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How SMSU and Drake Can Get to the Final Four

SMS is playing at Rutgers (the New Brunswick campus) in the first two rounds of the NCAA women's basketball tournament, and while they may have an easy time of it in the first game, after that it would be nice if they had some help. SMS doesn't have a home-crowd advantage and all of their opponents are first-class teams. They are joined in the NCAA tournament by their basketball sisters of the Missouri Valley Conference from Drake, who will be playing their own classy brand of roundball right down the highway, I-95, in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Just thinking now, but wouldn't it be cool if the formidable 6'4" Carla Bennett from Drake were on the SMS team? Carla would be a great inside presence, as she proved countless times during the regular season for Drake. Carla + Jackie + Carly and everyone else, well now, that would be an enhancement to the already top-of-the-line Lady Bears.

So, a suggestion to the Lady Bears to pack an extra uniform before they hit the road for New Jersey. Or maybe a couple of extra, in case TWA sends their luggage to Albuquerque. Then Saturday, the Lady Bears hit the court with an extra player. But does the Toledo team notice the extra player? Well, why would they? They've never played SMS before. They've never even played a Missouri Valley Conference team. They don't call them the Toledo "Mud Hens" for no reason now, do they? Besides, SMS could pack a jar of henna along, and Carla could rub it into her hair and viola - hey, who's the tall woman with the black hair?

But why would Drake be willing to help out SMS? How about if we give them some cash? It wouldn't be the first time someone tried that in New Jersey. But since SMS territory is not Silicon Valley or the Beltway, raising a lot of cash is probably out of the question. So how about a trade? In exchange for Carla Bennett's help, we could loan a player from SMS to Drake for their Friday night game.

Question - can you think of an SMS player Drake would like to borrow for a game or two?

However, what if someone in the audience recognized good 'ol Number Ten from SMS making fast breaks for the Drake team? Trying to get by with a disguised Carla Bennett is one thing, but there might be more than one sharp-eyed reporter who would recognize the fast-moving mechanical scoring machine from SMS. So we bring along a pair of sunglasses that Jackie could wear while she's on the court passing and shooting three's for Drake. The shades probably wouldn't bother Jackie, we're talking about a person who could play better basketball on rollerblades with square wheels than most people can play with Reeboks.

But maybe there would be an official from the NCAA at the game, who would wonder about the new player. I don't think we need concern ourselves with this possibility, after all, this the same organization that seeded SMS 5th instead of a placement they more rightfully should have occupied. As far as the NCAA is concerned, America consists of the East Coast teams and the West Coast teams, and everything else is a vast "flyover country", some bluish-greenish and cloud patchwork that they see out of their little boxy airplane windows as they fly from New York to LA and back to New York. I mean, when we're talking about the upper echelons of NCAA officialdom, we're not talking Mensa material.

By following this outline, Drake and SMS could get to the Final Four.

This could really work, because Drake plays on Friday and SMS plays on Saturday, so we would have plenty of time to shuffle the players back and forth. Try to envision the eastern seaboard as a giant checkerboard, with each state a square. It's only a short hop by car from Rutgers to the Newark airport, then a jump on Delta down to Raleigh, North Carolina. Or, even by rental vehicle, it's only a few hours on Interstate 95. New Jersey troopers don't care how fast you go, as long as you stay out of their lane (the lane farthest to the left) - so the trooper can impress you as he cruises by at ninety. In Maryland you had better slow down because traffic tickets make up a significant portion of the state budget, but then Maryland is a small state and before you know it you're across the Potomac into Virginia, where it's okay to speed, in fact it's dangerous not to. When everyone else is going twenty miles over the speed limit all the way from Washington, DC to the North Carolina state line in bumper to bumper traffic, you better get with the plan unless you want a few new dents in your Neon.

And hey, when Drake and SMS meet in the Championship game, I have a friend from high school who is now a pilot for a major airline. He could fly the Drake team to Puerto Rico, and then the Lady Bulldog coach would have to forfeit when the rest of the team didn't arrive in St. Louis on time.