First let me say Happy Birthday to my son Tyler who is a member of the team and turns 20 years old today. It's hard for me to believe I have a 20 yr. old but I want to make sure he knows how proud I am of him and how much I love him. He's been a terrific reflection of my wife and me and I feel extremely blessed to be his father. Now you know this means I'll have to find a way to write about my daughter in June when she turns 16!
I really wish we were celebrating after a win but we let a pretty solid defensive effort go for naught by not being able to close out a decent team that has been playing very well. This was a winnable road game and it's the kind you have to find a way to grind out if your goal is to be playing in March. We didn't do that. We let South Florida (USF) make a few more clutch plays from the 10 minute mark of the 2nd half and that was enough to send us back to Birmingham with our first loss in the last six (6) games. We held USF to 37% shooting from the field and 17% from the 3-point arc. The most glaring statistic however was that we put them on the line 40 times! The last 8 or so of those were when we were trying to stop the clock late in the game, but still when you put a team on the line 30+ times, you are asking for problems. In contrast we only shot 14 free throws. The point there is we were not the aggressors and on the road you HAVE to be. You can't expect calls you have to go make plays. You can't shy away from physical play you have to embrace it. You can't tip toe into someone else's building, you have to bring the fight! We didn't. At home the two previous games against Cincinnati and Alabama A&M we did. We've got to find a way to do it on the road against quality competition. We have to find it quickly as the next 2 games will be on the road in hostile environments against Kentucky and Wichita State.
It's final exam time for our guys and that brings additional stress for them. We'll adjust our practice schedule to make sure we give our guys ample time to prepare for this very important time of the year. We took our Academic Advisor, Judy Sackfield on the USF trip and we held study table to help our guys complete final assignments they have due to finish the semester. We left one of our staff members in Birmingham to monitor our guys who didn't travel to make sure they stayed on task as well.
There has been quite a bit of buzz about our fans making the trip to Louisville for the Kentucky game. It would be nice to see some green & gold among the blue & white faithful. Our guys could use the support. By the way thanks for coming out for the Cincinnati & A&M games last week. I asked you to make it a real "home court advantage" and you did. We all appreciate that! If you canít make the UK game check it out on ESPN next Saturday.
Assistant Head Coach