The Importance of Maintaining Focus | 26 Feb 10

     C'mon, it's Rice.  What analysis, it's Rice.  They've got nothing, and the Miners have an arsenal of weapons.  This is going to be a rout.  A masacre.  A laugher in The Don.
     That's how I feel just trying to write an article about the UTEP-Rice game.  You can begin to get a sense of how tough it must be for Coach Barbee to keep his team focused on this game.  The two teams are on the opposite ends of the scale.  UTEP is 12-1 in conference games.  Rice is 1-12..  UTEP is in first place.  Rice is in last place.
     But, they don't play these games on paper.  They are played on hardwood floors.  And, if the underdogs never won, nobody would ever go watch.  Underdogs do win, and it happens all the time.  It is what makes sports so compelling.  It's David versus Goliath.  The Mouse That Roared.  The bigger they are, the harder they fall.  Everyone loves watching the High and Mighty get taken down.  Well, almost everyone.  The Philistines thought it sucked when Goliath took David's stone to the head, and were so bummed when David lopped off Goliath's head, that they ran all the way home.  We can only imagine how bad Goliath felt about the loss.


     Goliath made the critical mistake of looking past David.  He lost his focus, his concentration.  He needed to have had a coach telling him to be careful.  "Sure, you're a giant, big guy.  And you're a badass.  You've got a huge sword, that you whip around, whistling it through the air.  You have the very best body armor.  That's just a punk kid out there.  But, and this is important, he's carrying that sling.  You're going to have to watch out for the stones, until you get inside on him.  Where's your helmet?"
     You can bet your sweet bippy that Coach Barbee is working as hard as he can to keep his team's eyes on the prize.  It should be a little easier to do after almost losing to Southern Miss.  His players have shown that they are a mature group, though.  They have had opportunities to suffer letdowns after big wins, but didn't.  They have had opportunities to overlook teams near the bottom of the conference, like ECU and Tulane, but they did what they were supposed to do.
    I could tell you that the Owls have weapons of their own.  I could tell you about Rice's coach having 30 years of experience, his twelve years at Cal, where he took the Bears to the NCAA Tournament 5 times and the NIT three times.  He's one of the top 50 winningest coaches in NCAA Div 1 history, you know.  Unfortunately, he has used up his eligibility, and won't be able to suit up.  That means that the players that have won one game in C-USA this season, the ECU Pirates have that unenviable distinction, will be taking to the hardwood floor in the Don Haskins Center Saturday evening.  The Miners team will most likely use them like a heavy weight champion uses sparring partners to prepare for championship fights.  Expect the Owls to be abused.
     The thing to remember if you are an Owl, or a Rice Owls fan, is that the smaller they are, the softer they fall.  The feathers should help.

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