very, very bad. Of course, nothing is impossible, but UMBC has five very, very solid players. It would take a disaster for the Retrievers to stage such a monumental collapse, especially if it's somehow the Seawolves they'll take on. Not to mention the fact that the 8/9 team will be playing its second game in about 16 hours; the "transfer trio" is not the group of guys they'll want to see.

A PIG win for either Maine might be enough to keep Ted Woodward around. Maybe the Black Bears will realize that.

And boy, is Stony Brook terrible.

I'll be in the stands heckling Troy Barnies. But Maine will win the game.

Maine 71, Stony Brook 64 ... UMBC 87, Maine 67.

- - - - -

My feelings about Hartford are well-documented. I wish we were playing them because even though they've shown a surprising amount of resilience to stay near the top of the standings all season long, I still believe they show some weaknesses -- specifically, from what I've seen, some interesting shot selection. I don't think their style of play suits the tough-nosed nature of the postseason, and UNH is not the type of team they appear to match up well with. The home team won each game this season by at least 15 points, but this is not Connecticut, it's Vestal. Despite their win here this season, the Hawks are not historically a great team at the EC, and they don't have their unquestioned leader from last season, Bo Taylor.

I also have a thing against picking all chalk on Saturday. Hartford loses, and I don't get to see a smiling Christine, the adorable Hartford cheerleader I blogged about last year.



(Middle -- ain't she adorable?)

UNH 68, Hartford 64.

- - - - -

UA vs. Boston should be, in my estimation, the best game of the day. The teams just squared off last week, and although Boston faded down the stretch, a lot of people are raving about Boston as a popular upset pick.

I disagree. UA is the defending champs and they won't go down easy. As much as I hate Brian Lillis, he's been great this year, and good players win big games.

Boston has had its own set of troubles in the postseason. Basically, they're bad. Dennis Wolff is a bad postseason coach. They made a run to the finals in 2003, only to lose by a point to Taylor Coppenrath and co. in Boston. Since then, they were:

--Upset as the 1 seed by SBU in 2004
--Upset as the 3 seed by Maine (!) in 2005
--Upset as the 3 seed by Vermont in 2006
--Handed a victory by the departing coach Walker in 2007, followed by a spanking, in Boston, by Albany.

Wolffie's a fixture in Boston, and he ain't going anywhere. But with another first-round departure on Saturday, there will be some calling for his head in Beantown.


You suck, Will Brown. But ...

Albany 78, Boston 71.

- - - - -

I'm sort of bummed about not being able to write anything for either Pipe Dream or the Press & Sun this weekend. I'll have a guest column on the Web for PD, and of course I've got Bearcat Country, but in 11 years, through junior high school, The Dispatch in high school, PD in college and now the Press & Sun-Bulletin, I've never had as much fun as I had sitting at the 2005 tournament in Vestal. That could all be wiped out with a pair of Bing victories this weekend, (and I will say this: I think if we somehow -- somehow -- make it through this weekend, we'll win next weekend) ... but with that being incredibly unlikely, I'm pretty disappointed.

(I do have to give a quick thanks to Eric Coker, Adrienne Wise and Chris Feaver for allowing me to take off from work this weekend, and Eric, as well as Al Vieira, for permitting me to write the column that will appear on Pipe Dream's Web site.)

Vermont at Binghamton, Saturday, 2:30 p.m.

I know that I'm not the only person in Binghamton who doesn't want to see UVM in the playoffs.

2005 and 2006 were both vastly different stories, but both ended the same way: with the Catamounts wiping the floor with us.

The former of those two contests was over, really, before it started, as Binghamton was the first step in UVM's journey to toppling Syracuse in the NCAA tournament. In fact, nobody in the America East really had a shot to bring down those damn Catamounts, a dynasty that featured, probably, the two best players of the past four years in the conference, in Taylor Coppenrath and T.J. Sorrentine. The Bearcats were actually praised for their valiant effort in the loss, even with the pressure beginning on Al Walker to mount a real run deep into the tournament. Everyone in the league knew there was no stopping coach Tom Brennan and his twilight run, and so you can't really blame the Bearcats for the '05 loss.

The following year was quite different. In the playoffs, there should never really be blame pointed toward the refs, but that game was one where the following picture of me appeared on the front page of the Press & Sun-Bulletin, the local newspaper:

I can't really describe the game any better than the face I'm making in that picture. We were already without the man I considered the league MVP that year, Sebastian Hermenier, who was hobbling around on crutches for months after the game.

