As odd as it may sound, I thought all along a game with Southern Miss (in Hattiesburg) might be exactly what the Blazers were needing. You knew it would be tough, physical, ugly...everything that UAB basketball had been while winning 19 games this season. A change in the starting line-up paid some dividends, as well, and after 40 hard-fought minutes at the Reed Green Coliseum, it looked like the UAB we'd grown accustomed to seeing this year was back. The Blazers picked up their 20th win of the season, and USM head coach Larry Eustachy noted in his post-game radio interview he thought UAB just wanted it more and played harder than the Golden Eagles for the entire game. I agree.
Now comes a totally different challenge...Houston. The Cougars come to Bartow Arena on Saturday night with one of the most explosive players and offenses in Conference USA. Aubrey Coleman is averaging 25+ points a game, and the Coogs are number two in the league in scoring. The Blazer defense will be in for a workout, but the offense may get a little boost, as well. UH loves to score...they love to shoot...that defense thing? Eh. Opponents are shooting 46% from the field, and Tom Penders' team is giving up over 74 points per game.
In normal cases, that would make me excited. But having watched this UAB team lose a couple of games when scoring in the 70s...with five players scoring in double figures...I think I'd rather see the Green and Gold win another 65-60 game. If the Blazers can hold Houston in the 60s, I think the odds are good the two-game skid at Bartow Arena will come to an end. If it gets into the 70s, things could be interesting. Check that...it always seems to be interesting when Tom Penders and company come to Birmingham.
The weather is going to be nice...the game is at 7 PM...you have NO reason whatsoever to not be at Bartow Arena tomorrow night. This team needs a strong finish to the regular season, and another home loss doesn't fit into that scenario. So, come out and help this team regain a little swagger on the home floor, and enjoy what is, historically, an exciting game between these two teams.
In other news...softball season is underway. The Blazers will open their brand new ballpark on Tuesday against Alabama. Let's hope the weather will cooperate. Come on out...support the Green and Gold...and enjoy the beautiful new stadium and state-of-the-art scoreboard. That game will begin at 6:30 PM...Baseball will have its first pitch next Tuesday, as well. Brian Shoop takes his bunch to Starkville for a season-opener with the Mississippi State Bulldogs. The Blazers will have their first home series next weekend, and you'll notice some changes at Young Memorial Field, as well. New hitting cages are being completed, and baseball got a new scoreboard, too, for the 2010 season.
Well...time to get ready for the Cougars...and maybe get out and enjoy a little of this nice weather we're having! No snow in several days...who knew Vancouver would be jealous of Birmingham this time of year?
Have a great weekend...see you at Bartow Arena...and GO BLAZERS!!!