Jan. 5, 2010
I trust you all rang in the New Year in style. The Blazers celebrated New Years Day with a trip to Fayetteville, Arkansas, for the final non-conference game of the season on Saturday. The Green and Gold made it very interesting, but UAB managed to escape Bud Walton Arena with a thrilling, one-point win. After squandering a halftime lead, the Blazers rallied in the second half. Wonderful execution on an out-of-bounds play with a mere 2.2 seconds remaining found Howard Crawford all alone under the basket for an easy dunk. After loading up and flying home that afternoon, Mike Davis and company stand at 12-2 on the season with the 'second season' about to begin.
Yes, UAB fell out of the top 25...no, I don't think it's that big of a deal. It was nice getting some national attention, but it's time to focus all of OUR attention on the Conference USA schedule. If the Blazers continue to play as they have so far this season, I think we'll see them make a return in the polls. And if they don't return to the top 25, I still think they will be in the upper portion of other ratings/rankings, which can carry a lot of weight when the post-season rolls around.
Going 2-1 in the final non-conference stretch of Butler, at Virginia and at Arkansas was mighty impressive. I didn't see the Kent State loss, but from all reports, there were a lot of similarities in that one and the one UAB suffered at the hands of the Cavaliers. So, I think it's safe to say, without much of a stretch, that Mike Davis' team isn't very far from being 14-0 right now. Two second-half 'panic attacks' are the main things standing in the way of an undefeated campaign to this point. When the Green and Gold found themselves trailing in the final 20 minutes, in two hostile environments, they didn't handle it very well. On Saturday in Fayetteville, UAB didn't panic when trailing late in the game. Instead, they remained calm, played great defense and executed on offense at key times to come away with the win.
The non-conference slate played out very nicely for the Blazers, primarily because they played so well! I do think it served as a great warm-up for the next couple of months, and it is mighty nice to see "UAB" at the top of the league standings as conference play is about to begin. The schedule shapes up fairly nicely, as well, for the Green and Gold. The C-USA slate begins Wednesday with East Carolina coming to Bartow Arena. Next is a visit to Tulane (ALWAYS a tough place for the Blazers) followed by a mid-week open date and then a trip to SMU the following weekend. Road games are never easy...conference games are never easy, so nothing is being taken for granted...BUT, I do think UAB can potentially get off to a good start in the C-USA race.
The first order of business is ECU on Wednesday. The Pirates have played a tough schedule so far, so Mack McCarthy's team will not be intimidated at Bartow Arena. That doesn't mean the Pirates can't be rattled a little bit by another large, vocal crowd...like many we've seen so far this season. Fans have made a tremendous difference for the Blazers, and I hope you are making your plans to be with us. Hey, we'll make sure to have the heat on inside the Arena...that's reason enough to come in from the cold outside! Anyone seen Al Gore around here recently?
Don't forget, the women (who have won 4 of their last 5 games) will start their conference season on Thursday night at Bartow Arena. Audra Smith's team will welcome SMU to the Magic City for a 7 PM tip, and then the Blazers will play host to Tulsa on Saturday afternoon. Tip time for that game is set for 4 PM, and CBS College Sports television will broadcast the game.
Guess that will do it for now...bundle up...see you at Bartow Arena on Wednesday night...enjoy the snow on Thursday ;) and GO BLAZERS!!!