Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Bob Who!

Now that the High School Basketball season is over, it’s time to take a look at how some of our local teams did this year. I had the privilege of seeing most of these teams live and up close and these are just my opinions based on what I saw or heard.

Without a doubt, High School basketball is alive and well with 12.5% of the teams in last week’s final four coming from Madison County. I know only two teams brought home the blue maps, but five of the six played in the finals and that speaks volumes of the quality of basketball in this county. To be honest, only two of the teams from this county were favored to win it all, Madison Academy girls and Lee boys, so to getting to Birmingham was a great achievement for the other 4 teams.

Before I analyze any of the games or teams allow me to climb on my soap box. What has happened to the game of basketball that has caused so many good (or great) players not to be able to make free throws? When you can’t make free throw you’re leaving points on the floor! I don’t understand this trend and it’s not just this year, but the last several years. I have seen players who garner lots of attention, be considered great players, get all kinds of accolades, sign college scholarships, yet they can’t make free throws on a consistent basis. When you have a lead and you are trying to milk the clock you’re going to end up needing to make the freebies to win. You can’t just blame the high school coaches on this alone. Most quality players are playing year round so the ability to shoot the FT’s, under pressure, starts at home. Now mind you, if you not a good free throw shooting team, you might not want to slow the ball down to kill the clock if you have a lead because the other team is going to fould you to put you at the line in hopes that you miss. A great example of someone who can make the FT's is Levi Randolph, Bob Jones player and MVP of 6A state tournament. He averaged around 24 points per game and 8 of those points came off of free throws. I saw games this year where he would make 14 to 15 points just off of free throws. That is one reason why a lot of major D1 programs are trying very hard to recruit him.

Congrats go to Lee and Bob Jones boys for bringing home the state championships for 5A and 6A. While Lee was playing I was watching part of the game with Coach Danny Petty (head coach at Bob Jones) and we were talking about the 42 years since Lee had won a state championship. That is hard to believe when you think about the quality of basketball that has come through that school. Lee is one of those schools that always seem to be good in certain sports but never good enough to win it all. Now they have. Oh by the way, Coach Petty was on that 1968 Lee team and was MVP of the tourney that year.

What can you say about Bob Jones boys? These guys should have been done a month ago but developed a refuse to lose type attitude. They do a lot of things right and that includes free throws. Most know the story of BJ losing 2 excellent starters before the season began and then lost another starter the last week of the regular season. Yet they found a way to beat Austin in the area tournament to ensure a sub-state game which they came from a double digit deficit to beat Hazel Green on the road. Bob Jones then beat a good Minor team in 1st round of the region and then figured out how to beat Sparkman, for the first time in 4 games, in the region finals. This got them to Birmingham where anything can happen and that it did in giving Bob Jones the first boy’s state championship in school history.

Speaking about Bob Jones, hard not appreciate what Coach Miller did with the girls. Remember his Patriot squad won the last two championships but graduated all starters after last year. He took a whole new group of girls, lost two regular season games and made it to the finals only to lose to Hoover. Anybody that saw them play during the year realized this squad was not a team with great scorers. They did play tough on defense and that gave them a chance for a 3-peat. Unfortunately they missed a bunch of layups and free throws in the finals or they could have won their 3rd in a row.

Bully B-Ball Awards:


Coach of the year: Hands down, Danny Petty. Not even close, even if I were not a Danny homer. He and his staff took an average team with one great player and won it all. They consistently beat teams to the bonus to take advantage of one of their strengths, shooting the FT. In the championship game against Homewood, BJ made only one field goal in the 4th quarter but still score a bunch at the free throw line, ensuring the win. They also played great defense. This is Danny’s 3rd Championship at 3 different schools, a first for the state.

Best team: Lee Generals. Once they figured out how to get past Butler, there was no doubt. It goes without saying that 5A basketball is the best basketball in the state (has been for a while) and Lee proved that they were the best.

Overachieving team of the year:
Bob Jones, enough said.

