Thursday, December 1, 2005

Behind The Scoreboard
By Claude Vinson


There were two very important occurrences this past weekend in the world of sports. And both just happened to happen in the collegiate ranks. But, at any level these two events would have been ranked to the zenith degree.

First, on Friday last there was the outstanding contest between the Blue Devils of Duke and the Tigers of Memphis. All of the collegiate basketball world should probably envy this game (and I am not sure that it didn’t). You may say that this basketball shootout was entertaining, and you would be right, however, it was much more than that.

Consider Duke being the number one team in the nation (rated pre-season, of course), and the Tigers of Memphis rated number 11 (pre-season, of course), going head to head for the pre-season NIT title. You can contest me on this if you wish, but there has been no point in the history of the NIT when there were implications of this sort.

The calibre of teams which made up the slate were all NCAA top teams. Memphis had to face an all too familiar foe in the semis in UCLA. The Tigers have always struggled when they had to face the Bruins, but not this time. The Tiger men were actually looking forward to meeting the seemingly invincible giant.

There was no fear. One could take hours to set to type all the highlights versus Duke. The Tigers could have won it. The Tigers should have won it (according to head coach John Calipari), but Duke came out three points better. Calipari stated on Monday that he was not happy with the performance of a couple of his players. He didn’t mention names but it is a known fact that free throw misses hurt the Tigers. The coach could be lamenting the fact that he had never lost to a number one team in three previous tries. Your team, Coach, but those Tigers gave the Devils the blues!

The other great sports happening had a governor as its pitch person. Gov. Kathleen Babineaux of Louisiana gave a rousing introduction to the Bayou Classic which had to be played in Houston. This 34th meeting between the Grambling Tigers and the Southern University Jaguars would have satisfied the most critical football fan. The Grambling Tigers continued the winning ways pioneered by the legendary Eddie “Bill” Robinson and won 50-35.

There had been earlier speculation as to whether the game would be played, until the Texas and Louisiana governors got together. Is that interstate commerce, or what?

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