First of all, I hope everyone who went to Atlanta this weekend, including our rivals fans, is safe and doing well.
Now, a few thoughts on the game. We played awful out of the gate, going one on one on offense, turning the ball over, and not defending the lane or the post at the other end. $tate built a 10-0 lead. We switched to a zone and that made a world of difference. Vernardo still hurt us, but we were able to minimize the damage and shut them down for periods of time. They weren't making their perimeter shots and we went 8 for 15 from 3 point range in the first half to come back and take the lead. We lost some momentum going into the half when we made a boneheaded turnover with 5 seconds left by inbounding the ball from the front court all the way back to near the free throw line in the backcourt, allowing m$u to get the steal, draw a foul, and make a free throw with .1 left.
In the second half, we continued to play good defense in the zone, but $tate was able to make some shots. We blew the lead because we could not make a shot on offense. Riley was shut out for most of the second half. $tate is a very good defensive team, and deserves a lot of the credit for our troubles on offense. Vernardo really did a good job on Hendrix, and we had to rely on jumpshots for our scoring.
For all the talk about Coach Gottfried's inability to draw up an inbounds play, and I have criticized him for this in the past, he did a really good job of that tonight. When we were down one with about 20 seconds left, we ran an inbounds play out of a timeout from the baseline that gave Hendrix a great look. Unfortunately, he went up soft and got blocked by Vernardo, whereas if he would have attacked the basket, he would have probably drew a foul at the minimum. With 2 seconds left, Riley was able to get a good look and send the game into overtime. With .5 seconds left at the end of the game, Riley got another good look from nearly the same spot, but the ball just wouldn't go down.
With about 2 minutes to play in overtime, Gee was fouled, and the roof started to shake. They say that tornados act as if they are magnetically attracted to trailer parks. I guess with severe weather in the area, and the large contingent of Mi$$ $tate fans in the Georgia dome, it's no wonder that is where it hit. The announcers said that one of m$u's coaches was asking the ref where they got the ball out of bounds. I suspect they knew that Gee was going to the foul line, but was trying to take advantage of the confusion in the situation.
Overall, we played a pretty good game, but just got beat by a better team. As bad as this year has been, these guys never gave up. I know Riley is probably still hurting from missing that last shot, especially it being his senior year, but I hope he realizes that he probably saved a lot of lives by sending that game into overtime. If he doesn't make the shot to send it into overtime, thousands of Bama and m$u fans who were not planning on staying for the Kentucky/Georgia game would have been walking out of the dome about the time the tornado hit.
I know it's tough to make decisions in these types of situations, but I think the officials in Atlanta have done a HORRIBLE job of handling this whole fiasco. We all know the games have been moved to Georgia Tech because the dome is unsafe. If that is the case, why was it considered safe enough for us to finish our game in last night? How exactly can you inspect the structural integrity of a 70,000 seat dome stadium in 30 minutes, at night? If it was safe enough for us to finish the game, then it was safe enough for UK/UGA to get their game in last night without forcing the winner of that game to have such a huge disadvantage of having to win twice today. My guess is that they put a lot of people in danger by finishing our game last night. Bolts and washers were falling from the ceiling. I'm no engineer, but I'm pretty sure those bolts and washers were used to hold something together.
To make matters worse, they are only allowing the bands, cheerleaders, player's family, and media to the games at Georgia Tech. The SEC should refund EVERYBODY who bought a book of tickets this year. People spend a lot of time and money travelling to Atlanta and now they won't even get a chance to see their team play. First of all, I think there were better options than Georgia Tech. Phillips Arena for one, depending on how much damage it sustained. If not there, there is a fairly large arena in Gwinett County that I believe is larger than Georgia Tech's gym. At the very least, they should have made the seating general admission, and allowed the first 9,000 fans with valid tickets in to see their game. The Georgia Dome is horrible facility anyway, especially for basketball. It would not hurt my feelings if they would permanently move the SEC tournament out of Atlanta.
Well, for all intents and purposes, the season is over. There has been a lot of speculation about Coach Gottfried's job security, and I have refrained from posting my opinion in detail on the subject until the season's end. As long as we are playing games, I feel it's more prudent to support the effort at hand than speculate on the future. I will wait until after Sunday to make sure we don't get a bid to the God awful NIT or CBI tournaments, and assuming we do not, I plan to post what I hope will be a fair, balanced evaluation of Coach Gottfried's career at UA. Until then...