Friday, September 12, 2014

2014-15 Roster Preview: Guards

Trevor Releford has left the building. Over the course of four years, Trevor became one of the best players in Alabama basketball history, finishing in the all-time top five in points and the all-time leader in steals. Last season, he was the only offensive option for the team on most nights. Despite that adversity he had a stellar senior season, but the overall struggles of the team probably cost him a well-deserved SEC Player of the Year award. You can’t replace a player like Trevor, but the hope is that a deep stable of guards will be able to soften the blow of his departure.

And Alabama will be deep at the guard spots. In addition to experienced returning players such as Levi Randolph and Retin Obasohan, the team adds experienced transfers in Ricky Tarrant and Christophe Varidel, while Grant and his staff also brought in two top 100 guards in Justin Coleman (most recruiting sites listed him as the top high school player in Alabama) and Devin Mitchell. All six players are capable of filling needs for this team and will serve as the backbone for the 2014-15 squad.

Friday, September 05, 2014

2014-15 Roster Preview: Wings

Though post depth continues to be an elusive luxury for the Alabama basketball program, Anthony Grant and his staff were able to add some much-needed players at the wing and guard positions for the upcoming season, which should make Bama as deep at those positions as they’ve been under Grant. This preview will focus on the wings.

Monday, September 01, 2014

2014-15 Roster Preview: Post Players

With the release of the 2014-15 schedule, we can now start looking forward to a new season. Things can obviously change, but it also appears that the Alabama basketball roster is now in place for the 2014-15 season. While Alabama did not avoid the attrition bug altogether following the departures of Carl Engstrom, Algie Key and Nick Jacobs, this off-season has been relatively tame compared to what we saw last summer when Bama lost two starters in Trevor Lacey and Moussa Gueye as well as a promising young player in Devonta Pollard.

Anthony Grant and his staff recruited very aggressively this past year, bringing in four promising freshmen while also adding Florida Gulf Coast/Chaminade transfer, Christophe Varidel. These players, along with the now-eligible Ricky Tarrant and Michael Kessens, will combine for a total of seven new players in the program this season, not counting walk-ons. The hope is that an infusion of new talent and energy can help turn around the fortunes of a program whose momentum came to a grinding halt following a 13-19 season.

The coaching staff also underwent some changes as former Buffalo head coach Reggie Witherspoon joined the staff. Witherspoon had a solid 14 year run at Buffalo and will bring some much-needed experience to a staff that arguably lost some cohesion after Dan Hipsher left for the head job at Texas Pan-American. Grant has played a lot of hands in the aftermath of that 13-win season that saw a growing number of Tide fans calling for change. If Grant is going to turn things around, it must happen this season or it's not likely to happen at all. Another disappointing year and fan pressure will most likely be too great to retain Grant for another season. What is defined by a "successful season" is up for debate, but it is this writer's opinion that Grant has to find a way to return the program to the NCAA tournament in order to reduce the temperature under his seat.

There were multiple reasons for Alabama’s rough season in 2013-14, but the biggest culprit may have been a lack of rebounding. Alabama finished dead last in the conference in overall rebounding numbers and a disappointing -2.1 rebounding margin. Many, including myself, pointed out Alabama’s poor shot defense numbers throughout last season. However, upon repeat viewings of those games, it was evident that Bama’s first-shot defense remained as solid as ever, but it was rendered moot by the fact that Bama frequently gave up 2nd and 3rd chance opportunities to their opponents, which frequently led to baskets and hurt Bama’s overall defensive numbers. In order for Bama to reverse their fortunes this season, they must rebound better.

Unfortunately, while Grant and his staff had a very productive recruiting year, they were unsuccessful in filling one important need, and that was post depth. As a result, Alabama will still be thin in the post, putting a larger emphasis on the play of guys like Jimmie Taylor and Michael Kessens. Also of importance will be guys like Shannon Hale and Rodney Cooper, who are typically more comfortable on the perimeter, but have shown the ability to mix it up inside and rebound when necessary. Freshmen such as Jeff Garrett and Riley Norris could also be counted on to provide help on the boards.

Let's take a look at what Alabama will have in the post. Check back later for previews for the wings and guards.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Full schedule released (see right hand column in full browser) and predictions

Link to schedule
I predict a 8-5 non-conference record and 10-8 conference record for a total of 18-13 overall.

This should be enough to keep Grant around another year.

Friday, August 08, 2014

Non-Conference Schedule released

Nov. 14         TOWSON#                                                  TUSCALOOSA              
Nov. 17         WESTERN CAROLINA#                           TUSCALOOSA              
Nov. 20         SOUTHERN MISS                                      TUSCALOOSA              
Nov. 24         vs. Iowa State%                                        Kansas City, Mo.        
Nov. 25         vs. Maryland/Arizona State%             Kansas City, Mo.
Dec. 2            SOUTH FLORIDA                                       TUSCALOOSA              
Dec. 6            at Xavier                                                      Cincinnati, Ohio
Dec. 13         TENNESSEE TECH                                     TUSCALOOSA              
Dec. 16         at Wichita State                                        Wichita, Kan.
Dec. 19         STILLMAN                                                   TUSCALOOSA              
Dec. 21         APPALACHIAN STATE                             TUSCALOOSA              
Dec. 28         UCLA                                                             TUSCALOOSA              
Jan. 2             NORTH FLORIDA           

This should be much more manageable than last year's slate.  Southern Miss is a solid team and is a game that could give us problems, in addition to the obvious challenges of Iowa State, Xavier, Wichita State, and UCLA.  I'm assuming we were unable to find a D1 opponent willing to come to Tuscaloosa and had to settle for Stillman.  I don't like playing D2 schools in real games.  I understand we have to play some weak teams to fill out a schedule, but I wish we would at least change it up some, it seems like the North Florida Ospreys come to Tuscaloosa every year.  

Unless the football team fails to make the SEC championship game, I probably won't make it to any road games.  If the football team isn't in Atlanta, I guess I'll go to Cincy for the Xavier game, but all the other away games are during the week.  I was really hoping to make it to Wichita too.  

In other news, congratulations to both Trevor Releford and JaMychal Green.  Releford signed with a team in Poland, and Green signed a contract with the San Antonio Spurs.  Best of luck to both of them.  

Monday, July 21, 2014

Good article on Kennedy Winston

I hope everyone is enjoying the off season.  Things have been relatively slow, I assume most of you have heard that Retin Obasohan had ankle surgery and is expected to make a full recovery, he should be good to go by November.

I thought I would share this article about Kennedy Winston.  He is still playing overseas and running a basketball camp in Mobile, and it sounds like he is doing very well.  I particularly liked this quote:  "College basketball is hands down the best basketball.  It is better than any pro or high school."

Kennedy will always be one of my favorites.  I had a blast sitting next to his aunt (who was super cool) in Phoenix when we knocked off the defending champs to advance to the Elite 8.  It's great to hear that he's still doing well.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Nick Jacobs- gone from Alabama

DJC and I pretty much saw this back in March... no surprise, but it leaves us really thin inside. I honestly don't know how we are going to compete in the SEC with the lack of size coming in next year.