Bernstein Blog- CUSA Tourney Edition - Day 2

Charlie travels to Memphis and keeps us up-to-date with the UCF Knights quest at the C-USA Tournament. Here's what happened on game day.

Wednesday edition

There wasn't much excitement last night. I worked for much of the night, used the gym for a while, watched Knocked Up on HBO, then went to bed.

5:24 a.m.- For some reason, I'm awake. I'm not happy to be awake, but I'm awake. I checked my email for a little while, then went back to sleep for a few hours.

8:40 a.m.- I'm up and headed down to the hotel restaurant for breakfast. I opted for the buffet which in retrospect was a poor choice. It cost me roughly $19 and I wasn't really that hungry. That mistake will not be repeated tomorrow.

9:25 a.m.- I find out that Jermaine Taylor has won the C-USA Player of the Year Award. There's nobody more deserving, he's simply the best.

10:30 a.m.- I wrote a few more stories and it's just about time to get dressed. I jump into the tan Italian dress pants with the white, brown, and blue striped shirt (stripes both vertically and horizontally) and after three attempts, the tie is finally the correct length.

10:42 a.m.- I'm outside waiting for the trolley, and oh my god, it's freezing! The near 80 degree temperatures turned into mid 40's overnight and my Florida blood is thin.

11:13 a.m.- I arrive at the beautiful Fed Ex Forum, go through my security checkpoints, and enter the media room where there is a serious buffet going on. Chicken parmesan, baked ziti, sandwiches, Caesar salad, and much, much more. It would be rude for me not to sample some of it, so now I'm full.

11:38 a.m.- I find my way to the court, and both Rice and Marshall are warming up. Marshall has brought their band, marginally hot cheerleaders (who smell good by the way), and about 60-70 fans. Rice brought their team and coaching staff.

11:56 p.m.- The national anthem has played, and the Herd cheerleaders are performing the "We Are Marshall" chant. I discovered another section of Herd faithful in the upper corner of the arena. There are probably about 150 Marshall fans, and literally six people cheering for the Rice Owls.

12:05 p.m.- Intros are over, let's get it on!

12:11 p.m.- There's a stop in the action and the score is tied 6-6. Markel Humphrey is a pretty good player. Even though they are losing him, I see good things for Marshall next season. Pitts and Johnson are only going to get better and Lutz is a fine shooter.

12:26 p.m.- We're more than halfway through the first half and we have a score of 10-8. If you bet the under, you're loving life.

12:35 p.m.- The pace and quality of play in this game is making it difficult for me to stay awake, much less concentrate. The game is tied at 14 with five minutes left in the half.

12:51 p.m.- Halftime has come, mercifully. Marshall leads 22-20, and I think there has been more than 20 traveling violations called, all deservedly. Lets hope the mediocre first half turns into a much better played second half.

12:53 p.m.- The Marshall dance team has taken the court and they are doing a routine to Britney Spears' "Circus". The dancing was marginal, but I couldn't help notice that a few of the ladies could afford to drop some serious poundage.

12:57 p.m.- The UCF cheerleaders made their way to the arena and they are sitting behind the south basket.

1:08 p.m.- After grabbing some caffeine and a few pretzels I'm ready for the second half.

1:18 p.m.- Rice is shooting well and have taken a seemingly insurmountable five point lead at 31-26. When has a five-point lead been insurmountable in a basketball game with 14:43 left? When you have Marshall's offense today.

1:22 p.m.- A couple of baskets by Lawrence Ghoram have made it an eight point game. I'm not sure if Marshall has enough offense to score eight more points in the final 12 minutes.

1:30 p.m.- Rice has extended its lead to 13 on a Connor Frizzelle three-point shot. Nine minutes left in the game, put a fork in the Herd.

1:38 p.m.- The UCF band has made its way in the building.

1:46 p.m.- Marshall is making one last run. They've cut the Rice lead to four with just four minutes remaining.

