Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Around the Plains, 3/24


Hoops. Forget the banner or that crazy misguided notion of "momentum" heading into next season. (Ask Dave Odom and South Carolina's back-too-back NIT championships about how much that's worth.) The one genuinely cool thing that comes out of playing the NIT is having your team's players take a trip to New York to play (and, OK, possibly win a banner) in the most famous and storied gym in the world.

And hey, whaddya know, Auburn is one win tonight away from doing just that. They'll take on Baylor on ESPN at 7/6 p.m.

Baylor's a seriously weird team. They started off the year in the preseason top-25, won at Kansas St. Jan. 21 to move to 15-3 (with wins over Arizona St., Providence, Oklahoma St., etc.), proceeded to lose 10 of their next 12 to finish the regular season with a 5-11 record in the Big 12, then suddenly dispatched Nebraska, Kansas, and Texas to come within a game of Georgia-ing their way into the NCAAs. They lost that game to Missouri, but have since edged Georgetown at home and absolutely crushed Virginia Tech on the road to earn their trip to Beard-Eaves.

So, uh, if Auburn has to face the same bunch of Bears we've seen over the past few weeks, they're in for a tough game. If Baylor reverts back to their February form, though, it's a cakewalk. They key for Auburn will be forcing the Bears to miss shots--they don't grab a ton of offensive rebounds (thank goodness) but they very rarely turn the ball over and shoot a nice percentage, especially inside the arc. Defensively, they're nowhere near as good: they don't do anything particularly badly, but they're not good at anything in particular, either.

Auburn should score enough to win a game against most teams--the question is whether they can keep the Bears from hitting enough shots that Baylor won't outscore them anyway. Baylor's not going to be nearly as generous with the ball as Tulsa was. In the end, I think home court advantage should be just enough for Auburn to pull it out--but the way the Bears are playing at the moment, it's not going to be be easy.

Baseball. Oopsie: Auburn suffered a three-game sweep over the weekend at the hands of Arkansas. In Auburn. The Hogs are a top-25 team, but still. That brief flaring of optimism following the Tennessee series may be on the wane already.

Tubby. Not that I ever really expected Auburn's deposed head football coach to actually follow through on that "stick around and help the school and program however he can and in exchange, here's $5.1 million" bill of sale from last December ... but Tubby's really not following through on it. Read through this rather comprehensive description of Tubby's current offseason activities and see if you can find any reference to Auburn-centric activities anywhere. And via WRAS, another sign that Tubby doesn't exactly feel tied down to the Auburn area: his lake house is up for sale. (Remember, prospective buyers: 9,000 square feet! That "steam shower" sounds pretty sweet, too.)

The point: he's moving on. Don't blame him, don't begrudge him. Do kinda wish we could have skipped that little part of Jacobs' song-and-dance at the time of his departure, though.

Swimming. The Auburn women took sixth at the NCAA national championships last week, which is awesome when compared to nearly every other women's swim program out there. That said, from the official site wrap linked above:
The Tigers’ sixth-place NCAA finish was the lowest for an Auburn women’s team since coming in 11th at the 1999 championships. The 2009 NCAA Championships also marks the first time since 2000 the Tigers return no event titles to The Plains.
Hrm. With the coaching turbulence in the swim program this year, I guess it's not unexpected. Get 'em next year, ladies.


SEC Homer said...

Like you said...Baylor is a good team. I think Baylor is the overall slightly better team of the two, mainly bc they have a better go to guy in Jerrells and more tournament experience. However, playing at home should make this game a toss up and I would not bet money on either team. Hopefully the masses turn out at the Dump tonight and help the Tigers pull out a tough one. Thanks for the update.

SEC Homer said...

I love AU's team, their grit, their determination. BUT I will not miss their free throw shooting one bit. Free throws basically were the reason they missed the NCAA's this year in the close games they had earlier this season and cost them again(and not just Reeds 2 misses in crunch time). I can forgive Barber, many of the bigs in the NCAA and NBA have trouble from the line and he adds(added)so much else to AU's team. But the guards like Reed, Quantez, and Hargrove should shoot 75% or better. Guards and forwards who hoist as many 3's as these guys do(esp Hargrove and Reed) to only be able to hit a 15 foot set shot 60% of the time is ridiculous and embarrassing. Guys, you're getting a free ride to go to a good school, hit a freaking 15 foot set shot!!!

Anonymous said...

Looks like the big offenders on not hitting free throws are:

Dewayne Reed: 61%
Kovortney Barber: 47%
Lucas Hargrove: 61%
Quantez Robertson: 62%
Brendon Knox shot a very worrisome 43%.

The guys that are good at it:

Tay Waller: 80%
Rasheem Barrett: 75%
Frankie Sullivan: 75%

Jerry Hinnen said...

Yeah, Homer, I'm not sure how Reed's not better at it. Got to be a mental thing. Too bad.