Underachieving team of the year: A tie between Hazel Green and Sparkman. HG had it all, good shooters, quick guards, and a big man. Against Bob Jones they went away from their big man in the 2nd half and this was against a team that didn’t have post players any taller than 6-2. Sparkman played good defense and pressed well but ran no offense to speak off. Both were very talented teams.

Player of the year: Levi Randolph at Bob Jones. A lot of good players in this area including Trevor Lacey, Josh and Devin Langford, Kendall Jennings, Ralston Turner, and Jay Watkins, but Levi took his team on his shoulders and won it all. He shoots well off the pass and dribble, great vertical leap, soft touch, great FT shooter. His only weakness is on the defensive side of the ball but some of that could be that he knew his team had no chance if he got into foul trouble.


Coach of the year:
It would be hard not to give this to Donnie Quinn, head coach at Hoover. He had his girl’s ranked number 1 in the state all year and the top 20 in the USA Today national rankings. Bob Jones played them tough both times but his team finished with one loss (St Mary’s out of California) and he closed the season with a state championship.

Best team: Hoover Bucs. 32-1 and state champs, enough said!

Overachieving team of the year: Bob Jones. Lose 5 starters from the year before and only lose 3 games and have a chance in the finals, what else can you do short of winning the whole thing. A team without a superstar but would get after you on defense. They held Hoover to the lowest point totals both times they played allowing the Bucs only 44 and 39 points.

Underachieving team of the year: Madison Academy. Arguably the 3rd or 4th best team in the state in any classification behind Hoover, BJ, and maybe Sparkman (they split their 2 games with Sparkman during the regular season). How you can be that good and not win the 3A State Championship is hard to figure. Free Throws are part of the game, just saying!

Player of the year: Tyrese Tanner from Hoover.

I know I generally focus on High School sports but I have to give a big shout out to Coach Lenny Acuff and his UAH Chargers, winners of the GSC East and have played great basketball this year. Lenny does a great job year in and year out and his team’s play basketball like it is suppose to be played. Perhaps that is why he has long list for folks wanting season tickets each year.

HS football tidbits: Looks like Hazel Green has hired the former defensive coach from Buckhorn as their new head football coach. Also hearing New Hope is close to naming a new football coach. With the new classifications in effect for next year, the football schedules are shaping up with some interesting games scheduled. Madison Academy is slated to open with North Jackson. Now that Austin has left 6A Region 8, this will allow teams in R8 to have the standard 7 game region schedule with 3 out of region games mandated for weeks 1, 5 and 10. Bob Jones has scheduled North Gwinnett Georgia for week 1, Spain Park for week 5, and Hoover for week 10. That is brutal but will be fun to watch!

Now let me switch from sports and talk a little about places to stay and/or eat. If you in need to stay in Montgomery let me recommend the Hampton Inn downtown. Opened about 2 years ago in an old building, you can’t beat the location and the price. Rooms are not large but very clean and comfortable and I can promise you that everyone that works there will be some of the friendliest folks you will meet.

Hadn’t had a chance to go to these places but have had someone recommend Melvin’s Hamburgers and Dilworth’s Tamales, both in downtown Corinth Mississippi. They tell me the folks at Melvin’s will have you in stitches and they have a wonderful breakfast. Folks have also told me that you need to get a dozen of the Tamales at Dilworth’s as they are the best around. Again, these places are not Bully tested (yet) but they do come highly recommended.

I have had a chance to dine at Cheddars a few times for lunch. This restaurant opened a few months ago on University Drive in Huntsville right across from the Wal-Mart and in front of the shopping center that has Phil Sandoval’s and Ol’ Heidelberg. They have a friendly folks and a somewhat diverse menu. Food is good and the prices are in the Longhorn, Friday’s, Applebee’s type price range. Not worth waiting a long time for a table though!

That’s it for now as it is time that I focus on driving Miss Daisy around. If you run across anything worth mentioning, let me know at

Friday, January 29, 2010

Have you missed me?

It has been a while since I gave you, my loyal readers (all 4 of you), with a blog of my ramblings. Sorry about that, just got caught up in the Holiday excitement among other things and time has gotten away from me. After having a while to see several basketball teams around the local gyms, I figured it is time to give you some bully tidbits.

