Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Works, WEAK TOT ACTION-style

OK, that was me. As a devoted John Gasaway reader, I couldn't help but answer his call for favorite NCAA commercials, not when there's one that stands so head-and-shoulders above the rest:

I swear, when Jay Jacobs and the Powers That Be release their third album, we're naming it "You Go Strong to Your Mouth or You Don't Go at All."

You know, this could go better for us. In a truly stunning development, basketball developments have slowed the coverage of the Tide's spring practice thanks to the will-he-or-won't-he question mark now hanging over Anthony Grant's head.

As someone who has a ton of respect for what Grant's accomplished at VCU and has probably even more respect for what Mike Anderson has pulled off at UAB and Mizzou, I feel like Auburn's in a bit of a no-win situation here. I don't want the Tide to hire Grant or Anderson, and the latter's definitely a possibility if Grant wants to hold out and hope the Florida job comes open (as it may if Kentucky fires Gillespie and Donovan bolts for the bluegrass). But the best-case scenario is still for Grant to say no. I think there's definitely a chance Anderson would choose to stick with the rising juggernaut he's creating in Columbia, at a campus where hoops is every bit as big a deal as the football team, rather than rebuild in the shadow of the Coachbot. I know Anderson's an Alabama native, but the only school in the state he has any ties to is Jeff State. The guess here is that the odds are better than 50/50 in 'Bama's favor if they have to go hard after Anderson, but it's not exactly Momma calling.

Now, if they somehow manage to land neither? I don't know who's next in line. This, as an Auburn fan, is what I'm hoping for.

I'm trying to think of the appropriate metaphor here. Via Fields of Donahue, footage of Trooper Taylor leading a wide receiving drill in which his charges break off the line with "No drops":

So what is this most like? A line of chihuahuas saying "No yipping!"? A line of Washington politicians saying "No partisanship!"? A line of fast-food employees saying "No mistakes!"? So many possibilities.

Incidentally, the video is courtesy of the OA-News's AuburnVersus channel and is one of six in a series from Tuesday. The others are at that link.

Baseball. PPL has a typically kick-ass season review with the first third of the year now in the rearview. He notes that despite having some of the best bats in the SEC, Auburn is pretty much right in line with the (decidedly modest) expectations set out for them by the preseason polls, thanks to some awful relief pitching and defense the new coaching staff hasn't been able to correct yet. But there are signs of improvement:
As much as Auburn has struggled pitching, Scott Foxhall (the pitching coach) has a proven track record and Auburn does actually have some good things going for it. Auburn is in the middle of the SEC for staff strikeouts (192) and last year had 394 as a staff. It took Auburn all of March and February combined to reach 196 last year.
I strongly suggest you read the rest.

Back to hoops. Phillip Marshall notices that even worse than the SEC's down year on the hardcourt is that not many people realized how down a year it was:
It’s not the end of the world that the league only got three teams in the field. A few years back, only three ACC teams made it. But what is troubling for the SEC, or should be, is the fact that it didn’t seem to make a ripple nationally. Outside of the southeast, nobody seemed to notice.

When talking heads have brought up power conferences this season, the SEC has not even been mentioned. It’s like it has become irrelevant ...

When Florida won back-to-back national basketball championships, it should have helped the league’s national image. But when the Gators followed that up by missing out on the tournament two straight seasons, it only reinforced old stereotypes. When Kentucky isn’t a national force, the league goes even further off the radar.

The SEC is such a football power, known so much for football, that everything else is overshadowed. Even when the SEC has been strong in basketball, it has not been mentioned in the same breath as the Big East or the ACC or even the Big Ten.
It's a pretty shrewd observation here by Marshall, but the SEC's hoops problem isn't just that Florida fell back off the wagon or that Kentucky's having issues. It's that aside from Kentucky, no one in the entire league has built a consistent, year-in-year-out hoops program. The longest current streak of NCAA Tournament appearances currently belongs to Tennessee, at a whopping "four," and before those four the Vols had made the tournament just five times in 23 years. Arkansas of course was supposed to join the 'Cats as the league's second premier program when they joined up, but it hasn't worked out like that for quite some time. Every other team in the league has had "their" year or two over the past 20 where they jumped into the nation's elite, but no one in the SEC's second tier has had the staying power of a Maryland, an Illinois, a Washington, or any of those other perennial NCAA teams that make up the second tier of the nation's primary hoops leagues.

