Thursday, January 04, 2007

Why I Love College Basketball - Lesson No. 12

I absolutely love games like Notre Dame's wins at home over Bama and Louisville!

The fact that a team like Notre Dame can win games at home over competition like that gives almost every college game the opportunity to be an exciting contest to watch and to produce sheer joy for the fans who emotionally invest themselves without reservation in their home team. We at Bama have enjoyed many similar moments, one of my most recent favorites being the win against Florida that won Bama the SEC regular season championship. I usually leave as soon as the game is over because I have to drive so far each way. But that day (and after the Ohio State game at about the same time) I hung around Coleman Coliseum for an extra 20 minutes or so just to soak in the atmosphere.

My wife and I traveled to London this past week where the three big sports being discussed were soccer, cricket and darts. (Yes, I said "darts"!) I don't understand cricket at all and don't even know how the score is kept, but any time a guy throwing a ball is called a "bowler" then you have lost me. Soccer would be more exciting if they could find a way to score some more, but to me it's about like ice hockey sans the bench clearing fist fights. I can see that it requires tremendous athleticism and skill, but I don't understand it well enough to enjoy it.

A traveling companion called his father to find out whether we'd won the bowl game. I had to get back to the Atlanta airport to call my daughter to learn the score of the Oklahoma game. I annoyed all my traveling companions because I started talking about basketball two days before we even headed home.

I ate one meal with an older married couple that had spent about $500 Pounds (about $1,000 U.S. Dollars) to travel to London to see their Chelsea team play; and they played poorly. They lost their match by a score of 1 to 0, and their coach said, "You can't expect to win if you can't play defense." The fan I met complained that some of these men earn $160,000 per week and they don't even try to play defense. Maybe they need to find a way to score at least one goal per game to win some?

We had a drink in the hotel pub where all the buzz was about the World Dart Throwing Championship match which was being broadcast live on no fewer than 3 big screen televisions in the room. As Weber, the British favorite, failed to take advantage of a brief lead he had over his some Dutch upstart by missing one of those tiny slits on a dart board by a little more than the width of the white part of my finger nails, the local guy at the table next to me said in disgust, "He never can hit the sixteen! He loses more matches that way." For some crazy reason the Brits did show all kinds of NBA hi lites but never bothered to tell me the Bama-OU score.

I finally got to watch my recording of the game. I thought we would be in for a dog fight when I thought I spotted Rod Barnes on the OU bench about 90 seconds into the game. I paused the video to find OU's website. Sure enough, that guy really was Rod Barnes. I thought we'd be lucky to score 35 points!

Oklahoma had trouble scoring and they could not get their threes to drop, but Bama played pretty well against a very physical Rod Barnes style defense. When OU took away Gee's drive and JD's inside game by denying him the ball and Riley failed to hit a three, I was glad I'd known the final score before I watched the rest of the game. But this team and this staff seem to keep finding ways to win when our primary plays and players don't quit work.

Riley missed all of his three point shots in the first half (I think I counted three). But he had five rebounds in the first ten minutes and found ways to drive to the basket to score. JD could not score down low because of the physical nature of the game the officials allowed. So in the second half he hit his outside shot and a couple of those hooks he's worked on for three years now.

Hendrix had less trouble rebounding than Davidson, but the officials let OU push them around and go over their backs. So their teammates took up the slack. I have not studied the box score, but this looked like a solid team win to me. We get into trouble if we don't rebound well and score some fast break baskets, but they always find a way to win.

I don't think JD's lack of production had as much to do with his emotional state as it did the physical nature of the game. But Ron Steele obviously is not healthy and we still are not as good a team without him on the floor. (Where is Torrence?) But I do like Tubbs defense and Gee, Tubbs and Hollinger all seem to be finding their range.

I still think this will be a fun year and expect us to make a deep run. I think we will continue to get better as they year progresses. Isn't that what we want?

1 comment:

Hville said...

It's good to know that you had a good trip. FYI, the 1st 3 stages of the Tour de France is in London this July. It will be the 1st time England has hosted a stage since the early 70s.