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