Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Tops Strike Down With Great Vengeance

(For this post, the part of Jules Winfield will be played by Courtney Lee. Vincent Vega is played by Anthony Winchester)

Act I (Cue Dick Dale surf guitar music)
Now I wanna dance, I wanna win. I want that trophy, so dance good. (Mia)
10.05: And this dance is a sixth grade sock-hop where the gangly girls tower over the prepubescent boys. It is an exercise in disjointed incoordination. It is UGLY. There is no rhythm, no tempo. It's a free-for-all and the Toppers have continued their turnover woes. Luckily, UAB cannot throw it in the ocean, so the Tops have somehow managed to hold a 2-point lead, 16-14. A Royale with cheese has more rhythm than this contest.

Oh man, I shot Marvin in the face. (Vincent Vega, er, I mean Anthony Winchester)
Winchester gets it going with a leaner +1 on a foul for an old-fashioned 3-point play. There is still little flow to this game as UAB continues to force a ridiculous amount of Topper turnovers, but cannot shoot straight against an intense WKU defense. 24-20, Tops.

I got a threshold, Jules. I got a threshold for the abuse I'll take. And right now I'm a race car and you got me in the red. (Vince/Winchester)
4.52: Winchester has been red-faced and furious all night. He's been getting in teammates' faces, murmuring to himself after poor decisions, and then he absolutely hammered a UAB player driving to the goal to send a message to the more physical Blazers, drawing boos from the surprisingly sparse crowd. He is a race car in the red...and he just drilled a Three to make it 28-25 Tops. Mike Walker added 1-2 free throws and a put back hoop to make it 31-25 Tops. Time out, Blazers.

Intermission: Tied at 36. (Cue "Girl You'll Be A Woman Soon" for halftime entertainment)
The home team closes with a furious run to tie it at 36. WKU has committed 17 first half turnovers. The Tops can run with the Blazers, but they MUST stop the throwaways. Freshman PG Orlando Mendez-Valdez has done a solid job and probably needs to log the bulk of the PG minutes. He looks the calmest and coolest of the Topper ballhandlers. Is there a home court advantage for the Blazers? UAB has shot 20 free throws...WKU? THREE.

Act II (Surf guitar reprise)
Every time my fingers touch brain I'm SUPERFLY T.N.T, I'm the GUNS OF THE NAVARONE! (Jules)
13.47: After committing three turnovers in 38 seconds to start the second stanza, the Toppers fell behind 43-36. But, the Topper Armada of three-point shooters started firing at will. Orlando Mendez-Valdez, Ty Rogers, and Benson Callier all drilled longballs during a 14-6 spurt that made it 50-49, Tops.

And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. (Courtney Lee)
7.58: Lee has taken over this game in the last five minutes. He tied the game at 55 with a Three, made two $5-dollar-milkshake-quality drives to hole and 2 FT's. A Winchester 3-ball off of a Mendez-Valdez steal followed by another Ty Rogers' Three has swelled the Topper lead to 11 (67-56). This team looks like it has found its groove.

Okay man, it was a miracle, can we leave now? (Winchester/Vince)
o.oo: Yes, we can leave now because the last few minutes have been a cavalcade of Topper Threes and Lee free throws. 92-76, Tops win. And though a team that markets itself as "The Fastest 40 Minutes in Basketball" will never admit it, this Topper team wore down UAB. Yes, the tremendous Topper shooting did in the Blazers, but those open looks came largely as a result of a fresher Topper team. Those open looks were not there earlier in the game. UAB was tired, and the Tops scorched the earth to the tune of 15-23 from 3-point land as a result of open looks.

What's inside the briefcase? A gigantic road win for WKU and an exorcism of the Georgia demons. This Topper team gained a massive 92-76 road win for their season resume. UAB had 35 free throw attempts to WKU's 17, and the Tops turned it over 27 times ON THE ROAD...and the Big Red still won by 16. That has to be a good sign. I really liked the intensity and killer instinct of this team. Sophomore G Courtney Lee was simply brilliant as well, so says the Mid-Majority.

The 3.75 hour one-way drive was absolutely worth watching this team put it all together for the last ten minutes. I expect that wild inconsistently will often be the norm for this Topper team with so many new players (Does that mean that they actually ARE consistent? Hmmm...). Jules and Vince are always going to be there with guns blazing, but there will be nights that Mia snorts heroin and needs to be saved by a giant needle to the heart. Also, there will be nights when all cylinders click and this team looks nigh unstoppable. For now, I'm just savoring the nearly flawless last ten minutes of the UAB like one might savor a Big Kahuna Burger.

Last Night's GOI
--Dayton 75, at Cincinnati 66. It's official. The Bearcats are officially on the way-too-early season Bubble Boy list.
--at Iowa State 68, Northern Iowa 61. The Cyclones righted the ship a bit and UNI missed out on a big non-conference scalp.
--at Michigan 74, Miami-FL 53. OUCH. Canes are reeling.
--Illinois 68, at North Carolina 64. 2005 title game rematch goes to the Illini.
--at Wake Forest 91, Wisconsin 88. Great early season game. These teams both look like solid tourney teams early on.
--at Middle Tennessee State 81, Chattanooga 71. MTSU (2-1) rebounds a bit after the Indiana State loss.
--at FIU 69, South Florida 64 (2 OT) . The Golden Panthers (2-2) also bounce back with a win over a Big East team.
--at Georgia State 76, UL-Lafayette 61. The Cajuns (0-3) started with three road games and took three L's. They get Charlotte in the Cajun Dome on Saturday.

Tonight's GOI
--Duke at Indiana. Indiana has steamrolled everyone so far. They get #1 Duke in Bloomington. This should be a great barometer for both teams.
--NC State at Iowa. Another nice matchup of probable NCAA teams. I need more convincing that NC State is worthy of the attention that they have received so far. I like the Hawkeyes here.
--Georgia Tech at Michigan State. I am simply curious as to how the Jackets got blasted by 22 AT HOME to Illinois-Chicago. The Flames were promptly routed by 20 at Georgia Southern. Let's see if GT is that bad.
--Utah State at Utah. Huge in-state game that cannot be ignored.
--North Texas at Arizona State. Good chance for a Sun Belt win over a Big Six school.
--New Orleans at Mississippi State. See above.