Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Necessary toughness

by Barca Blog

With the series split at one game apiece and a possible NCAA regional hosting bid on the line, Arkansas head coach Dave Van Horn turned Tim Corbin's attention to the bigger picture prior to last Saturday's regular season finale.

"I was standing at home plate," Corbin recalled, "and he said, 'I don't care what happens today. All I care about is that we're in that tournament.'"

That tournament being the SEC championship, which gets underway today at Regions Park.

It's easy to take a conference tournament appearance for granted because the Commodores are making their seventh trip in eight years under Corbin. But we also must remember that nothing is ever guaranteed in the SEC. Prior to Corbin, the Dores had a seven-year postseason absence dating back to 1996.

"It's good to be in that tournament, because it's not easy to get there," Corbin added. "I think every coach of the eight that gets in feels that way.  It's a tough, tough league. I know a lot of leagues feel that way, but this one's a grind."

How tough?

Six squads currently rank in the Top 15 of the RPI with as many as 10 teams eligible to earn a spot in the NCAA Tournament.

Look at Auburn... they're playing in the tournament this week for the first time since 2003. Yesterday, I overheard one Tiger fan sheepishly remark, "So this is what Hoover is like."

Or take a glance at Georgia and Mississippi State, two programs that have been to Omaha in the last decade -- UGA four times and MSU once. Both squads won't be playing in the postseason after finishing in the cellar with 11 combined conference wins.

To top it off, defending national champion LSU limped into the field as the eighth and final seed by taking two out of three from Mississippi State. The Tigers spent three weeks at No. 1 in the polls, and 11 of the 14 weeks in the Top 10 this year before their late-season slide.

"Them being eighth kind of says everything," Corbin stated. "When we get asked the question at the beginning of the year about how tough the league is, there you go: World Series team, national champion, finishing eighth with most of their team coming back. That says it all."

Just another reminder of how hard it is to make it to Hoover.

Video of the Day: If you're going to make the tournament, then you might as well win it all. Thanks to Chris for submitting this inspirational video.

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