But there was one call in particular that really, I think, killed us. In fact, it was a non-call:
GOOD! FT SHOT by Heard  03:20  52-58  V 6
GOOD! FT SHOT by Heard 03:20 53-58 V 5
03:14 TURNOVR by Duell, Josh
MISSED 3 PTR by Milne 02:40
REBOUND (OFF) by (TEAM) 02:40
MISSED 3 PTR by Heard 02:25
02:25 REBOUND (DEF) by Trimboli, Mike
FOUL by Heard, Andre 02:01
I wish I had a video of it. The so-called "rebound" by Mike Trimboli was a ball he caught, probably, four or five feet from the basket, stage left, after a UVM defender literally landed on top of Andre Heard. And I'm not typically one to whine about the refs -- read this blog end-to-end if you need proof -- but that was the most memorable missed call in Bearcats history. Heard was a terrific free-throw shooter, and three free throws there would've cut the Vermont lead to just 2. From that point forward, with under two minutes left -- especially when Heard fouled out -- the game was essentially over:

                           02:01              MISSED FT SHOT by Klimes, Martin
02:01 REBOUND (OFF) by (DEADBALL)
02:01 MISSED FT SHOT by Klimes, Martin
REBOUND (DEF) by Milne, 02:01
FOUL by Heard, Andre 01:48
TURNOVR by Heard, Andre 01:48
FOUL by Hailey, Troy 01:35
01:35 53-59 V 6 GOOD! FT SHOT by Trimboli, Mike
01:35 53-60 V 7 GOOD! FT SHOT by Trimboli, Mike
The 2006 UVM team was nowhere near as good as the 2005 team. That was a game we certainly could've won, and another game I could point to as a potential job-saver for Mr. Al Walker.

Last year, of course, we crapped the bed, losing to a bad Boston U. team in front of the weakest "home-court advantage" possible, in Boston. I don't even want to talk about it.

This year, though, things are again vastly different, as much as they are the same. The Bearcats again feature a split personality: either really good, or really bad. UVM has the early pick for Player of the Year, not to mention a tried-and-true Bearcat slayer at point guard.

Say what you will about Mike Gordon -- read tomorrow's Press & Sun-Bulletin for a genuine hometown-hero slobber piece -- but he has not been the same magician he was last year. That may be because teams focus so much on him, but I beg to differ because most teams' gameplans have centered on stopping Laz in the middle.

Mike's been much more reluctant to shoot all year long, save for one record-setting, Jekkyl-and-Hyde performance at Albany. It's almost certainly because Broadus encouraged him to set the table more, move the ball around and milk the shot clock (when the fast break doesn't work), but whatever it is, he's just not the same player he was in '06-'07.

Instead, Laz has broken out to become the Bearcats' best player. And it's time to face the facts: our best player is less than 100% going into Saturday. Broadus said earlier in the week that Laz is 50/50 to play, and although that's obviously a lie, it doesn't bode well that he missed two of the last three games with an injury.

The top few teams each year have that one marquee player, that one guy that you can point to to and lean on in crunch time. The best teams, the champions, have two.

Our top guy is injured. Our other top guy is a shadow of his former self. And we're facing the conference player of the year and a bona fide star point guard with a reputation of destroying us -- in the playoffs -- at the Events Center.

Oh yeah, and if we win? We play the undisputed top team in the conference, with five prospective All-Conference players.

I can't even give us the karma edge here. Kevin Broadus brought a lot of hype and promise to Vestal, but he's also bringing a punk reputation, with two guys kicked off the team mid-season (!!) and a one-game suspension of his own for shoving someone in a handshake line. He's the coach of the immediate future, but the administration won't be upset, considering this is still mostly Al Walker's team, with a first-round loss, as long as it's relatively respectable.

The Events Center still boasts its annual attendance record, but the Bearcats did not really embrace that advantage this year. I simply have to predict a failure -- albeit a respectable one -- for Broadus and his boys.

There's always next year.

Vermont 67, Binghamton 60.

3.06.2008

Odds & ends

Look for that aforementioned Pipe Dream column as a web exclusive, as I've been cut from the print edition. Great success!

- - - - -

I'm putting up some new polls about the weekend.

Mike Gordon sighting

Ran into Mike Gordon tonight at the Events Center, before the women's game -- always good to see Mikey.