If the SEC wants to become a national player on the hoops scene, it's not about taking football less seriously or even getting Kentucky back on its horse--it's about finding more coaches like Bruce Pearl who have the know-how to get their programs not just into the tournament discussion for a year or two but keep them there for good.


SEC Homer said...

Grant or Anderson is the kind of coach I wish AU had. Esp Anderson. I grew up watching the Hogs dominate and love that style of play. Plus that style helps with recruiting too, similar to having Malzahn at AU. Sounds like Gillespie is about to be fired from UK. They might go for Anderson bc the Cats still reminisce of the up and down Pitino teams(IMO some of the best teams ever).

SEC Homer said...

I just saw a good Geico commercial. The caveman is in the stands watching the bball game and then he gets put on the scoreboard screen while the PA announcer blares "Here is Geico's #1 fan and remember using Geico is so easy, even a caveman can do it"

Stuart said...

A lot of talk of Tim Floyd if Bama cannot grab either one.

jd said...

Not to reopen old wounds, or anything...

Also, not to take anything away from the job Lebo did this year...

But can you imagine if we had hired Mike Anderson back in 2004? He's got Missouri in his third (?) year there pounding the defending national runners-up, and will have this team in the Elite 8. Wow, if only we had him on the Plains...

Also, this may be the worst year I've ever had in predicting the bracket. I picked way too many upsets, and almost none of them happened.

SEC Homer said...

The only reason I picked Louisville to get to the final game was because I could not decide between Uconn, Mem, or Mizzou on who would come out of that brutal region. I wonder if Mizzou can keep this up? Even tho they are up by 20, this game is definitely not over Tim Floyd is an interesting choice for Bama, he talks with a southern drawl so that's a possibility. I wouldn't want to see him at Bama either. He is a proven commodity.

SEC Homer said...

Maybe Jerry can answer this. Why is Duke consistently ranked high in the Kenpom ratings but have looked terrible against good tourney teams recently. Is this an anomaly? Because this has happened a lot the past few years.

Jerry Hinnen said...

re: Anderson, I don't think it's much of a knock against Lebo to say we wish we'd hired the most exciting coach in the country. Getting the toxic waste dump that Quin Snyder left behind into the Elite 8 in three seasons and doing it with an incredibly appealing signature style? Unreal. Despite spiking my bracket for good I was thrilled about their win last night: I think it makes it just a little less likely he'd walk for T-town.

Speaking of which PLEASE let 'Bama hire Tim Floyd, one of the absolute scuzziest coaches in the business. The more villains over there, the better.

Homer, I think it's mostly that Krzyzewski doesn't go very deep into his bench and by the end of the season, his players are done--especially when they have to face the elite athletes that K won't recruit any more since he doesn't want early defectors. They didn't fade at the end of this season quite the way they had the last few, but the ACC also clearly wasn't all that special anyway.

Hobbes said...

Doesn't Anderson have an Auburn grad on his staff? I am too lazy to google it.

But the Trooper video? Is "no drops" the thing they do every time? Or do they have a phrase of the day?

I can think of some that would address our recent WR problems more than drops.

How about "Get separation"? Or "run a halfway decent route for once. for chrissake? " Or 'no knee injuries on the very first kick off in the verygame"? Or "be a better athlete"?

Jerry Hinnen said...

I totally hope the next time they run the drill they say "Run a halfway decent route for once for chrissakes!" Though Taylor probably won't go for it.