MURRELL COLUMN: Champ week will still be fun

Published 8:58 pm Thursday, March 3, 2016

You know one of my trademark phrases by now: I’m not a homer.

You can be mad all you want that Lamar’s men’s basketball team is done for the season, with the women’s team facing the same fate. I’m not even messed up about it. I’m a reporter.

You can blame them for slow starts or blown leads if you want. You can say, “if we had just this much more from one player,” or “if this player hadn’t left us …”

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You can go right ahead. You probably want to. Just let me know how quickly you turn into a casual fan once the NCAA tournament field is announced.

Or will you become a hardcore Longhorns or Aggies fan? Will you ride with Texas Southern or North Florida? Valparaiso, anybody?

It’s easy for me to see that no luster has been taken off of championship week, which ESPN has shortened to “Champ Week.” Here, we’re very fortunate. The Southland Conference tournament will still go on in Katy, and the Southwestern Athletic Conference tourney will get down at Toyota Center in Houston. Come April, the Final Four will blast off in the big city.

No matter how disappointed you are now, just pep right up.

Champ week (I’m using the small “w” because the week goes beyond ESPN’s branding) is still the best week in basketball outside of the NCAA tournament. It’s still must-see television. It’s still a big party.

This time, I can go to the party on my own.

If I’m a returning Lamar player, I would still enjoy it. Champ week allows so many to enjoy the life I once lived every March: Sitting in front of a television, counting down to spring break and watching for the next Cinderella to enter the ball.

It would be easy motivation for me for next season. No more pressure to face this season, just a lot of envisioning. It’s the vision that 68 lucky teams turn into reality. And, with one shining moment (to borrow from CBS), towns like Jacksonville, Florida, and Richmond, Virginia, will go into a frenzy, even before the ball is tipped (borrowing this, too) in Dayton, Ohio. I can envision Beaumont and Port Arthur doing the same thing.

This week wouldn’t be a negative for me; the season was already that. This would be a turning point in my career.

Next season, my team will be a year more mature. We will know how to fill up seats.

That’s if I was a Lamar basketball player.

As for my actual career, after all these years I’ve been waiting to go to a conference tournament, I’m probably going to check one out in person. No more planning an overnight drive to the championship game, just in case … and seeing those dreams fall through the cracks.

Thank heavens for high school state championships, huh?

The night I’m thinking about going, the only college championship game then will be in the Patriot League. I haven’t hung with any of my SWAC family since May, I think, and Texas Southern is gonna turn up at home for the feature presentation.

So, yeah, why not a night out in Houston? Or Katy? I can just buy my way in.

If you are a casual fan, you should take it all in, too. Unless, you’re planning on seeing Ozen in San Antonio or Rodeo Houston, or whatever. (I’ll be at the rodeo, too.)

I.C. Murrell can be reached at 721-2435 or On Twitter: @ICMurrellPANews.

About I.C. Murrell

I.C. Murrell was promoted to editor of The News, effective Oct. 14, 2019. He previously served as sports editor since August 2015 and has won or shared eight first-place awards from state newspaper associations and corporations. He was born in Memphis, Tennessee, grew up mostly in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and graduated from the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

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