THOUGHTS OF THE DAY: APRIL 8, 2019
WAS IT A FOUL, YES? BUT IT WAS A DOUBLE DRIBBLE, TOO
Yes, there was a foul with .06 seconds remaining on the clock in the Virginia-Auburn game. The officiating crew of Doug Sirmons, Keith Kimble and James Breeding got that one right even though they had been constantly allowing far more contact even on shots for the entire game. Samir Doughty didn’t hinder Kyle Guy’s shot, but he did bump him after the ball was released and when Breeding blew his whistle it was the right call even if it wasn’t consistent with what had been called throughout the game. If the call hadn’t been made, the Virginia people would have gone into collective apoplexy and screamed that their chance to make school history was ended when a zebra swallowed his whistle at the end.
Rather than dwell on that final whistle that sent Guy to the line to sink the three free throws that were the wakeup call that ended Auburn’s dream, Tiger fans should be hot under the collar about the no call on a double dribble. Ty Jerome did double dribble right in front of Kimble, who promptly swallowed his whistle. There is ZERO excuse for not making the call. Kimble was reach out and touch close and there was no obstruction. He choked instead of blowing his whistle and making the right call. This is the Final Four and though zebras do miss calls even at the Final Four, they shouldn’t miss what should have been a routine call in the last seconds with the outcome still to be decided.
Officials get it right most of the time. Emphasis on most. If you go through the film of every game you can point out to a number of calls that could have or should have been made that weren’t but when the game is on the line, you have to have confidence that they will get it right. That the crew got the foul on Guy right doesn’t make up for the fact there would have been no reason whatsoever for that play to take place if the double dribble had been called.
I’ve had numerous text messages and phone calls telling me this was one of those what goes around comes around moments for Auburn, referencing, of course, the Southeastern Conference semifinal between Auburn and Florida. There are people doing hard time in Raiford for less than what happened to Florida’s Andrew Nembhard when he tried to get off what would have been a game-tying 3-pointer at the buzzer. The crew of Todd Austin, Chuck Jones and Bart Lenox should hang their heads in shame over that no-call but if you are a real fan, then you should take no pleasure in the fact that Saturday night, another zebra crew choked. The kids in both the Auburn-Florida and Auburn-Virginia games played as hard as they could play and at the end of both games, they deserved the chance to decide the game, not the officials.
It’s laughable that folks are making such a big deal out of Kyle Guy hitting the three free throws. Sure, there was a ton of pressure on him, but he shouldn’t have been at the foul line with a chance to win the game in the first place. And, there was no guarantee at the end of Auburn-Florida that Nembhard would have made all three free throws to tie the game or that the Gators would have prevailed in overtime but at least the right call would have been made and the game could have been decided by players instead of zebras.
We have every reason to expect the zebras to make the right call when a game was on the line, particularly one at the Final Four. It’s sad when they don’t.
PICKING TONIGHT’S WINNER … PERHAPS
Texas Tech (31-6) vs. Virginia (34-3): If you love defense, then you probably couldn’t think of a better NCAA championship game matchup than this one. If low scoring games bore you, then maybe you can find a Beverly Hillbillies marathon on one of the obscure cable channels. This has the makings of the lowest scoring championship game in the shot clock era. Just about every expert thinks this is going to be white knuckles to the very end and most of them seem to think Virginia will walk away with the big trophy in the end. I think Virginia is a fine basketball team and extremely well coached. I also think Texas Tech is the soundest defensive team I’ve seen since Bobby Knight was coaching Indiana way back when. That might have something to do with the fact Texas Tech coach Chris Beard is a former Knight assistant. If Tariq Owens plays without any lingering effects from hyperextending his knee, I like Texas Tech to win this one. If Owens can’t go, I think Virginia will win. I’ll go on the assumption that Owens plays and pick Texas Tech. Besides, they have the coach with the best name and a former Gator in Brandone Francis.
BIG WEEKEND FOR MEN’S TENNIS, SOFTBALL
The 2nd-ranked Gators (19-2, 11-0 SEC) clinched at least a tie for the SEC men’s tennis championship Sunday with a 6-1 win over Auburn, Florida’s 13thstraight win of the season. The Gators can win the title outright next weekend when 18th-ranked South Carolina comes to Gainesville.
With their sweep of Arkansas (26-14, 6-9 SEC), the 9th-ranked Gators (32-9, 6-6 SEC) won their first SEC series of the season and pulled to .500 in league play. The Gators got complete game shutouts from Kelly Barnhill and Elizabeth Hightower on Friday and Saturday before finishing off the Razorbacks, 3-1, on Sunday with Barnhill going the distance and pitching a 2-hitter. Barnhill pitched a 3-hitter on Friday. Hightower pitched a 3-hitter on Saturday as the Gators run-ruled the Hogs with help from home runs by Amanda Lorenz, Jaimie Hoover and Kendyl Lindamin. The Gators will host South Florida in non-conference action on Tuesday and then travel to Texas A&M (25-15, 3-9 SEC) next weekend.
BAD WEEKEND FOR UF GYMNASTICS, BASEBALL
Let’s start with an unmitigated disaster for the UF gymnastics team, which went to the Corvallis Regional ranked third nationally. Under the new NCAA format, a regional is a two-night affair – eight teams and two sessions the first night, the top two teams from the two sessions in a 4-team final the next. The Gators were the easily the best team on night one. Saturday night, Florida suffered through two falls on the balance beam and as a result, finished third, which means UF won’t be going to the NCAA championships for the first time since 2004.
