Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Throw Down In Tiger Town

In a gutsy performance, Bama came from behind to beat a struggling LSU team on its own court. Last week's dog was this week's hero. Jermario Davidson's defense was suspect at times but his offensive performance was superb, teaching lessons to all of LSU's big men near inside the lane and also near perfect from long range. Every time I screamed "No" at JD tonight, the ball just tickled the tassels on its way through.

Ron Steele probably should not be playing anything more than a support role for Hollinger and Tubbs. He cannot keep up on defense and has only been able to score against API in the SEC.

Gee's defense remains weak, often losing his man for 20 or 25 feet. But his outside threat combined with his slashing ability force teams to defend him. Gee's fundamentals need work, but he is a raw talent.

Riley hit a couple of very important threes tonight. Hollinger added on too.

Bama gets a confidence booster and strong shot in the arm. We also get SC at home Saturday followed by M$U on Wednesday. Maybe Mrs. Alias will let me drive up for at least one of them.

Roll Tide.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

LSU stats pack and random thoughts

First, LSU stats pack. They might be playing as bad as we are right now... although they almost beat UGA on the road. They've lost 3 in a row.

I'll skip the 'who to watch' for LSU as most of you should know already. We need Hendrix to continue his 2nd half against Arkansas, Gee and Riley to find their range, Hollinger and Steele to take care of the ball, and Davidson to set screens and pretend to play inside. Also, I'd really like to see more PT for Jemison and Tubbs... after their solid 2nd half against Arkansas they deserve it (I think both should start, but that's just me... and quite a few others).

LSU is ripe for another home loss... Vandy took them down last week and they did fall to Wichita State early in the year so it's a winnable game. The problem is it's on the road. I wonder if they'll let us wear our home whites.

Prediction- the only prediction I'll make is the loser of this game should plan for the NIT. The winner still has some work to do.

Random thoughts:
- Georgia Tech is as disappointing as we are so far. They should be better.
- Digger Phelps gets on my last nerve.
- The Big East is really down this year. Pitt is the only realistic contender for a title. I'd say the SEC is better, but really it's Florida and a bunch of mediocre teams.
- PAC-10 basketball is fun to watch this year. They might get 6 in the NCAA tournament.

Gametime is 9PM EST (8PM CST) on LFN.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Arkansas Angst

. . . or perhaps "Piggy Post Mortem" will prove to be more accurate. Time will tell.

I have not read any articles, web sites or blogs since the game, but I have discussed the situation with a few friends. This entry is intended to depict my best perception of the Bama Basketball psyche at this stage. It may reflect little no more than my own emotional reactions to recent events, but the bulk of the ardent supporters of our program seem to be asking many of the same questions I am.

First, the good. Bama actually began the game playing defense. Well, at least three and sometimes four players were playing defense. Before today only one or two seemed to be playing defense most of the time. Bama's offense was working to get open shots at the basket. Not uncontested shots like they frequently have given up, but open looks. Unfortunately, none of our players could hit those shots in the first half.

Another positive sign? CMG went to the bench early and often, apparently trying to find combinations that could work on both ends of the court. The brightest spot was Tubbs' increased playing time and the continuing willingness to let Hollinger guard the point the length of the court. But for the fact that they could not buy a basket, Bama appeared to play better than it had for a while.

Unfortunately, all those bright spots were immediately dulled by the brief spurt in the second half when the embattled Tide chopped away at Arkansas' 27 point lead only to fall up short. The defensive energy and effectiveness intensified tremendously. The offense was able to get the ball to Hendrix in the low post who suddenly was able to finish his shots. Everything was moving in the right direction until it suddenly derailed (with a modest assist from the officiating).

Why is that heightened defensive intensity a problem? Where was it for the first 30 minutes of the game? Where was the offensive focus for the first 30 minutes of the game. And even with all those problems, the team might have enjoyed a lead if the starters could have hit more than half of their free throws.

