Wednesday, February 22, 2012

USF Men's Basketball Team Making History in 2012

The last time the USF men’s basketball team was in the NCAA Tournament, many current players and students were not even born. The year was 1992. The Bulls played Georgetown in the first round and lost, 75-60. Two years earlier, they also had a first-round exit with a 79-67 defeat to Arizona.

Now, 20 years later, the Bulls could be headed back to the big dance. As of this writing, head coach Stan Heath’s club is 17-10 overall with a 10-4 Big East mark. As terrific as the team has played in conference games, its victories have come against teams it would be expected to beat if the team wants consideration for the tournament. On the other hand, the Bulls suffered some tough losses to inferior teams during their non-conference schedule. They have also struggled against tougher competition in the Big East, including a 30-point loss at Georgetown and a 20-point defeat at Marquette.

Most college basketball analysts believe USF must win at least 20 games to have a legitimate shot at earning a berth in the NCAA Tournament. With four regular season games left, USF will need to pick up at least one or two signature wins. Their road test at Louisville could be their best chance to do so, and beating West Virginia and Cincinnati at home will also bolster their resume. The team will also play in the Big East Tournament in New York. Winning games in this 16-team competition will certainly help the team make a better case to play with the big boys and be a part of everyone’s brackets.

The Bulls’ success has come as a result of everyone chipping in each game, not just one star carrying the team on his back. If ESPN’s Dick Vitale hasn’t labeled freshman point guard Anthony Collins a “diaper dandy” yet, he should add him to his list. Collins has had a tremendous season as a freshman and will be a shining star for the Bulls throughout his career. Other notable players include seniors Ron Anderson Jr. and Hugh Robertson, both of whom have played exceptionally well defending the basket and getting defensive stops. Meanwhile, Shaun Noriega has been clutch with his three-point shooting. Jawanza Poland and Victor Rudd have had some great offensive performances, and senior Augustus Gilchrist has been a consistent force on both sides of the ball all year long.

No matter how USF’s season turns out, it has been one of the most successful campaigns on the court in school history. Since the football team went 5-7 in the fall, the basketball team is now giving Bulls fans a reason to be excited. They should also be looking forward to the newly renovated Sun Dome that is set to reopen next season. Although USF has won nearly every home game playing off-campus at the Tampa Bay Times Forum this year, the team has struggled to draw fans to the games. So it should be more convenient for students, alumni, and fans alike to attend games at the Sun Dome and cheer on what should be an even better Bulls basketball team next season.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Gatorade Bath

The Gatorade Bath

There are so many traditions in sports. When a team wins, it does something special to celebrate the victory. When a team loses, it goes back to the drawing board to determine why it came up short.

One non-athletic-related tradition in sports is to dump a huge container of icy Gatorade on a coach who wins a big game. Now known as a “Gatorade bath” or “Gatorade shower,” it is generally done after football games but has been used for baseball and basketball games in recent years. The practice apparently started on Oct. 20, 1985 when Jim Burt of the New York Giants dumped a cooler of Gatorade on head coach Bill Parcells following the team’s 17-3 win over the Washington Redskins. Although it was done after a victory, Burt claimed he was upset with Parcells because of how he treated him and used it as more of a revenge tactic than a way to celebrate the win.

Gatorade containers are typically used for the shower. However, the Florida State Seminoles and Miami Hurricanes drink Powerade and thus use it to bathe their coaches. This is because Gatorade was originally created at the University of Florida. Since it has always been associated with the school by having “Gator” in its name, student-athletes at other universities in the Sunshine State are prohibited from drinking Gatorade during games.

There have been some instances where the Gatorade bath was given prematurely – and wrongly – before a team was able to close out a big win. Kentucky Wildcats football coach Guy Morriss received the bath shortly before the end of a game against the LSU Tigers on Nov. 9, 2002. But LSU came back and won the game on a Hail Mary pass by quarterback Marcus Randall on the final play of the game. It has since been dubbed the “Bluegrass Miracle,” and I can’t imagine Morriss was very happy with both the bath and the loss.

In addition to football, Gatorade has been poured on NBA coach Doc Rivers and MLB pitcher Ervin Santana following Rivers’ victory in the 2008 NBA Finals and Santana’s no-hitter in 2011.

You really have to wonder how much coaches like this stunt – or if they like it at all. In cold weather games, it must be quite uncomfortable to be doused with liquid and water that is probably just above 32 degrees Fahrenheit. The accomplishment of winning a football or baseball game in dramatic fashion when all the doubters picked against your team is one thing. But wouldn’t you think some of that emotion might be taken away after an unexpected Gatorade shower? Perhaps coaches know by now that this is not a new practice. That is probably why you occasionally see them run away from their well-known team jokesters in the closing seconds of a contest so they can celebrate wearing dry clothes.