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VIEW FROM THE BOOTH - DAVID CRANE


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SHAKING OFF A LITTLE RUST

February 16, 2009

Blazer fans,

I hope you all had a very happy Valentine's Day...got some sweets...and some sugar! The Blazers nearly had their hearts broken on Saturday, thanks to an amazing shooting day by the SMU Mustangs. Matt Doherty's team simply couldn't miss at Bartow Arena, especially in the first half. The Ponies blistered the nets at a 66.7% clip from the field. Good free throw shooting (and plenty of opportunities) helped UAB to a two-point lead at halftime.

The second half saw SMU's shooting cool off, slightly. The Green and Gold still had to come from behind in the closing seconds, but, once again, the free throw line proved to be the difference in the game. Paul Delaney III canned two big ones to put the Blazers back ahead by a point, and Robert Vaden drained two more seconds later to make it a three-point lead. The 78-75 final was every bit as close as the score indicated, and Mike Davis was not terribly thrilled with his team's performance.

The coach was happy his bunch showed the toughness and grit and determination to win a game it probably should have lost, but the performance against the Mustangs was not at all like what we've seen from the Blazers in the last couple of weeks. Perhaps it was the week off...perhaps it was playing the 12th-place team in Conference USA on your home floor...whatever the reason, UAB was not sharp for most of the day.

After surviving the scare, the Blazers have now won four straight and seven of eight. Only the one-point, buzzer-beater, heart-breaking loss at Tulsa has marred a remarkable run for the Green and Gold. UAB has managed to defend the home floor all season long, and despite all the trials and tribulations this season, there is MUCH to play for over the course of the next three weeks. Six regular season games remain, plus the conference tournament, and anything is possible. For the most part, this team is playing some really good basketball right now, and mid-to-late-February is an ideal time to start hitting your stride.

This is a week of rematches for the Blazers...in fact, five of the next six games are against teams the Green and Gold have already seen once this season. And in four of those five meetings, UAB will be going for the regular season sweep. First up, a visit to Tulane on Wednesday night. The Blazers claimed a 20-point win over the Green Wave two weeks ago at Bartow Arena, but that game was tougher than the final indicated. The Wave is tough to beat, like many, playing at home, and Blazer fans will remember the wild finish at Fogelman Arena last year. Ed Berrios hit three free throws in the final second to give the Green and Gold the win.

Then on Saturday, Southern Miss returns the trip to Birmingham. UAB got a rare win in Hattiesburg two weeks ago after turning in an outstanding defensive performance in the second half. The Golden Eagles would love a little payback...the Blazers want nothing less than a sweep.

We'll join you from New Orleans at 6:30 PM on Wednesday for the 7 PM tip. Saturday's game will tip at 1 PM from Bartow Arena, and our pre-game coverage begins at 12:30 PM. Tickets remain for ALL home games, so get yours today. Order online at www.uabsports.com or call the ticket office at 975-UAB1.

Two other big events this weekend to keep in mind. First up, the UAB women's basketball team will be playing host to Marshall on Friday night at 7 PM. It's a special night at Bartow Arena, as the building becomes the "Pink Zone." The Blazers will be teaming up with the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center to promote breast cancer awareness. There will be a silent auction starting at 6 PM...the first 1000 guests receive a free t-shirt and shaker...plus, the first 150 fans receive a pair of pink Crocs.

And finally, baseball season gets underway this weekend. The Blazers welcome Radford to the Magic City for a three-game series. First pitch is set for 3 PM on Friday...2 PM on Saturday...and 1 PM on Sunday at Young Memorial Field. Coach Shoop is excited about this season, and it should be an even better year for the Green and Gold. Bundle up and join us at the ol' ballpark this weekend!

Time for the call-in show...we're live at Buffalo Wild Wings on Highway 280 each Monday night. Join coach Davis and me from 7-8 PM as we talk Blazer basketball...and other things!

Have a great week...and GO BLAZERS!!!
DC

 
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