My favorite seat for Gannon games is the row of metal chairs right behind the opponent's bench. I love seeing how coaches handle their teams and listening to them strategize against the team we know so well. I recall one coach last year instructing his point guard to lay off Joe Lindsey in order to collapse on Kyle Goldcamp and Vince Mosley even when they didn't have the ball. Lindsey isn't Steve Moyer, but when he's left wide stinkin' open, he'll make you pay. Lindsey hit a pair of threes over the next two possessions, and the opposing coach could only hang his head.
What I love almost as much as peeking into the other team's huddle is to check out the other team's media. I've been doing that for the past week, reading Central Missouri State's hometown paper, the Warrensburg (Mo.) Daily Star-Journal at www.dailystarjournal.com. (Side note: I don't know when they'll update the home page, but the March 24 lead story photo of 84-year-old twins Mildred Beard and Virgie Fockler putting chicken onto their Styrofoam plate at the local American Legion Hall is small-town awesome! You can't get this stuff in USA Today or the New York Times!)
The Star-Journal's sports headline today is "Mules gun for Gannon." Bet you never thought you'd never see that combination of words. The article isn't very deep, but it is accurate that the smaller Mules -- their starting forwards are 6-foot-4 and 6-foot-7 -- will need to first stop 6-foot-10 Goldcamp. An article in Sunday's Star-Journal, headlined "Still hurts: Mules want to avenge '07," talks about UCM's collapse in the DII Final Four two seasons ago. Head coach Kim Anderson's quotes were revealing -- I think. He says, "This team is really set on going out there and winning a national championship. I don't think they will be satisfied, nor was the '07 team satisfied with just being there." That makes me nervous because the Knights will likely be shaky early in the game because no one on the roster has been this far in The Tournament; the Mules have the leg up on NCAA experience.
But then Anderson compares this year's team to the UCM 2006-07 squad, saying, "The '07 team was a real explosive team that played good defense." Should I then surmise that this year's team isn't explosive and doesn't play good defense? Should I feel more confident in Gannon's chances because UCM's coach isn't describing them as unbeatable? Certainly not. The past week I've read thousands of words on Mules, Knights, Pioneers, and Oilers. Now I'm ready to watch some basketball. I won't be in my favorite seat -- in fact I'll be 460 miles away from the action -- but I'll be cheering like I was there.