The ABC television show Lost is back on the air, and no sooner does the SEC basketball tournament gets turned upside down.
For those of you who follow the show, you know that the island that the survivors of Oceanic Flight 815 landed on is haunted, magical, cursed or blessed. Crazy things happen, including the first two and a half seasons of the show featuring flashbacks of the lives of the castaways and what life was like prior to the plane crash.
Somewhere toward the end of Season Three, the show began showing us flash forwards of life for the castaways once they get off the island. As a viewer, you find yourself wondering, "Is that a flash back or forward?” You also don't know who survives or who dies on the island. You are constantly shocked and can't wait to tune in for the next episode.
This brings us to the SEC tournament. I'm not sure if the Georgia Dome is haunted, or magical, cursed or blessed, but something has gone terribly wrong in the SEC. Here's the rundown on today's conference championship game:
Back to back National Champs, and winners of the last three SEC tournaments, the Florida Gators got bounced in the first round and won't make the NCAA tournament (first team to miss the dance after winning the whole thing since the "Danny and the Miracles" Kansas team won it in 1987 and missed the tourney in 1988).
The No. 4 team in the country (formerly No. 1) Tennessee Vols got bounced by a middle of the road Arkansas team with none other than Stephen Hill making the game winning turnaround jump shot.
If you're not familiar with Mr. Hill's offensive game, calling him a "garbage man" is offensive to players who play the garbage man roll well.
The Kentucky Wildcats got bounced in the semis by...wait for it...wait for it...Georgia.
If you're keeping score at home...Neither Florida, Kentucky nor Tennessee is in the SEC title game.
If that wasn't strange enough, we're playing this game at Georgia Tech's home court because a tornado hit the Georgia Dome.
Let's see this again...A TORNADO... HIT... THE GEORGIA DOME!!!!!
Crazy, right? Well, why stop there? In the true spirit of the "Oceanic Six" (the six survivors of the island) and as we see their lives unfold in bizarre ways post-stranded life.
Since the games were moved out of the Georgia Dome, games are being played in a more than half empty arena due to "restricted access," and the Georgia vs. Kentucky game was postponed and became a double header for whatever team won.
They would play at 12 Noon and then again at 6:30pm. Georgia beats UK on a controversial non-call (which I totally agree with) and ends up in the semi-final vs. Mississippi State later that night and they win!
To recap: A team that went 4-12 in the SEC wins three games in the league in one weekend, two of them in one day. A freshman averaging four points per game hits a winning three point shot, Georgia gets the benefit of a no call and the following day gets the benefit of a technical foul call in the last 10 seconds of a game.
The island has awoken.
Even stranger, at the end of the UK vs. Georgia game Billy Gillespie (who I’m beginning to really dislike by the way) is chasing a ref toward the locker room to yell at him about the no call on the charge that Ramel Bradley drew. The refs refused to hand Kentucky the game on free throws from an inbound play. Ironically, while chasing down the refs, the state trooper escorting them out laid a moving pick on Gillespie to slow him down.
Meanwhile, in the post game conference, Georgia's coach Dennis Felton was whining about having to play two games in one day and how it will essentially cost his team a chance at the NCAA tournament.
Really Dennis? I thought the fact that you have about six scholarship players on the team and went 4-12 in a down conference this year was really keeping you out of the tourney.
This argument is a close cousin of Jim Calhoun's, "We shouldn't have to play George Mason in their backyard" complaint. Would you rather play an 11th seeded mid-major very close to their home or a No. 3 seeded North Carolina team on a neutral site? There's an argument to be made there, but it all comes down to beating the guy in front of you.
Needless to say, this has been a whacky and wild SEC weekend. I have a hard time writing this without mentioning Florida Head Coach Billy Donovan's comments about his team, their effort and their apparent lack of—"onions."
I agree with him and getting into a 30-5 hole against Alabama is not how you make your case to get into the tourney. I would anticipate Florida losing a player or two to transfer and honestly—good riddance. While it's not fair to compare the 2005-2007 Gator rosters’ talent to the 2007-08 team, there was no questioning their heart and desire.
In fact, picture if you will, if Florida was in Georgia's place this weekend; I couldn't imagine that they would complain about playing twice. I couldn't imagine them getting walked over by anyone with something important on the line.
In fact, I could see them sitting in the front row behind one of the team benches drinking Gatorade (of course) and eating orange slices while cracking jokes. I could see them not going back to the hotel to nap.
They were basketball players and believed strongly in "beat the man in front of you." This new batch of Gators struggles with the mental part of the game and just doesn't look like they're having much fun.
I never thought a Gator could learn anything from a Bulldog, but these young Gators should watch every second of every game Georgia is playing and take note. You get out of it, what you put into it.
They are much more talented that Georgia, but they're at home watching both the SEC title game and the selection show. Even worse, they'll have to wait an extra day for the NIT selection show. I hope they bring more effort to New York than they brought to the Georgia Dome.
They'd better—the island is still watching.