Bottomline: Balado now has a team with as much talent as anyone in the Sun Belt. He has perimeter shooting, rebounds, big game experience and leadership on the floor. He doesn’t have a “back to the basket” big, but he’s not that concerned. In fact, I haven’t seen him this stoked for some time.
I’m a little stoked right now. The guy who guided Jonesboro High School to back-to-back 6A state championships and last season started for an SEC team that went to the Elite 8 has just joined Arkansas State basketball.
But if you watched last year’s version of the team, you had to like what you saw on the floor. Omier is a double-double superstar, and the young roster can only become better by Eaton’s well-practiced hand. If ever were to come Balado’s make-it or break-it year, this is absolutely it.
Remember what the great George Costanza tells us: It’s not a lie if you believe it. Everybody thinks Rowdy Roddy Piper was a great wrestler, but have you ever seen him win a wrestling match? Nope. Moxie was his greatness, and it can be the Sun Belt’s too.
Honestly, nobody from the Sun Belt deserves to Dance. We’re all just awful. Our representative may as well be Appalachian State, who boasts a 210 NET ranking and lost to Tennessee earlier this season 79-38. The Mountaineers are Sun Belt basketball to a tee. My glass is raised to thee.
If you’re a Georgia State fan, you’re probably pointing to the 158 point NET gap between the conference’s highest ranked program (the Panthers) and the lowest ranked program (the Warhawks). But honestly, so what, Panthers? This season was so COVID stupid, that the Sun Belt West has yet to even play the Sun Belt East. Furthermore, added to this whack-season is that the Warhawks have played six more games than the Panthers. What do we know about the Sun Belt? Nothing.
The defense is more intense. Fewer passes are sailing into the stands. Fans are no longer enduring comically long scoreless streaks. Omier went from South of the Border novelty to a legit basketball phenom. Fields seems to be recharged by senior Marquis Eaton’s sterling example as a leader and scorer. Wesley appears to be a successful junior college transfer willing to pound out some minutes and highlights. The pieces have clicked into place, with experience the only ingredient lacking.
“We’re not going to get bullied into playing a game because it benefits one team,” says Balado, ascending to the top turnbuckle. “We don’t do that. We’re nobody’s little brother.” Balado Boom!