Yes, that play-in game was last night. Mount St. Mary's won, and we're sure you didn't watch it. But the guys at Flyers Fieldhouse were there, like they always are for the annual play-in game in Dayton. Here's their report from the event.
The fact that we're writing this in place of one of those glamorous preview posts for our own Dayton Flyers is all a tad bittersweet. We Flyers fans feel like we're perfectly entitled to an NCAA spot, but were left on the outside looking in - a convenient parallel to the poor play-in contenders that we watched. Neither of these teams wants to be here. Consolations are never meant to actually console anyone. This is all a half-hearted gesture to those schools that don't make anyone money so that teams like Kentucky can get blasted in the first round.
Even if you lose, you're still technically an NCAA Tournament team, but the only way anyone is going to remember said loser was even in the tournament this year is if they picked your team to win/lose in the bracket and the wrong choice messed up their chances of winning an NCAA pool. All you are is a tiebreaker. And what's the reward for winning this game that's loved by as many as 16 fans? Your eminently forgettable team gets served up as an appetizer for the some Yeti to teabag at will.
Having said that, we loves us some play-in game.
So off we went to this meaningless affair of basketball between a 20-loss team that got doubled up on this very court earlier this season by the hometown Flyers and a Mount St. Mary's squad that we were forced to surmise is actually nicknamed The Mount. Seriously. Mount. The joke practically writes itself. So we're not going to.
We're happy to say we actually came away impressed. No really. Things were not looking up when we were tipped that alcohol would not be sold. Thank goodness we're not so far out of college that we're not above going half-and-half with cheap liquor in a water bottle and crotching that shit. Had we not been able to improvise, we just wouldn't have went. Sorry, Will. Due diligence just happens to be a lesser priority than drinking far too early for our own good.
Remember, this is Dayton, Ohio. We only love this town because we lived here for four years. Unless you're looking for a 400-page discourse on the Wright Brothers, Mead notebooks, out-of-date cash registers or the most confusing system of roads ever known to man, you probably don't want to visit here. But if you're looking for a basketball town with a Madison Square Garden-like appreciation of the game, then you've come to the right place. This town has packed UD Arena with 8,000+ fans for every play-in game. ESPN probably doesn't even get 8,000 viewers of the game. People actually care about this game, and they appreciate the effort these kids put into the game, even if they're not all that good at it. Cliche alert: There was a palatable buzz in the air the entire game last night.
We found ourselves pulling for Coppin State because we're petty and distracted by shiny things like a kick-ass band. Coppin State's band is not your average band. They brings that muthafuckin' ruckus. We've never seen Drumline, but the Coppin State band is something we imagine Nick Cannon might be proud of. They danced, their song choices were current, they made fun of the MSM band's cliché choices ("Eye of the Tiger"...phsaw), and then they danced some more. It was all enough to keep a couple of young white boys very much entertained, but also feeling slightly awkward in their crippling whiteness, especially when they played Chris Brown's "Kiss Kiss."
The night was even important enough for the WWL to unthaw Brent Musberger and trot him out. The fuck was Brent Musberger doing calling this game? You're too good for this, Brent. Either way, Musberger has the bladder of an orca whale or he was wearing Depends. He didn't move once throughout the entire game. Steve Lavin was up and down like an ornery child, but Brent stayed stuck in.
And of course, the obligatory Erin Andrews update. Of course we would. Yes yes, extremely hot and all that. Actually far more attractive in person than the Google Images searches that you masturbate to. Something you didn't know: you'd do her assistant as well. Just like the encyclopedia said, attractive women roam in packs.
So the night at least had the appearance of a prime-time event. Coppin State head coach Fang Mitchell even broke out his best gold suit for the occasion. Luckily, the game itself delivered in its own right. Sadly, it was probably some of the best all-around basketball we've seen in University of Dayton Arena for some time. Leads changed hands repeatedly, hard fouls were dished out all over and the majority of the crowd stood idly by cheering for every bucket and rebound because it didn't know of anything better to do. The Coppin State Eagles we loved for all of 40 minutes fell in the end, but it hardly mattered. Even the band was in good spirits afterwards, or at least the Beyonce blaring from their brass section seemed to indicate as much.
To most, this might be a meaningless game, but to Dayton, it's our meaningless game. Sometimes we're so wrapped up in our own teams that we forget how to enjoy a game without any sort of vested interest. It might only count as half of an actual NCAA tourney game, but it's a part of the tournament we get to take part in every single year. That's more than any other city can say. This is our night where all allegiances go out the window, and we watch basketball for no other reason than the fact that basketball is being played in an arena we're familiar with. There's something charming and oblivious about it all, and dammit if we don't love it.
We were, however, denied Len Elmore loving up on this city for two hours this year. You owe us one ball-tonguing, ESPN. We'll wait. It's Dayton. It's not like we've got anything else to do.