Author Matt Konrad

17 entries

Hearts of Lions

Anyone who's read this site knows that we don't put much stock in the old saw that "sports are an escape from real life." On the contrary: sports are played, coached, and officiated by real people. Fans experience real joy and real despair. And the ugly business of sports is suffused with real money serving real...

Little Bits of History Repeating

Like I said: I don’t really know how I got here. That’s true in a more literal sense, too. I can’t remember where or why I first clicked on a link to the Mid-Majority, but my best guess is that it happened sometime late in Season 3. Fittingly, I was probably...

Miracle on Eighth Avenue

It lay at the top of Red Smith's dispatch from the Polo Grounds, where a one-game playoff for the National League pennant had been decided by Bobby Thomson's iconic "Shot Heard 'Round The World." The walk-off home run had capped off the New York Giants' furious charge...

The Admiral and the Beaver

The second week of November is a great time to be a basketball fan. As I write this, Bally is perched behind me keeping an eye on LIU-Brooklyn's effort at an Assembly Hall upset, and this morning I brushed my teeth to the dulcet tones of Dunk City and Hartford's TV-mandated early-morning tip. This week, of course,...

Man on a Mission

There's plenty that's exceptional about Our Game, circa 2013. Advanced stats and sci-fi cameras have given us unprecedented insight into basketball's inner workings. Positional stereotypes and conventional lineup wisdom are being questioned, ever more consistently and effectively. The world outside the...

No Place Like Somewhere Close To Home

Wherever you may be, Thanksgiving inspires thoughts of home. For me, that's also inspired a lot of thinking about the Northern Iowa Panthers in the last week. As I've mentioned, my current home is almost as far from a mid-major school as you can get. (Casper, Wyoming, I'm pretty sure you have me beat.) Heading...

Ledell & Randy & Tony & Tank

of shots -- but no one really minded, because a lot of them went in (and reliable rebounder Ronnie Grandison cleaned up the messes).  Basketball in New Orleans had been on a prolonged downswing; the Jazz decamped in 1979, and Tulane's program was decimated by a 1985 point-shaving scandal. In response, the...

After The Flood

From 1941-43, Fulks put together a 13.2 PPG scoring average -- pedestrian-sounding now, but incredible for a forward in that era. After an overtime loss in the NAIA Final Four, though, Fulks's Murray State career came to an end; with World War II raging, Fulks joined the Marines. He'd see plenty of basketball...

Didn't They Ramble

In the early years of NCAA basketball, Our Game had its unquestioned capital in New York City. The finest players and smartest coaches came up through the five boroughs, and an NIT victory at Madison Square Garden was the pinnacle of the college sport. Capitals attract power, of course, and that means money and...

When The Gold Dust Twins Met the Globetrotters

As Ray pointed out last week, Season X has finally bid adieu to one of the Mid-Majority's betes noires: the guarantee game, in which one of our own earns a much-needed paycheck (and a likely loss) for visiting a power-conference gym.  These guarantee games -- less charitably and more accurately 'body-bag...

Penn vs. Princeton: One Year, Two Rivals, Three Games

Here in the frozen Midwest, temperatures have spent more time below zero than above over the last two weeks; the rare respites on the thermometer usually just mean the clear, cold skies are replaced by another coating of slick, wet snow. Across much of Hoops Nation,the story is the same: Alberta Clippers, nor'easters,...

The Dons, the Streak and the Best Ever

Here in the Mid-Majority, our definitions of success are more malleable than the usual. They're shaped according to the team and the time, and with ten seasons' understanding of the uphill nature of our battles.  For our Towsons and Centenarys and New Jersey Techs, success has sometimes meant finding a single...

Cornbread, Al and Lee (Part One)

The University of North Carolina at Charlotte didn't play a single Division I basketball game until Al McGuire's second year of coaching at Marquette.  The school itself wasn't much older; it was founded in 1946, and saved from closure in 1949 by the city of Charlotte. The city operated it as a two-year...

Cornbread, Al and Lee (Part Two)

(See Tuesday's Part One to learn how we got here.) At the end of the 1969-70 season, Marquette coach Al McGuire turned down the team's invitation to the NCAA Tournament, protesting the selection committee's choice to send the Warriors to the Midwest regional in Fort Worth, rather than the Mideast bracket in nearby...

Freeman Williams's Very Good Week

In the entire history of NCAA basketball, only one guy has scored more points than Freeman Williams. That other guy, you know: Pistol Pete Maravich, college ball's all-time leading scorer, a legend at every level of the game.  Freeman Williams, though? The name doesn't ring the kind of bells you'd expect...

Thirty-Four Shining Moments

Maryland-Baltimore County, 2008: Joining Division I in 1986, the Retrievers were more peripatetic than most: they played as an independent, then in the ECC, the Big South and the Northeast before entering America East in 2003. Five years later, James Madison transfer Ray Barbosa and his former high school...

A Brief History of Flight

It had to be Dayton. A joyous start to our first NCAA tournament gave way to a brutal, wrenching weekend of mid-major losses. The magnificent Shockers were upset in a championship-level struggle; the first round victors from the Atlantic Sun and the Southland and the Summit and the Ivy couldn't quite maintain...

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David & Goliath: A Love Story

A new underdog book about disadvantage, survival, justice and probabilities by Kyle Whelliston, coming late 2019 Q2.