It’s Williams vs. UW-Stevens Point at 1 PM

Here’s the link to the video from CBS Sports. The game will also be televised on the CBS College Sports Network.

Pre-game notes and roster details here

We will be liveblogging here and on twitter. Join us!

2:00 Tough loss for our boys, who had a truly great season. Wisconsin-Stevens Point made the plays when they needed to, we did not. The glory of sports is that they provide the opportunity to succeed but only at the risk of failure. If there were only upside, none of it would be anywhere near as compelling. The prospect of losing is what makes winning so glorious. The guys had a magical run and had a chance to win a national championship. Congratulations to them, and congratulations to the Pointers who are worthy champions even if they do not look anywhere near as resplendent in our color scheme.

To the seniors: These are some of the hardest days of your lives. With all of the buildup to this game there was little opportunity to reflect on what it all meant. My senior season of track ended with me writhing in pain with a ruptured hamstring in the triple jump pit at the All New England Championships at Tufts, a high seeding and thus future dreams going for naught. I managed to rehab and jumped for the Greater Boston Track Club for a year, then a couple of years later played rugby for my university in South Africa, but it was never the same as donning the purple and gold and I was never the same athlete. The end comes abruptly, for most of us well before we would be able to reach a physical peak. It’s tough to know that this phase of your life, so important for so many years, is done at the age of 22. I wish you all the best, and hope you know that you gave many great joy on this run to Salem.

To the Ephblog community, thanks for the chance to do this. It was great fun despite the ending that probably has many of us feeling pretty drained and empty.

1:57 relying on them to miss their free throws appears to be a losing gambit. Ball stolen away. Time becoming an evil and immutable enemy.

1:53 This is excruciating. It will all come down to this defensive effort. If we can get a stop, we will have a chance. The last quarter of this game has not gone in our favor at all. Make them work the length of the court. Not a fan of that foul. Apparently neither is Maker. Wish this guy would miss – nope.

1:46 Williams fighting like hell to crawl back into this game. The announcers are talking about Schultz being the key for the Ephs, but I believe that the key to yesterday was the way everyone stepped up. We need Rubin to make a few plays, we need Robertson to have a magic moment or two, we need Whittington to continue to dominate, we need Wang to play like he can. We are right back in this. Tough miss by Whittington.

1:42 W-SP now has a 6-point lead and is going to the line after a phantom foul on a breakaway. Ugh.

1:38 One of the main issues coming into this game — into any game — is the idea that teams with contrasting styles need to win the battle of imposition of will. Williams has rarely in this game been able to do that. The result has been this W-SP run that now has them ahead 60-59 with 5:30 to go an W-SP with the ball.

1:32 Things still super slow at our server. It is taking 3-4 minutes for my updates to post. I’ll fight through it, as I am a trouper. W-SP has been rolling and Williams has not played its best basketball. Schultz has four fouls and W-SP has been focused on shutting him out. It’s now 56 all after another 3 Pointer. We respond, but we need to turn the momentum.

1:27 Have I pointed out that these are two really good teams? Either of these teams would have won the DII Heartland Conference in which UTPB played and I’d bet either would have gone undefeated. 56-50, Williams, Schultz called for his third foul. Now 56-53 after a W-SP 3. Much-needed timeout by Maker.

1:20 I agree with the creepy Jack in the Box guy — bacon does make everything taste better. A helpful and tasty cooking hint (I betcha didn’t know that dcat was a good cook, didja?): Sprinkle bacon with brown sugar and then bake for 20 minutes at 375. Heavenly! Whittington killing!

1:19 Things going our way now. Up 7 after Schultz makes all three free throws and then a turnover on the traveling call. In to Whittington. Impose your will! Our purple is better’n your purple!!!!!!

1:17 Serious slowness issues with the server. Let’s hope it holds up through the end of the game, but I just got a bizarre error message. Schultz fouled on the 3 attempt. We are such a good free throw shooting team.

