Sunday, January 16, 2005



It is all about poise.

No matter the game….it is all about poise. The ability to step up when things aren’t looking so good. The ability to think clearly while the venue is bleeding drama and fans are buzzing. The ability to control your emotions when your goal is right there in sight….or while it is trying to slip away. To have composure…..stability.

Poise was running thru my mind as I viewed an array of sporting events today.

                                  Justin Gray

The most painful to me, obviously, was watching my North Carolina Tar Heels lose to Wake Forest in Winston-Salem. Three things occurred in that game. ONE….Wake just shot the ball well in stretches, and especially from the line [setting an ACC record]. Wake is one of the worst ACC FT shooting teams….yet they went 32 for 32 from the line. TWO….foul problems. Rashad McCants got 3 fouls in the first half…which forced him to sit. He got foul number 4 early in the second half…right after he rolled off 5 straight points to cut the Deacs lead to 5. And THREE….poise. We folded under pressure. I mean, Wake hit some big shots….then the Heels would go down and turn the ball over and take a poor shot. And when the Heels did make a run….Wake did a good job of stepping up, making stops then converting on offense.


At the same time….a game was going on that was of interest to people in my geographic region. Louisville at Cincinnati. The Bearcats jumped out to a huge start….25-8….and muscled the Cards all over the place. But Louisville crawled back….as Taquan Dean hit 7-of-13 from 3-point range. They finally tied the game with 6:28 left to play. The Cards hit their FT down the stretch…the Bearcats didn’t. Poise.

            Ben Roethlisberger

Then the Steelers and Jets battled. Ben Roethlesberger, the Rookie Of The Year, had a horrible game in his playoff debut. A game that quarterbacks on losing teams have. Big Ben completed only 4 passes in the first half. So, the defense and running attack bought some time and snuffed out those Big Ben errors. But, with the Steelers trailing by 7.….he stepped up his game. He started the drive by scrambling for 20 yards….then tossed a 4 yd TD to Hines Ward to tie it up. Pittsburgh lives to fight another day. Poise.


Then, my Lakers played the Warriors. Sure, G-State blows…but this is the first game the New Lakers have without Kobe. Thirty percent of the offense is gone. The Lakers trailed by 9 deep in the 4th quarter. Who’s gonna be the man?? Odom did his best. He drew a charge on Adonal Foyle on one end of the floor…..the took Clifford Robinson to the rim for a finger roll with less than 2 seconds left on the other. Odom ended up with 27 points [24 of those in the second half] and 12 rebounds. Atkins stepped up with 20 points. The Laker team committed just SIX turnovers all game. Poise.


*Let me add to this entry today's Colts-Patriots game.  Poise.  The Pats, while favorites in Vegas, were underdogs in many people's eyes [including mine].  So, they just go their thing...and pretty much blow Indy out.  I mean, they've got down the field in the final minutes and won TWO Super Bowls....I think they are poised.  Indy, however, can't get to the Super Bowl.  They can't get past the Pats.  In a season which Manning was superb....storybook great....he looked like a rookie QB against that tough Patriot defense.  He cursed....he shrugged his shoulders....he pointed at his receivers.  He didn't step up.  And they had their shots.  But when the weather conditions and the crowd got more difficult to deal with.....Manning couldn't overcome.  Neither could coach Tony Dungy.  I'm just throwing this out there....but Manning can't get past the Pats....he couldn't get past the Florida Gators in college.  Dungy couldn't get his Tampa team over the hump....and can't get this Indy team there either.  I really, really, really like both guys....but there is something there.  Maybe.

So...five different games I watched....and all five had their own versions of "poise".  And, if a team can keep their composure and rise to the occassion....they will always be in the running. 

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