Yesterday's recap of South Carolina's Men's Basketball win over North Florida marks the start of the TENTH season for the College Hardwood. This blog started in December of 2005 and somehow, SOMEHOW, it makes it to a tenth season.
If you told me ten years ago that my site would outlive the Mid Majority, I would have told you "No way." But the Mid Majority is no more. As much as I lament the passing of the Mid Majority, there are other many independent blogs and web sites where you can get your daily fill of college basketball coverage, like terrific sites such as Big Apple Buckets and A Daly Dose of Hoops.
And the College Hardwood is also still here.
We've seen a lot, but we've slowed down too. We now make our home in South Carolina, which has been my place of residence for over two years. The local trips to Hempstead (Hofstra), New Rochelle (Iona) and Stony Brook have been replaced by the Colonial Life Arena, Davidson, and Spartanburg (Wofford and USC Upstate), albeit not as much.
Life has changed here in the College Hardwood. I coach both of my sons now in Little League Baseball and the season runs from February to November (two seasons really, spring and fall). The posts are not as frequent as they used to be. So if you're wondering why there was no recap of the first day of the NCAA regional from Raleigh, it's because I was coaching and umpiring baseball all day the next day.
So entering the tenth season, I was looking for some different. After seven seasons of mid major basketball (men's and women's basketball) and the last two seasons of covering mostly South Carolina men's basketball, with some mid major basketball sprinkled in, I was looking for something else. And I found it.
The last couple of years being down here in Columbia, South Carolina, I have become quite enamored with the play of the University of South Carolina's Women's Basketball team, coached by Dawn Staley. The team's play mirrors their coach; a tough minded, extremely talented, defensive oriented team.
And it's clear when you see the Women's team play of why their crowd's match the men's crowds. I have seen several USC women's games at Colonial Life, and outside of the men's team's upset of Kentucky last season, the arena has been most alive at the women's games. And it's easy to see why, in all those games, Staley's team exuded energy through stalwart defense, talent and solid team basketball principles.
A couple of years ago, the Gamecocks played the Cardinal of Stanford in one of the best defensive college basketball games I ever saw. Then there was last season's mid November game against my dear friend Tony Bozzella's Seton Hall Pirates, where the Gamecocks pulled away in the second half after only being ahead by two at halftime. Finally, there was the "Think Pink" Breast Cancer Awareness game where South Carolina used its size advantage to down Florida.
Alas, I wasn't there to witness their first game last night. As I previously noted, life has changed here in the College Hardwood over the past ten seasons and a little more than seven years ago, my younger son hadn't been born yet. But on November 17, 2007, he was born and yesterday we held a birthday party for Jonny, which included a good number of his baseball teammates. So Dawn Staley's team took a backseat last night.
For those of you I call "The Few, The Proud," aka the loyal readers of my site, don't worry. There will still be plenty of men's college basketball games that the College Hardwood will cover, including Tuesday's ESPN 24 Hours of Hoops Game between Baylor and South Carolina.
But in large part, the focus will be the South Carolina Women's Basketball Team. This season's motto is "One", which is a very accurate description of how they play.
Perhaps "One" will also mean at the end of the season "One" as in "One National Championship".