- Category: Volume 88 (Fall 2016 - Spring 2017)
- Published: 29 March 2017
- Written by MICHAEL TRAPASSO | CONTRIBUTING WRITER
The 2015-16 Monmouth University Basketball team is no different than any Monmouth team in the past. They are, have been, and always will be a mid-major. What is a mid-major?
Well, we on the ever-esteemed NCAA Tournament Committee would be glad to answer that question for you, but give us a second please, Duke and Kentucky are tied up in the first half, and we cannot miss this.
Oh, that John Calipari offense is so efficient, and he is only doing it with six McDonald’s All-Americans. Wow, he just knows how to find them. Okay, where were we? Ah yes, what is a mid-major? Mid-majors always make for a fun time. These are the teams we invite to our historical arenas early on in the season, to get our top programs running before conference play.
You know how in horse racing, trainers like to have their horse mock race against a much slower horse to boost their confidence and get them into the winning groove?
This is essentially the mindset we have adopted regarding mid-majors. When our royal blues like Kentucky and Duke face off on ESPN, and any other channel that gets the gracious opportunity to broadcast us, we need our one-and-dones to be in perfect form.
While our guys benefit physically and statistically, our strong-hearted mid-majors get the great experience of playing basketball alongside them in some of the highest regarded basketball hubs of the world. Even though the high-major gets the check in the win column, really everyone wins, right?
The only time we have an issue with mid-majors is during that second Sunday of March, Selection Sunday. Oh, how they whine. All the mid-majors that fail to win their conference tournament believe they are entitled to a spot in our big dance, chaperoned by us, the committee.
I guess for this we have to thank the 1984 Brigham Young Cougars, the only mid-major program to make it through our gauntlet of NBA prospects and student-athletes who spend one year at University for a chance to perform in this tournament. Oh, but the student comes first, yes. How could we forget the upheaval from that little school last year, what was it, Mon-Mouth? That little school in West Branch, New York that thought Cinderella’s slipper would fit their foot, oh how amusing.
Somew here under this stack of Michigan State versus Kansas tapes is that little Mon-Mouth resume. Got it, one of our interns made this up last year so pardon any mistakes. Hmm, this feels rather thick for a mid-major resume. Well, let’s read anyway. It must just be superfluous pictures of their mascot.
Okay, the “Mon-Mouth” resume. They finished the regular season first in the MAAC conference, whatever that is, with a record of 17-3. They swept seven of 10 teams during league play in a conference that has the most conference games out of any in the nation—20 league games per team.
More importantly, though, they lost to Manhattan, Canisi us, and Iona…all community colleges. Overall, Mon-Mouth finished 25-6 and led the nation in road/neutral wins with 17. They also ranked 20th in the country in strength of schedule. Mon-Mouth’s fun started in their first game of the year when they beat UCLA at Pauley Pavilion, though that wasn’t supposed to happen. Everyone, including our beloved Bruins, has a bad night.
Mon-Mouth’s joy ride continued at the Advo-Care Invitational in Orlando. As if enjoying the Magic Kingdom for a day was not enough fun for this selfish little mid-major, they beat the then-ranked 17th team in the country Notre Dame. Luckily, they got blown out by Dayton in the semi-finals, losing 73-70.
Still, they couldn’t just be happy with a trip to Florida and a win against the Irish, as Mon-Mouth then went on to beat USC in the third place game. We even threw Mon-Mouth’s point guard Teddy Robinson a pity MVP award, as he passed Michael Beasley’s former tournament points record, notching 77 points in three games.
The only other game of the year that we care about came in the Verizon Center at Washington D.C., as Mon-Mouth traveled for a chance to play with our tournament usuals, the Georgetown Hoyas.
This must be an error, because it says on our sheet that Mon-Mouth won the game 83-68, behind a 15-16 free-throw shooting night from a four-star recruit named Je’lon Hornbeak. It also says that at the time Hornbeak was the number one free throw shooter in the nation, which is how you know an intern prepared this resume.
Regardless of beating almost every high-major on their schedule and going on a five-game winning streak four different times throughout the year, Mon-Mouth lost their conference final to Iona.
Also, why should we award them a ticket to our pre-sold dance when they already received a bunch of awards? Teddy Robinson won MAAC Player of the year. Micah Seaborn won MAAC Freshman of the Year. And finally, King Rice (who played at North Carolina, but we will have to fact check that), won MAAC Coach of the Year.
You know who really deserves a spot in our tournament? Tulsa. This high-major Gold Hurricane crew finished the year 20-11 and 12-6 in conference play. They really showed they can compete when they lost a nail-biter 70-68 to Oral Roberts, or when they lost to Cincinnati 76-57 (but Cincy was ranked!).
Plus, Joe Castiglione, who used to work at Tulsa, is on our committee and he tells us that Tulsa is a team to watch. Think of it this way, Tulsa had to play a team like Memphis, twice! Maybe we should pit Mon-Mouth against Memphis next season and see how much they like it.
Tuesday, December 13, 2016: Monmouth 82, Memphis 79.
IMAGE TAKEN from Monmouth Basketball’s Facebook page.