Friday, March 3

NCAA HOOPS: UAB Owns Memphis in Birmingham

In what most Birmingham folks viewed as the biggest sporting event in town since the Hoover Football team played Nease (of Tim Tebow fame), UAB basketball did the city proud. UAB is not just the city's lone 4-year, public institution, it is also the area's largest employer. There has been a growing sense of civic pride surrounding this team for a few years now. It really took hold when Coach Mike Anderson led the blazers to an upset of #1 seed Kentucky in the 2004 big dance.

All of the build up culminated in last nights fireworks. In the first sellout I have witnessed at 8,500 seat Bartow Area, I was a part of one of the loudest, craziest environments I've had the horror to enjoy.

They should rename Bartow arena on the UAB campus, "The Pit of Despair" cause I don't see how any visiting team can come in there and get a "W". The acoustics are horrible (read deafening), and it's hot as Hell. From the fans perspective, the environment is painfully Spartan. No central scoreboard, much less video replay. Oh yeah, no barbecue nachos either. Dreamland what? Yes, I know... I've been spoiled by the state of the art FedExForum, but this is kinda pathetic.

Despite the midmajor arena, this game had big time basketball written all over it. Number 3 Memphis looking to lock up an undefeated conference slate and a #1 Tournament seed, while UAB was in desperate need of a Signature "W" to solidify their bubble.

At tipoff, UAB was most likely on the outside of the dance looking in, but this morning they are all but a lock. Three straight NCAA appearances from a previously unknown UAB is more than I can say for supposed B-Ball powerhouse Memphis. This is the reason Blazer coach Mike Anderson is on the wish list of about half a dozen big time programs. He consistently takes a bunch of "cast-offs with wheels" and upsets the Goliaths of the basketball world.

Last night he instituted a speedy 2-3 zone to perfection. It's not like UAB reinvented the wheel here folks! They are playing the most basic of zone formations and the Tigers folded like your Mom at Thursday Night Poker. They seemed scared and unsure of their game. Memphis looked like the hapless Washington Generals down the stretch; like they were just waiting to lose.

The Tigers didn't score a field goal, much less a free throw, for eight plus minutes! I'm not talking real time here, 8:05 ticked off the game clock between Memphis buckets. I'm surprised it was only a 6 point game. Luckily for Memphis, the CUSA tournament is scheduled for the friendly confines of the FedExForum.

Is it too late though? Opponents will study this tape and with the exception of the deafening home crowd, is this not a plan that can be easily duplicated? Can any team with reasonable athletic ability completely dumbfound The Tigers with a 2-3 zone? I've got eight minutes that says they can.

I'm not jumping ship on this Tiger team, but they are playing some one-dimensional, sophomoric basketball, and they're only freshmen! Maybe that's the problem once again. Blame it on youth and inexperience. Hate to say it, but when the going gets tough, Memphis falls apart. They are far from a #1 seed.

Have they lost "the fire" since taking Duke to the wire and beating the likes of Gonzaga, or have opponents just figured them out?

8 comments:

  1. I think it is an excellent article and much to the point in how Memphis has played in it's last several games. I do agree it would be hard for anyone to win in that environment. I don't know about the part concerning your mother and the poker game. Anyway, good job,son!!

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  2. Excellent article on the state of Memphis. If they don't play team ball soon, Mr. Carney may have played his last college ball. What about the rumors that coach Cal may be recruited away from the U of M?

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  3. Thanks. Cal won't leave what he's built in Memphis very easily. He knows the years it took to get some Respect. Most likely, he's a lifer, and he will be paid accordingly after this season.

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  4. I think the state of Memphis is good on Beale Street today. (Saturday) Memphis at home with 16000 fans is hard to beat, but what about an away site. Love to hear your comments.

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  5. NCAA Talk is coming real soon!

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  6. What do you say now about Memphis; since they're in the Sweet 16???

    Also, during the 8 minutes Memphis didn't score against UAB; UAB didn't score a FG either.

    With 30 seconds left Memphis was only down 3 points.

    I can't believe UAB couldn't beat Kentucky this time; I was pulling for them.

    Cletus

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  7. UAB didn't score FGs but the made free throws! Unlike memphis.

    Don't tell me you thought Memphis deserved a #1 seed after watching that game!

    I'm excited for the Tigers, but if that happens again, it's over.

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  8. I was at the UAB-Memphis game. Definately a courtstorm worthy event. Go Blazers! We'll miss you Squeaky.

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