Bruce Reiff, OH
Terry Coleman, BC
Ken Gutermuth, TX
Jon Diminnie, IN
Bruce Monnin, OH
Dennis Nicholson, NY
Debbie Gutermuth, TX
John Coussis, IL
Marvin Birnbaum, NY
Jerome Billones, VA
Derek Landel, NY
The GM Gets His Fourth Title
Peter Staab downed former champ Derek
Landel in this heat. Pete would advance all the way to the Final.
Terry Coleman grins as Mr Plaque does
it again - pulls the magic "Offensive Specialist" cure
all evils card against him.
Max Jamelli and Mark Love play
some hoops. Gotta love those pinstripes even if it is the wrong
Max doesn't fool around ...
great upgrade ... what the AH game should have been like ...
and cool dice roller too.
Another strong year of attendance - in tough economic times,
no less - should make it clear beyond any doubt that March
Madness certainly deserves its Legacy status. A few big hitters
were absent, including online champ Aran Warszawski, who couldn't
fit MMS into his WBC 2009 schedule but did stop by to say hello.
Even so, there were plenty of new participants to take up any
The first heat on Tuesday night is historically speaking only
modestly attended. However, I expected a few more would-be John
Woodens this time around, as it seemed to me that more folks
were showing up to WBC early, appropriate for the first time
the convention expanded to a full week. Having said that, little
did I (or anyone else) expect a whopping 28 players for the first
heat. After consultation with former GMs, we determined that
this would appear to be the highest attendance for a single heat
in the history of the event, going back 17 years. And exactly
half the field had made the Final Four in prior years, so every
game in this opening regional was hard-fought.
Derek Landel managed to draft Arizona 2001, the same team
he had taken to within inches of the online title game, and rode
his favorite horse to the regional final with wins over Dave
Denton, Sean McCulloch, Mark Yoshikawa, and Paul Gaberson. Before
falling to the Derek juggernaut, Paul had survived an overtime
game vs. Chad Gormly, another close call against defending finalist
Harry Flawd, and a tough contest vs. newcomer Kevin Wojtaszyk,
who showed that prowess in the online version of MMS can translate
to success across a live board at WBC.
In the upper bracket, we were happy to welcome back J.R. Tracy,
who found unfortunately that the top-seeded UCLA Bruins weren't
enough to overcome a little rust, and fell prey to an upset.
Mark Mitchell beat veteran Pete Stein, who would have the misfortune
of facing off against hot players all week (and rolling dice
of his own that were cold even by Pete's standards). Likewise,
last year's breakout player, Tom Browne, found 2006 champion
Jeremy Billones too much to handle. Jeremy looked strong indeed,
as he made his way into the regional semis, where he ran into
another unstoppable force. Pete Staab has been a strong MMS player
for a while, as his 2004 online title would attest. In this event,
however, he played even better than usual. Bravely selecting
the UNLV 77 team with its infamous "C" defense, Pete
mowed down Devin Flawd, defending champ Terry Coleman, Jeremy,
and finally Derek, to become the first team in the 2009 Final
Four - all the while averaging more than 120 points per game.
With that kind of offense, who needs defense?
The second heat on Wednesday morning couldn't quite match
the record-setting pace of the first heat, but still had 24 participants.
Devin Flawd's bad luck with high seeds continued, as his # 2
UCLA 70 team went down to an inspired performance by Jeff Finkeldey's
Depaul 79 squad, 108-95. Similarly, Chris Bauch saw his top-seeded
Cincy 61 team fall 78-75 on the last die-roll to 2002 champ Debbie
Gutermuth. Deb's reward for winning was that she had to face
her husband Ken, fresh from a victory over Marshall Collins (who
by his own admission, seems to roll better dice online). Former
winner Dennis Nicholson lost early on to Dave Denton, who fell
in turn to a resurgent Jim Bell. Max Jamelli broke a recent losing
streak with wins over Mark Love and Jeff, but his Michigan State
'05 sharpshooters fell flat against Jim Bell's Cincinnati '59
In the middle of the bracket, Tom Browne got past Keith Hunsinger
(who may have been worn out from the previous day's epic six-hour
golf excursion), but lost to Michigan State 1979, coached by
Roger Taylor. Roger's squad, however, would fall to the more
balanced attack of its Michigan State 2001 brethren, led by four-time
champion Bruce Reiff.
