The Crimson Cabaret finally has a red headed dancer!
Perhaps I should not lead a post with that sentence after using the word "lick" in the byline, but the red head was the prettiest thing I saw on the court tonight . Although I'm not convinced she is a natural red head, I sure was glad to see her on the court tonight. Now on to the game.
I am loathe to disagree with the few other Bama Basketball fans who were willing to drive to Coleman Coliseum to watch them play a team like S.E.L.A. (there comes that cheerleader theme again!), but the people who did attend this game should not be disappointed with the team's performance. Sure, they missed their first seven free throws (which by itself could have made a huge difference in the game) and (as alcrtide put it) they couldn't hit the ocean from the beach tonight (33.8% from the floor!). But nights like this should be expected from almost any team. And since CMG finally is trying to stress and coach defense he will not have as much time to focus on shooting as he has in seasons past.
In my opinion this was not an ugly win. It was evidence of CMG's real commitment to start teaching and coaching basketball instead of "back-yard shoot 'em up," and I for one am darned glad to see it.
No one on Bama's team could hit a shot until the game was almost over. Riley, Gee and Tubbs took turns missing three point shots. Jemison could not hit his ten foot jump shot. Hollinger started at the point and didn't even try to shoot. Gee could not hit his three footers that normally float into the basket.
When it became obvious that no one else could hit a bucket, SELA packed the defense around Hendrix to deny him the ball. When he did get the ball near the basket, even Hendrix's new-found hook shot evaded him.
Riley tried another couple of threes, to no avail. Even Hollinger finally hoisted one. It was an air ball. Pickett substituted for Hollinger. His threes could not find the basket. Knox came in when Hendrix picked up his second foul with about 3 minutes left in the half. Knox hit 50% from the field, but he only attempted two shots. Hendrix hit one of Bama's two first half threes. Then he promptly missed another.
The offense did bog down at times, but for the most part the kids were missing good, open shots. They worked hard to get open. Several time throughout the game the forwards (and sometimes Knox) set double screens near the foul line to free Riley or Tubbs, but the shooters could not complete the play.
Mama said there'd be games like this. There'll be games like this, my mama said. That is why my mama told me that any good team in any sport has to learn to play defense first. Every team and every shooter suffers off nights. Not very good teams (like Bama's) will have team-wide off-shooting nights. Tonight was one of those nights. Bama would have lost the game if they had not been playing defense.
The stat sheet shows that SELA shot 40% from the field and 50% outside the arc. What it does not show is how hard they had to work to get those shots or that they had two hot shooters the entire game. SELA scored only 51 points in regulation and only 24 in the first half. (I think those numbers are accurate but it is late and I am tired.) Bama worked hard all night to deny them the ball and to harass them when they did touch it. The Lions' 18 turnovers might be the most telling defensive statistic. At least two of those were shot clock violations. Gee was the only Bama player with two turn overs, and at least one of those happened in a failed fast-break attempt.
The effort fans have longed for years to see also was evidenced both by Bama's 16 offensive rebounds and by their distribution. Gee had five and the guards collected six. Hollinger grabbed three of those.
Was this a great win? By no means. Was it a good win? It certainly was. Bama never gave up.
CMG finally won an end-game coaches duel After missing almost every shot for 39 and one-half minutes, Bama still was only six points behind. Bama got the ball and Hollinger quickly dribbled across the mid-court stripe to call Bama's next to last time out. Bama patiently ran its offense until an open Riley drained a three with about 20 seconds left in regulation. Bama was awarded the ball after a shove was called against one of the Lions underneath the basket. (Okay, so sometimes a team gets lucky on its home court!) CMG used his last time out to set up another double pick play to free Riley to tie the game. Riley's man got around the screen, hence Plan B. Tubbs got the ball and was open outside the arc as the clock approached zero, so he launched the game tying shot.
With the defense packed around Hendrix and Riley having finally found his shooting zone, he hit three more three point shots in the overtime to generate and then preserve the lead. I hope the fans who left the game early at least got to hear the end on their car radios. It was much more fun to see it unfold from the stands.
Bama is not a very good team. They may well not turn into a good offensive team before this season ends. But if they keep playing the way they played tonight they could become a very good defensive team before the season is over. Since that is what I asked to see before the Crimson-White game, I am not about to complain. The shooting can and will come for many of these kids. For now I think they need to continue to focus on defense.