Unfortunately for our program, the coach's game and personnel management was the most disappointing thing about the entire game. Two of the starters presently are not able to perform at anything near their full capacity. Whether the problems relate to physical or emotional injuries, two of our most valuable players simply are either unwilling or unable to play defense at a level that will allow their team to succeed. I do not fault the players for this. It clearly is the coach's responsibility.

A good coach's job is to get the players to do what they will not do on their own. If the players are not willing or able to to what the team needs, then other players should be utilized. CMG left way to many players sitting on the bench and too many on the court who were performing poorly relative to their abilities and team roles. If they are not good enough to play, then I would like to know why he signed them.

One player in particular declined to play team defense pretty much the entire afternoon. He finally was replaced by a teammate who played defense with energy and enthusiasm. Only at that point did Bama's run at the lead began in earnest. Unfortunately the primary offensive threat during that run grew fatigued and had to be replaced. It seemed like almost every person in Coleman Coliseum saw the less than enthusiastic player stand up from his place on the bench and the entire crowed shouted "Nooooooo!"

In this instance, the crowd probably had a better game plan than the coach. The young man continued to refuse to play defense for the remainder of the game and (even though he was well rested having sat on the bench for ten minutes) never got up court quickly enough on offense to help his team make a play at the basket without wasting the few valuable seconds on the clock. Neither his teams' interest nor his visit to the bench seems to have motivate the player in question. I respectfully suggest that the player in question belongs on the bench no matter how talented he is.

I don't say any of this to demean the players. A million dollar coach should know enough to put that sort of player on the bench for the good of the team, for the good of the program, and for the individual player's benefit too.

This has become an all too frequent pattern this year. Players will not play on defense and are unwilling or unable to find their role in the offense when facing any credible defensive effort. These players are too talented to be performing at this level.

As more than one friend reminded me this morning, CMG seems to do this every season. Most years he finds a way to right the ship and get the team into the NCAA Tournament. A few times he's managed to win a game or two in that tournament. But will that be enough to satisfy the Bama Basketball fans? Should it?

It is too early to suggest that Bama needs a coaching change. As more than one friend said earlier today, each season needs to be viewed in its entirety as one piece of work. No coaching question can be answered before the end of the season. But the end of this season might be approaching faster than the calendar suggest. I seriously doubt that the devoted Bama Basketball fans will tolerate annual stretches of five games each where the teams performs so poorly against traditional conference foes, especially when one of them is at home.

In short, CMG did make some adjustments but both his game management and team motivation continue to exhibit glaring flaws that are obvious to any impartial observer. I don't know how much longer the fan base will tolerate his continued refusal to acknowledge and address these problems.

I would like to see the team put more effort into the game than CMG's father and uncle expend when they drive 7 or 8 hours round trip to watch them play. I am driving that same distance and I don't appreciate it! If CMG lets players stay on the court when they play that way, IMO he insults the fans and does a disservice to any kid on the bench who is willing to play with passion even - if he plays poorly.

If you're going to make a mistake, at least make it at full speed.

By the way, I'm not just disgusted now. I am having to fight being angry and embarrassed. I know I am not alone.

Who do we play next? Who really cares. Somebody please let me know who wins. I'm not driving up there until I see Coach Gottfried change something. And even if he fixes it this year, if he pulls this same stung again next year I intend to sell my tickets to our opponents' fans so somebody in Coleman Coliseum will be able to enjoy the game.

Crimson Tide in tailspin... lose at home to the Hogs

A generally miserable game that got interesting in the final 5 minutes. Regardless, a disappointing loss. Thanks to "T" for getting me some sweet center court seats... just wish the results would've been different.

Box score and recap from CBS sportsline

The good:
- Tubbs, Jemison, and Hendrix. Those three were the reason we didn't lose by 30. They sparked that late 2nd half run to make it a game. Tubbs and Jemison better see more PT.
- The Crimson Cabaret. The best part of the game. Entertaining and really easy on the eyes.
- The band. My 1 year old was digging them... which made watching the game a lot easier. Thanks to the band.
- Mark's Madness. The "Playing for Arkansas. So easy a caveman can do it" sign with Hill's photo was the funniest thing I've seen in a while. Good stuff.
- We forced 19 turnovers... seemed like 13 of them were in the last 8 minutes.

