Friday, October 31, 2014

2014-15 Schedule Preview - South Carolina Gamecocks

Alabama will continue their road trip with a visit to Columbia for the first of two games with the Gamecocks on the schedule. Alabama has had their troubles in Columbia, posting only a 2-5 record there since the 2000-2001 season. It doesn't figure to be an easy game this year either, as Frank Martin is slowly starting to turn that program around.

Preseason media polls are always ripe for debate, and this season's poll is no exception. Perhaps the most surprising prediction for me was the media picking South Carolina to finish 12th, despite the Gamecocks starting to turn a corner late last season with a home win over Kentucky and two wins in the SEC Tournament. This season, they return 7 of their top 8 scorers from last year, including a potential star in sophomore Sindarius Thornwell (13.2 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 2.9 apg, 1.1 spg, 37% 3-pt). I will be surprised if this Carolina team doesn't finish higher than 12th.

Along with Thornwell, the Carolina backcourt is in good hands with Tyrone Johnson, a 6'3 guard who was averaging 11.1 ppg and 3.4 apg before his season was cut short by injury. Also returning is Duane Notice (8.2 ppg, 36% 3-pt). Justin Mckie (son of BJ) played sparingly as a freshman, but could be expected to take on a bigger role this season.

The biggest question mark for South Carolina will be in the post. They have plenty of bodies, but consistency has been an issue, and they lack the length and athleticism of other teams in the league. Michael Carrera is under-sized at the 4, but he's tough and plays hard for 40 minutes most nights. However, he's going to need help if Carolina is going to make a jump in the standings this season. The most intriguing post player for Carolina could be sophomore Demetrius Henry. A 4 star recruit out of high school, Henry had flashes last season but will need to produce more to help provide some inside/outside balance for this Gamecock squad. If consistency continues to elude the Carolina post players, expect to see plenty of small-ball in Columbia this season.

There are those who disapprove of Frank Martin's tough love brand of coaching, but the players who have stuck it out with him at K-State and now at South Carolina have shown improvement and do play hard for the demanding coach. The general opinion is that Martin will turn things around in Columbia. This season could be the start of that anticipated better future for Gamecock basketball.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

A challenge for Crimson Tide Marketing- PROMOTE THE 11/14 GAME vs Towson

At the very worst a 1 loss Mississippi State team will be coming into Tuscaloosa on 11/15 to play one of the biggest games in college football. Chances are the #1 team in the nation will be here along with College Gameday.

The night before we open the basketball season vs Towson.

Kickoff is probably going to be 2:30PM CST on the 15th so anyone NOT within a 2 hour drive is probably coming into Tuscaloosa the night before. HOW ABOUT GETTING SOME MARKETING DONE TO ATTRACT THESE FANS? Git 'er dun!

Game time for Towson last I checked is 8PM CST. That is a perfect time for those travelling into Tuscaloosa the night before the Mississippi State game to attend and maybe spur interest in coming back for another down the road. My plans are to do just that (anyone got a ticket? heh).

A couple years ago we had a similar scenario with aTm coming in and the hoops team opening up against North Dakota St. I attended and was dismayed at the maybe 4K fans in attendance. I am hoping for a better showing of fans.

I get the apathy towards hoops right now... heck, I'm probably the most negative of the contributors here on this season and the near future of hoops in Tuscaloosa, but I'll still try to attend a few games when I can.

I was happy with Hoops on the Quad... hopefully this was not an anomaly, but a preview of future promotion of the hoops teams (men and women).

2014-15 Schedule Preview - Tennessee Volunteers

Alabama will head to Knoxville for their first conference road game of the season. This will be the only game with Tennessee in the regular season. Road games, conference and otherwise, were a real challenge for our guys last season. If the struggles on the road continue, expect a slow start in conference play as 3 of the first 5 games are on the road.

The highs and lows of sports are one of the things that compels us to watch. Sometimes it happens over the course of a season, sometimes within the game itself. Tennessee's 2013-14 season was a season full of highs and lows. One game they would defeat Virginia, the eventual ACC champs, by 30 points. The next game, they would lose to UTEP on a neutral floor, or be swept by a so-so A&M team in two games. The inconsistent play for a team that was considered by many to be top 25 caliber played a big part in the percentage of Vol fans who began to grumble about Cuonzo Martin. Tennessee did just enough to slip into the tournament as possibly the last team selected. In response, they finally played up to their potential and were one possession away from reaching the Elite Eight.

