Saturday, March 15, 2008

Picked up pieces from the SEC Tourney...

Just got back from Atlanta, where I managed to survive the tornado that ripped through downtown. Leaving the Georgia Dome late last night was an eerie sight -- yellow caution tape lined the streets, debris, cinder block and broken glass was everywhere, huge pillars and trees had fallen, cars were destroyed. It truly looked like a war zone.

In this AJC piece, two people are dead and Atlanta is under a state of emergency as the city picks up from the first downtown tornado in history. Click here for photos. It's an awful scene and my heart goes out to everyone in Georgia who has been affected by the disaster.

The SEC Tournament was moved to Georgia Tech today, but Mississippi State and Alabama were in the middle overtime last night when the storm hit and here's what players and coaches had to say about the experience:

“Again, we planned for a lot of things. We certainly didn't plan for a tornado. What a moment that was, and for that moment it made you forget all about that game, for that instant. I had no idea what was left on the clock and what was going on.”
– Miss. State coach Rick Stansbury
“It's got to be one of the worst environments I ever been in as a player. You know, to see stuff falling from the roof, it really scared me, so I really didn't know what to do. Last time I've been in something like that a bat was in the gym, so this really tops that one.”
– Miss. State forward Charles Rhodes

“I think from our perspective, the SEC and the people here at the Dome did as good a job as you can do considering the circumstances. They got us off the floor quickly. They communicated with us frequently. They made sure our families and everybody was safe. Whatever the engineers did with the building was right. They brought us back out and gave us time to warm up correctly…So I think you've got to give those guys a lot of credit for that.”
– Alabama coach Mark Goddfried

“There was a lot of that going on, trying to call our folks. We all had a lot of family members here being in Georgia and us being from Alabama. I couldn't get a hold of them. I think everyone was calling and the phones were tied up so that was something to worry about. I finally got a text message through from my dad saying everyone was okay and just focus on the game.”
– Alabama forward Richard Hendrix
In basketball-related news, three things we learned:

1) Arkansas loves Atlanta. The Razorbacks are back in the finals after beating Tennessee 92-91 on ugly Steven Hill's short jumper in the closing seconds.

2) Georgia gets to play a double-header today. They beat Kentucky 60-56 in overtime this morning and will play Mississippi State in the semi-finals tonight.

3) Kentucky fans, who travel better than any fan base in the SEC and possibly the country, are not happy. I can't say I blame them. Approximately 20,000 of them drove down to Atlanta, paid for tickets and hotels and didn't even get to see their team play. Talk about a rough weekend...

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