“Invincibility lies in the defence; the possibility of victory in the attack.” – Sun Tzu, The Art Of War


The 2016-17 UAB men’s basketball team has the chance to do something the two prior teams haven’t been able to do — start off the season with a win.

In all likelihood – barring a massive upset – they’ll do just that this Friday night.

The Blazers first opponent of the season comes from the Southwestern Athletic Conference. UAB is 48-0 all-time against the SWAC with their most recent victory coming over Alabama St. last season in Bartow Arena, 72-70.

UAB and Arkansas Pine-Bluff have only met once and that was in 1997 during Murray Bartow’s tenure. The Blazers defeated the Lions 81-51. A week later UAB hosted Bobby Knight’s Indiana Hoosier’s at the Birmingham Jefferson Civic Complex.

Many of the players we’ll see on the court this Friday weren’t alive the last time these two teams played.


I don’t want to sound dismissive of Arkansas Pine Bluff’s team, but there’s only one man you need to be watching for come Friday night and that’s 6-foot-3 senior guard Ghiavonni Robinson. For what it’s worth, KenPom.com has Arkansas Pine Bluff ranked 345 out of 351 Division 1 teams.

Check out some of his highlights from their game at Michigan State last season.


Robinson was their only double-digit scorer last season averaging 11.1 points in just under 32 minutes per game. In addition to Robinson, I’ll be curious to see 6-foot-8 senior Travon Harper who joined the team this season after posting some nice numbers in junior college.

3 Things To Watch For

  1. Player Rotations – Like last week, the Blazers have an opportunity to fine tune their rotations against what should be a very beatable opponent. I’ll be looking to see if they’ll start the same five–Baxter, Lee, Cokley, Williams, and Norton–which I believe is the best option moving forward.
  2. Denzell Watts – We’ve yet to see the senior point guard in action this season. My main interest in seeing him is to gauge how he measures up to Deion Lavender who will also be an option in back-up point guard duties. Maybe there is a reason he’s yet to suit up?
  3. Freshman Contribution – The more I see of Javien Williams, the more I love. The freshman’s 24 minutes played in the exhibition was tied with William Lee for the most played by any Blazer, and I’d expect to see him just as much this Friday. Be watching for Nate Darling as well. He’s a made three away from getting some momentum going in this early part of the season.