Ole Miss battered Florida’s pitching staff for 40 runs in three games for a sweep that plummeted the Gators (21-13, 4-8 SEC) the bottom tier of the SEC standings. The Gators will travel to Tallahassee Tuesday night for their third and final regular season matchup with Florida State. South Carolina (19-13, 3-9 SEC) comes to McKethan Stadium next weekend.
It was a downer of a weekend for the Florida women’s tennis team (10-9, 7-5 SEC), which lost to Alabama (16-10, 4-7 SEC), 4-1, Friday before scoring a 4-2 win over Auburn (13-13, 0-11 SEC) Sunday. The Gators play host to Michigan in a non-conference match on Thursday before finishing out the regular season against South Carolina (16-3, 11-1 SEC) next Saturday.
SEC BASKETBALL STUFF
Former UF assistant John Pelphrey, who spent the last three years as an assistant to Avery Johnson at Alabama, is the new head coach at Tennessee Tech of the Ohio Valley Conference. This is a good mid-major gig in a very competitive conference (Murray State is in the league).
Having struck out with Kelvin Sampson (big raise and 6-year contract extension at Houston) and absolutely zero interest from their overtures by Texas Tech coach Chris Beard (why would he leave?), Arkansas turned its attention to Nevada coach Eric Musselman and made it official on Sunday. Considering he lost his entire starting five at Nevada, it was a good time for Musselman to seek gainful employment elsewhere. Considering how the pool of decent coaches interested in making a move was dwindling, Arkansas might have come up with the best available coach it could find.
Naismith Coach of the Year Rick Barnes of Tennessee has emerged as a “serious” candidate to become the head coach at UCLA per Evan Daniels of 247Sports.com. Economically he’s better off in Knoxville (no state income tax in Tennessee; 13% in California for those making more than $1 million), but it’s probably easier to win the Pac-12 at UCLA than it is the SEC at Tennessee.
Vanderbilt hired Jerry Stackhouse to be its new basketball coach. He might turn out just fine but it’s a questionable hire when you consider he’s only been a head coach for one year and that was the NBA G League and his assistant resume is a mere four years, all in the NBA. Stackhouse sponsored an AAU team (Brandon Ingram was one of his players), so Vandy hopes that he can use his connections in that shadowy world to bring in talent capable of competing for championships. This is a risky hire, but it is Vanderbilt, the same school that once hired Robbie Caldwell to be its football coach, so what do you expect?
Ole Miss guard Breein Tyree announced for the NBA Draft. He made first team All-SEC and averaged 17.9 points per game. He’s not planning to hire an agent so he will have a chance to return to Ole Miss if he doesn’t hear the right kind of feedback from the NBA.
SEC FOOTBALL STUFF
Here are some wise words from Alabama coach Nick Saban regarding players leaving early for the NFL Draft. “Now, we have guys that have no draft grades, seventh-round grades, free-agent grades, fifth-round grades that are going out of the draft. And the person that loses in that is the player,” Saban said Saturday. “If you’re a third-round draft pick, and we had one here last year – I’m not going to say any names – goes and starts for his team, so he’s making third-round money, which is not that great. He’d be the first guy taken at his position this year, probably, and make $15-18 million more … Not just our players – there’s a significant amount of players that are not making good business decisions about what they do.”
For the most part, Jake Bentley sat out the South Carolina spring game, allowing redshirt freshman Dakereon Joyner and early enrollee freshman Ryan Hilinski to take the bulk of the snaps. HBC Will Muschamp said that the fourth QB (Jay Urich) is going to continue to also get work at receiver and on special teams.
Spring football ended at Arkansas with one certainty – SMU grad transfer Ben Hicks will be the starting quarterback in the fall.
Matt Corral looked like a QB who has a clue at the Ole Miss spring game. “I remember this time last year him being so disappointed after the spring game last year,” said HBC Matt Luke. “It’s just such a big difference this year, just with his poise and his command.”
OT Ryan Locklear (6-5, 340) is likely to pick Tennessee as his final destination. He’s a grad transfer from Marshall where he appeared in 35 games.
This is an interesting take on playing on the offensive line. Georgia’s Solomon Kindley says, “We call it having the mange. Like a dog with mange. If you’re a dog with mange, that means you’re ready to play, you’re ready to attack … If you don’t have the mange and aren’t ready to play, you can’t be in our room.” Okey-dokey.
At LSU’s spring game, Joe Burrow was 15-25 for 159 yards and a TD and backup Myles Brennan was 16-24 for 212 yards. Perhaps in a preview of things to come, LSU ran a lot of 4- and 5-receiver sets. “I think we’re very far advance than we’ve ever been since I’ve been here,” said Coach O about what he is seeing from his offense.
RANDOM THOUGHTS: Attorney Michael Avenatti, recently indicted for trying to extort $20 million from Mike and best known as the attorney for porn star Stormy Daniels, claims that Nike paid the most of Duke’s Zion Williamson for consulting services “as part of a Nike brige to get Zion to go to Duke.” Duke AD Kevin White says the school is “looking into” the allegations … Virginia Tech didn’t waste time looking for a replacement coach for Buzz Williams. The new man is Mike Young, who led Wofford to the second round of the NCAA Tournament … Former Gator Peter Alonso hit a double and a homer to drive in three runs for the New York Mets Sunday. Through eight games, Alonso is hitting .382 with 6 doubles and 3 homers among his 13 hits and 11 RBI … The NBA season ends Wednesday. My how time flies since the last time I actually watched an NBA game.