Thursday, March 21, 2013
Behind The Scoreboard
Get pencils sharpened
Some disappointment came early for some teams as they entered the conference playoffs.
This is the time of the season when NCAA teams try desperately to make impressions which will help to propel their programs. It is all too true that poor floor play can lead to devastating performances for teams, but other factors can deliver fatal blows to a program.
Grambling State University has always had an enviable reputation in the world of athletics which has endured for decades, so it is surprising that such a program can go an entire season (basketball) without a win, 0-28. Since the brotherhood of “no-win” teams is so small, the average fan never hears of a little thing (but all important) called the Academic Progress Rate (APR). It can be a killer in NCAA-sanctioned programs. The Tigers, who played in the SWAC championship game two years ago, had been axed by the swinging pendulum a year later. Grambling could offer only four scholarships during that first penalty year, but gained 10 slots the following season. These APR penalties can be felt throughout the school’s program, i.e., season start times, number of practice sessions as well as the number of games in a season. Even in a storied program history such as Grambling’s, this can have a disabling impact on recruiting. Tiger teams have had four different coaches in the last six seasons.
While the Tigers of Grambling and SWAC were probably pondering how to return the program to former glories, four teams across the spectrum were celebrating their high seeds – Louisville, Gonzaga, Indiana and Kansas were all tapped as number ones in their respective regions. And two teams very close to us had one of the most exciting weekends in their respective histories.
The University of Memphis Tigers continued their marching mission to a decent berth in the field of 68 (now expanded). If you didn’t choose to follow “Pastner’s Partners” in their three-game quest, you missed an entertaining weekend. The Tigers dispatched Tulane in the quarters, host Tulsa in the semis and the Golden Eagles in the finals. The 30-4 Tigers had to bring out the “el Tigre`” inner self to hold off the screaming Eagles in two overtimes. The Tigers’ secret weapon (Chris Crawford) kept piling up personal accolades and records which culminated in his being crowned MVP of the CUSA tourney.
Memphis is a six seed out of the Midwest and will get the “play-in” winner of the Middle Tennessee State and St. Mary’s matchup on Tuesday. This will not be an easy travel prospect for the Memphis faithful.
The other team in proximity to us, the Ole Miss Rebels, also had their secret arsenal, anchored consistently by Marshall Henderson. Like Memphis’s Crawford, his three balls were devastating. The national scene didn’t give the Rebels much of a chance in the SEC championship game versus the Florida Gators (#13). They muzzled the Gators and won their first SEC title in over three decades. Ole Miss enters the “Big Dance” out of the West at number 12 against the Badgers (#5) of Wisconsin.
Now is the time for all of us students of “bracket-nuts-ology” to sharpen pencils (use pencils, trust me), bite nails and make plenty of Kool-Aid.
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