One team that deserves a little more press than it’s been getting – which is zero – is the University of Arkansas Pine Bluff. Like many HBCU’s, the Golden Lions are wrapping up their annual pre-New Year’s barnstorming tour, having zig-zagged the nation collecting paychecks in exchange for beat-downs.
But a couple of things have been different about their travels. First, UAPB hasn’t mixed a tournament into their schedule, thus they have played an entire slate of true road games. With their first three SWAC contests on the road, the first game they will play outside of a hostile environment will be on January 16, some 16 games into the season.
The other part of the story is that while the team is 0-10, it hasn’t taken any beat-downs in the traditional sense. They’ve been quietly competitive in every single game, not losing a single contest by more than 20. When you’re playing the likes of Kansas State, Georgia Tech, Missouri, Arizona State, Oklahoma State, and UTEP – all in their place – and your conference stinks, that’s a start that your conference foes should be concerned about.
In fact, Pine Bluff is in the unique position of heading into the SWAC schedule winless – pending a game at Oregon next Monday (memo to Ernie Kent: this isn’t a gimme) – while having a legitimate shot of running the table in conference play. Probably not the 18% chance I’m showing right now, but even 5-10% is a staggering figure for a winless team.
I, for one, hope they can do it. Maybe it will provide some evidence that just because you lose doesn’t mean your confidence has to be shot. You can actually make strides in losing to quality opponents and there are such things as moral victories. Expect the Lions to get one more of those in Eugene. (Which would make them morally unbeaten?) After that, only real victories will matter, but there should be plenty of those on the way.