by Pat Dooley
Each morning during the postseason I’ll wake up, rub my eyes and tell you what I think I think after a good night’s sleep.
1. It was amazing to see how bad Mississippi State was this year but there are signs the Bulldogs may have something to build on. Freshman Fred Thomas looked like that kind of tall, fearless guard that every team wants. Sometimes he’s too fearless. “I have to coach him not to take threes when there’s two minutes left and we’re trying to win the game,” said Mississippi State coach Rick Ray. But Franks was the difference in the opening game of the SEC Tourney. He had 21 points and three assists in the game. Thomas had a typical freshman season with ups and downs. Twice late in the season — at Alabama and at home against Ole Miss — he missed every shot from the field he took. And I know it was against South Carolina Wednesday night but I came away impressed.
2. Can Tony Barbee survive 9-23? That was the question circulating around the press room last night. The other — can anyone win at Auburn. The Tigers have gone 10 straight years without an automatic bid. Barbee apologized to his players after Wednesday night’s loss saying, “I haven’t coached them well this season.” But is Auburn ready to give up and pay a $3 million buyout. Barbee’s teams play hard but his record is 38-59. I think they’ll give me another year.
3. Earlier in the season, it looked like former UF assistant Larry Shyatt had his team poised for an NCAA berth. The Cowboys were 15-2 with a couple of nice wins on their resume. But since then, they’ve gone 4-11 including three losses to NCAA lock New Mexico. The latest came Wednesday night. Shyatt is as good a guy as there is in this profession and I’d love to see him in the tourney next season. But it looks like the NIT this year.
4. You remember Norfolk State, which pulled the upset of Missouri last year in Omaha and then partied the night away? Norfolk then lost to Florida in the Round of 32 and looked like a team that partied the night away. Norfolk was stunned by Bethune-Cookman Wednesday night in overtime in Norfolk in the MEAC tourney after going 16-0 in conference play. Bethune gets a day off (another odd bracket) before playing in the semifinal Friday. Any chance the Wildcats could win two more games and give the state four teams in the NCAA field?