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Sunday, January 15, 2006 

The Tribe And The Tigers

I love me some college hoops, but I'm getting pulled apart like a wishbone by my two favorite teams. On one hand, you've got my undergrad team, the College of William & Mary, which has--to put it delicately--difficulties with the game of basketball. The Tribe traveled south toAtlanta yesterday to play Georgia State, and I visited the high-school-esque confines of Georgia State Sports Arena, along with a mere 784 of my closest friends, to watch W&M. They put together one of the finer halves in college basketball this season, scoring 50 points and drilling nearly a dozen treys. Unfortunately, it came after one of the more miserable halves I've ever seen a team produce--the Tribe put up a mere 20 points, and looked like they were playing in what my brother and I used to call "The Left-Handed Olympics" (doing a variety of standard activities like throwing a football or shooting a basket with your off hand). Good news was, they shaved 13 points off Georgia State's lead at various times; bad news was, the Panthers were up 19 much of the time. The Tribe fell, 79-70.

On the other hand, you've got the University of Memphis, my grad school. When I was in school, the team was, like Charlie Brown, cursed with permanent potential. Those teams had four members of their starting lineup go pro (Lorenzen Wright, David Vaughn, Chris Garner, Cedric Henderson) and another play for the Globetrotters (the pogo-stick-legged Michael Wilson, who could literally dunk on a 12-foot rim). But those teams always flamed out early, never getting farther than the first round of the NCAAs. Now, though, it's a new era in the Bluff City--Memphis is ranked #5 in the nation and looking well-positioned to make a hell of a run in March.

Now, I'd love to see W&M have at least a hint of this kind of success. Of course, if this is what it takes, I'll pass. The link will take you to a story that indicates Memphis has a paltry 25 percent graduation rate of its basketball players--the NCAA's average is 58 percent, and W&M averages 87 percent across all its sports. Memphis's attempts to spin this sound even worse--when current coach John Calipari took over, the team had a zero percent graduation rate. ZERO. I love the principle of college sports, but--much like French food, John Updike novels, and the recent Star Wars trilogy--it sounds much better in theory than actual practice.


Jay Busbee runs Yahoo! Sports' NASCAR Blog From The Marbles, Atlanta Magazine's Atlanta sports blog Right Down Peachtree, and the Southern sports/humor blog Sports Gone South. He also writes for damn near anybody who'll throw him a buck and a byline, and he's at work on the books The Quiet Dynasty: The History Of The Atlanta Braves' Championship Run (2009, Sports Publishing LLC) and God Is A Bulldog: Georgia, Florida, And The Greatest Play In College Football History (2010, Sports Publishing LLC). Click below for more info on his novels, articles, and comics.
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