VIEW FROM THE BOOTH - DAVID CRANE
Greetings from Houston. We traveled (all day, it seemed) on Tuesday for the Wednesday night meeting with Rice. Severe weather delayed our departure from Birmingham, but once we arrived, the weather was beautiful in this mammoth city.
I know everyone is excited about Saturday, with good reason. It's been a while since we've sold out Bartow Arena, and the chance to play host to the number one team in America doesn't come along all that often. But before we focus all our energy on the Tigers, there's plenty of business to be tended to.
The Owls are winless in Conference USA, and Rice has been forced to "relocate" this year to Reliant Arena while their facility is renovated. It seems like a no-brainer, at least on paper. How in the world can an 0-9 team beat the third-place team in CUSA? I don't THINK we'll get the answer on Wednesday, but it's certainly not a game the Green and Gold can simply "show up" for.
UAB is a solid favorite against Rice, and rightfully so. I, personally, am hoping the Blazers will see this as a fantastic opportunity. It would be awfully impressive if they can go on the road, take care of business, and THEN focus their attention on Memphis. A good showing against the Owls could serve as a nice tune-up for Saturday. We all know the Blazers will need to be at their best for Memphis, and an impressive win on Wednesday could set the stage for that.
As for the showdown with the Tigers, I hope all the fans are as excited as I am. It's always exciting to be a part of events with a full house. It's a credit to the Blazer faithful that the game has been sold out for right around two weeks. I'm sure there will be some Memphis blue in the house, but it should be well hidden amongst the Green and Gold.
My wish list for Saturday...
1. Get to the arena early...don't get caught outside trying to get in just before the tip.
2. Make more noise than you ever have at a basketball game...it has an effect, I promise.
3. Have fun...there will be some phenomenal athletes on the floor putting on quite a show.
4. Act like somebody...scream your lungs out for the Blazers, and show respect for the visitors (especially our great students).
Let's all work together to make Saturdays atmosphere the best ever at Bartow Arena. Don't wait for UAB to make a play before you cheer. It's your job to inspire them and make Memphis, well, let's just say "uneasy."
Tape those ankles, we'll need everybody ready to go on Saturday.
Have a great week, and I can't wait to see you all at Bartow Arena.