Biggest game of the year?


Perhaps that's a bit of an overstatement, but for any fans of Binghamton basketball, it's hard to imagine a better setup for the last home game of the season.

There's a bit of a media firestorm today about Kevin Broadus' response to Will Brown's controversial post-game comments after the Bearcats beat Albany last month in the state capitol.

If you have no idea what I'm talking about, the following is courtesy of Mark Singelais's blog:

"Brown’s opening statement: “I thought coming into this game Binghamton was very talented. Like I said earlier, I thought (fired coach) Al Walker left the cupboard fairly full. (Lazar) Trifunovic and (Vermont’s Marqus) Blakely are the best frontcourt guys in our league and Gordon is the best point guard in our league. They’ve got a lot of talent. I thought we came out flat. We let a good player in Gordon get in a rhythm. It’s probably a career night for him shooting. I don’t think he’s ever shot that well. If you look at his percentages, that’ll prove it. But he’s a good player and he got into a rhythm. And when you let good players get in the rhythm, the basket looks bigger and bigger and bigger. Even down the stretch when we did a decent job on him, he made tough shots. We were very soft tonight. Very soft. That’s the best way to put it. We’ve got great kids. It’s tough to teach toughness. And I’m not so sure how much toughness we have right now. We’ve got some nice kids. We’ve got some solid players. But tonight, in my mind, we lost because of a lack of toughness on both ends of the floor.”

On his team’s tentativeness around the basket: We’re playing against (Binghamton forward) Reggie Fuller, not Dikembe Mutombo. I mean, come on. Fuller’s a decent player at this level. He had six points and three blocks. We’re pump-faking and hesitating like we’re trying to score over Mutombo. It’s not a knock on Fuller. He’s a solid player. But why not go right through the guy. Pump-fake. Go right through him. We were soft. I’ve got no problems saying it. We were soft.”

On UAlbany losing at home to a team that didn’t have a road victory: That’s their problem. They’re talented. Like I said, I think Al left the cupboard full with some of those guys. They have good experienced players. I’m an Al Walker guy. I thought he did a good job. We knew coming in they were really good … talented, I should say, really talented. What happens with talented teams, regardless of their record, if you’ve got good personnel, it doesn’t matter what their record is. Binghamton always has a lousy record heading into conference play. It’s just disappointing that we lost at home, and i thought our fans had more energy than we did, and that’s disappointing.”

It's been well-documented that Brown's comments were out of line, and reportedly, he tried to call Broadus the week of that game and apologize. Broadus contends that he is waiting to talk to Brown face-to-face, as he fired back at Brown today to PD's Ben Masur:

"These guys will be hyped up. And I will be hyped up. The guy put something in my system that will not go away. You just do those things. I would never talk about Albany. I have two dear friends there. I would never say anything negative they’ve had some success. Its classless."

Perhaps even more interesting in this saga is that Broadus himself is the one who started this whole thing back up again -- this is Mark Macyk's intro to that post:

"As if Wednesday's Binghamton/Albany game wasn't big enough, I got an e-mail today from the athletic department saying that Kevin Broadus wanted to pass along a link of what Albany coach Will Brown said after UAlbany's loss to Binghamton last month. It said to "take it for what it was worth."

After Pipe Dream's men's basketball beat writer Ben Masur gave Broadus a call it was clear that this was all Broadus' doing, and that even if he did do it to fire up the crowd, he's still not too happy with Brown. "

Alright. Enough back story. Broadus thinks Brown is a jerk, we've got that much. So what does it mean?

First of all, of course, every single BU basketball fan needs to be at the game tomorrow night. And every BU basketball fan needs to back up Kevin Broadus for taking such a -- pardon my French -- ballsy stance here.

I've always thought that there's too much coddling between coaches, too much fake niceness, trying to cover up true feelings, and it turns out that we've hired a man who is not afraid to wear his emotions on his sleeve and say how he truly feels.

