Eight schools took the court last night to help make college basketball's regular season debut one of the most uneventful opening nights in all of sports. Illinois, Maryland and Texas all turned in dominating performances against lesser foes, and Pittsburgh eventually came to their senses and thwarted a Rhode Island upset bid. Basically, the good teams won and there wasn't much else to talk about. Ho-hum. One can only hope that next year's premiere will have a slightly higher excitement value. Thankfully, Jeff Eisenberg over at The Dagger came up with three novel ideas for spicing things up on opening night in future seasons. Yes, yes and yes. We agree with all three.
But while you were stuck watching games that actually counted for something, a big time program was busy making their fans violently ill with downright putrid basketball. The Tennessee Volunteers, led by their overly-caffeinated coach Bruce Pearl, took on Indianapolis in the ultimate tune-up exhibition game. Or so everyone thought. Usually the Vols wait until their non-conference schedule actually kicks off to lose to a terrible basketball team. Yesterday that theory was proven incorrect.
The problem was that Pearl's team literally forgot how to score to open up the second half, allowing the Division II Greyhounds to go on a nice 15-0 run. The Vols were too busy coughing up the ball to ever mount a serious threat again after that, and were promptly trounced 79-64. Along with committing 25 turnovers, the Vols shot just 51% from the line and bricked on 22 of 29 three point attempts. It was simply awful, awful stuff out of this game last night. Guard Melvin Goins called the defeat "an embarrassment to ourselves and to our fans." Unfortunately for Melvin, he forgot the part about this being an embarrassment to the sport itself. Is the domain FireBrucePearl.com taken yet?
Sadly, it was only a few days ago when the Xavier Musketeers took the floor against Bellarmine University (who?) in a game that literally sent fellow blogger Nick Fasulo's head through a wall. Just for the record, Bellarmine is a Catholic liberal arts school in Kentucky that also hails from the Division II ranks. The Knights sank two dreadful free throws to pull the upset with only 1.3 seconds left on the clock. Yikes.
Exhibition games. They're killers.