UAB will take the floor at Bartow Arena for the final time of the 2015-2016 season Saturday as it faces Western Kentucky. It is also Senior day, as UAB will recognize the lone senior, Robert Brown.
More on that in a minute…
UAB comes into the game 23-5 and sits alone at the top of Conference USA standings with three games to play after a thrilling win against Marshall 95-91.
Western Kentucky comes into the game with a record of 14-14 and 6-9 in conference after upsetting Middle Tennessee State on Thursday.
Im sure we all remember the last time these two teams played. UAB came into the game riding the nations longest winning streak at 14 games, but the streak ended in Diddle Arena. Aaron Cosby led the Hilltoppers with 20 points and hit five three-pointers in the 69-62 upset.
Don’t think the Blazers have forgotten who ended the nation’s longest winning streak almost a month ago, as that could spell trouble for the Hilltoppers. The last time the Hilltoppers defeated the Blazers twice in a season, they were members of the Sun Belt Conference in the 1985-1986 season. Western Kentucky has won two straight, but will be in for a tall task coming into Bartow Arena before finishing the last two regular season games at home.
Back to Robert Brown. Saturday should be a day of celebration for the senior as he has meant so much to this program. Whenever the Blazers have needed a big shot, they have turned to Brown. A guy who seems like nothing phases him and performs at his best when his team needs him the most. Sure his numbers are not eye popping, but what he means to the team – and his play of late – should have him in the conversation for Conference USA Player of the Year.
The media likes to recognize him for his big shots, but Brown is quick to credit his teammates. Time and time again he gives praise to guys like Nick Norton, William Lee, and his coaching staff.
It has been quite a journey getting to Birmingham, but after two up and down years at Virginia Tech, Brown found a place closer to home where he has excelled. UAB assistants coaches Rob Eshan and Jeff Wulburn, who coached on the staff in Blacksburg, later recruited him to join them at UAB. Brown had to sit out a year as a transfer due to NCAA rules, but this ultimately helped him work on his game and become someone who the younger players could look up to.
Most likely the biggest shot of his career is the one that propelled UAB to one of the biggest upsets in program history as the 14th seeded Blazers defeated third seed Iowa State in last years NCAA Tournament. To him it was probably just another shot that he had practiced a countless number of times, but to Blazer fans it is a image that will last forever.
Thursday night UAB failed the Kevin Scarbinsky sellout Bartow Arena challenge, and they only have one more chance to prove the critics wrong this year. That old saying “You don’t know what you have until its gone,” holds true here. The fans who have missed the Blazers play this year have most likely missed the greatest regular season in program history.
UAB has a chance to add more history tomorrow as it looks to go undefeated at home in conference play for the second year in a row. It’s almost as if we are taking this magical run for granted as this team just continues to find ways to win. Looking back we probably don’t realize what we are witnessing.
Strength of schedule, RPI, tournament seeding aside, this team has truly had a remarkable season and it’s not over yet. Like my good buddy Dave West said (many of you know him as @GodsavetheHam), these truly are UAB’s green and golden years.
If anything Robert Brown deserves to run out to a full house in Bartow for the final time. To a guy who has given so much to this program, it’s the least we could do as fans.
The foundation has been laid for UAB to be great for a long time, and Robert Brown has had his hands on a couple of the bricks in the foundation. You don’t wanna miss the senior from Clermont, Fla. announced for the last time inside Bartow Arena.
To Robert Brown, Thank You. Ever Faithful, Ever Loyal.