Mike Gordon: "Chris Strub, how you doin' man?"
Chris Strub: "What's up Mikey?"
Mike Gordon: "Not much man, not much."
Me: "You excited for this weekend?"
Mike Gordon: "Yeah, man. Just gotta beat my (boy) one time."
Me: "How's Laz doin'?"
Mike Gordon: "He'll be alright. He'll be aight."

(Can't say I'm not excited about my first exclusive interview of the year ... Thanks again, Sean Tainsh.)

Farewell, Milos

Quote of the night goes to Mark Macyk:

"There's no I in team, but there are several I's in Milos Klimovic."

3.05.2008

Apologies

If you've ever played the game Rock Band, you'll understand why even though this is the most important week of the year for the Bearcats, I haven't been able to put down the guitar since Sunday night, when I discovered that my apartment-mate had bought a copy of the greatest Xbox 360 game ever made. (Yes, I'm blaming my posting impotence on a video game.)

I also have to blame my lack of motivation on how upset I am at the draw. No joke, we're royally screwed this weekend, and if somehow we made it through, we're still screwed. (I guess I'd also put at least a little bit of blame on work-related stress and Sean Tainsch, the AE communications guy, who is no doubt ignoring my ill-fated credential request for this weekend ... considering I started this blog several months ago with the intention of getting a credential and blogging through the tournament and now it's not going to happen ... but anyway ...)

Vermont is built for the playoffs, if only on the backs of their two stars. Mike Trimboli's late-game struggles this season worry some UVM fans, but like Andy Pettitte, or Robert Horry, or Peter Forsberg, or (insert your favorite post-season specialist here), he's been a star in the playoffs, especially against the Bearcats. You can make a great case for Blakely as player of the year, and there's really noone on Binghamton who can match up with this developing big man.

Vermont knows how to win in the playoffs, and it's obvious that Binghamton does not. Be it skill or karma, or a mixture of both, the Bearcats' quarterfinal loss to Boston -- a team that sucks in the postseason -- was, well ... I mean, it was enough to get Al axed. (Say what you will, but in retrospect, if they get through BU, I think they win the Albany game and probably save Al's job.)

I said all along we'd be alright in the playoffs as long as we avoided UVM. And now, we're playing UVM. In the afternoon session, which I project is likely to attract less students. And when Bing loses, the night session will resemble a women's game, crowd-wise. Don't even think about 2,500 folks for Sunday without the Bearcats around. Basically, from a Vestal, N.Y. standpoint, the whole tournament is screwed.

Don't get me wrong, I'm sure the staff will do a great job hosting. John Hartrick, Dave O'Brian and company do a terrific job coordinating interviews and everything, and I'm sure on their third try, the tournament will be the best yet. (But please give me a media pass!)

But. Friday will be a bomb, as usual. The first session on Saturday will likely sell out, although the crowd would be bigger if Albany -- which I expect to bring the biggest contingent of traveling fans, aside from UVM -- were in that session as well. But Saturday night, when the Bearcats are long gone, when Moritz is trying to hammer out a positive spin for Sunday's cover, the crowd will be dead. Sunday will be dead.

And the Bearcats will have, once again, failed to get out of the first round; an obvious disappointment, even for a first-year coach just getting his feet wet in the Southern Tier.

- - - - -

In other news, and I'll write more about this soon (no, I actually will this time), I fully expect UMBC to get through and host next weekend. I also expect Albany to take care of Boston, and I'm going to take UNH to upset Hartford as my only upset pick. Of course, Maine will beat Stony Brook, but that's not an upset because SBU doesn't really count as a team, in my eyes. So in short, here's the picks:

Maine d. SBU
UMBC d. Maine
UVM d. Bing
UNH d. Hartford (Christine will not be happy to read that)
Albany d. Boston
UMBC d. UVM
Albany d. UNH
UMBC d. Albany

I'll come up with scores next time.

- - - - -

Might have some news about my prospective PSB blog later in the week; also, I'm probably going to write a guest column for PD's Friday issue, assuming Eric (my supervisor) OK's it. (He might actually be reading this blog before he checks his e-mail; in that case -- hey Eric, is it ok if I write a guest column for Friday's Pipe Dream? Thanks, Skippy.)

