Tuesday, March 31, 2015

What a Difference a Week Makes

After the UT-Austin win at Globe Life Ballpark, I was all ready to type up a post about how this was a game-changer for these young group of guys, the athletic department as a whole and the fan base. Not only was it a win against "big brother" (stupid a phase as there is since we are equal in the eyes of the system), though we have beaten the Longhorns 17 times before that, it was a great game with late inning heroics and a timely win in extra innings in front of a lively crowd.

The more amazing thing was the fact that there were as many or more Maverick fans as UT-Austin fans. The UTA fans also knew when to cheer at the right times. The major league team that normally occupies that stadium doesn't have that. I was even going to add that I was in downtown Dallas the following day wearing a UTA baseball shirt and a random suit-wearing guy asked if I was at the game yesterday in passing. Really just a cool vibe and great feeling about the program.

And then last week happened.

UTA followed the UT game with a super tough schedule, losing a game against Dallas Baptist, ranked in the top 25 in most polls. It was close until the last two innings. They then went on the road and split a two-game set against top-20 UC-Santa Barbara before finishing off with a victory over a one-win Dartmouth team. Four games against top-25 teams with two wins and a 3-2 record for the week had me feeling pretty good.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

UTA Basketball in the Postseason

In the vein of This Day in UTA Football History, I want to point to a very significant day in UTA basketball history. While I won't make the UTA Basketball version a regular occurrence like I did for the football version, there are many games, the sport is still played, the history is easier to find, etc., I think I like the idea of spotlighting milestone or significant events.

The 1981 season was one of the best years for UTA basketball, especially up to that point. Since joining the four-year ranks in 1959, UTA basketball had just three winning seasons in its history. They were 14-12 in 1966-67 and 1971-72 and 14-13 in 1979-80. When a 13-13 mark in 1972-73 is also considered successful, you know a sport program is moribund.

In my opinion, the 1980-81 team, from a pure talent perspective, is still the best team that UTA has produced. I say that over the 2008 NCAA tournament team as well as the 2012 SLC champ and NIT team.

The Southland at that time was one of the better non-power conferences in the country. As a whole, the conference was 8-9 in the NCAA tournament with two sweet sixteen appearances from the 1979 tournament to the 1987 from four different teams. That time frame is specific since the conference changed drastically. UTA dropped football, forcing the men's teams out of the conference for a year as the membership rules required teams to sponsor the sport. That led a domino effect of Lamar, Louisiana Tech and Arkansas State exiting the conference and lower tier teams replacing them, especially in basketball. The first two teams combined for all eight of the NCAA tourney wins. The SLC wouldn't win an NCAA tourney game again until Northwestern State won a play-in game in 2001.