That wonderful time of year
Some folks think there are only four real seasons of sports — training camp, the regular season, the playoffs and next year’s draft. Obviously all of these are related to our true national past time that is football. I don’t know if you know this but, to be honest, there are all kinds of other sports. Here’s a look into what’s going on in the local scene.
The Race Is On
All of this is just another way for me NOT to write 900 words about how the New Orleans Saints were absolutely robbed by the referees in their 20-17 loss to the Atlanta Falcons on Thursday Night Football. Because that’s exactly what it was — a good old fashion mugging by the men in black and white stripes. The most egregious of calls might have been when Matt Ryan was barely touched by Sheldon Rankins and got a roughing the passer call that kept a drive alive. The call was immediately questioned by Cris Collinsworth and Twitter lit up like a Christmas tree in disbelief. That’s just one example of many from a night that concluded in Sean Payton getting flagged while trying to call a time out, which effectively ended the game. It was bizarre.
However, calls are calls and the great teams overcome them.
After the previous week in which everything went right (Saints victory and NFC South losses) everything went the opposite way this week, tightening up the race once again. With three games to go the Saints and Panthers are tied atop the division at 9-4 with the Atlanta Falcons, and their present of a victory, one game behind. It’s going to be an exciting finish.
The three rivals should all post victories this week so the division should come down to two games — Atlanta at New Orleans on Dec. 24 and Carolina at Atlanta on New Year’s Eve. If the Saints win out the NFC South is theirs, but a slip up could leave them in a Wild Card spot. Sure, it’s all about getting there but this team in their heart needs this division title. Who Dat.
I assure you the UNO Privateers men’s basketball team cannot wait to get into conference play after taking some early lumps on the road. The Privateers (2-5) will have to wait a bit longer as they take their underdog show on the road this week at SMU (7-3) and UL-Lafayette (7-2). The victories have been few but the team is coming along and was this close to pulling off upsets at South Alabama (a 55-52 loss) and Houston (a 75-66 loss).
Senior forward Travin Thibodeaux makes the offense go averaging 14 points and 5 rebounds per contest. The Privateers open conference play Dec. 28 at home against Central Arkansas, a club that took UCLA to overtime and completely destroyed Cal by 27 points in Berkley.
It’s no stretch to say Tulane men’s basketball is baby-stepping into being a better club in Coach Dunleavy’s second year with the team. The Green Wave (7-3) lack a signature win but following last year’s horrific 6-25 campaign, the signature might be that the Tulane is beating the teams they’re supposed to. They’ve been outgunned by top 20 teams like North Carolina and Florida State but have even kept those losses respectable. Tulane’s Melvin Frazier even put up a Dunk of the Year candidate versus the Tar Heels. Mercy!
The Green Wave host Nicholls State (Dec. 18) and South Alabama (Dec. 21) next week at Devlin Fieldhouse before going on the road to start conference play at Temple on Dec. 28.
Taking Flight (for real?)
That signing of DeMarcus Cousins has been a godsend for the New Orleans Pelicans. Cousins is nearly unstoppable and collects double-doubles like they’re going out of style. While Cousins and Anthony Davis are the featured attraction on the court (and the #DoItBig campaign) the team will only go as far as guard play takes them. Jrue Holiday is catching a groove and the Pelicans are an entirely different team when Rajon Rondo is healthy and on the court. Rondo handed out 18 assists in the Pelicans 131-124 win over the Philadelphia 76er’s.
If you’re looking for defense go to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The Pelicans (14-13) show at the Smoothie King Center is all about offense and a blast to see live in concert. New Orleans sits in 7th place in the hyper-competitive Western conference. So hurry up and look at your co-worker and say, “Well if the season ended today the Pelicans would make the playoffs.” People love that.
Is He Writing About Hockey?
No. The New Orleans Brass are not returning. If they were you wouldn’t need to read this because I would be shouting it from the top of Benson Tower. But even if you have the slightest interest in the frozen sport you should keep an eye on what is happening in Las Vegas. The Vegas Golden Knights. Vegas (19-9-1), an expansion club, is setting records left and right for victories and, say it, if the season ended today they would make the playoffs. Which is unheard of for an NHL team in its first season.
Springtime in Uptown
This is way down the road but I have to give a shout out to Tulane baseball for scheduling some top-notch opponents this coming year. Not only will the Green Wave play Ole Miss and Long Beach State on the road but host Cal-State Fullerton, Wright State and Purdue at home.
It’s a heck of a slate for a team that wants to put last year’s ugly season behind them and these series, along with mid-week clashes against the likes of LSU and Southern Miss, will go a long way in determining the team’s success and NCAA tournament dreams. It is a must-win season for Coach Travis Jewett.
And like a fine wine with a steak dinner, every game should be accompanied by a beverage and song.
Beer Pairing: Wayward Owl Brewing’s “Privateer” Pale Ale
Playlist Recommendation: The Time – “The Walk”