Game 810: Oakland at Utah State 3/25/2012
Title: Woulda Coulda Shoulda – Didn’t Quite
A tale describing the result of the Utah State Aggie men’s basketball 2011-2012 season might best be summed up by a single, “Meh.”
However, such a simplification wouldn’t do justice to the rollercoaster ride of events that occurred over the last few months, which unfortunately never got written much about in this forum. My participation in the 800 Games Project has felt much like the Aggie season, high expectations but falling short of hopes and intentions.
While talking to meteorologist and renowned basketball statistics guru Ken Pomeroy before the CIT championship final last week, we discovered that USU hosted 22 home games this year, one of the most of any team ever on record. It turns out that I attended all but one of them, but also saw a few extra games at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum when USU hosted the annual Gossner-sponsored mini-tournament in December. In other words, I attended 25 games, not counting exhibitions in Logan, which I’m guessing was the most out of anyone in hoops nation in one venue or in other words keeping by mileage to zero.
Lamentably, out of 25 games, this is only my fourth and final recap of the year, if it even gets through in time. I did in fact “I will” almost all of those games and was prepared to recap most of them, but “I will” constantly turned into “I didn’t.” I even took photos!
There were so many things over the season I wanted to discuss with Mid Majority readers. I wanted to show everyone the insanity of the #occupythespectrum “movement” for the open game against BYU, a tenting phenomenon that made Duke’s K-Ville look like a scout camp.
I aimed to reintroduce everyone to the unique experience that is the Gossner tournament, complete with mini ball hell, cheese queens (actually dairy princesses), and half time free-throw mania among other events. I really hoped to tell about LaMarcus Reed from UTA and his cold-blooded dagger superhoop in the waning moments before beating Kent State.
At one game I also investigated the claim there is no bad seat in the Spectrum. My usual seat, though rarely used during a game, is right behind the media bench at half court. It’s one that I’d to pay more money than I make annually to occupy on the other side of the arena. It turns out the claim is false, unless you’re an avid fan of cement pillars.
I was prepared to tell the tale of the broken scoreboards and show that while a successful program, USU still faces the same fiscal trials of any midmajor team.
This season ended up with five home losses, which all hurt deeply and were completely unexpected given the previous five home losses spanned the course of the last seven seasons. I wanted to break down the losses and how they felt.
I planned to give a statistical analysis of USU’s best player, shooting guard Preston Medlin. His sophomore season was incredible and one of the best in USU history, putting him in elite company with Aggie all stars like Jaycee Carroll and Wayne Estes.
I intended to discuss the unexpected career-ending injury of senior forward Brady Jardine and what he means to this community. He returned to the court on Senior Night in his uniform but also in a cast and on crutches. It was virtually impossible for those in attendance to hold back tears during the ovation, even while cheering.
After an early WAC tournament exit, the Aggies had a mediocre record but qualified for the CIT and ended up hosting five games, two of which occurred over spring break and were the least attended men’s basketball games I’ve ever seen since moving to Logan.
After looking into the history books, we discovered that this season also featured the first ever home game on a Sunday for the CIT semifinal. For most communities this wouldn’t be abnormal, but for a primarily conservative and LDS community, it was a radical idea. About 2100 fans still attended the game which turned out to be an explosive offensive battle and victory against Oakland. I suppose this recap should be dedicated primarily to this event, but it’s not.
If other events hadn’t occupied too much of my time and attention this season, I would have written all those recaps. I thought about them plenty and took the time to “I Will” them on the 800 Games Project page, so I should have really committed to writing them. In retrospect, nothing earth shattering happened in my life to prevent me from writing so I probably could have. I might have helped the goal of 800 recapped games be achieved a couple weeks earlier, but ultimately I fell short and didn’t. I am overjoyed the 800 games project succeeded despite my shortcoming.
You may be wondering why a season summation recap wasn’t written about while featuring the final game as may be customary. Just like I fell short all season in, the Aggies didn’t quite finish the season with the expectations they hoped to fulfill. They lost in the CIT final to a balanced Mercer team that had a mettle unlike any other team I’ve seen play the Aggies in the Spectrum. In short for the Aggies it was also a season of “Woulda coulda shoulda, but didn’t quite.”
The Aggies, while short-handed and under experienced, performed in a way this season that no fan could have predicted, yet no one will forget.
The highs, lows and storylines are what makes midmajor college hoops real, unfettered by the theatrics and bloated obeisance that goes on above the red-line. It’s a real fans’ sport, and one that will always make me excited for next season.