March 19, 2009
As I write this final basketball blog of the season, the "Madness" is just now underway. For UAB, sadly, the season has come to an end. The trip to Notre Dame was a unique opportunity for the Green and Gold. It was the first time the two programs had met on the hardwood...it was the first round of the NIT and a chance to end the season a champion...and for most everyone who traveled to South Bend, it was the first time to see the home of the Fighting Irish in person.
South Bend is not the most picturesque city in the world (even on a stunningly beautiful spring day), but the campus itself is quite impressive. I've included a few pictures I snapped during the trip to give you a glimpse of just some of the sights. The Golden Dome on a sunny day is inspiring..."Touchdown Jesus" appears to look over the entire campus and not just Notre Dame Stadium and the football team (which has been noticeable and enjoyable the last several years)...and you can even sense some of the history in the Joyce Center, which is considerable due to the fact it's 40 years old (apparently some of the original seats are still in use).
The game on Tuesday night seemed to be the UAB's season squeezed into 40 minutes. There were stretches of high-level play...a couple of lengthy field goal droughts...a second-half lead...a few too many missed free throws...and a sense of a missed opportunity when the final horn sounded. I do think Notre Dame is a talented team, and the Irish, like most, play very well on their home floor. They didn't win 45 games in-a-row at the Joyce Center by accident. All that said, the Blazers had opportunities to steal a game in a relatively tame environment. Had they done that, we would've enjoyed a second-round game at Bartow Arena.
I think it may take some time to fully evaluate and appreciate the 2008-09 season, as it does for many. It doesn't take long to appreciate the seniors on this team and their accomplishments. Not only are they good guys, but they also provided a lot of wonderful memories for the Blazer fans. I know I'll miss seeing Paul, Robert, Lawrence, Channing and Mike wearing the Green and Gold, but that's all part of the college basketball experience.
It was another 20-win season...another post-season apperance...some thrilling wins...some heart-breaking losses...it didn't necessarily end the way we all wanted it to, but it was far from a disppointing campaign.
Now it's on to baseball season. Brian Shoop's Blazers are swinging the bats well right now. They had a six-game win streak snapped in Starkville on Wednesday night, but they'll take their hot bats with them to Houston for the start of conference play this weekend. The Blazers and the Cougars will play a three-game series starting on Friday night.
Our first baseball broadcast comes next Tuesday from Tuscaloosa. UAB and Alabama will play a two-game, midweek series with game one at Sewell-Thomas Stadium. You can hear all the action here in Birmingham on WSPZ-AM 690 beginning at 6:20 PM. We'll have Wednesday night's game for you from Regions Park in Hoover, as well.
Thanks to all the fans who made this basketball season another enjoyable one for me, Steve and Jon Gentile. There's nothing like a noisy arena to make a broadcast sound better.
One last note...some of you may have heard the start of the broadcast on Tuesday night, so you are familiar with the tragedy that struck UAB and the Blazers ISP Sports Network. One of our coworkers at ISP, David Coffey, lost his wife Jennifer on Tuesday afternoon. Jen was only 33, and she'd been battling a heart ailment for several months. I ask that you keep Dave and the families in your thoughts and prayers during this most difficult time.
I'll try to keep the blog going throughout baseball season...we'll follow the Green and Gold all the way through the post-season...and I hope to see you at Regions Park next Wednesday...and at Young Memorial Field throughout the year.
Have a great weekend and GO BLAZERS!!!