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Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Ride or Die

I'm no one's bandwagon fan.

The concept has never sat right with me. Sure, I'll find myself a rooting interest if I have no dog in the fight, but I can't see claiming a team that's not otherwise my own. I can sympathize with some reasons - UMBC, for example, has gained a healthy bandwagon over the past month and change because of the spotlight shone on a program that is lovable in every way - bit it's never been my style.

"Fairweather" is similarly pejorative among sports fans. That's me all day every day. My teams are my teams are my teams, but if I have a finite amount of time, attention, and resources, chances are the bottom of the order isn't getting the lion's share.

The 76ers have long been my fairweather bellwether. Their recent and long lasting struggles have kept them largely from my limelight, but I'm aboard as the Process starts turning profit in this year's playoffs. So don't be surprised if I crow a little when you've heard me be pretty quiet on the Sixers to this point, especially during this year I'm having.

Down the road and down the org chart sits the Sixers' Delaware-based G-League team. Dubbed the 87ers five years ago, they recently rebranded as the Blue Coats (not to be mistaken for the Bluecoats Drum and Bugle Corps of North Canton, Ohio). Though I was critical at inception, I had made my peace with the Sevens, but the change is a marked improvement. The colonial era connection with the parent franchise remains, but instead of connecting through important years, the Blue Coats imagery leans on Caesar Rodney's famous ride. The new brand is positively Delaware, and I'm entirely here for it.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Cause And Effect

As the 2018 iteration of One Shining Moment approaches - one that will certainly feature UMBC - I look to a few possible outcomes of the first round's historic upset.

First, personally: I've always rocked UMBC gear regularly, though I'd be lying if I didn't acknowledge I might do it a little more now. And people know what the hell it is.

In addition to the One Shining Moment feature, I hadn't considered until Brandon Horvath mentioned it in a quote in an ESPN article: The team is almost certainly going to be up for an ESPY this summer.

While this won't be a one-year proposition, a bit more success - and I'll note, coach Ryan Odom has already agreed in principle to a contract extension - could lead to a shift the next time realignment rolls around.

As a USF alumnus, I know a thing or two about conference realignment. UMBC has been a member of America East for the past decade and a half. In general I have few complaints about our conference membership, save for one big one: being a geographic outlier. UMBC's closest conference foe lies two states and 250 miles away, despite the contiguous state cluster of all other member institutions. UMBC is the second newest member, and in its most recent expansion - then Division II UMass Lowell - there seemed no speedy interest in bridging that gap. Might hardwood success make us an attractive target for another league?

It's tough to say. After all, being competitive is all but an after thought when it comes to television markets when realignment is concerned. There are a handful of conferences that are geographically and competitively reasonable:

-The Colonial Athletic Association. It's a perceived step up, perhaps the class of the one-bid leagues. From a media standpoint, it's a tough sell with conference member Towson just a few exits around the Beltway. From a personal standpoint, Elon's right down the road from me.
-The Metro Atlantic Athletic Association. We'd still be geographically disconnected from the rest of the MAAC, though the trip to the closest opponent cuts nearly in half from the America East. We'd be the only public school, but reunite with old NEC conference foes Quinnipiac and Monmouth
-The Big South. We fit the Mason-Dixon Line definition, at least, and we've been members before. Selfishly for me, member High Point is a short drive away, with several others a reasonable distance.

No one knows what the future holds, but here's hoping it's bright for the Dawgs.
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