Bruce beat Pete Stein, Bruno Passacatando, Roger, and finally
Max, to make the regional final, his best result in recent years.
There he would meet defending champ Terry Coleman, who had fought
through his own tough draw: 2005 champ Marvin Birnbaum, Carrie
Lewis (multiple Final Fours), and two-time champion Ken Gutermuth.
The first half looked great for Bruce, as he built up a six-point
lead. Although Terry's scorers were filling up the basket - Larry
Bird had 16 at halftime - Bruce's right guard and bench countered
with a whopping 33. In the second half, however, it was the unheralded
Indiana State defense which proved the stingier, holding Bruce's
big guns at bay just enough for Bird & Co. to escape with
a 106-98 victory and a berth in the Final Four for Terry. The
amazing thing is that Terry was able to draft this team - the
4th seed - with the 18th pick, as most folks seemed to think
it would be easy to shut Larry Bird down. Go figure.
Heat #3 was the only one to drop in attendance from the previous
year, but still fielded 14 players. Even with a relatively small
field, there were still some mild upsets, but in the semis, the
faces were familiar ones: Dennis, Derek, Jeremy, and Terry. In
the first semi, Dennis tried to control the pace, but his North
Carolina '77 squad couldn't put the brakes on Jeremy's high-flying
three-pointers, and Florida 2006 moved into the regional final
with a 71-58 win. In the other matchup, Terry was determined
not to let Derek's excellent Texas Western '66 bench dominate.
So, he threw every junk defense he could find, managed to somehow
avoid foul trouble, and led 42-33 at halftime. Derek's offense
finally got untracked in the second half, but Terry's right forward
scored a critical 10 points late in the game, and Terry held
for a close 71-65 victory. Perhaps worn down by his rough-and-tumble
affair with Dennis' team, Jeremy's squad fell behind in the regional
final by 10 at halftime and never recovered. Terry's Arkansas
'78 group emerged triumphant 81-51, and carried Terry to the
Final Four for the second straight heat.
The last regional had a solid 18 players, with a few new faces
to go with the usual vets. Jon Lockwood traditionally puts aside
his wargames to play in this heat, and his dedication was rewarded
with wins over Dennis and yet another Gutermuth, the young Pam.
Then Jon ran smack into the story of the tournament. Another
youngster, Nicole Reiff, beat Dave Denton, Bruno Passacatando,
and then Jon, on her way to the regional final. It appeared that
she might actually face off versus her father, as Bruce had defeated
Debbie Gutermuth (in overtime, one of the best games of the tournament),
and Carrie Lewis, on his way to a showdown with Ken Gutermuth.
In a game which saw the lead change numerous times, on the final
die-roll, Bruce needed a 6 to send the game into OT. His magic
green die rolled, bounced...and came up a 3. No Final Four for
Bruce, but he played quite well this year. And he had to be proud
of his daughter. Although Nicole came up short vs. Ken in the
regional final, she finished just ahead of her dad in the standings.
Looks like the Reiff tradition of collecting plaques is safe
for another generation. Her mom will be so happy.
As usual, there were plenty of compelling stories to unfold
in the 2009 Final Four. For Pete Staab, it was a chance to add
an over-the-board March Madness title to his online crown.
For Ken Gutermuth, it was a chance to win his third MMS event.
For Terry Coleman, it was the rare opportunity to defend his
title, and with a victory, to join Bruce Reiff as the only other
person to win MMS four times.
Having already lost to Pete in heat #1, Terry knew that it
was well-nigh impossible to shut down the UNLV scoring machine.
So why bother with defense? In a game where the referees must
have been gasping for breath running up and down the floor, both
teams hit baskets from every angle, as Terry's Indiana State
team led 64-53 at halftime. Not much changed in the second
half, as everyone from Larry Bird to the skinny kid off the bench
scored; only one player failed to hit double figures. The problem
for Pete was that he had to close the gap, and with Terry matching
him score for score, he couldn't. Terry was in the title game
with a wild 119-108 win.
