Sunday, March 04, 2007

#11 Salukis Stunned By Creighton In Championship

It was a long trip from the Scottrade Center all the way back to Carbondale. During the quiet trip, I went through a million ways to write this post in my head. Just so many emotions and feelings going through me, so I figured the best way to do it was a little bit of everything. Here goes nothing:
  1. DENIAL: Wait. What? Creighton beat us? Unranked, second place Creighton beat #11 ranked, MVC regular season champion SIU? SIU, the team that had the Valley's best player (Jamaal Tatum), best defensive player (Randal Falker), best coach (Chris Lowery) lost to f*cking Creighton? This can't be happening, what the hell happened? Are you sure that just happened?
  2. ANGER: Damn you Creighton, damn you all to hell! I hate you Dana Altman, you have a girls name. I hate you Nate Funk, you're ugly and you look like a caveman....and not a cool looking caveman like Johnny Damon (circa 2004) or Captain Caveman. Have fun in your future as a corner whore! I hate Omaha. I hate Nebraska. I hate Blue Jays. To the girls at CU, it's okay to go outside. That brightness in the sky, it's called the sun, it's okay to get a tan!
  3. BARGAINING: I don't think there is a such thing bargaining with a Creighton fan, but here's what my "bargaining" would sound like: "Get the f*ck off my court! Get your f*cking fans off my damn court! Give me that damn f*cking trophy! Tatum's the real motherf*cking MVP! Give it to me now before I blow you the f*ck away!" What can I say? I know what I want!
  4. DEPRESSION: I can't believe SIU lost. This sucks. My life sucks. Why do all of my teams have to lose? Why can't I ever be happy? Will I ever be happy again? We're screwed. There goes our #3 seed. There goes our #11 ranking. Why even show up? We sucked today. I don't think there's enough alcohol in Saluki Country to wash this loss away.
  5. ACCEPTANCE: Alright, so SIU lost. The #1 seed hasn't won the MVC tourney since 1998 when Illinois State did it. I wonder whatever happened to Kevin Stallings and Rico Hill? But you know what, hey that's cool. We still had a badass year. We went 27-6 in the regular season. We went 17-4 against conference opponents. We achieved our highest ranking ever, and our highest RPI ranking ever too. We're out-recruiting Mizzou, Mizzou St. and SLU in their own back yard. We just out recruited DePaul, Purdue and U of I for stud prospect Justin Bocot. SIU fans can take solace that we're living in a basketball renaissance in "Little Egypt" and even though we lost today the Egyptian Dawgs are still barking!
Now that I got that out of my system, I can talk a little about the game.

As a child, St. Louis has always been a place of horrors for me. Most of that comes from being the die-hard Cubs fan I am, and seeing the Cubs go down to the Cardinals in old Busch Stadium so many times and in so many heartbreaking ways, I could barely stand it. I thought I got over that last year when SIU came out and won the MVC tourney at what was then known as the Savvis Center, proving to me that at least one of my favorite teams could win in the city of St. Louis after years of coming up short.

Well, that all ended today with Creighton's (22-10) 67-61 upset of #11 SIU in the MVC Tourney Championship game.

There are so many factors that makes this loss so painful. First, it was to our arch-rival and everyone knows I think of Creighton as the midwest version of Duke, so you know I was not happy at all. Second, a lot of my friends were watching. In an attempt to spread the good word of the Missouri Valley Conference up north I posted blogs, notes and bulletins online while calling family members up north to tell them that SIU was gonna be on CBS today to watch it. Unfortunately, those who saw it saw one of SIU's worse performances in recent memory.

I guess I have to give Creighton credit where it's due. As much as I hate him, Funk is a pretty damn good player and played very similarly to former SIU-killer (and former Blue Jay) Kyle Korver. Altman, the longest running coach in The Valley, is an exceptional coach and there's no doubt that he should be coaching at a major school *cough*DePaul*cough* but his loyalty to Omaha, Neb. is strong. Good to see a coach that actually backs what he says.

In the end, Creighton outplayed SIU. They out hustled us. They out rebounded us. They beat us in every phase of the game today. And that's what stings the most, looking at the game in retrospect.

Funk, CU's senior leader led the Jays with 19 points en route to tournament MVP honors. Center Anthony Tolliver dominated the inside with 15 points and 13 rebounds.

JT did his best Superman impersonation leading SIU with 21 points. Forward Matt Shaw chipped in with 11 points, a majority of which came in the first half. The scoring surprise for SIU was junior point guard Bryan Mullins who hit several big shots on his way to 10 points before fouling out.

Speaking of fouling out....maybe it was just me, but I thought the game was pretty poorly officiated. Granted, you can say that about most (if not all) Valley games but it was unacceptable on the national stage.

SIU had three players foul out: Mullins, Tony Young and Randal Falker. An ineffective Falker picked up all five of his fouls in the second half and really played poorly this tournament after winning conference tourney MVP last year.

There's just so much more to write, I don't know where to stop. But I guess I'll stop here. If you want more you can check out the game story from the SIU Athletics website. Or from the Eastern Seaboard Programming Network.

I have other fish to fry before I log off.

Moments after the best college basketball rivalry in the midwest was over, the best overall rivalry (arguably) in sports took center stage. Duke/Carolina at Chapel Hill. I was really hoping that UNC would avenge me as they did a few years ago when an SIU loss saddened me until UNC beat Duke to salvage my weekend.

#8 North Carlina (25-6, 11-5) did the job, and did it quite well. The 86-72 win over #14 Duke (who give s a damn about Duke's overrated @$?) gave UNC a share of the regular season ACC title and the #1 seed in next weekend's ACC tournament. It also marked the first SWEEP! of the Dookies in 11 years.

However, it wasn't all gravy in the Dean Dome. The already heated rivalry got turned up a notch when freshman Gerald Henderson took an apparent cheap shot at UNC star Tyler Hansbrough (who lead the Heels with 26 points and 17 rebounds) in the closing moments.

I'm lazy and pissed off so you can read about it here and here. Oh and you can read more about how great Creighton is (excuse me while I throw up) here.

That's it for now. There was more I wanted to get at. Unfortunately, there's more to my life than Saluki and Tar Heel basketball. Maybe I'll approach the topics floating in my head. Maybe I'll let them simmer, even though they've been simmering for a week.

Good-bye, for now.

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