One and Done
Posted By:Brett Haynes "The Top Fan" Tags:
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NCAA MID-WEST REGION FIRST AND MORE NCAA HOOPS FIRST-ROUND COVERAGE - The Clemson Tigers have had a history of late in the major sports of performing less than desirably when the spot-light is pointed their way. From the baseball team's disappointing record in Omaha, to the Georgia Dome and big-time football games gone wrong, to the NCAA Basketball tournament a year ago, Clemson has laid an egg in the big-games in recent years. They looked to shake that pattern Thursday night in Kansas City, but instead dug a hole that they eventually could not climb out of in a first-round loss to Michigan. Oliver Purnell is a very popular man in Tiger-Town, and will probably continue to be. But with this loss, the heat button on his seat had to be switched to the "on" position - at least to a low-setting for now - and the next time he is on his call-in radio show out of Clemson, he may get a call that goes a little something like this...
Host: "Caller, welcome to the Oliver Purnell Show. What is your question for the Coach?"
Caller: " Hey guys, long-time listener, first-time caller....this is Tommy from Seneca, how are you guys doing this evening?...Good, good...Anyway, I know you guys are short on time so I'll try to be quick...I've been following the Tiger basketball program for many seasons now - shoot I shared an office with the coaching staff for many of them - we spoke a few times, remember me Oliver? ...Anyway, I'm just wondering how have you, Coach Purnell, managed to stay so popular to the Tiger faithful? I mean, yeah, you win some games, but its not like you are Adolph Rupp, ya know? Yes, you are a nice man, a well spoken man that is great for the community. Your players stay out of trouble. You wear incredibley nice suits - especially for TV games - we know this... But ya know, after four or five seasons of leading a certain football team around here, I was ready to be run out of town by more than a couple people for having a record darn similar to yours. I coached my last five seasons here with people breathing down my neck. Now, here you are and you haven't won an ACC regular season title or an NCAA game either in six years, and people love you! You have your 'posse' and all that good stuff, announcers talk about you being the most likable coach in the game and they want you to win soooo bad....Listen, I'm not on here to throw sour grapes around - but I'm just sayin, ya know, think about it. I've heard these rumors that you may be thinking of going to Alabama and my first thoughts are 'why are Tiger fans all in a stir over this?' ....Anyway guys, Coach Purnell, I know that if the team had made more than 21 of 64 from the floor and T.O. wasn't ejected early on and that great come-back would have ended with Rivers actually hitting the shot instead of missing the entire goal all together and blah, blah, blah we would have beat Michigan and everyone would be all 'Clemson is basketball future' and all that good stuff...But instead, we didn't, and my final wrap-up is 'why do they love you more than they loved me?'...Thanks guys, I'll hang up and listen now."
Host: " Well, that was an interesting call. And of course we appreciate all of the calls. Coach, what is you reaction to this?......"
And then Oliver Purnell would answer with something extremely classy. Why? Because Oliver Purnell is one of the classier guys in the game. He would field this call and not ignore it. And no, for those of you from Outer Space, former Coach Bowden is also about as classy as it gets and would never in a million years be on the sending end of a radio call. But if a real caller asked a similar question, OP would certainly face it head on. And in fact, after this display against Michigan, he may have to.
The Clemson Basketball program has certainly gone up under Coach Purnell. And to put him on the hot-seat would be a dumb thing to do at this point. He is a great face for Clemson University, and his teams have now reached the NCAA tournament two seasons in a row. He also has a very solid young core of players returning and some outstanding recruits lined up. And like 'Tommy' mentioned above, you will not find a better dressed head coach on any bench in the filed of 65.
But if you are a die-hard hoops fan - which Clemson actually has a few of hiding here and there underneath their football masks - you must wonder if Clemson can break through under Coach Purnell. He has now gone six full seasons in Clemson and the team has yet to advance to the second round of the major-tournament. If you are the methodical type, and want to take things in steps, he is still five HUGE steps from reaching the ultimate goal. Yes, the caller above was fake, but the sad reality is that in their biggest game of the season, the Tigers put on perhaps their worst offensive display, including a dismal .222 from 3-point range, and are now home for good.
Other news from day 1 in the NCAA Tourney:
Number 1's roll: If you bet on 16th seed Chattanooga, and they gave you 50 points to go with it, you still would have lost your bet! The number 1 seeded Huskies of UConn beat the ever-lasting snot out of the Southern Conference Mocs, 103-47, in a first-round game in the West regional. UNC also won big, taking down Radford by a score of 101-58 in the South regional. UConn will now play Texas A&M, while North Carolina will play LSU, who beat Butler. The other two number number 1 seeds, Pittsburgh and Louisville, will play Friday.
Lone-Star Victories : Texas and Texas A&M both advanced to the round of 32 by defeating Minnesota and BYU respectively. The Longhorns will now play (most-certainly) Duke in the East Region, while the Aggies will face UConn in the West Region. Texas A&M beat BYU in the opening round a year ago, as well, oddly enough.
No real upsets yet: Yes, two 10-seeds have beaten two 7-seeds, and a 9-seed beat an 8-seed, but as of 10:39 pm on Thursday night no "major" upsets have occured. Several games have just tipped off, including a 6/11 matchup between UCLA and VCU and a 5/12 matchup between Illinois and Western Kentucky - I'll keep my eyes on those games as I doze off as potential upsets in the making. As I type this, VCU is tied with UCLA nearing the half.....And as I wake up this mornin and update this article I find ot that Western indeed hung on to beat the Illini, 76-72.
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