Clinton, South Carolina, Saturday, January 30, 2016, 5:50 p.m.
I’m looking live at Presbyterian College’s Ross E. Templeton Center, where, at halftime, the Gardner-Webb University Bulldogs hold a tenuous, 25-23 edge over the homestanding Blue Hose in Big South women’s basketball.
I’ve written better leads.
It’s been a busy week on the local courts. I followed Laurens District 55 High School to Simpsonville, where Hillcrest resides, on Tuesday, watched Clinton High play Chester at home on Wednesday, and drove to Anderson, home of Westside, on Friday. Now I’m halfway through the first half of a doubleheader, which amounts overall to a quarter. The men take on Liberty later this evening.
I’m not writing game stories on these tilts, so my notes are a little more ragged. So far, I’ve noted that Gardner-Webb head coach Rick Reeves reminds me of Jon Voight playing Adolph Rupp in Glory Road. I’ve scribbled that I think the Bulldogs’ uniforms are snazzy, but, in spite of my political preferences, I’ve a fondness for bright red.
Red Devils. Red Sox. It might be conditioned from birth.
Fan bases have their own personalities. Ohio State fans are feisty. Nebraska fans are loyal. Stanford fans are bright. Clemson fans wear bright colors.
Presbyterian fans are cranky. They gripe almost constantly. When I sit in the stands here, I do it, too, because it’s highly contagious, but now I’m sitting at the press table, dispassionate as always. All season, I’ve surmised that referees have been instructed to call traveling more often. It has effectively limited the ability of Blue Hose fans to scream “Walk!” constantly. Some have been known to infect their tonsils on the basis of the word walk alone.
Coach Reeves/Voight/Rupp just got a technical foul. PC’s Aianna Kelly just hit two free throws, and the Blue Hose have suddenly built a 38-32 lead.
By the way, late in the first half, a Gardner-Webb player named Charlisa Jenkins made a shot for the ages … and was fouled. She was falling to her knees and put up a shot that didn’t seem geometrically possible until it took a bounce off the backboard that must have been affected by spin. Truly, I believe she is the Spin Doctor.
For many years, I’ve had a hobby of giving teams names they should have, as opposed to ones they actually have. For instance, Tulane should be the Fighting Blacktop. The Tulane Blacktop. It’s really the Green Wave, or, maybe, the Green Waves. In South Carolina, we have a wealth of misplaced nicknames. Laurens should be the Arabians. Irmo should be the Bombecks (dated, I know), Chester the Drawers, Union the Labels, Dorman the Volcanoes, and Pickens the Slims. It was a great loss when Mayo High School stopped playing ball. I miss the Nays.
Clinton’s playing Aiken in football come the fall. The Pains.
Why did I write this? Because I have decided that the university playing the Presbyterian men in a little while should be the Sweet Land of Liberty.
Of Thee I sing. The coliseum could be the Good Earth.
No one ever listens to my ideas.
Big victory for the Blue Hose women. If one had based a prediction on the looks of the two teams, the only conclusion would have been that the rugged Gardner-Webb squad would have prevailed. One would have been wrong.
The 60-53 victory wasn’t as pretty as it seemed. Both teams shot 35 percent from the field, although Presbyterian was a 10th of a percent more accurate. The only major difference in the statistics of the squads was Presbyterian’s advantage in free throws. The Blue Hose hit 13 out of 15. Janie Miles and Taylor Petty each had three three-pointers, and three were how many Gardner-Webb had as a team.
Every time I enter the mine of Presbyterian’s women, I find another vein of ore attesting to Ronny Fisher’s coaching ability. He is a quiet, humble, patient, methodical teacher of fundamentals. I can’t think of another coach I’ve known who is more unassuming. I can’t think of many who were unassuming at all.
The men’s team is now four minutes and a second into the second half, and Liberty leads, 43-37. I’ve had high hopes for the Blue Hose, who are vastly improved in every way that can’t be measured, but there’s plenty of time to regain control of this game. At the moment, the Flames are aptly named as they are shooting nearly 60 percent from the field, and have hit seven three-pointers.
Liberty wins, 65-61. The Flames are young and big, and they’re going to get better next year than they are now. Somehow, Presbyterian grabbed four more rebounds, and the two teams made the same number of field goals, but 11 of Liberty’s and only six of Presbyterian’s counted for three, and so were the die cast.
The Presbyterian men (8-13) have risen by one, and fallen by one, 12, and four points in the past two weeks. Coastal Carolina, which clobbered them earlier, visits on Wednesday.
Although I didn’t really need to query him for the purposes of this column, I spoke briefly with Gregg Nibert, the Blue Hose’ indefatigable head coach, afterwards. It seems as if every loss just makes him more determined to turn the corner. Ten of his 16 players are freshmen or sophomores. The splendid sophomore, DeSean Murray, had 23 points and seven rebounds against Liberty. It’s the usual. He entered the game averaging 20.1 and 7.8.
“We’re young,” Nibert said as he walked away. “We’ll be okay.”
On the other hand, Liberty’s roster has 11 who are freshmen and sophomores. It gets better, but it never gets easy.
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 of 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 appreciate 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. The accidental hero learns how to be a real one. 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. Oh, yeah. Google+. I’m on there, too.