UAB improved to 2-0 Monday night after dismantling a young Mocs team 89-47. This is the first time UAB has started 2-0 against Division 1 opponents since 2013.
My era of UAB basketball fandom started around late 2004 when I was just about to start college on the Southside. Since that time UAB has had some pretty special teams but I’m well aware the majority of the banners hanging in Bartow belong to the eras before my time. But nonetheless there has been a special crop of players come through the program over the last 13 years.
The championship teams of my time, 2011 and 2015, featured players such as Cameron Moore, Aaron Johnson, William Lee, and Robert Brown. It’s always been a thing of mine to wonder what it would be like if some of the players would have had some overlapping years together. That’s what makes a team at UAB’s level really special — having the right players together at the right time.
Sometimes it’s an injury, elite recruiting class, or a red shirt season that puts the perfect group on the court at the same time resulting in unprecedented depth and a lethal mix of talented youth and experience. This season might just be the one that has all of the above yielding a truly special team.
Mixing The Old With The New
When Lee, Norton, Cokley, and Sullivan came to UAB it gave UAB fans a chance to see what impact freshman could bring to the program for the first time in a very long time. It also showed what it’s like for a foundation to be built that can be capitalized on for years to come.
The Mike Davis years were a constant juggling act of graduate transfers, JUCOs, and transfers with the occasional four year outlier like Aaron Johnson and Cameron Moore. It was unsustainable really and it resulted in a relationship disconnect between the fans and the players, especially in the latter years. UAB’s APR issues during that time certainly didn’t help Davis but most would agree going back to that style of program building is not wanted ever again.
Now with two games under our belt I believe fans are starting to see the vision that Jerod Haase and now Rob Ehsan had when the 2014 class was put together. Three years later we have an experienced core group of upperclassmen and two of them will have an additional year in the program because of fate. Combine that group with the emergence of Nate Darling, the addition of Jalen Perry, and the 2017 class and you have a recipe for greatness and banner hanging.
Sure there is much left to improve with this years team but what we do know is early on they’ve seemed to exorcise many of the demons that plagued them last season. The-on ball defense has been much improved and offensive and defensive rebounding should improve greatly with Sullivan and Gueye in the mix. The competition thus far hasn’t been great so next week’s performance at the Cayman’s tournament should tell us just how good this team is. In my opinion I believe we just might be in a position to fly back with some hardware.