Recon: University of Alabama-Birmingham

Recon: University of Alabama-Birmingham

images_default_Licensors_Universities_Alabama_UofAlabamaBirmingham_AD2148BBFDB749888CE784C0AD5DCA2E_F0002802UD takes on the Alabama-Birmingham Blazers and the stakes couldn’t be any lower. Dayton’s level of success this season will be formulated, as always, by the Flyers’ conference performance. A win or loss against UAB doesn’t figure to tip the scales in any direction. The fact that this game takes place during bowl season seems apropos. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

I assume most of us have already turned our focus to A10 play, meaning any further discussion of UAB will fall on deaf ears. So, let’s go completely off-topic and discuss something abstract: logos.

UAB’s logo has always made my stomach turn for some reason. It appears foreboding yet at the same time bears great resemblance to a patch that would go on the back of a child’s karate uniform (They are apparently called “gis,” I looked it up). Although the design itself is amateurish, the Blazers’ imprint is readily identifiable and at least unique in some respect.

As Dayton fans, who must suffer with an emblem that appears to be duplicated from mid-90’s clip-art, we can appreciate school logos that appear to have been created with at least a modicum of consideration and a moderate amount of scrutiny. I realize the BR has spent an inordinate measure of time railing against UD’s current logo/uniform/color scheme — all could be solved with a healthy helping of Columbia Blue — but these things truly matter in the grand scheme of things. One just needs to look at Oregon, Maryland and the Brooklyn Nets to see the impact a new look can have on the direction of a program.

Check out what this jokester has to say and then pretend I said it:

In a crowded market of entertainment and sports, the right logo helps carve out a carefully crafted identity. By playing on a fan base’s emotions and pride—ties to a more romantic successful era or stylized local landmarks, for example—or offering a way to stand out with flashy colors, professional sports teams use their logos to play a key role in reaching fans, even if the strategy to get there differs from team to team.

Some teams wouldn’t dream of touching a historic mark—a star on an NFL helmet, wings on an NHL sweater or interlocking letters on a MLB cap—but for franchises without the obvious link to historic success, they must build that emotional tie one of two ways: modernize the look of a nostalgia-based era or build an entirely new brand identity showcasing the future.

I’m not implying that changing UD’s overall design will assuredly change much for the program, it’ll still be mid-major and command a regional reputation. However, it will immediately lead to more merchandise being sold, and that’s something any school, especially a private one, can get behind.

Everything about UD right now is stale: from the school colors, to the logo, to the open beer under Dan Curran’s front-seat. I’m against change for change-sake, but I have yet to meet a UD fan/student/alum that wouldn’t prefer to see the University’s current designs altered.

I personally support UD alum Matt Hager’s Dayton new uni/logo proposal below, one he created a few years ago, and hope it at least gets some creative juices flowing in someone’s artistic pants. Matt doesn’t even want a dime for these designs, just a free mini-bike and a parking spot close to the Arena to park it in.

Dayton

(You can check out an enlarged version → HERE)

Also, while we are at it, what in the hell is this?

rudy_on_horse_600x350_10242011

So, what are the top five logos in D1 basketball? Glad you asked.

best5

  1. Youngstown State: A sinister looking penguin, he’s just waiting for you to go to work, leaving your wife home alone.
  2. Missouri-Kansas City: A kangaroo in a crew-neck sweater imploring you to come take a savage beating. Pure genius. Looks like he favors his left hand, that’s tough to game plan.
  3. Siena: I’m, just like, waaaaay into Saint Bernards.
  4. South Dakota State: It’s obvious that this jackrabbit is a trickster, he won’t even make eyes with you. He can get his feet above his head, implying self-fellation — this is both maddeningly athletic and intimidating.
  5. Cal-Fullerton: Fullerton used to simply have a “F” logo before switching to this beauty. Look at that elephant’s eyes. He’s seen some bad shit, but he keeps it bottled up inside. That’s where his warrior spirit emanates from.

The five worst?

worst5

  1. Arkansas Little-Rock: Bottom of the barrel shit. It literally looks like UALR commissioned a face-painter to create their logo. Hall-of-Shame worthy.
  2. Chicago State: The Cougars’ logo reminds me of segregation somehow. Just makes me sad.
  3. Centenary: NO chance this design wasn’t created in under three minutes. Someone lost their job at the logo factory over this one.
  4. Davidson: This logo always looked cheap on the Wildcat’s basketball uniforms. I though that a school with the monetary means of a Davidson would make an upgrade after their recent NCAA tournament success, but they’ve stuck to their unimaginative guns. The mark doesn’t even indicate that it’s affiliated with Davidson in any way, just a black and white picture of a wildcat on the front of a red diamond. There are softball teams with more creative emblems. Near-Ivy my ass.
  5. Bethune-Cookman: “Yo, just use a picture of a big-ass jungle cat face. Then fade that shit, son.”

fliersThe chief complication with Dayton’s visage is the Flyer imprint itself. It doesn’t easily lend itself to a catchy logo. It’s much easier to pull off a solid emblem with an animal mascot or something generic. Are “Flyers” pilots? Actual planes? Frequent airline passengers? (I recently discovered that a “Flier” is a silvery-green sunfish in parts of the South. So…there’s a previously unrecognized option). Bottom line, Flyers is a tough name to work with. But we can do better, people.

