Lindenwood billiards falls to professional, Hall-of-Fame competitors

The+Lions+pose+with+the+coveted+Durbin+Cup+trophy+before+the+match.+%3Cbr%3E+Photo+by+Mark+Wilson

The Lions pose with the coveted Durbin Cup trophy before the match.
Photo by Mark Wilson

WALKER VAN WEY | Reporter

The Lindenwood billiards team tested its early-season skills Saturday when it took on the legends of the billiards community in the ninth semiannual Durbin Cup.

The Lions are the big fish in the small pond that is collegiate billiards. Twice a year, coach Mark Wilson matches his team up with a team of world champions, Hall of Famers and other high-profile professionals. The Lions found themselves outmatched in a 21-11 loss in the Sullivan, Illinois, match.

“As far as the collegiate side of it for us, it isn’t really that competitive,” said sophomore Brett Snowden. “The Durbin Cup and nationals are the only real test we have all year. This is our rivalry. We have to really fight for it every time.”

Although the Lions fell to Durbin’s Destroyers, everybody went into the tournament expecting and even looking forward to a challenge, but also embraced the camaraderie.

[perfectpullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””] “When you’re up against a Hall of Famer with eight championships to his credit, you know it’s going to be tough competition.”
– Mark Wilson, Lindenwood billiards coach [/perfectpullquote]

“We had it tied 6-6 at one point and they took off and we couldn’t catch up,” Wilson said. “When you’re up against a Hall of Famer with eight championships to his credit, you know it’s going to be tough competition.”

Adding to the competition was the familiar face of Sharik Sayed. The reigning national champion and former Lindenwood Lion was on the other side of the tables as he suited up and played for the Destroyers.

“Sharik switched teams on us and of course he played really well,” Wilson said. “He was the best one on their team. It was kind of funny; under his Durbin Destroyers shirt, he wore his Lindenwood shirt.”

Senior standout Landon Shuffett said he wouldn’t rule out the possibility of one day playing for the Destroyers, but for now remains focused on enjoying the last two Cups of his college career.

“I could maybe see it happening, but we’ll have to see,” Shuffett said. “I won’t be ruling it out. I’m definitely starting to try and make myself enjoy them instead of just focusing on winning all the time. But as the event goes on, it gets bigger and more prestigious. Now with the crowd and the livestream and everything, I really try to play well for those who are watching.”

Although the Destroyers took a double-digit win home and acquired one of Lindenwood’s best players, the Lions don’t find any reason to panic.

“We’re a pretty young team this year,” Snowden said. “We only have two seniors on the team. A lot of us were either sophomores or freshmen. This was definitely a big building block for us.”

Win or lose, Wilson and the Lions feel lucky to be able to compete with world-class opposition and are nothing short of grateful.

“Nowhere else in the world are you going to get that kind of training and work with legends like you will here at Lindenwood,” Wilson said.