The bad:
- Davidson, Steele, and Riley. Davidson with his lazy passes (I counted 3 that lead to turnovers) and playing 15 feet from the basket, Steele being tentative (again) with his shot, and Riley couldn't throw it in the ocean. Did I mention none of them played a lick of defense (Steele tried, but he just can't at 50%)?
- Not fighting through screens... again. Hill did an excellent job of getting Beverley open shots.
- 22 of 59 FG and 1 of 14 beyond the arc. We're not going to win many games shooting like that.

Commentary:
Davidson needs to ride the bench more as he's non-existent on the boards, playing like he's 6'2" instead of 6'10", getting owned on the defensive end, and just generally not looking like he in the game. Alabama made their run with him on the bench...

Steele played 33 minutes which is an improvement over 38 and 39, but it's still too much. He's been ineffective all month and shows no signs of getting better. He's also getting owned on the defensive side by every guard he's matched up against.

It's time to bench Riley. If we can't set screens for him he really doesn't need to be out there as much as he is. JD and RH should set screens for him, but I guess that's not in the playbook. Riley is also very weak on the defensive side... he might be worse than Steele.

Someone get Gee under control. He's trying to force the issue too much offensively. The effort is there, not the execution. Then again, as bad as the offense has looked I guess I really can't blame him...

In closing, this team is in free fall mode. We have the talent to bounce back, but will we? IMO nothing will change until the coaching staff makes the players responsible for their play (read- sit their asses down when they continuously look like hot garbage). As we saw yesterday the bench can play (and if Torrance and Coleman had a chance I'm sure they'd be OK) so use them more CMG. I said if this team doesn't win the SEC regular season, the SEC tournament, or make it to the Sweet Sixteen this is a failed season and someone's going to have to look long and hard at what Alabama basketball should be. I might be in the minority, but I expect more than simply an invitation the NCAA tournament and 1st or 2nd round exits. Now I know why NC State fans wanted Sendek gone last year... they were tired of just being in the top 64.


Saturday, January 27, 2007

Quick hits from a 6 hour road trip...

1) That was the worst 1st half of basketball I ever saw in person. Arkansas wasn't exactly lighting it up, but compared to the Crimson Tide today they looked like UNLV circa 1990.

2) Driving 6 hours in one day to see your favorite team get ripped for 32 minutes sucks. At least with football I get to get drunk at a tailgate first and at least enjoy that.

3) The Crimson Cabaret was the best part of the game. They gave more effort dancing between breaks than the team did on the court.

I'll post more tomorrow... when I can objectively critique what went on.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Arkansas stats pack and other stuff

They lost to the 2 time defending NIT champs (South Carolina) Wednesday on the road. They are perfect on the road this year (0-5)... let's hope that continues. The difference between them and us on the road is they've been competitive while we've stunk up the gym in 4 of our 5 road games.

Arkansas stats pack
Stats pack II (hogwired.com)

Mango Salsa (AKA- Steven Hill) has been playing well lately. He's actually scoring and still playing pretty good defense. Maybe this is because Heath decided he's good enough to play. That one has always puzzled me and my wife (a big time Razorback fan).

Weems, Thomas, and Beverley lead the team in scoring (only ones in double digits), Townes seems to be in the doghouse as his minutes have been cut, and Ervin has been playing much better as well although he still takes too many ill-advised shots. Arkansas normally goes 7 deep.

The stats:
- .475 FG
- .363 3PT FG
- .712 FT (that's better than I thought they'd be)
- +2.9 rebound margin (should be better with all the big guys on the roster)
- Averaging roughly 16 turnovers a game

Normally I say pound the ball inside, but the way we've been lately (Auburn beat us down inside) and the fact that the Hogs are bigger tells me we really need Gee, Riley, Steele, and Hollinger (and Tubbs if he sees the court) to hit from outside. JD and RH should spend most of the day setting screens for Riley and Steele.

