CAA: Surprise Of NCAA Men's Basketball Season

Mark SaltzContributor IDecember 13, 2009

PHILADELPHIA - MARCH 19:  Larry Sanders #1 of the VCU Rams slam dunks against Alfred Aboya #12 of the UCLA Bruins during the first round of the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament at the Wachovia Center on March 19, 2009 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Before beginning this article I would like to remind my readers about the premise of this college basketball series.  The intent is to not solely report on the games on the floor, but the goings on around the arena.  In others words what was my experience during the course of this season.

Now back to the regularly scheduled program.

In recent years the Colonial Athletic Association has been creeping into the collective subconscious of American sports fans. 

First was the improbable run by George Mason into the Final.  Then Virginia Commonwealth knocks off Duke in the first round. 

This season the Rams have struck again taking down Oklahoma.  And the College of William and Mary went down to Winston-Salem and beat Weak, rather Wake Forest.

So when The Tribe and VCU took the court on December 5 it was sure to be a great game. 

Despite what the loyal Ram supporters think, it was.

Tip off was set for noon.  An hour later the William and Mary football team was slated to play Southern Illinois in the Division I FBS playoffs.

Wait, if part of D-One can have a playoff, why can't all of it?  Oh right.  Money.

As is my preference I arrived at Kaplan Arena an hour before tip-off.  Being able to see the preparation before the game completes the whole game day experience.  I get my ticket, find my seat and realize I am seated an aisle width away from the VCU section.

In a previous article I complemented the Ram fans for their enthusiasm.  This article will not.

Sure they make the trek to Williamsburg and were able to arrive before a noon start.  Good job. 

Perhaps the best way to describe the Rowdy Rams is to compare them to Impressionist art.  From far away they sound wonderful.  However the closer you get the more you realize the lack of attention to detail.

Sometimes a foul is a foul.  Deal with it. 

I understand booing a bad call, and there were some.  But not every call requires ignorant zeal. 

For example, one Tribe player was pivoting with his elbows extended.  Legal. Then a VCU player slapped for the ball and got part of the W and M players arm.  Illegal. 

The referee blew his whistle in favor of the Tribe.  And you would have thought someone had stolen free pizzas from the VCU section.

One fan began shouting, "He was getting elbowed in the face.  How would you like getting an elbow to the face?  (pause) You wouldn't like it very much."  No he wouldn't.  But rules are rules.  Learn them.

Not only was I seated near the youthful VCU fans, but I also in the founding members of the College of William and Mary section.  One side is a group of people who use YouTube to evaluate a players value, and the other compares every great player to George Mikan.  I love this game.

As for the game.  William and Mary jumped to an early edge.  They were wise in taking away Larry Sanders by fronting him and not allowing him to dunk.  Mr. Sanders was forced to use a short range jumper, which he did effectively. 

Virginia Commonwealth made their run.  They made what felt like 11 of 10 shots from three point range.  They just didn't miss.  At the half the Rams lead 40-27. 

As VCU was racing to its halftime advantage the PA announcer began updating the fans of the William and Mary/Southern Illinois football score.  The first couple of announcements went the Salukis way 3-0. Thus earning cheers from the Rowdy Rams.

Tribe Fever responded by chanting, "We have football." 

All the VCU fans could muster was a wimpering-know-you-got-served, "SO"


In the second half the Tribe chipped away at the Rams lead.  But each time they got close VCU drained a three like it was a lay-up.  They made it look that easy.

As the updates from the football game began to favor the Tribe so did the score.  William and Mary was able to go ahead by four late 73-69. 

VCU was able tie the game at 74. 

William and Mary had the ball as time ticked off the clock.  VCU had David Schneider trapped and was close to getting a jump ball, but one player grabbed arm and not ball.  Whistle blows.

Foul on VCU.

Who keeps taking these kids pizza?  Stop it.

Schneider misses the first, and makes the second.

Seven seconds left.

Rams inbound as Joey Rodriquez flops to the floor.  No call. 

VCU fires a three. 


Tribe wins 75-74. 

On the way out of the arena the Ram fans were in disbelief.  One had brought a dry erase board, wrote "Crooks", and displayed to every Tribe fan on the way out. 

What is it about sports that gets people so emotionally attached?  Its sad. 

Its sad only because I can relate too well.

William and Mary also won the football game 24-10.