by Pat Dooley
Today’s early morning (well, it’s early for me) four from the floor at the SEC Tournament:
1. I was sitting at my seat waiting for another game to start when Don Rutledge leaned back in his chair and said, “Did you see the end of the Charlotte-Richmond game.” Rutledge is a friend and one of the SEC’s on-site administrators evaluating the officials. So I Googled the game and it goes back to my old saying — never think you’ve seen everything. Not in sports. If you didn’t see it, Charlotte’s Pierria Henry made 8-of-10 free throws in a span of 2.5 seconds to win the game. That I have never seen before.
2. I’d like the tell you the quality of play here at the tournament has been surprisingly good but I can’t. These teams continue to play like they have all season and the physicality of desperate teams has made it even harder to watch. Guys can’t even get through the lane to set a screen without being pushed or hip-checked. The chatter on press row was about how the officials need to set the standard early next year and make this basketball again instead of rugby.
3. That said, today should be a great day at the Bridgestone Arena. Florida-LSU, Alabama-Tennessee, Kentucky-Vanderbilt and Missouri-Ole Miss. Four bubble teams trying to make one more statement. Friday is always the best day of this tournament because the best teams are playing and there are four games.
4. If you aren’t a fan of Kentucky, Tennessee or Vanderbilt, you probably feel lost in the arena. The rest of the teams don’t have many fans at all. Made baskets are greeted by little pockets of cheers. Pat Forde of Yahoo Sports wrote a great column about why the SEC is so bad at basketball. Check it out. He and I talked before he wrote it and I pointed out that the league tends to dominate every sport it gets serious about. But lately, basketball seems to be in a downward spiral.