Prediction- Alabama by 7. This is another must win game.

Other links:
-Bracketology is out... we're a 10 now. LSU is in the Not Invited Tournament.
-Jerry Palm had us at 8 on 1/19. I figure a new one will out later today (putting us at 10).
-The great Verice Cloyd has transferred. Another one bites the dust.
-Thanks to Todd from rollbamaroll.com as he found this before me... Alabama is slated to play in the Maui Invitational next year. Did someone say road trip? I love vacations with an excuse to see us play.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

API Aftermath - Part II

I read today that the API fans who finally showed up for a game last night (probably because the football trophy was awarded and not because they care about their basketball team) derided our players. "Over rated! Over rated!" Did they tear down the shower curtain at the end of the gym when the game was over too?

I was a freshman in 1972 when we lost the 17-16 football game. I don’t recall counting the consecutive wins or rubbing it in the API fans faces, but I looked around one day and we’d won 9 in a row. I think we beat them about ten years in a row in basketball too. Now the home of Mike Mitchell, Chuck Persons and Charles Barkley is filled for the only time all year with people who know ziclh about basketball and shout “we plead the fifth”? To quote the Cosby Kids, “NC! No Class!” I am ashamed that our coaching staff inflicted that scnerio on our players.

I don't think our players need a "come to Jesus" meeting. I think CMG needs to have a come to Jesus meeting with himself. If he doesn't, then it is time for Wendell Hudson to have one with him. As of Monday night,CMG was not in a listening or a learning mood. If he is not now, then we probably have reached the top of CMG’s potential.

The question those of us who are real Bama Basketball fans (and not just those who treat it as the filler between football season, football recruiting season, and the Spring game), is “Are we satisfied with this level or do we want to try to move forward?”

CMG has done an excellent job with our program. He saved us from the Hobbs disaster and has our program getting national recognition early in the year because of all the talent he recruits. When I was a student, Dr. Bob Davis did the same thing atAPI , but I don’t think he ever won a conference championship and almost never made it to the NCAA Tournament in the small field it then involved. API opted for Sonny Smith who did know how to win games.

The truth is that no one in the Athletic Department is going to listen to me. I hope to see changes by next week but have to assume that none will be made. If they are not, I will have a decision to make as a die hard Bama Basketball fan. Do I lower my expectations and learn to accept these humiliating road defeats caused by the lack of fundamental skills and effort exhibited by our kids especially on the road, or do I vote with my feet?


To be perfectly honest, I am upset with CMG for eveing bringing me to this point where I even have to contemplate these options.

Sigh!

Another road game, another beatdown... Barn beat Bama easily

I turned it off with 2 minutes to play. I had seen enough.
Box score for those that like to stick sharp objects in their eyes

The good:
- Steele had a good shooting night.
- Torrance saw the court.
- It actually could've been worse.

The bad:
- Transition defense. How many times did Auburn beat us down the court? Eleventy billion.
- Perimeter defense. With the exception of the last 4 minutes of the 1st half... eek.
- No inside game. Our big guys were fading away from the basket. What the hell.
- Despite the terrible defense on all fronts by the starters, only 6 really saw the court. You'd figure guys would be benched for that, but what do I know.

We have a lot of problems right now. We can't score and can't stop anyone. Ugh. For all of Steele's offensive stats last night he really needs to play less minutes as he's a SERIOUS LIABILITY on defense. 39 minutes played is inexcusable being he's still hobbled. Use the freakin bench!

Despite what I saw written somewhere else, we're not a NIT team... yet. Wait until we drop a home game before making that step. Geez.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

API Aftermath

This game was too disappointing for me to post any honest thoughts about it on a public board. I will try to watch my recording of the game tomorrow night to see if there is something positive I can say about this game other than that it is over.