1:51 p.m.- Run ended with a jumper by Aleks Perka, followed by a three by Rodney Foster. That's the ballgame.

2:06 p.m.- Although the final score of the game was 60-59, it really wasn't that close.

2:09 p.m.- Both teams have taken the court for warmups, nothing looks out of the ordinary.

2:10 p.m.- UCF looks a littler too serious. Nobody plays well when they're tight, I hope they're not tight.

2:18 p.m.- After a brief bathroom break, I'm back at courtside. Knightro and the Rowdy Knights are here in support of their team. As for the Southern Miss faithful, they must still be tailgating.


I grabbed some food at the media buffet following the press conferences and after talking to Doug Richards for a while, I'm back to take in some more hoops. The ECU Purple Pirates (I know that's not their name) are taking on the Tulane Green Wave. Lets see if the underdogs can make it three for three.

6:30 p.m.- Jamar Abrams of ECU is a really good player. He's only a sophomore and he has great things ahead of him.

6:53 p.m.- The Pirates aren't playing any defense and they went from up seven points to down nine at the half.

7:02 p.m.- A ball flies out of bounds near me. I quickly lean over the table, control the dribble and fire a look-away chest pass to the official. It's nice to be part of the game.

7:08 p.m.- Coach Tom Penders and his Houston Cougars have entered the court. I spent quite a bit of time talking to Penders yesterday and he was very kind and intelligent. I had no idea of the plight of the mid-major team, and how much of a problem scheduling is.

7:14 p.m.- Tulane is taking over the game, they're up by 17 and ECU can't seem to get any stops.

7:25- ECU is on a run and have cut the lead to eight points. There's just under eight minutes left.

7:28- ECU has cut it to six.

7:32- Tulane answers, lead back up to 13. Ball game.

8:00- I've been here for about nine hours and my brain is fried from watching basketball. I didn't think it was possible, but apparently it is.

8:03- The SMU cheerleaders just walked by me. I'm not impressed.

8:15- Houston cheerleaders walked by. I am impressed.

8:30- Walked around the arena to see what this place is all about. It really is nice.

8:35- SMU-Houston getting it on. I am 0-3 today with my picks, but I've got Houston in this one.

9:02- Houston is toying with SMU, the talent disparity between these two teams is much greater than the current six point margin (27-21).

9:04- My favorite NCAA basketball player is Papa Dia. Not because he's that good, I just like saying Papa Dia.

9:07- Paul McCoy is going to be a very good player.

9:30- Cougs up 41-30 at the half. I fully expect them to blow this thing wide open in the second half.

9:35- I've been wrong about everything else today, SMU is putting together a run to get within eight.

9:41- The Cougars mascot, "Shasta" is grinding on the security guard. It's really funny. While that's happening, the Mustangs have trimmed the lead to five points.

9:44- Attendance for the session was 9,840, most of which were dressed as blue seats.

9:49- I love the names of the SMU players—Papa Dia (my favorite), Bamba Fall, Mouhammed Faye, and Robert Nyakundi. That's great.

9:59- Papa Dia shot an airball from the free throw line, which is funny. Houston center Marcus Cousin one-upped him by shooting an airball of his own from the free throw line. I've never been to a game with two air-balls from the free throw line. Wow!

10:04- SMU is still hanging in there, down by just eight with five minutes left. Paul McCoy is having a nice game.

10:25- The Mustangs fell to the Cougars, but they probably played one of their best games all year. Williams and McCoy were impressive, and it looked like Houston didn't play all that hard, knowing that they were going to get the job done. That type of attitude won't do much for them on Thursday.

10:32- I wrap everything up and I'm headed back to the hotel. I catch a cab with a crazy, American woman who won't stop talking. Although I don't really know what she's talking about.

10:40- Back at the hotel, I decide to go to the bar to grab a quick snack before bed. There was a group of NBA scouts and we were talking about the guys we like. J.T. hurt himself a lot today.

11:20- I eat a sandwich and I'm headed up. See you tomorrow.

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