SEC: More Leftovers

By David Scott - March 11, 2007

Just a few more items that never made it from the notebook to the laptop while we were in the Georgia Dome. We'll also be doing our own, poor man's Bracketanica in a separate post, for both the Big Tourney and the 'Lil One (NIT). It won't have any numerical basis the way Jerry Palm's excellent work does, instead it will look at the brackets from the wise-acre's perspective. Guess who plays the role of wiseacre?

. . . Our guy John Davies, the manager at the CNN Center's Jocks & Jills was able to confirm what the low attendance at the SEC Tourney indicated: When the Blue Haze of Kentucky gets knocked out early - as it did this year - the Tournament takes a big hit financially. Cat-lanta became Gator-lanta pretty quickly. "We had a good four days, but we would have had a great four days if Kentucky stuck around," said Davies who doesn't need to fret much. The bar was still hopping some three hours after completion of the title game and, as he said, "Final Four is going to be wild here."

We've already reserved space for some more live-blogging at J&Js during that stretch and Davies said our table will be waiting for us.

It's so great to have a table waiting, we can't even tell you.

The bottom line is the SEC Tournament is a different animal when Kentucky is "down" and the result of that brings into question whether the conference needs to be holding the event in a Dome. There's something to be said for making your Tournament a "tough" ticket and having the building rocking regardless of who's playing. But, in the search of the almighty dollar, the SEC probably doesn't see what those benefits are.

. . . Joakim Noah is on a mission and part of that mission is one of learning. You won't find very many more thoughtful and engaging student-athletes in America and his following replay to a question from the NY Times' William Rhoden confirms that. Rhoden asked about the difference between last year and this year and Florida going from being the hunter to the hunted:

"I think there is a big difference between this year and last year. Like last year, there was no expectations. I just feel like this year I've learned a lot more this year than I did last year. Just in terms of just growing, not just on the basketball court, but as a human being. Because I feel like last year, I mean personally, I feel like everything I did was okay, I could do anything, and this year I feel like I'm under this microscope, and everything I do, people are going to analyze it, and have something to say. I mean, the expectations on me before the season were just like almost unbearable. Like I remember before the season, it was like I remember -- yeah, like a week before the season, I had a hard time. I couldn't sleep, I was just so nervous. I was excited, but it was just -- it was intense. But I feel like I've learned a lot, and I realize that I can't get too high, I can't get too low, and you know what, this is something that I realize. I realize that I'm playing for the people that I love, and I'm playing for my teammates and my family. I'm not playing for people, what people say on TV. And everybody has something to say. You know, that drains you. That wasn't there last year. That wasn't there last year. So it's definitely different.

"So I think that's why Coach always, when you guys talk about cutting down the net, I feel like Coach always made sure when we had an opportunity to cut down the nets, we were going to cut them, because you have to enjoy all of this.

"Just because people think that you're supposed to win, you know, that doesn't mean anything. They don't know all the hard work that goes into this. We work hard for this, you know. I think that Coach really emphasized that, that as soon as we have an opportunity to cut down nets, that's something special, and don't take none of it for granted, regardless of what people say."

. . . HIs "cutting down the nets" comments were reflecting back to an earlier question when a reporter pointed out that Kentucky, a few years back, didn't cut down the SEC Tourney championship nets because they were looking to cut down more important nets.

Noah said, "I feel like as soon as we have an opportunity to cut down nets, we're going to cut them. . . as soon as you have an opportunity to cut down nets man, cut them." The transcript indicates there was then "(Laughter)." Which there was, rightfully so.

I had railed against the cutting in an earlier posting, but Noah's asnwer is correct. Live in the moment and enjoy it.

. . . Rumors are also as much a part of the SEC (and any) Tournament as the pom squads and the rabid alums. The Stan Heath and Tubby Smith rumors were clearly the loudest and most prevalent, but there were also murmurs that Dave Odom's time could be up at South Carolina.

Odom's never struck us a great fit, but at a school where Steve Spurrier hogs the spotlight, it's not very important to have the "right" basketball fit. That said, it's a coveted SEC job and one that looks very good for an up and comer like Winthrop's Gregg Marshall.

. . . The dance/Cheer team winner in the Hang Time contest was the squads from LSU, hands down. When Big Baby got knocked out by Ole Miss on Friday night, I felt like crying. We lost the best quote and the best dancers/shakers in one fell swoop. Damn you Andy Kennedy and the Rebels.

. . . Golden Flake chips were my favorite discovery of the weekend. The Days Inn on Spring Street was my least favorite.

. . . Atlanta's Centennial Park, an upshot of the OIympics, is everything that in-city open space should be. We made it a point to walk through it every day on our way to the arena, and it never disappointed in terms of the children with smiles and the adults enjoying the green grass and water structures.

. . .The SEC media relations staff does an incredible job of keeping the media informed and the ladies (and gentlemen) passing out stats and information became like old friends by the time we were ready to leave (especially our friend Holly, or Polly, from Alabama, who smiled the whole time we were there - and her cohort Emily). They also were kind enough to constantly sit us next to a stats monitor, which makes the live-blogging a much better experience for writer and reader alike. Unfortunately, they also placed us - on Sunday only - next to a nose-picking, MySpace-looking, pack-of-cigarettes-an-hour-smelling Florida beat writer. When he asked his little buddy during halftime on Sunday if there were seats next to him down the way on press row, we prayed the answer would be "yes." It wasn't.

Sadly, the guy probably has a big future in the business - he's got many of the prerequisites sports editors seem to look for.

. . . Jamont Gordon from Mississippi State was my revelation of the four days. The sophomore from Nashville is an exceptional talent who needs to get a little more national love in his coming years in Starkville.

. . . State's coach Rick Stansbury explained that he wore sneakers on Saturday because of a bad heel. We forgot to pass that along to you.

. . . Okay - we could go on forever but we need to some bracket busting and we need to get over the SEC Tournament and start focusing on Buffalo for the first and second rounds. We'll be back with you on Wednesday from the interview and open practice sessions and then throughout the rest of the week in conjunction with all the other Hang Time live-bloggers.

Good luck with your brackets and, as always, thanks for Hanging with us.

Posted by David Scott at 11:08 PM on March 11, 2007

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