- - - - -

If any AE fans coming from out of town want to come hang out and do something on Friday night after the PIG, leave a comment or something. There's not a ton of stuff to do in Vestal, but I live around the corner from the bar scene and took two nights off from work ... leave a comment and I'll get you my number or something.

3.02.2008

Worst possible situation

I don't think I could imagine a worse situation: Binghamton, seeded fifth, will play Vermont in the quarters, and the winner of that game will face the winner of UMBC vs. ... well, ok, they'll play UMBC. Tack on the fact that unless Hartford loses to UNH AND Boston beats Albany, there's zero chance Binghamton could host the final ... well, there's no worse situation for a Binghamton fan than everything that happened today.

Plus -- and this isn't official yet -- I'm pretttty sure we're in the 2:30 p.m. game.

Sorry, Bearcat fans ... there's always next year.

Binghamton 49, @SBU 44

To be honest, I don't have much to say about today's "win" at Stony Brook. Coming off an embarrassing full-scale beat-down on Senior Night, and with honestly very little to play for, Binghamton put on one of its worst performances in recent history. They played without two starters, without their suspended head coach, and still laid the smackdown on a completely miserable Stony Brook team.

A couple years ago, Northeastern left the America East for the CAA, dropping the league from 10 teams to 9. One can only hope that Stony Brook will soon leave the America East for Division II, because they're genuinely an embarrassment in every way to what some consider an up-and-coming conference. SBU makes me ashamed to say I'm from Suffolk County.

Richie Forbes played alright, nothing to call home about. Jaan Montgomery got the start for the injured Laz Trifunovic, while Chretien Lukusa also missed this game (huh?) with an injury.

Congrats are in order for Mike Gordon, who reached a pair of milestones today: 1,000 points and 400 assists. For the record, I'm glad he hit that last "pointless" free throw, because the last thing our senior leader needs is meaningless questions about needing 1 point for 1,000 going into the tournament.

I've got all kinds of thoughts about the upcoming tournament, of course, but it doesn't make much sense to speculate tonight, with three games tomorrow that will determine the soft, chewy middle of the seedings. Suffice it to say that I have no clue how the seeding will work out, because of all the complicated tiebreakers, but if I had to choose, I'd most like to play Hartford, followed by Albany, Boston and a distant last, Vermont. I'll put up much more on this tomorrow when the games are set.

BTW, I will certainly be at the 8/9 game on Friday night, and am looking for people to tag along. Let me know if you want to be a part of the "Zoo" for the first session.

I will be posting a full guide of who the Zoo should be rooting for later in the week, complete with an idiot's guide to who we can heckle at each and every game.

- - - - -

A few quick hits, because I'm watching Sportscenter:
*I can't believe Texas lost.
*I can't believe that kid from Seton Hall hit a 3/4-court shot to tie it, only for it to be negated because there was a timeout called.
*My friend Kyle Kowalski has called it all season: Sometimes Paul Harris is awesome, and sometimes he sucks.
*Congrats to Cornell (and subsequently my co-worker Chris Feaver, a big CU fan) on their perfect Ivy League season.
*Did anyone else notice that Michael Beasley still had 39 points tonight? The kid's going to be a great NBA player in about 5-6 years.

2.29.2008

Breaking: Broadus suspended by BU

... and he deserves it.

The following is from the Press & Sun-Bulletin:

Broadus suspended by BU for one game

Binghamton University men's basketball coach Kevin Broadus has been suspended for one game by the school for his role in a post-game altercation with a University at Albany assistant coach on Wednesday.

Broadus will miss the Bearcats' game against Stony Brook University on Saturday. He will also be issued a formal reprimand by the school for shoving University at Albany assistant coach Chad O'Donnell following the Great Danes' 74-62 victory over BU at the Events Center.

Assistant coach Lawrence Brenneman will act as the Bearcats head coach in Saturday's game. Broadus will be traveling with the team but will not be on the floor for the game.

Honestly, if it's true that he shoved one of Albany's assistants -- which, by many accounts, is true -- he obviously deserves to be suspended. Let's just rejoice that it's against a Long Island high school JV team.

(And on a related note: How do the majority of the voters so far think that Bing will actually LOSE to SBU? I almost didn't even include that option!)

SBU sucks.


If we can't beat the good SUNY school ... at least we can beat the bad one. You suck, Emanuel Neto.

