As the second half of Dayton/Northern Illinois crawled on with no end in sight, I couldn’t help but think of The Office For several years, it was my favorite show on TV. It was fresh (to America), well written, and genuinely funny. Michael Scott was the bumbling, moronic boss who was actually very good at his job. Every workplace has a Dwight Schrute. Jim played the straight man, somehow remaining level headed while lusting after the only attractive female in the office. The show had the perfect mix of role players in Kevin, Oscar, Toby, Darrell, and Creed. It was appointment TV for me.
But then showrunner Michael Schur left to run the vastly superior Parks and Recreation, and before long it all went to shit. Michael and Dwight became caricatures of a caricature, Jim and Pam got married, and against all logic, Andy Bernard became the main protagonist despite being the least likable character of the lot. This show should have ended with Michael Scott boarding a plane to Denver. It was over. There was no story left to tell.
Yet, it carries on today, a zombie show still being produced simply for syndication dollars. And while I make no actual effort to follow the storylines, I still seem to watch most episodes. If asked to explain why, I wouldn’t have a real answer. I guess it’s just what I do.
This game was never fresh or well played, but at least it was funny for a while. Northern Illinois was Creed Bratton at his best, mumbling through a peyote flashback while taking a dump in the women’s restroom. Akeem Springs connected on their first shot attempt. This is important to note, because the following 16 minutes played out like, well, the basketball in the basketball episode of The Office. Missed layups, missed free throws, turnover after turnover, and zero points for NIU. None. Travon Baker mercifully gave the Huskies their third point of the game on a free throw with 3:07 left in the half, causing the UD townies to unleash a level of affection they typically only reach when middle-aged ladies do the Gangnam Style dance on the big screen.
To Dayton’s credit, they were really terrible as well. In a third straight disappointing offensive performance at home, the Flyers stumbled around the floor aimlessly. There was little ball movement and less player movement. They seemed to be finding ways to give the ball to the opponent. The first half ended with Dayton leading 26-5 (yes, 5 points in 20 minutes). And like The Office, that should have been it. There was nothing left to see. I should have left.
I didn’t leave. To be honest, I have little memory of the second half. I remember many turnovers, Khari Price hitting a 25 foot three and Mark Montgomery calling about a dozen timeouts. He called so many timeouts, he was given a technical for asking for a video review with no timeouts left (don’t get any ideas, Marvin Lewis). It was the most superfluous 20 minutes of basketball ever played. The final score was 60-43.
The closest thing to a star on the night was Devin Oliver, dropping 12 points, including 2 of 3 from deep, and 6 rebounds. Daddy Derenbacker’s baby boy played an amount of minutes, scoring 6 points. Devon Scott had a truly special stat line, 1 point and 10 rebounds in just 17 minutes of play. Khari Price quietly had a strong night, 6 points, 3 assists, and zero turnovers. Jalen Robinson and Vee Sanford did what they do.
I’m just glad it ended.