Clinton, South Carolina, Sunday, January 17, 2016, 9:49 a.m.
I almost didn’t go. I had been going back and forth about it all day. What probably cinched it was New England pulling two touchdowns ahead of Kansas City, and I needed to gas up the truck for a little trip, and go by the ATM, so, what the heck? I drove on over to Templeton Center, where the Blue Hose were playing the Highlanders.
That’s Presbyterian College Blue Hose versus Radford University Highlanders. A match made in Scotland.
As I walked through the lobby, I picked up one of the scoresheets placed conveniently in racks, and I scanned the rosters, thinking, well, this should be a great game. PC was 7-10 overall and 2-4 in the Big South. Radford was 10-8 and 3-3. The Blue Hose were at home, and, I thought, well, that makes it a toss-up. By the heights and weights, the two teams appeared to be about the same size.
I sat down at the space set aside for me by PC sports information director Simon Whitaker and started experimenting with one of my cameras. I do not have the quality of equipment used by professional photographers to shoot sporting events. Somewhere on my spacious estate, I have some quality equipment that requires the use of film that is shiny and sensitive, not convenient and virtual.
My next observation was that either Presbyterian overstates the size of its players or Radford understates them, and, perhaps a little of both. The roster claimed that the Highlanders had two players who were 6-8 and another at 6-7. PC had a pair of 6-9s, a 6-8, and a 6-6. Yet, running up and down the floor, the heads of the Highlanders in red seemed to bob at a slightly higher level than the Blue Hose in white. I put some study into this. Presbyterian’s splendid sophomore forward, DeSean Murray, is listed at 6-5. So is Radford freshman forward Ed Polite Jr., who is a fine player but doesn’t seem more polite than anyone else. A pleasant young man, I’m sure. Polite is from Lanham, Maryland. I have a close friend from Lanham, Maryland.
My considered estimate is that Polite is about two inches taller than Murray.
It didn’t start great for the Blue Hose, and this may have contributed to my exaggerated assessment of Radford’s official size. The Highlanders once led, 9-1, and the Blue Hose had only three points in the game’s first four minutes. Neither team led by as many as eight points again. Presbyterian tied it at 16 on Murray’s artful invasion of the lane at the 8:43 mark. The Blue Hose led, 31-26, at halftime and for most of the way. The biggest lead was seven on several occasions.
The balanced Highlanders — four players scored in double figures — tied the Blue Hose over and over during the final 20 minutes but only finagled the lead once, 51-49 with 11:34 to play.
The final score was Presbyterian 69, Radford 68. At the buzzer, a halfcourt shot caromed off the backboard and rimmed out. That’s how close the game was.
Presbyterian head coach Gregg Nibert labeled it “a great team win.”
At home, the Blue Hose are 7-2. Away, they are 1-8. This is due, in some measure, to the traveling appearances of Presbyterian against Clemson, Richmond and Marquette, but the road woes seemed more glaring because, two nights earlier, the Blue Hose had allowed Coastal Carolina to slip away to a 25-0 lead at the start and lost, 87-58.
Murray scored 22 points, but Radford smothered him in the final five minutes. He only hit eight of 18 but was six out of eight at the free-throw line for the night altogether. He also led the team with eight rebounds, but Reggie Dillard, who hit the free throw that made the difference, scored 10 points and had seven rebounds. Markus Terry scored 15 points. For Radford, Polite scored 15, as did Rashun Davis, and Cameron Jones added 14. Polite pulled down 12 rebounds.
Coaching basketball will drive a man crazy, and Nibert has been doing it here for 27 years.
Notice how Nibert used “debacle” and “resilient” in the span of one paragraph. That comes with coaching at a school with quality academics. It’s almost osmosis.
“They’re good,” he said of Radford. “We finally found our starting lineup, and we finally found our guys coming off the bench.”
I must spend too much time fiddling around with that camera. I hadn’t even noticed those guys being gone.
The editing process is complete, and I’ll let you know when Forgive Us Our Trespasses is available for download from Kindle Publishing. It’s a tale crime and corruption, young and old, good and bad, cops and robbers, etc.
Meanwhile, Crazy of Natural Causes, set in Kentucky and concerning the reinvention of a football coach, was published late last summer, and, if you haven’t read it, I’d appreciation it if you’d give it a look here: http://www.amazon.com/Crazy-Natural-Causes-Monte-Dutton-ebook/dp/B00YI8SWUU/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1436215069&sr=1-1&keywords=Crazy+of+Natural+Causes
My second novel, The Intangibles (2013), is about a high school football coach and his players trying to cope with rapid change in the 1960s South. http://www.amazon.com/The-Intangibles-Monte-Dutton-ebook/dp/B00ISJ18Z6/ref=pd_sim_351_2?ie=UTF8&dpID=51JrJlU8vKL&dpSrc=sims&preST=_UX300_PJku-sticker-v3%2CTopRight%2C0%2C-44_AC_UL160_SR107%2C160_&refRID=0AD3V83MM7SDKFNKQ5YB
The first, The Audacity of Dope (2011), is about a pot-smoking folksinger who wants no part of being a national hero. http://www.amazon.com/The-Audacity-Dope-Monte-Dutton-ebook/dp/B006GT2PRA/ref=pd_sim_351_2?ie=UTF8&dpID=51zCT-MrcFL&dpSrc=sims&preST=_UX300_PJku-sticker-v3%2CTopRight%2C0%2C-44_AC_UL160_SR105%2C160_&refRID=09V773T1A5GZXP96KS3Y
My short stories, book reviews, and essays are here: https://wellpilgrim.wordpress.com/
Follow me on Twitter @montedutton. I’m a tad more irreverent @wastedpilgrim and a little more literary @hmdutton. I’m on Facebook at Monte.Dutton and Instagram at Tug50. Um, I think that’s it.