Welcome to college basketball, where thousands of teams will slog through meaningless regular seasons to get to what everybody wants to see, the tournaments. This e-mail is from Blaze, an American shorthair who owns former sportswriter Darrell Simmons:
The old man says basketball in the South used to be like a relative you never invited to visit. Atlanta native Rex Edmonson covered it under duress when he worked in his hometown. He once goofed on the poem “Song of the Chattahoochee.”
“Out of the hills of Habersham / Down the valleys of Hall / Every sunovabitch and his sister / Is bouncing a gawdamn ball”
(Is it obvious why Sidney Lanier was a poet and Rex became sports editor of The Jacksonville Journal?)
When Rex was in Savannah, a local high school won 12 straight and was ranked #1 in the state. The coach greeted him: “Where the hell have you been? It’s about time you did something on our team. We need to attract more people.”
Rex countered: “You’ve got a biddy game, a girls game, a JV game, a faculty vs. alumni game and a varsity game. Who the hell is left to come?”
In those days, Georgia Coach Harbin “Red” Lawson lobbied for an upgrade from 1,500-seat Woodruff Hall, which he called “the only gym in the country where wind is a factor in the game.” He claimed he was sweeping up and found a “Socrates scheduled for lecture date” leaflet.
The Dogs now have a better arena and we’ve had NCAA Final Fours in Atlanta, with another coming in 2020. SEC teams no longer play just to see who’ll finish second to Kentucky. But the ‘Cats are still my team. You can have the Georgia State Panthers. Best regards … Blaze.