Sunday, December 30, 2007

Basketball and Bowl Games

OK, I didn't mean to slow things down quite this much. Combinations of holidays, the baby not sleeping well, Mrs. GeauxTuscaloosa wanting access to the computer, and a lack of topics to discuss have conspired to keep me from posting like I should.

I try to blame most of my shortcomings on my wife and my child. It makes me feel better about myself.

One of the ways in which I differ from Poseur is that I do not watch all of the minor bowl games. Sure, I glue myself to the couch on New Year's Day and I definitely try to watch every bowl game in which the SEC has a representative. However, my interest in non-SEC bowl games is limited, as is my football stamina. I watch some of the non-SEC games, but I try to save my energy and focus for the SEC games and the really exciting non-SEC matchups.

For example, I watched Texas vs. Arizona State. For the record, I don't know what that replay official was looking at to say that Mac Brown's redheaded stepchild touched that ball. I know SEC officials were on the field, but I don't know if it was an SEC replay official as well. Of course, SEC officials are known to be horrible this year, and that was a terrible call. There was simply no evidence sufficient to overturn the call on the field that the guy did not touch it. I think the guy just wanted to increase the drama of the game by overturning that call.

Not that I mind that Texas and little-Mac were embarrassed. I was rooting for ASU in that game. I just don't like bad officiating, on principle.

I also watched much of the Texas A&M vs. Penn State matchup last night, though I don't really have a whole lot of comment on it.

That's not my main focus. I am, of course, and LSU-guy first and an SEC guy second. I wanted to watch the Mississippi State vs. Central Florida matchup, and I was not disappointed. I got to watch the whole thing because the LSU basketball game was unwatchable by the time the football game started.

Digression: This is only the second time I watched this basketball team play this season. The first was against Villanova. The games were remarkably similar. We looked great in the first half of both games and then looked like a bunch of rookies in the second half. I don't have an explanation for it except that, you know, we are a bunch of rookies. This should be a fun team to watch as the season goes on though. I'm not convinced this isn't a tournament team, especially if they can accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative. If they can do that, they may be one of the best teams in the country, not just in the conference.

Digression #2: Mrs. GeauxTuscaloosa, bless her, is a Kentucky basketball fan, and not a casual one. She's pretty hard core. It could be a long season for her, which could make it a long season for me. So please, for my benefit, root for Kentucky to win games.

Back to Mississippi State. I actually really like watching games like these. It's like watching a pitchers' duel in baseball. You know every play is key. Every mistake is magnified. Every punt is crucial because it may be the best chance for either team to score. Every yard and every first down is meaningful as teams try to get themselves into field goal position for the whole game.

It doesn't hurt that games like this usually move rather quickly. There were a lot of running plays, and not a lot of first downs, meaning the clock ran a lot and the game was over actually BEFORE the broadcast time expired. This is almost unheard-of in bowl season, as they sell more advertising and have longer halftimes.

I like this Mississippi State team. After their opening week trouncing at our hands, a team with lesser character would have folded up the tents on the season and checked out with another 3-9 record. They did not, and despite some rather serious limitations, they turned in a good season by playing good defense and running the ball well. And there's no reason to think they won't be just as good next season.

Tonight, we get another SEC matchup with Bama vs. Colorado. Some bowl games are very important to the teams playing them, and some are not. I'm not criticizing the attitude that bowl games sometimes aren't important. It's just true. For a team like Mississippi State, the bowl game was very important because those kids have never had one before. For Bama, the Independence Bowl is a big disappointment, and I get the feeling they do not think it's important and aren't particularly excited about being there.

Will this impact their play on the field? I don't know. Whether it does or not, I still think a bowl game (even a loss) is always a valuable experience, and you should never turn down the opportunity to go to one. I also do not buy the notion that a loss for Bama here would be devastating, as it would give them a second straight losing season. I think that to Bama fans, this is already a losing season and nothing that happens in Shreveport will change that.

That said, I think Bama is much more talented than Colorado, and if they are focused on the game they should win by multiple touchdowns. Remember, this is a team that had legitimate Sugar Bowl hopes going into November, and despite going 0-for-November, never once looked overmatched against any of their competition all season.

1 comment:

uberschuck said...

If you blow double digit halftime leads to an average team (Nova) and a bad team (UW)--the latter at home--then it means you've been horribly out-coached. It means the other team made appropriate half-time adjustments, but our coaches were so mystified that they squandered a huge lead. John Brady has done a great job recruiting. He should be fired ASAP so that these guys will have a chance with a competent coach next season.

MSU--an ugly win is still a win. Congrats to the Bulldogs.