Tuesday, November 17, 2009

We Are A Long Way From Peach Baskets

If I were to tell you that by the time you arrive at your office this morning (well, presuming you are a tad closer to normal than yours truly), two institutions of higher learning that call the State of Concrete Gardens home will have either finished or be in the late stages of a men's basketball game against one another, you would likely wrestle one another for the chance to hold me down and measure my hair growth at my lobotomy scar. While many a fertile opportunity will likely present itself for such pseudo Greco-Roman amusement, today is not in fact one such opportunity.

This morning @ 3:00 a.m. - an hour some refer to as ungodly while others consider it an ideal time for a morning run (beauty and beholder's eyes and all of that) - the Monmouth University Hawks hopped on a bus at their campus in West Long Branch, New Jersey and migrated north. They shall travel north to Jersey City and the campus of St. Peter's College in order to play basketball. Scheduled tip-off time? 6:00 a.m.

Why would two schools compete at such an hour that can fairly be described as alien to most of the kids who comprise the roster of each school? It is - as it always is - all about the Benjamins. Monmouth and St. Peter's are part of ESPN's 24-hour college basketball marathon. Being the two traditional superpowers they are the birds that prey and the birds that pray have been given the ever-popular morning drive time slot. Great news if you are Stern or Imus. Less exciting if you are Hett or Shumate.

When these two played last season -at Monmouth on December 19th at a time slightly more conducive for college hoops than 6:00 a.m. - the Hawks pounded the 'Cocks 65-47 before a packed house of slightly less than 600 at Monmouth's then-gymnasium (they opened a new facility this year, which further underscores of ESPN paying them to play St. Peter's AT St. Peter's pre-dawn. Maybe in the throes of sleep deprivation the kids cannot tell the difference between the opposition's gym and their own?). Monmouth's coach -for one -has downplayed the supposed significance of the tip-off time. “We’ll load up the bus with food and fruit, get there and be ready to play.”

Juxtaposed against the collective decision-making of the Monmouth and St. Peter's hierarchies to play a game in the wee wee hours along the lunar landscape that is the early north Jersey industrial skyline, the adults in charge of the programs at Drexel and Niagara seem downright sensible. They are slated to tip-off at 8:00 a.m. There is no truth to the rumor that in the Drexel/Niagara game, winning team gets to push the losing team over the Falls in a barrel. Although that would make for some damned entertaining television. And in the end, nothing else really matters. Right?

Well, one other thing matters. But I reckon you knew that already.


-AK

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