Thursday, February 21, 2008
Behind The Scoreboard
It seems that the Mid-South has found another champion. The Memphis Tigers basketball team has seemingly galvanized our entire area.
Personally, yours truly is going to put aside the fact that this is strictly SEC country, which does not usually embrace interlopers, and give the Tigers some respect. This has nothing to do with the fact that eldest daughter (Veronica Ann) works for the athletic department at University of Memphis. Please note that I didn’t use the “UM” abbreviation. I didn’t want anyone confusing the Memphis school with our own SEC “UM.” More on that later.
The Tiger fever has immersed most of the basketball fans in these here parts, no matter their own collegiate affiliations. Their run and rise is not exactly meteoric. Head Tiger, John Calipari, has been telling us that he was building a rock solid program for the last four years. He has stuck to his guns. John has adroitly sidestepped big offers from bigger schools.
His Tigers have lasted to the NCAA Elite Eight twice and won an NIT title during his tenure and tutelage. And now one just has to sense that the coach is onto something great.
He has dismissed critics with such phrases as, “They (sic) don’t want us in the SEC; as a matter of fact, they just wish Memphis would go away.” And he has humbly added a little mystique to the persona of his team. He has been saying lately that the Tigers, playing with an unblemished seasonal record (the only team enjoying that distinction in the nation), could possibly lose two games before the regular season ends. Personally, I think the coach is trying to lull future opponents into a false sense of security-and expectations.
The Tigers faced their latest challenge at UAB on Saturday in a wild shootout which almost turned into an ugly aftermath. The Tiger players showed signs of egging the upset UAB crowd on with “in your face” taunts according to some spectators. But this was after Blazer fans started to throw litter at them.
And at this point, that could be the Tigers’ worst enemy - the inability to keep their “cool,” on and off the court.
And about that statement concerning the alma mater. Ole Miss started off this season setting the woods on fire and then the flames fizzled. Head coach Andy Kennedy stated that the decline was hard to fathom.
Don’t worry Rebs. We are still pulling for you and we want you in the SEC.
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