Glancing ahead Fall sports soon will be in spotlight

By on July 26, 2013
UAB will look for a better start to the 2013 football season after finishing a disappointing 3-9 last year.  Daniel Twieg/Photo editor

It might not feel like it yet — with the summer heat still bearing down — but Fall is approaching, that time many sports fans look forward to all year long. Not because of the colorful vegetation or cooler weather, but because Fall signals the start of a number of the most popular sports in America.

While UAB has more than a dozen sports programs, football, soccer, and basketball are arguably the most popular sports on campus and they all just so happen to kick off in Fall.

UAB will look for a better start to the 2013 football season after finishing a disappointing 3-9 last year.  Daniel Twieg/Photo editor

UAB will look for a better start to the 2013 football season after finishing a disappointing 3-9 last year. Daniel Twieg/Photo editor

Football
Last year, the Green and Gold started the 2012-2013 football season with the introduction of the new Head Coach Garrick McGee who passionately outlined his vision for the future and pointed out that in order for UAB to win football games and compete at a high level, it would take the combined effort of not only the team and coaching staff, but the student body, alumni, and the entire Birmingham community all coming together and “playing your part.”

McGee, who severed as the offensive coordinator at Arkansas before joining the Blazers, struck a chord with his message and fans are ecstatic to have a coach with his background, and winning attitude leading the team.

The season however did not begin, or end, well for the Blazers who finished with an overall record of 3-9. What is most interesting is UAB scored an average of 28 points per game; however, the Blazers gave up over 37 points to the opposing side.

UAB seemed weakest when it came to stopping the run, allowing 182 rushing yards per game, which translated into 33 rushing touchdowns, but while on offense UAB only managed to average 110 yards and a total of 19 rushing touchdowns. But what they lacked on the ground the Blazers made up for in passing, collecting over 3,700 yards and scoring 21 passing touch downs through the air.

The good news is that with the recent shakeup in Conference USA, the future looks very promising for UAB football. There is a fresh new class of recruits who are all vying for their shot to standout, and a number of seasoned players who are hungry for more, should make a winning season just within reach.

Men’s Soccer
While UAB’s football team focused on rebuilding in 2012-2013, the men’s soccer team was looking to improve on the impressive 2011-2012 season which concluded with a NCAA tournament berth and UAB being ranked as high as #11 in the country.

The men’s soccer team began the season strong, but hit several bumps along the way which slowed their momentum. Senior Kofi Gywau led the Blazers in overall points and directed most of the traffic on the field; however, Reed Matte, Karl Chester, Chase Wickham and Mladen Lemez all added to the Blazers arsenal as they ended with an overall record of 10-8-2 (4-4).

Several players who were instrumental in the Blazers success over the last couple of seasons have now graduated, so the Blazers will have to lean on guys like Wickham and Chester, who each scored 5 goals in 2013 and seem poised to lead the team to another winning season.

Women’s Soccer
The men’s soccer team performed well last season, but it was the women’s soccer team that needed work as they continued rebuilding and retooling their program.

Head coach Harold Warren enters his third season with the Blazers and there is still a lot of work to be done in order to get the team together.

In his first season at UAB Warren coached the Lady Blazers to 6-12-1 and an abysmal overall record of 2-17 in 2012-2013.

The Lady Blazers had a number of injuries and a team littered with freshman which made the transition and rebuilding phase even tougher.

However, now that the team has had some experience playing and growing together, their styles should gel and we should be a team with a different attitude on the field come September.

Jerod Haase will also look to turn things around after having the first back to back losing seasons in program history. Kyle Thompson/Staff photographer

Jerod Haase will also look to turn things around after having the first back to back losing seasons in program history. Kyle Thompson/Staff photographer

Men’s Basketball

Now as the season wears on we will eventually fall back to where it all started with the beginning of basketball season in late October.

2012-2013, which was especially exciting for men’s basketball because of the introduction of Head Coach Jerod Haase who, like McGee, had his work cut out for him upon joining the young team.

Haase came in at a critical time for Blazer basketball, whose performance over the past few seasons had been sub-par at best.

Haase vowed to turn the program around and said fans would see a different team on the court than they had in the past.

The Blazers started off great, but halfway through the season they hit a slump that ultimately cost Haase his first winning season.

All in All the Men’s basketball team had a pretty good season, ending 16-17 overall and averaging over 71 points per game, but the good news is there is definitely room for improvement.

At the end of the season, the Blazers were able to finally find their game as they began to play more as of a team rather than a group of individuals playing pick-up ball. The true test will come this Fall when the Blazers will be expected to take the things they learned and parlay it into a record above .500.

Women’s Basketball

While the men’s basketball team regrouped, it was the women’s basketball team that had yet another winning season under the direction of former head coach Audra Smith. Smith coached the Lady Blazers to an overall record of 18-13 and their third WNIT berth.

The Green and Gold posted an average of 61 points per game making 2012-2013 their fourth straight winning season.

The Blazers will look to continue this trend, but it will be done with new head coach Randy Norton, who took leadership of the team back in April.

Norton has over 30 years’ experience and has coached teams not only to WNIT berths, but he has also coached a couple of teams to NCAA tournament appearances as well.

With a coach like Norton leading the way, the women’s basketball team is sure to continue to see much success in the seasons to come.

So prepare yourselves for this upcoming Fall sports season, there is a lot of work to be done for sure, but that’s all a part of the fun. Go Green!

Chase Cole
Senior Staff Writer
chascole@uab.edu

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