The inaugural anything is tough - there's all that pressure, all those questions. What will the public think? Will this new thing be embraced, accepted? Will it become an iconic institution, or will it join the ranks of such outright flops as Crystal Pepsi, Cop Rock and the Tampa Bay Devil Rays?
So, with trembling hands and bated breath, I present to you the first-ever Mid-Majority Baller Of The Week. There is no special halftime presentation at halfcourt, no money to be donated to the school's general scholarship fund, no oddly-shaped trophy to hawk on eBay later. It's simply a small weekly acknowledgement of exceptional performances by players in the mid-major world.
(But I'm not above whoring out the title sponsorship to online advertisers. Would you like "Presented By..." or "... Presents"?)
This week's choice is relatively easy - it's Jonathan Sanders, the 6-7 senior swingman from St. Mary's College of California.
His 17 points and eight rebounds were instrumental in upsetting the California Golden Bears on Friday, setting up a cross-country flight to New York for Thursday's Coaches vs. Cancer semifinals. He also led his team with another 17 in the opening round against Belmont the previous day, going 5 for 11 from the floor and hitting seven of his eight free throws. For his efforts, he was named "Regional Most Valuable Player." Whatever that means.
Sanders, a transfer from Colorado State, averaged six points and four rebounds a game in his first full campaign with the Gaels last year. His biggest game of the season came against San Francisco on February 5, in which he scored 19 and grabbed 10 boards. He only scored in double figures three other times.
So could this opening weekend signal the emergence of a player from his shell? The emergence of a new force in the West Coast Conference? Thursday, 7 p.m. Eastern, Memphis, ESPN2. Go on, Jonathan, hold that Tiger.