1:15 Rubin 3, and we’re up by six. But they respond and it’s back to a 3-point lead unless they rule this a deuce. Foot on line according to replay. Should be a lead o’ 4.

1:14 Thanks for those of you sending in the live stats. I’m watching on tv so have not been using the live tracking.

1:10 Robertson, the talented freshman from Ann Arbor, was wide open in the middle down low and instead he got the ball and dished it back up top. Don’t get too clever. Convert when the conversions are there.

1:08 I’m not certain who the kid behind the basket in the Celtics jersey is rooting for, but kudos for your NBA tastes young man!

1:05 Whew! Frenzied opening of the second half. We’re winning that battle — 41-38. Even CBS is having a hard time staying on top of the scoring.

1:01 And we’re off for the second half. Foul against Dodson followed by a drive and score on the inbounds. Geoghegan makes his presence felt for the first time, Williams 34-32. But W-SP comes back to tie. We’ll take a shootout . . . a flurry — 38-36. I can barely keep up!

12:59 I wonder if anyone else will ever step up to try to host this championship? I have no opinion one way or the other about Salem. And I suppose the critical mass of DIII schools is on the east coast, but I would love to see a place like Trinity (in San Antonio, not Conn) step up to try to host this. San Antonio has a great deal of appeal, the population base might help attendance, and I’d be able to attend, which surely ought to be a consideration!

12:48 These are two really good teams. I don’t even feel as if Williams is playing all that well. I wish I had access to game stats (Ronit found them — see the comments — send me a link?) but it seems as if we are beating them while playing their game. Part of that, of course, is that they are good and have been able to impose tempo, and their defense has made it difficult for us to impose our will on offense. We need to be more careful with the ball. We should ride Whittington to open up the threes. Wang has been quiet as has Schultz, which actually might bode well if they get going in the second half. We have to step it up on D and we need to contest every jump shot, which we have not done. A team does not make the national championship game if they cannot hit open jump shots. We need to make sure they do not have open jump shots. Still, I like where we are today more than I like where we were at this time yesterday. The key will be who comes out of the half sharp. These first five minutes will be key.

12:45 Halftime: Good Guys in Purple 32 Poseurs in Purple (which would be a great band name) 30.

12:41 One of the things I love about DIII, and about being able to watch Williams in particular is that I went to school with these guys. At Williams these are your lab partners or suite mates, are in your group project or participate in your study sessions, wear their basketball gear on campus, but that is just gear amidst the track and lacrosse and wrestling and baseball and football gear on half the people you see. Whenever I go back, for Homecoming or track or Octet reunions or just passing through I love that they are me, albeit working harder in classes and with more hair.

12:37 Is schadenfreude about Amherst’s loss in the women’s Final Four acceptable? I say yes. Ha ha!

12:33 Whittington getting two tough baskets in the middle. 27-24 good guys. Announcers singing his praises.

12:31 Um, fellas? Gotta step out on the three-point shooter. Enough with the open looks. Nice response with a three of our own, but they are making us work more on O than we are making them work on O.

12:31 Ephs down 5. I know we are poised and can come from behind, but we’d really prefer not to have to.

12:28 The announcer says after that nice UW-SP jump shot: “You don’t think he wants this game?” Who would think such a thing? Is there anyone on the court for either team who does not want this game? Does a miss somehow reflect a lack of desire?

12:25 Oh, poop. The Pointers take the lead and then we go down and miss a shot. We are in a lull now, and this is on pace to be a low-scoring game, which does not favor us.

12:25 I love DIII sports. . . . I hate missed layups.

12:23 You hate to be that guy complaining about a call, but I’ma be that guy: Dubious offensive foul.

12:20 Perhaps not surprisingly the vast majority of their roster is from Wisconsin, with a Minnesota import or two. Got to respect the branch campuses, people. Though they have 9,000 students. Not that campus size makes much difference in this day and age of recruiting – it’s not like they are having open tryouts for half the roster or anything. They may have a walk-on or two on both squads, but most all of them were recruited.