It has been a roller coaster ride of a season for several local b-ball programs but one thing is for certain, if you listed the top 3 or 4 girls teams in the state, 3 of them are right here in Madison County. Hoover may be the best girls team but Bob Jones, Sparkman and Madison Academy are right there. Yes, MA! These girls are as good as any team in the state and have proved that assumption with wins over several quality 6A programs such as Sparkman and Buckhorn. Their only loses are to Bob Jones (twice) and once to Sparkman, all by very few points. Bob Jones girls have only lost to Hoover at home, and that game was close. Revenge game against Hoover coming up this Saturday night gives the BJ girls a chance to stake a claim as being the team to beat to win the blue map in 6A. Speaking of MA, usually the difference between a good 6A and 3A team is the quality of depth off the bench. In MA’s case, they’re as deep as anyone. Add good players to a class act for a head coach how can you not root for them? Great job Coach Privett!

Butler has the best boys team in the surrounding area with Lee close behind. The rest are all lumped together when you talk 5A/6A, with Grissom/Huntsville a notch below. Sparkman has a good team but seems to be under achieving a little based on talent level. Bob Jones can’t catch a break. Without Reggie and Jose, they are decent but can’t control the inside. Butler or Lee can win the 5A state championship, don’t see anyone else from this area getting out of region with exception of MA in 3A. The worst thing about 5A playoffs for boys is that perhaps 3 of the top 5 teams in the state will meet in regions with only one advancing. Butler, Lee and Muscle Shoals may all be good enough to win it all but only 1 will get to the final 4. In 3A, MA boys may be able to get to Birmingham depending on how week 3A region in Hanceville may be.

I have seen a lot of head and assistant coaches at various gyms so far this year. The head couches from Bama, Auburn, Georgia, Vandy, and Florida State have been to Bob Jones games to see Bob Jones Junior, Levi Randolph. I have heard Lacey and Langford at Butler and Lee have also drawn a ton of interest from marquee head coaches.

You didn’t ask but I will give you the Bully’s All Star Boys Basketball Team. Give me JoJo Walls (Dora), Ralston Turner (Muscle Shoals), Jay Wadkins (Austin), Trevor Lacey (Butler), Josh Langford (Lee), Dallas Jones (Buckhorn) and Levi Randolph (Bob Jones) as my 7 top notch b-ball players that I have personally seen this year. Coach of the year would have to go to Dora’s Heath Burns. Obviously Doss at Butler is doing another fine job but Burn’s doesn’t have the talent level to justify his team’s record and they have played a tough schedule. Petty at Bob Jones may have done one of his better jobs of coaching this year but record won’t show it since they were hit with season ending injuries on 2 stud starters before the season ever got started.

Football: Heard Coach Saban was visiting Bob Jones this week in regard to three of their Junior/Sophomore players. Congrats to Jordan Matthews (MA) for committing to Vandy. Good pick up for the Dores. Hearing Rivers at Athens is really being courted by several D-1 schools.

Football coaching updates: Hazel Green has named the defensive coordinator at Buckhorn as their new head coach. I haven’t heard anything from the Scottsboro opening. Since my last blog, New Hope has made a change and now has an opening for head job. This will be an interesting hire but my opinion, from afar, is they need to start from scratch to rebuild that program and get the “Pop Warner” and middle school teams on board to build a successful high school football program. Hearing rumors the Brooks job may come open soon. That would be a nice head job for someone. More to come…..

How about little tidbits on some places to eat and stay that Ms Daisy and I have ran across the last month or so?

Wentzell’s Oyster House has opened in Huntsville. Now I am not an oyster eater but I do like other shell fish. Ms Daisy does like oysters so we decided to try it. Food was okay, not bad but not exceptional either. They had not been opened very long so service was a little uncoordinated. Prices were a little on the high side for what you get. Bottom line, a platter of oysters and a littler crab dish with a cup of soup and tea was well into the $50 range which I thought was a little too much. Will go again down the road but certainly don’t recommend as a must eat destination.

