Rice (57) vs. University of Alabama – Birmingham (85) 02/23/2023

Game #117 of 362 32% complete

This is the first game of a three-game trip to sunny Alabama. The Bartow Arena was named after legendary UAB coach Gene Bartow. He left UCLA in 1977 to start the athletic program at UAB becoming its first athletic director and coach staying on for 18 years before retiring in 1986.

It is rare that I see a coach twice in my travels leading different teams. This is the case with UAB coach Andy Kennedy who I saw coach at Ole Miss in 2017. Kennedy had a good run at Ole Miss in 12 seasons and became the schools’ all-time leader in wins. He resigned in 2018 when Old Miss refused to give him a contract extension; he took the UAB job 2 years later.

I cringe when I see a buffet for what I assume are donors or season ticket holders set up in the main concourse smack in the middle of fans heading towards their seats. I would feel foolish sitting there in an open space having fans look at us eat like we are somebody important.

This game on senior night was over at halftime with UAB leading with a score 55 -24. The press put on by UAB was stifling to Rice.

I was very impressed with UAB guard Jordan “Jelly” Walker who scored 32 points. Having previously played for Seton Hall and Tulane, Walker was named the Conference USA player of the year in 2022. Standing only 5’11”, his shifty moves and propensity to shoot gives him the look of a scorer. No one on Rice could guard him. Ironically, his 30 plus total broke the record for most 30-point games by a UAB player previously held by Coach Kennedy’s scoring record when Kennedy played at UAB in the early 90’s.

My nightmare parking scenario came through tonight. I parked in an outdoor lot when you had to pay upon exiting the lot. The line and wait were so long that I pulled over and listened to Jimmy Bufffet for a half hour before leaving. I was lucky that there was not a second game afterwards. I know better but I could not back out once I saw the ticket machine.

Here are some obligatory pictures of some Birmingham Zoo animals. I always visit zoos on my travels.

Finally check out the rental car – A GTO sitting very low to the ground. I am more of an SUV guy but this GTO was very cool to drive.

Rice (75) at Southern Mississippi (86) 01/18/18

55 out of 351   15% complete

2018-01-18 19.10.46.jpg

2018-01-18 19.47.57.jpg

This game was an added bonus on the Mississippi trip. Our plane was scheduled due to leave Wednesday night but due to bad weather up and down the East coast, our flights were canceled 5 times to an eventual departure Friday morning. As we pondered our fate Thursday morning, I had one of those “just for the hell of it” moments and checked to see if there were any games in the area going on Thursday night. That’s how we ended up be in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.

The Reed Green Coliseum was built in 1965 and modernized over the years to a certain degree. My first impression walking in was that we were inside Space Mountain in Disneyland. The roof tiles needed a good cleaning and it had the 1960’s look to it. This was my kind of arena.  Old arenas and me have a certain affinity.

2018-01-18 19.48.13

Check out these wooden benches which date back to the original build. You can almost see the ghosts of fans cheering for Clarence Weatherspoon back in 1992. He is now an assistant coach on the team along with his player son.

2018-01-18 19.06.01.jpg

The crowd was sparse tonight guessing due to the cold weather by Mississippi’s standard. Other than the pep band, there was not much noise happening in this place tonight. I tend to notice little events going on in the game that sometimes result in coaches going off on a player. Dominic McGee on a drive to the hoops was complaining to the ref that he was fouled. Meanwhile, his man on Rice was running down the court making an easy layup. I saw the coaches talking to each other. It happened a second time. The coach calls a time out and gets in McGee’s face. When he is done, 6′ 6″ Clarence Weatherspoon who has expanded sideways over the years takes over and repeats the demonstrative head bopping discussion with McGee. The poor kid did not know what hit him.

2018-01-18 19.17.55


I also like to point out unique traditions as I travel on my journey. See the man above in the white shirt. When the Jaguars score a three point shot, he gets up and waves the “3” sign back and forth and puts it on the row of chairs. When he ran out of chairs, he just started over again. I am hoping that this job is not the only reason he gets up in the morning for.

2018-01-18 19.07.01

Rice is considered to be a IVY league type of school in the Southwest. The Owls last made March Madness in 1970 losing to New Mexico State in the first round. They don’t get the athletes to compete but probably serve a better purpose in society providing scientists and engineers to help make the world a better place.

I was impressed with LaDavius Darine of Southern Mississippi. This freshman was built like a senior and displayed a deft scoring touch throughout the game. He averaged over 30 points a game in high school. At 6′ 4″ and weighing 215, he must have been a load back in Calhoun City, Mississippi.

2018-01-18 19.18.44.jpg

Once again, I present the obligatory picture of the Southern Mississippi Golden Eagle mascot.

2018-01-18 20.21.44.jpg

Goodbye Mississippi till next year! Your snow and ice this trip did no good in my mind as a possible retirement home.

2018-01-18 20.39.04.jpg

Next game: Garner-Webb at UNC Asheville 01/24/18