Atlantic Sun Tournament Recap
The Atlantic Sun Tournament opened play in the first week of March, declaring their champion second to the Big South. Of course the Ivy League has no post-season tournament and therefore decides their automatic bid first.
Stepping into Lipscomb University’s Allen Arena, a resplendent concert hall, it becomes immediately apparent the title sponsor is General Shale Brick. That cannot be conducive to high field goal percentages.
Belmont entered the 2009 Atlantic Sun Tournament with an interesting credential. They are one of only six teams in the country to have won an automatic bid the past three years. Can you name the others? Answers at the bottom.
Where Nice Is Natural…
Prior to Mercer-Belmont quarterfinal, dueling pep bands tried to one-up each other. The pep band catalogs are so similar across the country that each song played inevitably had a slot in the memory of the opposing band. Following better performances light applause arose from across the arena. The tussling bands found their co-existence comical but energizing.
The Belmont cheerleaders came over at halftime of a women’s game to introduce themselves and shake hands with the Campbell crew. Cheerleaders are inclined to be feline. Catty if you will. These “rivals” went out of their way to smile and welcome.
A passive-aggressive argument arose between Lipscomb students over first-come first-serve seats. With all the etiquette of Anne of Green Gables, a cheery student sincerely asked, “Why can’t we all just be a family?”
Prior to the national anthem, we bowed our heads in prayer. That is the very first time I have ever experienced that in a public athletic setting.
Mishap perhaps? As Mercer closed the game to 46-41, Florence feigned a three-point shot, coaxing Andy Wicke into the air. Wicke, who drew his third foul on the play, came down on Florence who nailed all three free throws. Personal foul trouble, increasing confidence of their best shooters, and fouling a three-point attempt all coalesced in this ignominious play.
No points scored for three minutes of game time. And it was amongst the most exciting three minutes of the tournament. From 5:26 to 2:31 the teams flapped their offensive wings like a baby bird. Fluttering without motion. Bodies were falling, hopes high, chants consistent, little kids dancing in the aisles, and glee mixed with dread. Polar opposite emotions shared the same hearts. You gotta love a late tie when the season is on the line.
Beating more buzzers than Family Feud Champions
Can’t beat two buzzer beaters in one game. Down one point, Mercer’s leader drove the lane and sent an irrational floater up towards the hoop. With nine seconds remaining it banked straight in. Planned? Who cares? Without interruption Belmont’s Andy Wicke darted down the court haphazardly throwing a shot off the backboard. Mick Hedgepeth hurriedly put the rebound back up and in. One-fifth of a second remained. Belmont, the most at-home of all the away teams celebrated with their relatively sizable crowd.
I am pretty sure–no, I am very sure–the Lipscomb Bison scratched his butt towards the Campbell Pep Band.
Campbell Camel was the best mascot in attendance. The Beastie Boy exhibited fresh dance moves and playful gestures towards the officials.
Ever tied your shoe under extreme pressure? Campbell’s forward lost his shoe and got both an official’s timeout and a bucketful of jeers to supply the soundtrack.
A unique bond developed between the vociferous Lipscomb Cheering Section and the weary Campbell Pep Band. Campbell’s band witnessed both of its teams lose (women and men) within a five hour timespan. Together they led a rousing Green Day sing-a-long and started the wave.
To a hip-hop jam, the Camel found a semi-naughty groove to which a Lipscomb fan replied, “We do not dance on Lipscomb’s campus.” His tone conveyed a half-serious, half-sorrowful tone.
Trivia Question Answer: Memphis, Kansas, Davidson, Winthrop, and Oral Roberts all won their last three conference tournaments (2006, 2007, 2008).