VIEW FROM THE BOOTH - DAVID CRANE
January 8, 2008
TIME TO START A NEW STREAK
I mentioned in one of my last blogs, in mid-December, that the Holiday Season seems to get very hectic...very quickly. If ANYONE can tell me where the last four weeks went, I would greatly appreciate it. My apologies for falling down on my Blazer Blog duties.
When last we visited, the Blazers were getting set for the big trip to Louisville to take on Kentucky at Freedom Hall. We woke up on that Saturday to a wintry mix of rain, sleet, snow and temperatures around 35 degrees. The first half of the game for UAB resembled the weather...not exactly ideal. The opening minutes of the second half didn't get much better, but then Robert Vaden shook off the wintry mix and proceeded to warm up. He scored 28 of his career-best 33 points in the second half and certainly was the spark plug for the Green and Gold. He also didn't do it alone. Everyone seemed to step up at just the right time and key the Blazers to their remarkable, come-from-behind win over the Wildcats.
One week later, we got a REAL taste of winter in Wichita, Kansas. We arrived on Friday to clear skies and 50 degrees. We woke up on Saturday to the power off in the hotel, snow falling and howling winds that created blizzard conditions. Seven inches of snow later, we had a winter wonderland. The game with Wichita State was delayed an hour so they could clear the parking lots for their fans. We all thought it was a wasted effort...until about 8,000 Shocker fans showed up. The final wasn't what we were hoping for, but the good news was we got out of town without any problem on Sunday.
After breaking for Christmas, the Blazers returned to the hardwood for the final time in 2007 as Old Dominion came to Bartow Arena. UAB proceeded to crown the Monarchs right out of the gate and cruised to a 73-57 win. The Green and Gold started 2008 in good form with a 70-42 throttling of Alabama State here in the Magic City last Wednesday night.
That brings us to the start of the Conference USA season. The Blazers are 10-5 and preparing to open league play on Wednesday night at Tulane. It's the first of two meetings between the teams, and the Green Wave might be considered one of the surprise teams in C-USA. Tulane earned its first win over LSU in 26 years last week, and the Greenies have also beaten Auburn and Georgia on their way to a 10-4 start.
I hate using terms like "must-win game" or "this one's REALLY important"...but opening league play on the road, in a unique arena, against a team playing some good basketball...well, let's just say it would be awfully nice for UAB to come away with a win to start the C-USA season. Steve Mitchell, Jon Gentile and I will be driving down on Tuesday...we hope to avoid any leftover purple and gold or scarlet and gray in the Crescent City, but what are the odds of that?
We'll be on the air from cozy Fogelman Arena at 6:30 PM on Wednesday night, and tip-off is set for 7 PM.
Surely you've had your fill of holiday food...turkey, dressing, fried chicken, black-eyed peas, turnip greens, etc...so come on out and join us on Thursday night at the Hoover location of Full Moon BBQ for "Blazers All-Access." Coach Davis will be there, along with our customary good crowd, to talk UAB basketball from 6-7 PM. Come enjoy the great food and help us recap a big win to start the conference season.
After "Blazers All-Access" wraps up, we invite you to head over to Bartow Arena for women's basketball. The Blazers are coming off a good win in their C-USA opener last Sunday. Audra Smith's team started league play with a good win over Memphis, and their lengthy home stand continues with East Carolina visiting on Thursday night. Tip time is 7 PM, and we want everyone to come out and help us win the NCAA/Conference USA "Pack the House Challenge!" Admission is free for those 18 and under.
On a personal note, I know it's a little late, but I wish all of you a very Happy New Year, and I hope you all had a wonderful Holiday Season. As I mentioned to a group of friends before Christmas, my family was asking me repeatedly for Christmas gift ideas. My answer to them was, "Santa Claus delivered mine over the summer, and it had a big UAB tag on it." I knew how excited I was about this job, but I didn't know just how happy until the Holidays. I was having dinner with a good friend in mid-December, and he told me it's the happiest he had seen me in years. On New Year's Day, at a family gathering, another good friend was leaving, and said she had never seen me so relaxed, so happy, and smiling so much. I credit all of YOU for making those complements possible.
All the best in 2008 and GO BLAZERS!!!