Auburn Head Basketball Coach Tony Barbee keeps comparing his first season with the Tigers to the movie "Groundhog Day."
In the movie, Bill Murray plays Phil Connors, an egocentric Pittsburgh TV weatherman, who, during a hated assignment covering the annual Groundhog Day event in Punxsutawney, finds himself repeating the same day over and over again. After indulging in hedonism and numerous suicide attempts, he begins to reexamine his life and priorities.
Lets hope that Tony Barbee is not viewing his first year coaching Auburn basketball as a hated assignment, but it is a fair comparison in that for those watching this Auburn basketball team it has been like a nightmare, watching the same game over and over again. The Tigers will fall behind in the first half, usually by twenty points or more, and then come storming back only to come up just short.
However, in the movie, Bill Murray uses his now vast experience of reliving the same day over and over again and begins to help as many people around town as possible.
Tony Barbee took the Auburn job with his style of play that he learned from his mentor, John Calipari, a tough man to man defense and a dribble drive offense. Problem was that this group of Tigers could not effectively play either and it lead to nightmares. Just like the character Phil Connors, Barbee seemed to learn from this and changed his style of coaching to concentrate on defense, playing a lot of zone defense and by turning the game into an ugly defensive struggle, he gave his team a chance to win.
Funny, the Tigers enter the SEC Tournament on a two game winning streak. Falling far behind both to Ole Miss at home and LSU on the road, the Tigers fought back, played tough defense, and won both ugly games.
No one is prognosticating the Tigers to win the SEC tournament. Almost everyone is expecting a one and done and lets get ready for next year. But then again, who would have thought at the end of the movie that Phil Connors would wake up on February 3rd with Rita, played by Annie McDowell?
Auburn opens up the tournament against Georgia, a team with much more talent than the Tigers and on the NCAA Tournament bubble and desperately needing a win. I don't like the match-up with the Bulldogs, particularly with Trey Thompkins on the inside. But then again, the Tigers took the Dawgs into overtime at Athens and if they pack in the zone and force them to beat them from the outside, teams have had trouble adjusting to shooting in a dome and the Tigers might just pull the upset.
If that happens, they would face cross-state rival Alabama. Once again, no one would prognosticate a Tiger victory over the Tide as Alabama would have an extra day's rest, find themselves on the NCAA Tournament bubble and have first team SEC performer Jamychal Green on the inside.
But then again, the Tigers had this team beat just a few weeks ago in Tuscaloosa and this Alabama team has struggled offensively this year and the Tigers could make it into the semi-finals where they would most likely face Kentucky and if they pulled out a miracle win against the heavily favored Cats would find themselves against Florida in the finals.
Who in their right mind would prognosticate a Tiger win over the Gators. You would have to be crazy. But, then again, earlier this year the Tigers led the Gators with a minute to go and should have beaten Florida.
Prognosticating a Tiger SEC Tournament Championship would be like predicting an early spring this year after the cold winter we experienced in the Southeast. Tony Barbee may be on to something here with his Groundhog Day analogy.
One more thing Tiger fans.
At the end of the movie, Phil Connors and Rita walk outside and talk about living in Punxsutawney together. Phil looks at Rita and says "It's so beautiful...Let's live here." He then kisses Rita and adds "We'll rent to start."
As it has been reported that Coach Barbee has yet to sign his contract, Auburn fans are hoping that part of the movie is not analogous and Tony Barbee has found a home in Auburn, Alabama.