Thursday, November 27, 2008

K's Korner: Blogging Through a Mid-Major's Season Pt. III

Welcome to K's Korner!! Scott Klatzkin is the voice of the Delaware State University basketball and football teams. The Hornets play in the MEAC, but also play one of the toughest non-conference schedules in the country. Scott will be checking in with us periodically throughout the season as he follows DSU all over the country.

Monday at Lehigh was the first official road game of the season, but Tuesday began the actual road trip. The morning began with a drive down to Baltimore’s BWI airport where I met up with the basketball team and we flew out to Columbus. From Columbus, the team rode to Dayton and we got in on Tuesday evening to the Marriot. The team went off to practice shortly after, while I stayed behind to prepare my game notes for the next night’s broadcast. Only problem was that the hotel charged $14.95 for 24 hours of internet service. Am I out of my mind to think they are out of their mind to charge that rate for internet? Internet service costs me about 40 dollars a month and they expected me to pay a quarter of that for a night? I could be wrong, but I’d like to think that there are more people than just me and George Costanza that would refuse to pay this ridiculous rate.

However, my frugal ways did make things awfully difficult to try to prep for the Dayton game. I looked up stats on my Blackberry and re typed them on to my computer, which made game prep take much longer than usual and before I knew it, it was late and I hadn’t eaten anything yet. I went down to the hotel restaurant bar and watched UNC dismantle a nervous looking Kentucky team (Did anyone see Tyler Hansborough on the bench that game? Was he going to an art gallery that night? Did he forget his white gloves and white mime face paint? Is he goth now? Who styles him? Please, put a tie on that kid).

Since I had pretty much locked myself in my room the night before, I made it my goal to introduce myself to all the players and coaches at shoot around the next day. At this point I think about 80% of the traveling party thought it was just a coincidence that I had been on the same flight, stayed at the same hotel and happened to be riding on the team bus. From the looks on the players and a staff’s faces after saying hello, it was clear that my introduction solved the riddle that was “do you know what the young dude in the tie is doing riding with us?”

Game time was at 7:00pm and we arrived at the gym around 5:30. I was more than impressed with UD Arena, which is the site of the NCAA Tournament play-in game. I haven’t been to every A-10 arena (or any) but I would have to think that this place is the cream of the crop for the conference, and the fans are without a doubt some of the best I have seen regardless of their league. There were probably 11,000 of the 11,906 that attended already in their seats to watch warm-ups and they all stood to their feet as Dayton was introduced and returned to the floor for lay-up lines with 4:00 left until tip. The fans stood and cheered, and continued to do so until after the national anthem. 11,000 on their feet for about 10 minutes, not one person sitting down – I thought that was impressive.

I wasn’t impressed again, though, until about 12 minutes into the ball game. It was a slow paced game, and the score was only 13-10 Dayton with 8 minutes left in the first half. Then Chris Wright showed why some have him slated as the most NBA ready player in the Atlantic-10. A fast break layup off an alley-oop that was thrown far too high for anyone without a 40 inch vertical to catch, let alone lay-in. Then two vicious jams on the next two possessions and within 1:50 of game clock, the Flyers got their lead up to 19-11 with 6 minutes left, and the UD Arena crowd was rocking. The Hornets stayed in the game at the break, only down 28-21 thanks to a few triples by Donald Johnson, but the second half was a different story.

Maybe I’m easily entertained, but I love a good college basketball crowd and the Dayton student-section did not disappoint. The “Red Scare” seemed to have all gotten rosters or box scores from the first half, closed their eyes and pointed to one player. That player became their target. That player was Marcus Neal. Neal only had 4 points in the first half, but for whatever reason, the “Red Scare” decided he was going to be the guy they tormented for the next 20 minutes. It began with “Boos” every time he touched the ball, and then increased to “Maaaar-cussss”, followed by a more up-tempo chant of “MAR-CUS NEAL, MAR-CUS NEAL.” The junior captain was eventually removed from the game after getting stripped in the backcourt and then forcing a shot on the next possession. One would think that being removed from the game would be enough to calm the crowd. It wasn’t. With the Flyers up at least 18 for most of the second half, the crowd became more interested with our 6’5 shooting guard than with the actual happenings on the court. They continued with “Put in Marcus,” “We Want Marcus” and finished off with a cheer of “Where is Marcus? Clap-Clap, Clap-Clap-Clap.”

When they did pay attention to the game itself, they watched a Dayton squad that was far too athletic and strong for Delaware State to keep up with. It was all Flyers in the second half, and I found myself having to find ways to keep the broadcast interesting. One way that I’ve done this in the past is to find a way to relevantly mention Duke Basketball during the broadcast. I used to do it just to upset my former color analyst, Matt Janus (a die-hard Villanova fan, who I’m sure will be upset enough by the play of Duke transfer Taylor King as a Wildcat over the next few years), but then it became more of a challenge to myself. How could Duke possibly fit into a DSU-Dayton game? Well, I’m glad you asked. You see, Wisconsin transfer and Dayton backup guard, Mickey Perry, played AAU for the Illinois Warriors with Jon Scheyer. So when Perry drilled a 3 pointer with 3:39 remaining. I got to reel off that useless factoid. Sadly enough, that was the most exciting part of the second half.

Dayton won the ball game 62-42 and the A-10’s top Sophomore, Chris Wright, finished with 18. Our leading scorer was Donald Johnson with 11. A disappointing 3rd consecutive loss for the Hornets, but there was no time to hang their heads - Tipoff in Columbus against Ohio State in less than 24 hours.

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