Good for him. I am sick of coaches constantly slobbering each other and slathering each other with "respect" to try and build up the overall image of a league that, you know what, everybody realizes is not that good. In four years of closely following the conference, it appears that every year, every team gets better, every team is scary, every team is a threat, etc., and that's not true. It's usually our job as journalists (well, I guess I'm not really a journalist anymore [tear]) to set those things straight, and it's really refreshing to see a coach say it straight.

In a way, I'm sort of defending Will Brown and his original comments here. The difference is, this is Bearcat Country, and I'll bleed green 'til I die. My journalistic integrity (or what's left of it) aside, this is exactly what the conference needs to drum up a sorely needed rivalry between two schools that really should be at each other's throats. And after years of symbiotic slobber, the battle lines are being drawn. I couldn't be happier.

That's not to say there's no history between these teams. My journey to the Big Purple Growl last year was a small taste of what the rivalry can turn into, but there was never a real passion behind it. Now there's passion. Now, there's a reason to watch. And now, as stupid as this is going to sound, I'll say it anyway: There's incentive to win the game. Because if Kevin Broadus is going to talk a big game, his players better back it up.

So let's turn from the crowd and the back story to the game itself.

I'll be honest; I haven't seen Albany play this year. I have, however, seen Brian Lillis play many times, and he is an impressive player. Whether he deserves to be POY is a whole separate discussion (that Will Brown has also drawn plenty of crap for) -- I personally would lean towards Blakely, for the record, (that's my pro-Vermont agenda speaking, right?) -- but this is certainly not the UAlbany teams of old that featured Jamar Wilson with a side of Lillis. 8-6 is a pretty good indication of Lillis' leadership abilities, I'd say -- pretty good, but certainly not close to the domination that he and Jamar together could provide. (Of course, you could also chalk that up to the overall strength and growth of the league as a whole; right, every coach? /sarcasm)

Let me try and remove homerism for a moment: I think the Bearcats' depth is fairly impressive in this year's league. I legit think DJ is a third-team all-conference player, and he can't even crack our starting lineup. Chretien Lukusa has certainly given us way more than anyone could've expected, and Reggie Fuller is bringing back the ghost of Sebastian Hermenier in a good way (not the ghost that lives in my roommate's room [clarification: I live in the apartment where Andre Heard, Sebastian Hermenier and Duane James lived last year].) Richie Forbes has been a bit of a disappointment, at least in my eyes, but the real emergence of Laz Trifunovic has really made up for Forbes' shortcomings.

Post-game comments-gate not withstanding, I've always thought Brown was a good coach, (that that for what it's worth -- I liked Ted Woodward for a while) and I think he's good at working with what he's got. But if Mike Gordon can play a solid Mike Gordon game -- he does not need to explode for 8 threes again -- I legitimately like our chances tomorrow night.

In the middle, Reggie Fuller will be back tomorrow night. He deserves at least a 45-second-or-so chant in the pregame.

Laz Trifunovic is reportedly a game-time decision, but I will personally guarantee that the kid will play. Short of amputation, there are no circumstances that will keep LT out of this game.

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Back to the wacky stuff. If anyone from the BU administration is reading this: Please realize that I appreciate you letting Moe play 'The Horse' again, but it doesn't really work if you don't embrace it completely. Thus, please, PLEASE pass along the word to Moe that 'The Horse' should be played as the Bearcats take the court at halftime ... followed by a full-blast version of 'The Hey Song' as the halftime clock ticks to zero. That's how the BU Zoo rolls, and that's where that song is best utilized -- especially if you're only going to want it played once.

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Apologies in advance if I get emotional tomorrow night. (Commence making fun of me.) I teared up when Nick Billings hugged Mike Gordon a few years ago, and now it's all coming full circle as Mikey will be the one celebrated tomorrow night. I also lost it a little as Troy Hailey played his last game, and with this being my sort-of senior year (I consider 2003-04 a redshirt year for me), I suspect I'll feel it even more tomorrow, as I've really developed a personal connection to the area and especially this team. (/making fun of me)

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I'm going to go work on a few signs I'll be bringing tomorrow night. Perhaps I'll post pics of them later tonight, so stay tuned.

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Also, as a few people have asked, I don't have any real information on what my Press & Sun blog will entail, but I'll let you know when I know more.

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