First, an introduction
|Maryville's finest ... Marcus Fitzsimmons, that is ... joins the D3hoops.com team.|
"Have they lost their mind?"
"Who is this guy?"
Well to answer the first -- No.
Or more honestly, not entirely. The judgement to throw someone from the south end of D-III nation into this spot was somewhat better than the guys have occasionally been accused of possessing in some of the message boards and probably somewhat less than the thought and attention that they put into the redesigned and impressive new look for the site.
As to the second, it's a long story that the fans of 95 percent of the teams out there would be more than prone to merely skim for a mention of their school, coach, players. And while I'm tempted, not to say threatened to, use a random word generator to pull a scramble from the site's D-III database in a mass computer-aided mad lib to mention every single one, I refrained.
Not for cooler heads prevailing, but that there are simply too many to mention even in the limitless boundaries of cyberspace.
Which is the true challenge for this space.
In future weeks I'll hope to address some of the best and worst of what's going on across the basketball landscape. And with the help of some fans, some SIDs, some coaches and Pat and the guys on staff I might get lucky enough to swish an occasional good one out of the mix and mass of information -- and someone, some team, some noteworthy, some fine point or obvious conclusion will get missed.
D-III is just simply put, a big place. And even when limited to one sport for a topic it's still a very big place. Every team has a story and that's enough content that if it was digitized SportsCenter would be a six-hour show that never had reason to loop.
So what's a story-teller to do?
Well, pun totally intended, give it the old college try.
This space will try to provide some insight into the powers and season of what's going on in the South, the Northeast, the East, the Atlantic, the Middle Atlantic, the Great Lakes, the West and the Midwest, or Central. And before we say Wash U or any mention of a UW, that while there's designated spaces for milestones, and buzzer beaters and worthy notes, that there will be place for those things as well, because lets face it, there are a lot more folks who don't make the dance than get on the road to Salem or, Holland/Bloomington/Holland.
And for that I'll take all the input you wish to send me. I'll even take the eloquent critique of what I should have written and the dissing one-liner. If you don't have thick skin, you shouldn't be writing for a living, and if you aren't making someone mad, you're not doing it very well.
THE BIO (Start skimming)
I have only one person to blame for my fascination with Division III these now many years .. oh no it's not me. It's my former sports editor John Brice, who assigned me the Maryville College (yes that's the one in Tennessee, not Missouri) beat and delighted at first in my puzzlement but I believe was somewhat disappointed as well as pleased that I took to it and couldn't get enough. It must have been a novel conversation when four months later he had to explain to the publisher of The Daily Times why I had run off to Montgomery, Ala. to cover the GSAC basketball tournaments, something the paper had never considered before.
Since then, I've made every tourney, sometimes with the paper's support, sometimes on my own, sometimes sleeping in the floor of WBCR's George DeBaby and coach Jimmy Campbell (and God rest his now dearly departed soul, but you wanted to be up and out before coach Campbell woke up) and in the process visited every one of the coed member schools and even Agnes Scott last season and then through MC's USAC football membership, been to most of those men's schools as well with a few joy rides to see playoff games or big hoops games.
And so realizing he'd created a monster, John Brice sold his soul to Rivals.com, became the senior writer at VolQuest and left, and while he claims it was a good career move, I think he was more afraid I would corrupt his D1 ways and drag him off to Christopher Newport or Sewanee or Piedmont and then quite possibly leave him there.
He was, probably, wrong about that.
But with the age of journalism in America, even I have been curtailed and forced to add tasks and responsibilities as staff size has gone down so while I no longer get to spend as much time calling South region coaches about some snippet or other (to which I'm sure in at least a few cases their are few regrets to that change) or have as much time to sit in coach Randy Lambert's office for an earful of wisdom, I'd like to think we've done better than most in keeping faith with our readers in Maryville and providing one of the better coverage packages by a daily paper for a D-III school.
And perhaps we'll all find out if spending a good bit of that time looking at the national landscape from the perspective of a school seeking a Pool B bid provides a somewhat different slant on how things are shaping up as the season goes along.
And to answer the question yet unasked, no I'm not a MC alum. I didn't attend a D-III school and so have no allegiance to taint or axes to grind. For better or worse, I went to Tennessee when Pat Summitt was winning titles (not to say that fact narrows it down any), when a good season for the men's team meant you used two hands to count the wins and Pearl Jam was a new band from Seattle and not a reference to NCAA investigations at my alma mater.
FOR NEXT TIME (Stop skimming)
So to get things rolling, email me with which team you think had the most interesting off season. If your women’s team went to play in Italy or you have five starting freshmen or aliens abducted your coach, please share.
Marcus Fitzsimmons is a multi-platform editor at The Daily Times in Maryville, Tenn. who has a fear of teams with mascots beginning with the letter Z. Email him at email@example.com