VIEW FROM THE BOOTH - DAVID CRANE
A SPECIAL WEEK
There have been a lot of adjectives thrown around when describing one Robert Vaden. The one we like the most around our office is "special." It's not the most glamorous word...it's not one you have to look up in the dictionary to find the meaning...but I do think it's the most appropriate way to describe the very humble and likable junior. What he did last week on the hardwood was, indeed, special.
He posted a career-best 41 points in almost single-handedly carrying UAB to its first-ever win at UTEP. The total matched the school record set by Andy Kennedy. Along the way, Vaden drained nine, count 'em, nine three-pointers, to set the UAB single game record. As amazing as that feat was, Robert had just the third-highest point total in the country that night!
It would have been easy, I think, to have somewhat of a let down after that scintillating performance. Instead, Robert poured in 30 more points in UAB's systematic beat down of Tulane. He's picked up some National Player of the Week honors for his efforts, and deservedly so, although he could only manage CO-Player of the Week honors from CUSA. (Who says this league isn't tough?!)
Vaden isn't the flashiest player on the floor. He doesn't have highlight reel dunks appearing on ESPN each night. All he does is work hard and, in doing so, make everyone else wearing green and gold better. The fact that he makes it all look so easy is why I think the very simple word "special" is the most appropriate way to describe him.
On the heels of Vaden's "special" week, the Blazers, as a whole, enter a truly special week. It's the final seven days of the regular season (didn't we just finish beating Kentucky in Louisville?) The last game at Bartow Arena is tomorrow night with a dangerous Tulsa team coming to town. It will be senior night for UAB, and in this case, senior does indeed mean only one. Frank Holmes will be honored before the game with the Golden Hurricane, and I certainly hope you plan on being there. Frank deserves a full house, and so do these Blazers. If things go well, it will be the final appearance of the year at Bartow Arena.
Saturday marks the end of the regular season campaign. We all know who's waiting at the FedEx Forum, so there's no need to get antsy about it BEFORE taking care of business against Tulsa. The Blazers are on more and more radar screens this week, and a six-game win streak to wrap up the regular season would make the blip on those radars a little bigger and brighter.
It'll be a fairly quick turnaround for all of us. After ending things at the FedEx Forum, we'll turn right back around and return there for the Conference USA Tournament next week. Tourney tickets do remain, and you can call or go by the UAB Ticket office to place your order. Don't forget, it runs Wednesday through Saturday, with the championship game bright and early, nationally televised by CBS.
With all of the craziness in college basketball this season, there is absolutely no way to tell where the Blazers will end up. I certainly know where I hope to be in mid-March...through early April. There's "craziness" and then there's "Madness"...the choice is obvious. Anything is possible for this bunch, as long as they continue to play the way they have the last couple of weeks. If they do, the entire 2007-08 season will fall under the category of "Special."
Have a great week...see you at Bartow Arena on Wednesday...and GO BLAZERS!!!