An uninspired Alabama team refused to play defense for most of the game and fell to a hot three-point shooting Notre Dame. I kept screaming at my television to try to out quick that team, but that was not what CMG had in mind. Gottfried finally put in the press with about three minutes to go, but our kids make way too many mental errors to win this game.
Bama seems to have fallen into a pattern. They play lights out offense for about 10 or 15 minutes, but then the fail to adjust when the defense adjusts to stop what they are doing. CMG needs to get this young team's attention. Davidson needs to assert his leadership (and stop shooting those long shots with time left on the clock) until Ron Steele can rehabilitate his knee.
The most consistent thing about Bama's defense this year has been its inconsistency. I never thought I would miss Jean Felix, but there were at least two guys we could have put him on tonight. Riley is expected to become a lock-down defender. He'd better adjust quickly because we are going to need him soon. Gee needs to learn not to make silly fouls and (silly dribbling turnovers). If he can, he can defend too.
One other person who has not been mentioned much is Torrence. He has the speed and tools to play defense. If he can be taught to play with his feet all the time, perhaps he can fill that void. Unfortunately, no one answered the defensive call tonight. I hope Torrence decides to be that player.
The zebras did not do us any favors in this game. I will be interested to hear what the Marks Madness kids who made the trip have to say about their on-site experience. The officiating was not the difference in the game, but they didn't help. With the game on the line and Bama down by only three points, Riley was mauled underneath the basket with no call. Much the same thing happened on our next possession.
On area where CMG and Coach Asbury need to continue to improve is to help our big men stay focused in physical games. They made great strides in that area last year, but our big men still don't exhibit the "feel" for the ebb and flow as the game officiating changes. I certainly don't know how to teach that. Heck, I usually am not even aware of it until the flow has moved back in the other direction. But the best teams seem to have this.
While I'm complaining, there is no way a good team gives up 99 points to Notre Dame. The kids in Crimson did not play defense and they paid a huge price. After being humiliated before a national television audience, we will see whether CMG can do what all good coaches do and turn this apparent negative into a positive.
There was no shame in losing to Notre Dame on their home court tonight. But losing by a dozen points or more and giving up 99 points should tell our kids that they need to dig really deep and to stay focused on defense if they are going to reach their goals for the year. I hope their goals are at least as high as my expectations for them. I am betting on CMG and our experienced leadership to help turn this around so we don't play so poorly on defense again this year. Hopefully by February we will be saying this was a "good" game to lose in December because our kids needed a wakeup call.
Time will tell.