The outcome of Saturday's game is pretty much inconsequential. I'm actually sort of hoping for the six seed, because if we're the 6 and Albany's the 3, I'll at least appreciate having another shot. If we're the 6 and Vermont's the 3, at least we'll lose to a good team. If we're the 6 and Hartford's the 3, I like our chances. And if we're the 6 and Boston University's the 3, we'll be playing on Sunday.

What's so great about the 6? At this point, post-crapping-the-bed against Albany last night, the 6 is as good as the 3 because 1) you can make the argument that Hartford/Boston/Vermont/Albany/Binghamton could all beat each other on any given night, and 1a) The 6 would give us a chance to play the victorious 2 seed (or UNH) on Sunday afternoon with an "upset" victory over one of the aforementioned four. The winner of the 4/5 game will at least put up a good effort against UMBC in the semis at the Events Center, and if the Bearcats are in the other game in the Sunday afternoon, UMBC's opponent will have a built-in home-court advantage if it matters to Bing, and I wouldn't consider them a shoo-in to the finals.

The Bearcats as a 4 or 5 would mean a semifinal showdown with UMBC -- at the EC. However, it would guarantee, IF they made it that far, a road game for the title. I know I'm building in a heavy homer bias, but again ... this is Bearcat Country.

You suck, Emanuel Neto.

But even if the Bearcats slipped up against SBU, guaranteeing Bing the 6 seed ... I'd have to rescind my previous statement that the Bearcats are guaranteed a quarterfinal loss in the tournament. (Although I'll still hitchhike home when Maine beats SBU next Friday night.)

2.28.2008

Fans at least in part to blame

After some time to think it over, I'm clearly disappointed in tonight's craptacular performance by every single Bearcat. Kevin Broadus, if you're reading this, you should be taking responsibility for letting your guys get out of control and get overly emotional for a game that I should have predicted would've gotten out of control. I should've guessed that the Bearcats would crap the bed tonight, especially with a pathetic BU Zoo that was 80% filled with students who had never bothered to come to a game before, and subsequently got down on Bing when we went down 8-4 and never bothered to cheer again.

In fact, I largely blame the Bearcat team and the crowd for tonight's loss. We were soft, much as our players were soft. Mark Macyk sent me a text message halfway through the first half indicating that he could hear the Albany fans more than the BU fans, which is utterly embarrassing, and I don't use that lightly, to a program that brags about its consistent ability to draw the biggest crowds in the conference. When you sit on your hands and leave with 12 minutes to go in the 2nd half, that doesn't really count as being a 'fan.'

2.27.2008

Courtesy of Ben Masur

More coming on this later.

benmasur08 (10:24:34 PM): will brown down played it: "oh nothing, just two coaches competeting against each other. theres nothing more to say or get excited over...i wasnt paying attention. i was anxious to get back to the locker room...it's not about will brown and not about kevin broadus not aout anyone else, its about the kids wearing the uniform."

Broadus: "I said please dont talk about my players and my program in the media to you guys and thats all that was said. In this profession, everyone has to undertand as coaches sometimes you have to hold back your anger and bite your tongue, but i just dont want guys to take shots at my program and saying that this that and the other stat or a guy is not this. i just wanted to make sure he understand that ya know im gonna protect my guys and that was it at the end. He [Assistant coach on Albany O'Donnell] got up in my face and he said back up and i was like no no no dont touch me. simple as that. i asked him to back up off me. theres no war between me and will brown. this is binghamton-albany."

Albany 74, Binghamton 62

Obviously I'm disgusted. I really think the game was over at this point in the first half:

GOOD! LAYUP by Forbes  03:01  16-21  V 5
FOUL by Trifunovic 02:48
REBOUND (DEF) by Gordon02:36 MISSED 3 PTR by Wilson
GOOD! JUMPER by Gordon 02:27 18-21 V 3
02:12 18-24 V 6 GOOD! 3 PTR by Iati
02:12 ASSIST by Wilson
TURNOVR by Olomo 01:52
01:35 18-27 V 9 GOOD! 3 PTR by Iati
01:35 ASSIST by Wilson
MISSED 3 PTR by Forbes 01:19 REBOUND (DEF) by Lillis
01:09 TIMEOUT 30sec
00:58 18-29 V 11 GOOD! LAYUP by Connelly
I really thought Dwayne Jackson was going to deck someone, and I'm actually sort of glad he fouled out and wasn't on the court for the last few minutes.

Apparently KB shoved one of the UA assistants on the handshake line. I didn't see it happen.
 
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