It appeared that with this NCAA run that Cuonzo Martin could finally take a break from the hot seat and focus on improving the Tennessee program. But with his top three players departing, Cuonzo may have foreseen another rebuilding year in store, and the subsequent heat that would accompany it. So he struck while his name was hot, leaving Tennessee for the green grass of Berkeley. In the immediate aftermath, additional players transferred, and the entire recruiting class that Martin had assembled decommitted.

Into this morass stepped Donnie Tyndall, former coach at Morehead State and, most recently, two seasons at Southern Miss where he took the Golden Eagles to back-to-back NITs. With only five returning scholarship players, Tyndall's prospects for his first season in Knoxville did not look promising. To his credit, Tyndall rolled up his sleeves and got to work. He signed eight new players consisting of transfers, juco recruits and high school recruits to insure his first season will be nothing if not competitive. It remains to be seen if Tennessee can put it all together in Tyndall's first season, but they won't struggle due to scholarship numbers. And for that, Tyndall should be applauded for his hard work.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Could Anyone Use My UCLA Tickets

I have to attend a wedding in South Carolina the day before the game and Mrs. Alias refuses to drive all the way back to Tuscaloosa just so I can watch the one team I have waited 40+ years to see play in person.   I will sell the tickets at 75% of face value and mail them as soon as they arrive.

Alternatively, would anyone like to escort a very nice, older lady to a wedding in South Carolina the day before the UCLA game? Please email me if interested in either offer. :-)

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

2014-15 Schedule Preview - Texas A&M Aggies

Alabama will open the SEC schedule at home against the Aggies. This will be the first of two games between the two programs, as Alabama will later travel to College Station for the final game of the regular season on March 7th. A&M won the only match-up between the two last season by a score of 63-48. Like Alabama, the Aggies didn't receive much love in the preseason standings as A&M is picked to finish 9th, just in front of our beloved Crimson Tide, who are picked to finish 10th. However, I think this A&M team is intriguing and could finish a bit higher.

For starters, they return 5 of their top 8 scorers from a year ago, including a steady senior in Kourtney Roberson (6'9, 247 lbs, 9.7 ppg, 6.7 rpg) and, in my opinion, one of the more underrated players in the league in Alex Caruso (6'5, 184 lbs, 9.0 ppg, 5.0 apg, 2.0 spg). Jalen Jones (6'7, 223 lbs) is a potential impact transfer that was the leading scorer at SMU his sophomore year (14.0 ppg, 7.7 rpg). His arrival should help improve an offense that finished 13th in the conference in scoring. If Houston transfer Danuel House (12.9 ppg, 5.1 rpg) is granted a waiver to play this season, that will give A&M even more firepower.

A familiar face to SEC basketball fans will also be joining the A&M coaching staff this season with Rick Stansbury joining Billy Kennedy's staff as an assistant coach. The hire seems to have already helped in recruiting as A&M currently has a monster class (rated top 5 by some) committed for 2015. It's been a slow start for Billy Kennedy in Aggieland, but the future seems very bright if you're an A&M basketball fan.

Conference openers are always important, but this one will be vital for Alabama as their opening conference schedule will feature 3 of their first 5 games on the road, and the other home game in that stretch is against a Kentucky team that could be a colossus in the SEC this season. With that kind of schedule, a slow start in conference play could be inevitable. Which means that this opener against A&M could be considered a must-win when January 6th arrives.

Monday, October 27, 2014

This article right here sums up the commitment to basketball

He doesn't get it... or maybe he gets it better than all of us. Regardless, I've had the feeling for a year now he is not on the hot seat and unless we repeat last season we will be subjected to more of the same.

From Tuscaloosa News to your eyes.

Friday, October 24, 2014

2014-15 Schedule Preview: North Florida Ospreys

In case you're wondering, an Osprey is a bird of prey, also commonly called a sea hawk. Anyway, North Florida will be making a trek to Tuscaloosa for a second straight season. Last season, Alabama defeated the Ospreys by a score of 76-48.

Matt Driscoll is entering his sixth season with the program. He was the first coach hired after North Florida made the transition to Division I so the job has been a challenge for him, but he may finally have a team capable of competing for the Atlantic Sun title. 6 of the top 8 scorers return, highlighted by double digit scorers, Dallas Moore (12.4 ppg, 2.5 apg) and Beau Beech (10.3 ppg, 39% from 3-pt). The Ospreys also welcome a transfer from Louisiana-Monroe - Trent Mackey - that averaged 11.0 ppg and shot 44% from 3 as a sophomore at Monroe. They are primarily a perimeter team, but do have some size in Beech, who is 6'8; Romelo Banks (6'11); and Chris Davenport (6'8).

Sandwiched between a big home game against UCLA and the SEC opener against Texas A&M, this could potentially be a trap game for Alabama.