If you looking for a quick getaway and don’t have time to go to Gatlinburg, head to the Opryland hotel in Nashville. Especially this time of year where you can enjoy the climate controlled atriums without worrying about how cold it actually is outside. If you go, pay the extra to get a balcony overlooking one of the atriums. We got one overlooking the Delta Atrium and I enjoyed just sitting on the balcony hollering, nodding, or heckling those that were walking the atrium paths. You can also get in a bunch of walking just exploring this huge resort.

We dined one evening at the Old Hickory Steakhouse at the Opryland hotel. Highly recommend and reservations are preferred. Wonderful steaks and you can’t beat the setting when you dine. You feel like your outside even though it is climate controlled. If you go, try the lobster bisque as it is the best I have ever tasted and I'm a bisque eating professional. Also, if you sit a certain area, you can watch the fountain show that occurs every hour or so in the Delta Atrium. Beware though; the food is very good but expensive. Ruth Chris and above category of price range!

Finally, about the jewel of a restaurant we found in downtown Franklin. Spent an afternoon hitting some of the many antique stores in the downtown Franklin area and Ms Daisy suggested we try a place not far from downtown called Dotson’s. Meat and 3 and absolutely wonderful! Afterwards we split a piece of their famous chocolate pie and I will tell you it is the best I have ever eaten anywhere. Make a puppy pull a freight train it was so good. We had fried chicken on the bone along with vegetables. I have to admit we were so impressed with our lunch that we went back again the next day on the way back home. This time I had roast beef while Ms Daisy had some more of the chicken. I also couldn’t share the pie this time and made Ms Daisy get her own. She didn’t mind as she liked it as well plus I knew she wouldn’t eat the whole slice and I would get more than just a slice. FYI, a good strategy to use when you want more.

Soap Box Time – Ol’ Bully has observed some things over the last while that have bothered me to a point of becoming a bee in my bonnet. Below are Bully Etiquette tips to help you become a better person. Just saying……

1) If the elevator door is closing don’t stick your hand in it to open it back up. The folks that are on board got there on time to ride, you didn’t. You ain’t important enough to make others wait, Take the next one!
2) If you are boarding an elevator, wait till the folks get off before you board. Just the right thing to do!
3) While we are talking elevators, guys let women board or exit first.
4) Moving on, we don’t need to hear your cell phone ring in meetings. If you expecting an important call that you are afraid you’ll miss, put it on vibrate and sit on it. You’ll feel it!
5) Whoever told you that you should go ahead and start your conversation on your ringing cell phone while still in the meeting or the movie lied to you! Believe it or not, some folks in the meeting want to hear the person conducting the meeting.
6) If you talking to someone in person, they’re more important than your ringing cell phone. Enough said!
7) Yes, you look silly with that piece attached to your ear so you can walk around and talk on the phone. What are you trying to prove or who you trying to impress?
8) If it is snowy, sleeting, hailing, rainy, fogging, cloudy, or dark, turn your lights on. That is what the good folks in Detroit (Japan/Germany) put lights on your vehicle for.
9) If you’re at a light and there is a long line behind you, stay tight to the vehicle in front of you so as many as possible can get thru the green light or arrow. If you allow more than a 30 foot gap to the vehicle in front you, you’re being rude.
10) Also, you are not too important to make a new pot if you take the last cup of coffee.

Now for men, below are rules for conduct in the men’s restroom:

1) Under no circumstance are you to talk on your phone in the men’s room. Just don’t do it! We need a place to get away and you ain’t that important enough to violate this man rule.
2) If you walk into the men’s room and there is more than 1 urinal, you always take the one furthest away from the nearest occupant. You don’t stand next to someone if you don’t have to. This should be drilled into you when you are born.
3) You don’t shake hands in the men’s room. Yes, even if you just washed. We might not understand why your hands are wet.
4) You don’t carry on conversations with your buddy at the urinal. You can nod, say hey but that is it. Just weird to have detailed conversations!

I am sure there are more to list but these are the ones in my crawl at present. If you got some that need to be listed, email me. Until next time here is a thought for you married men; “What a pity it is that nobody knows how to manage a wife, but a bachelor” (George Coleman). Don’t know why but thought it was true and funny.