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The Caps and Wiz won their last games to end long losing streaks. Big deal. Their skeins only dated back to the beginning of the month.
UDC’s men’s basketball team hadn’t won this year.
Like, not a single game. In all of 2010.
But with Sunday’s 84-66 defeat of Virginia State, UDC stopped a 25-game slide that dated back to the middle of last season.
The win gave Jeff Ruland, the awesomely nice former Washington Bullets center and Bruise Brother, his second win in his two seasons as the Firebirds coach.
Nobody was expecting UDC to recapture the NCAA Div. II national title the school last won in 1984. But this year was supposed to be much kinder to Ruland than last, in which UDC posted a 1-20 record. The squad became something of punchline when, thanks to quitters, academic ineligibles and injuries, Ruland was forced to play a portion of the season with only five players on the active roster.
Somehow, the school’s marketing department was unable to take advantage of the sorry state of the basketball team and secure sponsorship from the Five Guys hamburger chain.
Worse, as first happened in a January home game against some institute of higher learning called Apprentice School, whenever the team lost a body to fouls or injury, the Firebirds were reduced to what you could call a Standard Shift lineup: just four on the floor.
Ruland and the Firebirds suffered more of the same at the beginning of the year. Nigel Munson, a former superstar at DeMatha and a transfer from Virginia Tech, began the season on the bench.
But Munson’s healthy again, and got his first action of the year in Sunday’s game. He led the Firebirds with 17 points. Another transfer brought in by Ruland, Brandon Herbert (formerly of D-1 Binghamton), added 16 points.
UDC plays again Thursday, December 30, at 3:00pm in the home gym against Alderson-Broaddus.
If you’ve never been to a Firebirds game, you really should make the trip, even if it’s just to see the bathrooms.