OK, enough pussyfooting with filler, let’s quickly breakdown the Blazers — UD’s final non-conference game of the season.

haaseOverview

Crazy Mike Davis is no longer running the show in Birmingham. Jerod Haase, a branch of the Roy Williams coaching tree, takes over a team that went 15-16 last season, finishing tied for fifth in Conference USA. . Expected to finish near the back of the pack in CUSA, UAB returns two starters. Haase prefers to run an up-tempo style, employing a guard-oriented attack that scores around 80 points per game.

None of UAB’s eight wins so far this season jump off the page, its most valued victory RPI-wise coming at the expense of Northeastern. The Blazers have blowout losses against Creighton, North Carolina and Middle Tennessee, and a twelve-point loss against common opponent Illinois State. UAB is 1-4 away from home; its sole road win is a twenty-point victory at Troy. The Blazers enter Saturday’s game with a 8-6 record, coming off a victory against Georgia Southern on Wednesday night.

For an undersized squad, only one player over 6’5” gets major minutes, the Blazers get after it on the glass, averaging approximately 38 rebounds per contest. A solid shooting team, Alabama-Birmingham is connecting on 75% of their foul-shots, 35% of their three-point attempts and shooting 45% from the floor.

Meet and Greet: UAB is led by Jordan Swing (14.9 ppg, 5.8 rpg), a junior transfer from Western Kentucky. The versatile 6’6” forward can play up to four positions; he pitched in at the point-guard slot when the Blazer’s starter went down with an injury last season. Swing is Alabama-Birmingham’s leading scorer, the team’s most dangerous perimeter shooter and posses the squad’s nicest smile. He sports Bama Bangs, is a southpaw man of faith and hails from Birmingham. What’s not to like?

jordanSwing_hmc

JUCO-transfer Rod Rucker plays alongside Swing in the frontcourt. Rucker is UAB’s best pure athlete, but not much of a basketball player. Although he averages 13.6 points per game, second-best on the team, he gets most of his buckets on trips to the rim and on put-backs. A 6’5” forward, Rucker leads the Blazer’s with 7.4 rebounds a game.

Starting in the backcourt for UAB are 6’4” junior Robert Williams and graduate transfer Terence Jones. Williams (9.2 pgg, 6.0 rpg) is a banger with the ability to pop outside and knock down jumpers, he is exactly the type of player that seems to enjoy aberrant success against Dayton. Jones finished his career at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and is stretching his college experience out at UAB. Jones is the Blazer’s gunner, averaging just over ten points while shooting 39% from the field. He is getting his degree in health education, whatever the hell that is.

UAB v CreightonSavvy UD fans, I know there’s a few of you out there, somewhere, will remember former Fordham Ram Fahro Alihodzic. The 6’10” center got the hell out of the Bronx, was holed up in a JUCO for a season and has resurfaced at UAB. So, for those of you clamoring for one last Benson v. Alihodzic battle, you got your wish – get your popcorn ready. The Bosnian is enjoying a decent season for the Blazers, averaging around ten points and four rebounds in just twenty minutes of play.

Preston Purifoy comes off the bench as the team’s sixth man and essentially plays starter minutes. One of the top three-point shooters in the conference last year, Purifoy is hitting 40% of his shots from behind the arc and 90% of his attempts from the charity stripe. He is averaging a solid 8.6 points and 3.3 rebounds on the year.

The Blazer’s took a major hit last season when starting point-guard Quincy Taylor tore his ACL during the team’s regular season closer. Taylor is still not 100%, basically relegated to simply handling the ball, but is chipping in around fifteen minutes per game. Isiah “Hoopy” Jones also provides some cover in the backcourt.

Jekore Tyler, one of UAB’s top reserves, was dismissed from the program a few weeks ago — and yes, the UD box office will be granting full refunds.

Numbers Game

“Sometimes I get depressed about my age. In March I’ll be 26. If man weren’t measured in numbers, but rather letters, I’d be turning Z. And then I’d be dead.”

UDvUAB

Prediction

Again, this game is meaningless, which means Dayton earns the victory. Dillard gets back on track, pacing the team with 17 points and 8 assists. Derenbecker and Swing will be Facebook friends by the time all is said and done. Swing leads all scorers with 20 points and UD wins, 77-71.

DaddyUAB

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Tom Blackburn is a proud U. o’ D. alum. He loses faith in humanity one day at a time, but not in you, you seem like you are all kinds of alright. Charter member of the T-Man fanclub.

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