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Nothing But Nets

Posted by Mark Blaudschun, Globe Staff  January 21, 2009 01:03 PM

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You won't find it on your ESPN schedule. Or anywhere near the results if you look at the Top 25 scoreboard. But it's a big game. How big? Listen to one of the coaches involved.

"I've coached games at Rupp Arena. I've coached at the Dean Dome. But nothing compares to the pressure I'm feeling about this one.''

How you doing Tim O'Shea? O'Shea used to play basketball at Boston College. He used to be an assistant to current Eagles coach Al Skinner at Rhode Island and then Boston College. He then became a head coach at Ohio University for seven years.

Since last spring he has been the head man at Bryant University in Smithfield, R.I., which used to be the summer home of the Patriots, when it was called Bryant College.

Now Bryant U is what is called a "transitional'' Division 1 school, which means it's moving up to the boys who take part in the Big Dance known each year as the NCAA Tournament.

It will take a couple of years to make that switch and O'Shea, who has a long-term contract as security, knows it. Bryant is not very good. The Bulldogs are 3-15, but they are coming off a win over Fairleigh Dickinson on Saturday. That makes them the favorite for tonight's road game against New Jersey Institute of Technology.

NJIT is 0-18, but it is 0-51, dating back to its last win in February of 2007.

Now you know why O'Shea is nervous.

Throw that out though and O'Shea is fine with the way things are. He's back in New England, living in Newport, R.I., coaching basketball and having fun.

"We're definitely better than we were at the start of the season,'' said O'Shea. "But that doesn't mean you are going to win. The talent gap is still there. We were a solid Division 2 team. You can't throw them in against Division 1 schools and expect to win. But I took this for the long haul. I took the job to build a program.''

But the pressure tonight is real.

"Every coach in the country dreads a game like this,'' said O'Shea. "We don't want to be the school that loses to them. At some point, they are going to beat somebody. I just don't want it to be us.''

O'Shea feels this will be the toughest year.

"It's a four year transition,'' he said. "Hopefully we can double our win total of this season next year and build on that. Hey, I've got an eight year contract and I'm living in Newport. How bad can it be?'''
Talk to us after tonight, Tim.

Doesn't get any better than this
If you are a college basketball fan, last Saturday was Super Bowl Saturday. From noon until midnight, you had the best of the sport, a clicker away. In the course of 12 hours, you could see 17 ranked teams play (we tried). We saw No. 8 Syracuse beat No. 13 Notre Dame. We saw two of the three remaining unbeaten teams in the country -- No. 3 Wake and No. 9 Clemson -- face each other, with Wake winning on the road. We saw the other unbeaten team, No. 1 Pittsburgh, lose to No. 20 Louisville. We saw No. 15 Arizona beat No. 7 UCLA at Pauly Pavillion.

Twelve hours of non-stop action through the magic of cable television and a clicker that was working.

Best Game we never saw
Boston University's four overtime 99-97 America East game over Stony Brook. It started out as just a spot computer check to see how BU and our buddy coach Dennis Wolff was doing in their Martin Luther King matinee game. We checked the first time and BU was ahead by three with 2 minutes left in regulation.

No problem, we thought. Check again and we saw that Stony Brook had tied it at 56 and it was headed for overtime.

OK. We checked again. One overtime. And then two overtimes. Now we were curious and too lazy to check the game on radio. We went to ESPN's game tracker, which is a kind of old fashioned play-by-play update.

Three overtimes. Then four overtimes.

Every 20 seconds we got updates, waiting. Finally, it was over BU wins.

We waited a few hours and then called Wolff on his cell phone, telling him we were exhausted just getting updates. "How do you think I feel,'' joked Wolff.

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