VIEW FROM THE BOOTH - DAVID CRANE
NOTHING LIKE THE POST-SEASON
The regular season has come and gone. It was a successful one for the Green and Gold. A 20-win season and a second-place finish are certainly notable achievements for this team...a team that looks significantly different than the one that tipped it off in November. The near-miss against Memphis at Bartow Arena...the shootout with Houston four days later...the 41-point performance by Robert Vaden in El Paso...the emotional Senior Night win over Tulsa and the look on Frank Holmes' face throughout the night...all things we will remember fondly here in 2008.
Did the regular season end the way we wanted it to? Did the post-season begin the way we needed it to? Not exactly. But that doesn't mean the season has been a disappointment, nor does it mean there's nothing left to play for. The Blazers got good news on Sunday night that the post-season would continue in the NIT. It is UAB's 22nd post-season appearance and the ninth in the tournament that truly started the "madness" so many years ago.
We'll be heading for Richmond, Virginia, on Tuesday for the first round. The Blazers will face off against VCU, winners of the Colonial Athletic Association's regular season title. The Rams were upset in the conference tournament and were not chosen as one of the at-large teams for the NCAA Tourney. Anthony Grant's name has popped up in regards to some of the coaching searches in progress right now, especially at LSU. He led VCU to the first-round upset of Duke last year in the NCAA Tournament, and the Rams have posted back-to-back 20-win seasons under the second-year head coach.
Tip time on Wednesday is set for 6 PM central, and ESPN2 will televise the game from the Siegel Center. The Blazers ISP Sports Network will be on the air beginning at 5:30 PM central with pre-game coverage. UAB is the #5 seed in the region, which means it will take a win by the Blazers and an upset of top-seeded Virginia Tech for the Green and Gold to play at home in the second round. If the guys can take care of business in Richmond on Wednesday, we'll likely make the trip over to Blacksburg for the second-round meeting with the Hokies, who are the #1 seed in the region. No dates or times have been announced for the second-round games.
I was as disappointed as anyone when the NCAA Tournament bid slipped away over the last week, or so. That's the only way to win a National Championship, but the opportunity to win A championship is still there. A trip to New York and a chance to play in Madison Square Garden is certainly motivation for me, and I think will be for the Blazers, too! A run to an NIT title would be a great lead-in to next season.
While we're gone, I hope you'll get out and enjoy some UAB baseball and softball. The baseball team will entertain Mississippi State on Tuesday night, while softball will play host to Memphis in a CUSA weekend series. The weather is getting better (temperature-wise), and the severe stuff has to let up on us at some point!
Have a great week...tune in Wednesday night...and GO BLAZERS!!!