Can Jordan Lynch play basketball?
Can Dave Doeren or Rod Carey coach basketball?
… Bueller? … Bueller?
Twenty-six days removed from one of the culminations of one of the greatest seasons in Northern Illinois' athletic program's history — a 12-1 run to the BCS Orange Bowl — its basketball team is now setting new lows in ineptitude, embarrassment and all-around comic relief for sports fans across the country, who, under normal circumstances, would not be paying attention to NIU basketball in the first place.
But the 2012-13 season has been anything but normal for the Huskies, as they've now set the national record for fewest points in a half not once but twice. On Saturday, by posting just four first-half points against Eastern Michigan — FOUR POINTS, Y'ALL — Northern Illinois broke its own post-shot clock record for offensive ineptitude set earlier this season. It scored just five points in a half just last month.
After the game, Huskies coach Mark Montgomery said his team played hard.
Whatever helps you sleep better at night, Mark, but here's a possible coaching tip: For 20 minutes of gameplay, shoot as many halfcourt shots as the opponent allows. Fifty bucks says your team will hit at least two shots and avoid another sad, sad historical landmark.
SEND YOUR HALLMARK CARDS ASAP
It's been one hell of a run, and the past two weeks have only served as one of the final parting of Big East basketball and all that once was. The conference that delivered some of the best games and best Championship weeks has been its typical calling card of unpredictability and insanity.
A quick recap of the conference's all-time moments, just for the memories:
-- "SEND IT IN, JEROME!"
-- The David-and-Goliath clash that helped keep the lore of the NCAA Tournament alive and well.
-- Six … six … SIX overtimes.
-- Ray Allen vs. Allen Iverson.
Now, back to 2013, and the moments continue to pile up. In the past two weeks alone, top-ranked Louisville has lost three straight games, unranked 'Vova has taken down two top-five teams — it's the first time since Ball State in 2001 that an unranked team has pulled that off — and Georgetown beat two ranked teams without its second-leading scorer.
Every Big East team now has at least one conference loss, and the two teams sitting at the top of the standings — Syracuse and Marquette — both earned their one loss in overtime.
Of course, with the conference splitting off into factions, this is type of January/February/March Madness is soon to be no longer. But it's worth relishing in for the moment.
We'll miss you, Big East basketball. March just won't be the same.