12:19 Whoa — CBS coming correct with a nifty purple cow graphic for Williams!

12:18 Crashing the boards reasonably well.

12:16 Tied up at 9 w/ 14 to go in the half (now 11-9) — is it too early to say that these teams seem evenly matched physically and so this is likely to go to the wire?

12:14 Just a reminder that this game is also being broadcast on CBS College sports channel, which many of you might have without even knowing it. Go through your channels — you might be surprised. The coverage on the real tv is a lot better than online.

12:12 Settle down, boys. Possession of the basketball is the equivalent of outs in baseball — a precious commodity that can easily be undervalued.

12:10 This kid shooting free throws looks a lot like Uncle Leo after the explosion. (Seinfeld reference!)

12:08 What do you think the SAT disparity on the floor is right now? 1500 in the old system? (Yeah, I went there.)

12:06 First blood. I do hope they go inside out. If they can open up the outside game it can in turn open up the inside game.

12:05 I suppose it ought to be said: Live by the three, die by the three. If we have that shooting touch today we will be very tough to beat. If we do not, I think the degree of difficulty is ratcheted up significantly.

12:03 Hey, pick your own colors, cheese-gobblers!

12:01 Imagine what these guys on both teams must be feeling? It has to be awesome. I was on some very good track teams at Williams, and I still can conjure up that feeling before a big meet. But this has to be incredible.

12:00 Coaches in the locker room. Let me just say: I HATE WISCONSIN-STEVENS POINT SO MUCH!!!

11:54 Let’s not kid ourselves: predicting college sports is a fool’s errand. You doubt it? How’s your Big Dance bracket look after the first round of games? Had I not attended Ohio University for my PhD I sure as hell would not have had OU crushing Georgetown. (But I did go to OU — PhD 2003 — so I did!.) Speaking of which, I am trying to strike a delicate sartorial balance today. Williams means a whole lot more to me than OU, to be sure, but I still have to represent for the Bobcats, who will be facing those dastards from Tennessee later this afternoon. So I’m wearing an OU sweatshirt over my awesome heavy-duty grey Williams t-shirt with the purple “WILLIAMS” across the front. I have on my old track sweats and an old-school purple fitted Williams hat. I’ll strip the sweatshirt as necessary, though a cold snap has hit Texas today (I suffer for my EPHS!)  and when the OU game comes on later I’ll swap hats. But I know in my bones that these decisions matter. That the bounce of the rims in Salem may be predicated on  actions that I undertake here in Odessa hundreds of miles away. Yes, I need professional help. But anyone who read Bleeding Red (and I’d like to thank the ten of you who did) already knew that.

In any case: Williams 84-80. Am I a rampant homer? Yes. But I would assert that Williams has to win a high-scoring game.

11:29 (We’re talkin’ Texas time, people — add an hour!) I’m going to try my hand at liveblogging this here game. I’m going to keep the relevant links on top of the post. This will probably get long, so at halftime I will try to get the first half stuff placed below the fold. Whet this won’t be: Play-by-play for the game, though I will obviously emphasize highlights and will give regular score/time updates. What this might be: A Sportsguy-esque liveblog with commentary, tragic attempts at humor, and observations wry and hopefully at least intermittently insightful. Unlike Simmons, I’ll be keeping my references to friend that none of us know to a minimum, and I’ll try to keep the majority of my pop culture references within the last, say, two decades. Finally, you can write me during the game at derekcatsam *at* hotmail dot com if you want to complain, converse, or give advice. I may not be able to check comments very often because that would require a lot of toggling back and forth and I know I’ll screw it up royally. (Oh — and obviously I’ll add new material at the top, not the bottom, because that would make no sense.) Back with “pregame” in a bit. Go Ephs!!!!!

NB

On the day of the game and the next day (20, 21) the masthead included this illustration:

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