Doubt them if you want, but the Tartar Control will always give you its best shot.
Playing in Virginia Tech’s intramural basketball tournament for a second year, The Control has run the table so far, making it to the Elite Eight in the advanced division.
Despite winning every game by double digits, they face their toughest challenge yet tonight when they face Cool Runnings.
In two regular season games, the Runnings outscored their opponents by a combined score of 159-50.
“The thing about Cool Runnings is that they beat you mentally before they beat you physically,” Tartar Control captain Ross Tudor said, “but we pride ourselves on keeping our cool and playing smart.”
Tudor describes himself as the emotional leader of the team; he’s a captain’s captain. This season, he averages six points per game off the bench, but his impact is not bound to statistics.
On the court, Tartar Control is led by newcomer David Mustian, a six-foot five-inch transfer from Christopher Newport University. He came to Tartar after last year’s star, Eddie Willis, spurned the 2010 club in the eleventh hour.
Mustian has been fabulous so far, averaging 20 points per game. In the team’s sweet sixteen game against Delta Sig, he buried all five of his three point attempts in the team’s 62-45 win.
“(Mustian) has given us the ability to both score and defend on the inside…he’s also our best outside shooter,” Tudor said.
It’s has not been smooth sailing for Tartar Control, however. They faced their fair share of adversity when Matt Mattioli, the team’s star point guard, re-aggravated a heel injury. The injury has limited his playing time during the playoffs, and kept him out of a few games.
“I think I’ve played pretty well (since the injury),” Mattioli said.
Despite missing the second and final regular season game, he is averaging eight points per game and several more assists.
Unfortunately for Tartar, a biology exam will keep Mattioli out of the lineup for tonight’s game.
“You can never replace a Matt Mattioli,” Tudor said.
This may be true, but the cupboard is not empty in the Tartar backcourt. Elite combo guard Greg Van Dyke will have to play a vital role if The Control wants to pull off the upset.
Van Dyke is listed at six-foot-three, and is best when slashing to the basket. He averages 12 points a game, down from 19 in high school. His ability to sacrifice shots for the benefit of the team exhibits just how cohesive this group really is.
The other key player in the Tartar backcourt is German Club intramural chair Cullen Reed, whose deadly accurate midrange jump shot is a vital asset to this team. If one were to compare him to a former great, Reed resembles a Rip Hamilton with a quicker release. No word on whether he'll bust out the face mask for tonight's game.
Reed is second on the team with 13 points per game.
Other players on the Tartar Control roster include Eric Cohen, Garrett Busic, and Ben Vaughan.
“Ben Vaughan has a red beard,” Tudor said.
Paul Laumer rounds out the Tartar bench. Despite only averaging one point per game, he gives the team an enthusiastic lift. Tudor describes him as Tartar's version of Paul Debnam.
Busic provides a bruising presence inside. A bulky six-foot, one-inch post, what Busic lacks in height he makes up for in heart.
If any opponent decides to get in the face of a Tartar player, Busic will be the first to step between them and take matters into his own hands.
To help facilitate the strong motivation Tartar has for this late playoff push, Mattioli started a thread of facebook messages featuring game strategies and pieces of inspiration.
“I started the thread to talk some strategy, but then Garrett wrote an inspirational message that pumped everybody up. Now people are posting motivational speeches from all sorts of movies, and everybody is fired up,” Mattioli said.
Love them or hate them, they might not be loaded with athletic freaks, but Tartar Control is on a mission. That mission involves shocking the Virginia Tech campus, and it continues tonight.
Tip-off is set for 7:30 p.m. in War Memorial Gym, Court Three.
TARTAR CONTROL PROJECTED LINEUP
PG - #10 Cullen Reed (13.0 ppg)
SG - #33 Greg Van Dyke (12.0 ppg)
SF - #13 Eric Cohen (8.0 ppg)
PF - #85 Garrett Busic (8.0 ppg)
C - #27 David Mustian (20.0 ppg)
G/F - #9 Ross Tudor (6.0 ppg)
G - #83 Ben Vaughan (2.0 ppg)
G- #0 Paul Laumer (1.0 ppg)