Ken was now faced with an uphill climb. He had to beat Terry's
other team to get a chance to face Terry's Indy State team in
the Final. Lose only once, and the title was Terry's. Early on,
the game was close, and in fact, Ken's Illinois 2005 team built
a slight lead. But his defense failed to stop Terry's ace Arkansas
guards - each scored 14 points in the first half - and Terry
held a 47-42 lead with a half to play. With surprising contributions
from role players, leads changed hands multiple times, until
Terry held a 5-point edge with only one position to go: his worst
scorer. After failing to score enough points to send the game
to OT, Ken called his last timeout. But on the re-roll, Terry's
left forward managed to score two points, which was exactly the
margin of victory as Terry retained his title, 94-92.
As GM of this event for several years, I was encouraged by
the increase in attendance again this year; over a 4-year period,
we've increased by 29%. Who knows? Next year, if we keep on getting
new players, we may break that single-heat attendance record
again. Regardless, it will still be a great event to run. Thanks
to everyone for their continued support of March Madness.
See you next year.
Uh oh ... there are two of them ...
as Dave Denton discovers to his dismay.
Ooh ... this just gets better and
better as Nicole Reiff takes it to the Chairman of the Boards.
Forget the wood - a Gutermuth
will advance ... this game is for some serious family braggin'
rights as husband and wife do battle.
Pete Staab comes up short again
as Terry Coleman collects his fourth "hardwood" title.
By Email 2008-09
It took just five days after North Carolina's national championship
win for first year player Aran Warszawski to pull off the most
dominating Final Four in the six year history of this email tournament
event. His Cincinnati 2000 squad won its semi-final game by 51
points, then backed off a little bit to coast to a 50-point 106-56
victory in the championship game over Marshall Collins and his
Texas 2006 crew.
The winning team was the #9 seed in its bracket, while the
runner-up was a #25 seed. Once again, the teams in the tournament
were similar enough in strength to allow any beginning seed to
have a chance to compete for the championship.
This was a year for newcomers to show the old hands how things
are meant to be done. Runner-up Marshall Collins won his first
ever March Madness tournament game at WBC this past summer.
Champion Aran Warszawski actually purchased the game at the WBC
auction in August and played his first ever game in the first
round of this PBeM tournament.
Aran's Cincinnati 2000 team reached the Sweet Sixteen by winning
games by an average of 10 points a contest. His next game was
his closest, a 80-77 squeaker over John Coussis' Louisville 1975
squad. He followed with a tight 76-71 win over Bruno Passacantando's
1983 version of the Louisville Cardinals before his two lopsided
Final Four triumphs.
In the other bracket, Marshall Collins and his 2006 Texas
Longhorns survived two separate 2-point victories on his path
to the Final Four, where he survived again in a 77-73 win over
Derek Landel's 2001 Arizona Wildcats before being the sacrificial
lamb in Aran's crowning victory.
Final Four MVP was
given to champion Cincinnati 2000's center Kenyon Martin. With
his B rating, he led the way with 24 points in the semi-final
victory and 25 points in the championship game. Here is the rest
of the All Tournament Team:
All Tournament First Team:
Center: Bill Walton (UCLA 1974) -- B Rating -- 20.7 ppg
Left Forward: Oscar Robertson (Cincinnati 1959) -- AA Rating
-- 25.5 ppg
Right Forward: Lew Massey (NC Charlotte 1977) -- B Rating --
Left Guard: Darrell Griffith (Louisville 1980) -- A Rating --
Right Guard: Carl Nicks (Indiana State 1979) -- B Rating -- 28.5
Bench: Auburn 1999-- A Rating -- 28.8 ppg
For the second year in a row, a definite old school flavor
to the All Tournament Team. Also for the second straight year,
no members of last year's All Tournament Team repeated.
The tournament will be restarted this coming October. Come
join us in determining next year's PBeM champion of the BPA March
Madness world and see if you can come closer than 50 points
to Aran as he defends his title.