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30 Chances: The #QuestForTen

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Here’s our first coping mechanism for basketball season.

USF Ten Chances game board
If you can’t beat FAMU and Elon in nine tries, you don’t get to play for the car.

In our first basketball-related post of the season, we joked that men’s basketball doesn’t exist at USF.

As it turns out, half the team really doesn’t exist.

Only seven players saw action in the exhibition game vs. Nova Southeastern: Michael Bibby, Tulio Da Silva (who was impressive with 26 points and 16 rebounds), Troy Holston, Bo Zeigler, Ruben Guerrero, Luis Santos, and walk-on Jake Bodway. Jahmal McMurray is suspended; transfer Isaiah Manderson becomes eligible after fall semester; Malik Martin is sitting out the year as a transfer. We don’t know why Geno Thorpe, Malik Fitts, or Yito Alvarado didn’t play.

So... yeah. It’s gonna be that kind of season. You know, like most of the others.

As always, we will need some kind of light diversion to get us through men’s basketball season. We’ve used themes like queefcore songs, inventions, extinct animals, places on campus, and alcoholic beverages.

This year, we’re going to do a couple different things. First, we’re going to set a realistic goal for this year’s team, and a novel way of tracking it.

Orlando Antigua’s first two seasons at USF resulted in nine and eight wins. Despite everything that’s happened to the program, and God knows what might happen this season, we think 10 wins is a reasonable goal. Any team in a major conference like the American, with a manageable non-conference schedule, should be able to do this. Especially in a coach’s third year. Let the #QuestForTen officially begin. If this seems pessimistic, we did a #QuestFor16 in 2012, and look how that turned out.

We like to use random things as a platform to talk about USF sports. For this task, we will once again turn to The Price is Right. We previously used TPIR as our guide to the 2012 NCAA Selection Show, and look how that turned out.

This time, we have a particular pricing game in mind: Ten Chances. In Ten Chances, you are given the digits in the prices of two small prizes, and a car. You have ten chances to get all the prices correct. You win whatever prizes you get right before running out of guesses. Sounds straightforward, but this game has three interesting qualities:

  • The game is easy if you know what you’re doing. The game has unwritten rules that savvy watchers know. Mainly, that prices end in 0, unless 0 is unavailable, in which case it ends in 5. If you know that, it’s probably the easiest car game on the show.
  • No one ever knows what they’re doing. The show can’t predetermine who gets to play each game. The pricing games are selected and ordered ahead of time, and whoever finds their way on stage when it’s time to play gets to play. Ten Chances always seems to find the most hapless contestants. Everyone but the contestant seems to know the price of everything. Because of that:
  • Losing is painful to watch. Being a TPIR contestant can make you look like an idiot, but usually only for 45 seconds or so. Ten Chances can take several minutes to play, if you have to exhaust all the chances. Technically there is a 10-second time limit per guess, but it’s never enforced. If you get a bad player, you’re going to be watching them flail at obvious answers for a very long time.

To sum up: Ten Chances has a losing record, it can be painful to watch, and it’s a lot easier than people make it look. A fitting metaphor for USF hoops over the years, don’t you think?

Here is the game board we’re going to use this season to track progress towards ten wins:

#QuestForTen game board

The idea is to fill the game board with logos of defeated teams, and the scores of each win. If USF does that, the #QuestForTen is achieved. (OK, that’s not exactly how the real game board works. I’m taking some creative license here.)

Also, we will rate each victory for quality. There are four basic types of wins in Ten Chances:

  • The Clueless Undeserved Win. Ten Chances is a game that smart players win, and dumb players lose. Still, a clueless contestant occasionally pulls out a miraculous victory. One time, a contestant named Joy actually broke Bob Barker.
  • The More Difficult Than It Should Have Been Win. In Ten Chances, a last-second win isn’t really a virtue, because a good player should get it well before ten. You win the car just the same, though.
  • The Ordinary Win. It’s always nice to get a solid performance, but some wins lack panache. I don’t have a video for this one, as YouTube tends to attract the non-ordinary examples of things.
  • The Totally Unexpected Righteous Beatdown. Despite USF men’s basketball’s appalling lack of success over the years, the team has its moments. Every once in awhile, after we’ve all forfeited any hope we ever had for this team, they deliver a moment of greatness.

Chucky Atkins’ last-second shot to beat Florida State in 1993. A USF team reduced to six players by defections knocks off UAB in the 1996 Conference USA Tournament. The season-ending upset of Top 25 Georgetown in 2006, to escape the indignity of a winless conference season. The “Y’all come watch Dominique Jones play” win at #7 Georgetown in 2010. A surprise 2011 Big East Tournament win over Villanova, starring Anthony Crater of all people, foreshadowing the magical season that followed. A solid win over Larry Brown and SMU in 2014. A 30-point whipping of C.Florida that same year. All made so much more enjoyable for their sheer unexpectedness.

Our exemplar for this most rare occasion is Bridgette. This tiny, timid woman could barely reach the Ten Chances game board, and seemed on the verge of emotional breakdown the whole time. She got off to a rough start. The audience was feverishly yelling clues, like a horror movie audience trying to tell a character not to go into the cabin. The sound guy was already cuing up the fail horns. She never once looked like winning, until she won.

Nailed the car price on the first try. As with any great USF basketball victory, it was far from perfect. But she did what underdog winners do: overcame mistakes, held it together, and made the right move when it counted.

And the reactions when she wins are priceless. If nothing else, skip to 4:40 and watch everyone’s reactions. If that doesn’t brighten your day a little, I don’t know how to help ya. That’s about how I felt in March 2012, when was CBS was unveiling the fourth and final region and the words SOUTH FLORIDA suddenly appeared. You know, cheering triumphantly while on the verge of tears.

That probably won’t happen again this year, but hopefully we can find a little moment of victory this season. We’ll update our game board and the #QuestForTen as the season goes on, as part of our coverage of basketball season, along with other merriments and diversions. Happy hoops season, USF fans.

(Article was edited to correct the Dominique Jones quote.)