First Southland Conference Tournament for ORU teams

March 14, 2013
Jeff Brucculeri

It’s basketball tournament time and the Oral Roberts University men’s and women’s basketball teams are headed to Katy, Texas, this week to take part in the Southland Conference Tournament.

The Golden Eagles are finishing up their first season in their new conference, so there isn’t much historical information to speak of, but the lack of any true rivalries in the league thus far may bode well for ORU.

Gone is the pressure of having to play top-notch teams like Oakland, South Dakota State, North Dakota State and Western Illinois. Gone is the humiliation of losing to teams in the tournament that you beat twice during the regular season.

Gone is the factor that you know your opponent so well, and they know you, that each and every game is decided in the final minute.

There are a few more surprises in the Southland Conference since there isn’t that familiarity.

The ORU women wrapped up the regular season on Saturday with a 68-53 win at Central Arkansas. The Golden Eagles finished tied for first in the conference standings with Sam Houston St. (13-5). By virtue of the tiebreaker the ORU women will be the No. 1 seed in the tournament and will have a bye in the first two rounds. They will play in the semi-finals Friday at 11 a.m. If they win, they’ll play in the championship on Saturday at 1 p.m.

The men lost at Central Arkansas, 86-84, in overtime, and finished the regular season in third place (13-5). With the No. 3 seed, the ORU men will play Thursday at 7:30 p.m.

If they win they’ll play in the semifinals on Friday at 7:30 p.m., and if they win, they’ll play in the championship, Saturday at 7:30 p.m.

 

EUROLANCHE FANS

Four members of the first European Colorado Avalanche Fan Club are in the United States for a two-week visit and to watch their favorite NHL team. While here, they will see six games in Denver, one in Minneapolis, and visit the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.

This is the fifth year the group has made the pilgrimage to the United States in order to watch the Avalanche play, and they are calling it “Invasion V.” For fan club president David Puchovsky, it’s his fourth time to make the trip. I was curious as to how he became a fan of the Avalanche in the first place.

“When I was 10 years old, in 2000, I used to play street hockey with the same aged boy,” said Puchovsky, answering my questions via email. “He told me about the Colorado Avalanche, Patrick Roy, Joe Sakic and Peter Forsberg. It was everything that I knew about the team in that time. I even could not spell and write their names correctly. I had no Internet, [my] only source was a broadcast teletext. Three years later I finally watched my first game.”

I asked him if he was always a hockey fan and if he supports one of the teams in his homeland.

“When I started to follow the Avalanche hockey it was the part of my life when I have done the same with hockey [in] general,” Puchovsky said. “I watched the final game of the 2000 World Championship, when Slovaks lost to Czechs, but we won it two years later. So, I am a supporter of my national team of course. Sometimes I check the results of the HC Slovan Bratislava, the most successful team in Slovakia in the KHL, but I am not a big fan.”

Puchovsky, along with Rudo and Lukas (only their first names were provided) are from Slovakia, and fellow fan Matej is from Czech Republic. I asked Puchovsky what he and his friends do when they’re not traveling to the United States.

“I am finishing journalism studies and work for the website of the biggest national daily newspaper in Slovakia,” he said. “Other two Slovak guys, Rudo and Lukas, are at the start of their pro careers. Rudo works at Academy of Education as a project manager and Lukas is a watchmaker. Matej, from Czech Republic, still studies like me and is a coach for the floorball teams and plays for one.”

By the way, floorball is known as floor hockey here in the United States. It’s played on a gym floor with a plastic ball with holes in it, resembling a Wiffle Ball.

All together, there have been 12 different members of the fan club from Austria, Slovakia, Czech Republic and Romania that have visited the United States during the past for NHL seasons. In total, they watched 21 Colorado Avalanche games, of which the Avs won 16.

All four previous “Invasions” were supported by the Colorado Avalanche and its players with the complimentary tickets and post-game meetings with players.

The Eurolanche Fan Club was founded in 2007 and has more than 220 members from more than 30 countries. The Eurolanche is the biggest and the most active fan club of the NHL team in Europe.

It sure sounds like a lot of fun and a great way to travel and support your favorite team.

[Jeff Brucculeri is the author of several books, including "Powerful People Are Inspired by Powerful Athletes," available at www.tunedintosuccess.com. Contact; jeffb@tulsabeacon.com.]