If SEC Basketball Coaches could really say what was on their mind…
I was driving to Western Kentucky last evening and started to think a little bit about what might be on the mind of several SEC coaches at this point of the year. Many of these gentlemen have had successful years, but a few must feel a little snake bitten after this year and I thought I would share what I think they might be thinking after the Men’s SEC regular season. Pardon my imagination, but I think I might be pretty close to accurate for a few of these guys…
Alabama-Anthony Grant must be wishing his team had played a little bit better in December, and he also must be extremely thankful to be in the SEC West and not the east when you consider they had 10 games against the “weaker sisters” of the league
Arkansas-John Pelphrey has been on the roller coaster again this year and he has to be thinking about whether his address in 2011-2012 will still be Fayetteville. His team has looked like a world-beater on some days and then like a 3rd world team on others. Consistency…..
Auburn-Tony Barbee has endured many trials in the first year and has to be smiling to know that he got 3 conference wins, especially all 3 in the second half of the season. Wish just a few solid recruits he could take this team from worst to first in the West.
Ole Miss-Andy Kennedy is another coach who should be looking in the rear-view mirror. This team was picked to be a top tier team in the west and they have mainly disappointed this year. He must have had sleepless nights after losses like the one last week at Auburn. Might make him think about his fateful trip back to Cincinnati a few years ago.
Mississippi State-Elgin Bailey or Renaldo Sidney? That decision must roll over in Rick Stansbury’s mind every day. The scuffle in December helped cast the die for this team and their lack of inside presence and weird chemistry have been hard to understand ever since. I suspect Mr. Stansbury is also listening to footsteps and messages as well as his counterpart from the “school in the north” as Dan Mullen calls Ole Miss.
LSU-Not sure I have seen any other student body, or fan base, that seems to care less about basketball (except maybe Auburn.) Trent Johnson would have already been history in many schools and I believe he is toast now at Baton Rouge. This team has done less with less for years and they need a severe overhaul to break this cycle.
South Carolina-Darrin Horn must wish that the entire conference season was played in January. His Gamecocks looked like world-beaters during the first part of the season and then looked downtrodden and defeated in the last half of the season. How does Bruce Ellington go from Devan Downey reincarnated to just another player? Coach Horn is on solid footing, for now, but next year will have to be better.
Georgia-The other Jekyll and Hyde team in the SEC. Mark Fox has brought stability to this program, but the Dawgs folded more often than a lawn chair in the second half of the season. This is a talented team that can play with anyone when they want to. What will it take to make them “want to?”
Florida-Upperclassmen rule the day and Billy Donovan must be smiling again with the success of this team. The Gators have won almost all of the close ones this year and have been the team of fate. We will see if that carries forward into the conference and NCAA tournaments. I suspect their luck will run out unless Chandler Parsons is playing at a high level every night.
Kentucky-Coach Cal must be feeling a little heat in the bluegrass. Most games, even road games in conference, have a large UK Fan contingent and this group will not tolerate losing, even on the road. You cannot depend on freshmen to win in the postseason and if you have to depend upon Josh Harrelson and other role players to carry the load your post season schedule will be short. I would encourage Cal to sharpen up his resume and think about the next role.
Vanderbilt-Kevin Stallings has had his ups and downs this year and his team is almost healthy as we enter the post-season. Andre Walker remains a huge question mark, but this squad should remain intact for the 2011-2012 season and should enter the next year as a preseason top 15 team. Festus Ezeli is becoming a force and John Jenkins is the best scorer in the league. Tickets will be tough at Memorial in 2011-2012.
Tennessee-We are all waiting for the other shoe to drop in Knoxville. Bruce Pearl is under tremendous scrutiny and he should be. I suspect he will be doing something other than coaching next year. Scotty Hopson is a roller coaster talent and Tobias Harris is very solid. After that there is nothing else to look forward to with this team. Smokey will not be happy during this postseason and there will not be a trip to the Elite 8 this year.
This ended up being a little more direct and less comical than I first expected, but there is some significant posturing occurring in the league. Kentucky is on the fringe of being back to where they were under Gillespie (seriously.) Florida will drop off substantially next year and Bama seems to be on an uptick as does Florida and Vandy.
What do you think? How strong is this league and what does the future hold?