The Long Road Home For The Tigers

Published 5:11 pm Thursday, January 13, 2011

Even for the best teams in the country, it's hard to win on the road.

On Wednesday night, unranked Florida State handed top-ranked Duke its first loss of the season.

The game was played in Tallahassee.

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Every time the Maui Classic rolls around, we're reminded of what Chaminade did to the University of Virginia back when the Cavaliers and Ralph Sampson were on top of the college basketball world.

Closer to home, the Longwood men's basketball team has a 6-14 record this season. Five of those six victories have come at home, with the other coming on a neutral court against South Carolina State in Las Vegas.

Last year, the Lancers were 12-19 overall, but a rather solid 9-3 at home.

Maybe it has something to do with wearing dark jerseys. Maybe the Dallas Cowboys are onto something by bucking NFL tradition of wearing dark colors at home, in favor of the home whites.

Whatever the reason, Hampden-Sydney is finding this to be very true when it comes to its ODAC schedule.

Whoever drew up the league's schedule did H-SC no favors – at least early on.

The Tigers are 8-5 overall and 1-4 in conference play. Their only non-league loss came at Division I Elon. The other four have also come on the road.

In fact, six of Hampden-Sydney's first eight ODAC contests are road games, including Wednesday night's defeat at Lynchburg.

There's no rest for the weary, as the Tigers will travel to Bridgewater on Saturday, and to Washington & Lee next Wednesday, before wrapping up the first half of the league schedule at home against Randolph-Macon next Saturday.

The game against Randolph-Macon starts a stretch of in-conference home contests for the Tigers, who play seven of their final nine ODAC games in Fleet Gymnasium.

The only road trips (other than a non-conference tilt at Ferrum on February 9) will include a bus ride to Emory & Henry and the return trip to Randolph-Macon to end the season.

That will be good, because H-SC will probably need to order new garnet uniforms after this stretch of road games.

In the end, things are going to even out – mathematically at least – with eight road and eight home contests.

Psychologically, that might not be the case, as a young team can get overwhelmed by a string of losses on the road.

They'll have to find a way past that if they want to have a successful season. That's up to the team.

However, it's not fair to the process. Presently, it's tough to get a solid read on the ability of this H-SC squad as it relates to the rest of the ODAC. It will be just as tough in late February if the Tigers are able to run off a series of home victories in the second half of the season.

Just how good is Hampden-Sydney? That's a question we might not know the answer to until the ODAC Tournament, where how well the team's fanbase travels, determines which school has a home court advantage.

In that case, the Tigers might be able to count on the possibility of three additional “home” games.