Thursday, February 18, 2010
What Might Have Been
We Could have Been a Contender
My wife, two days past due for the birth of my son, understandably went to bed early last night, so I had a chance to catch up on some college hoops rather than watch the Lifetime Movie of the week.
The Duece had Texas-Missouri, so I was immediately interested. I have been a Mike Anderson fan since UAB, where he was once a coach and I was once a student at the school of optometry there. My student ID gave me free admission to the "Fastest forty minutes in basketball", as it was called back then. I watched Anderson's teams who were so often undermanned whip more talented teams with shear guts and hustle. They never stopped. I was reminded of that again last night as Missouri imposed their will upon a shell-shocked Texas team with more talent, but less want to. Anderson is in basketball what Guz Malzahn is to college football. The fast paced approach wears the opponents down physically and more importantly mentally. Both are exciting to watch as fans of either sport. Both are, I would imagine as a player, great fun to play for.
In 2004 we closed the book on Cliff Ellis. His tenure produced the single greatest season in Auburn Basketball. But more often than not, his teams were forgettable and played uninspired. After another lousy season with better than average players, Cliff got canned.
Jay Jacobs had every opportunity at the time to go get Anderson. Most insiders berlieved he wanted the job. Jacobs fumbled the opportunity away by from a couple of accounts refusing to make the 2 hour drive to Birmingham to meet with Anderson. It was beneath him I guess.
The result was possibly the worst few years of Auburn baskteball since Tommy Joe Eagles. Jeff Lebo is a nice guy who simply has not gotten it done. This season was supposed to be a turn around. Instead, we Auburn fans have been subjected to losses to Troy and Sam Houston St., among others. We have seen flashes of brilliance slip away in overtime. It has been excrutiating underachievement.
I could write all day about poor shot selection, lousy halfcourt defense, atrocious free-throw shooting, etc. But I will save it, because we all have seen it before.
Jeff Lebo's tenure is likely done in a month or so. I wonder what might have been if Mike Anderson had been Auburn's head coach. He singlehandedly might have cured Auburn basketball apathy with an exciting brand of basketball that produces winners. Guess we will never know.
It has been documented before, but it's worth reminding us all again....
**Courtesy of Jerry @ Warblogeagle (formerly JCCW)
***Updated--Thanks to a reader, I just realized that Jay Jacobs didn't hire Lebo. It was Hal Baird, who also holds the distinction of hiring Tom Slater to run a once great AU baseball program into the ground. I stand corrected. Here you go...