I am disgusted!

Auburn stats pack

Thanks to Hville for both the pic and the video.

The Crimson Tide travel to the Barn... e i e i o.
Auburn stats pack

Auburn is much improved from last year... they have big wins over Nichols St, Vanderbilt, and Tennessee. Their 2 home losses were to top 10 teams (A&M absolutely killed them, but they played Pitt tough). They also played Wisconsin and Oklahoma State tough in the South Padre tournament. Now that I look at it, they played a much tougher non-conference schedule than us. Who knew?



The stats:
- 45% FG
- 33% 3PT FG
- 60% FT
- +.5 rebound margin
- average 17 turnover a game

I've only seen them once... getting hammered at Kentucky last week. They did beat Tennessee for their 1st win against a ranked team in 16 tries so I guess they're on somewhat of a role.

Barrett is their leading scorer... he should be being he's taken 70 shots more than anyone else. Prowell is their transfer from Furman... he seems to be their best shooter. The rest of them I know little to nothing about.

I'd say we need to pound the ball inside, but we haven't been good in there lately. Still we should try JD and RH as we have the size advantage.

Prediction:
We still own Auburn in basketball (football is another story) and they don't have the weapons outside that can kill us. Crimson Tide by 6 in a close one. Truth be told, we really need a road win... REALLY, REALLY NEED A ROAD WIN.

Gametime is 9PM EST (8PM CST) on ESPN. It's not in HD.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Steele's last second shot wins it...

... an improbable win considering how pathetic we looked in the 1st half. Steele wins it 78-76. Truth be told he walked, but I don't care!
Box Score

It was a miserable start to the game... UGA pounced on us 15-0 and 20-2 early... coasted to 50-35 halftime lead. Nothing went right for us... we couldn't (or didn't) defend the 3 leaving them wide open shots, didn't fight through screens, and looked lost on offense. If I had a dog I would've kicked it.

The second half was a thing of beauty. Talk about halftime adjustments! We held UGA to 26 2nd half points, got hands in their faces (surprisingly zone D worked well), and found our rhythm on offense. Gee and Riley made big shot after big shot... Gee penetrated, Hollinger played well at the point, and Davidson converted from the FT line (I thought he was forcing his shots, but at least he got to the line and scored).

The good:
- Held UGA to 1-7 from beyond the arc in the 2nd half and 26 points.
- Hollinger, Gee, and Riley saved the day.
- Steele in the last minute.

The bad:
- The entire 1st half.
- Hendrix got pushed around inside.
- Blocking out... UGA killed us on the offensive glass.
- Steele the first 30 minutes.

A win's a win and I'm ecstatic about it, but we got a long road ahead of us if we continue to have problems guarding the perimeter. Maybe this is the win that sparks us to great things. I hope that's the case.

Edit- here it is. Steele's buzzer beater.

Friday, January 19, 2007

UGA stats pack

Thanks to Hville for the picture.

Player stats
Team stats
Player and team stats from rivals.com

The Dawgs are much improved from last year. Dennis Felton has finally eradicated the stench left by Jim Harrick and his cheating staff. The win Wednesday at Arkansas was shocking... especially since the Hogs beat us like they stole something earlier in the month.

UGA has played well on the road... no beatdowns that I see. They played the Gators tough for 30 minutes in Gainesville before talent won out.

The stats:
- 49% FG
- 41% 3pt FG (yikes!)
- 65% FT (foul early and often)
- +7 rebound margin

Mercer, Stukes, and Brown are their scoring threats. Brown is their down low guy. We should (again) pound it inside early and often.
Their top rebounder is Sundiata Gaines at 5.5 per game. Being he's listed at 6'1" tells me he's a hustler.
Also, it looks like they play 9... possibly 10 guys. Maybe we'll play more than 7 tomorrow.

Prediction- We usually follow up a road clunker with a solid effort at home. No reason to think otherwise although UGA will be coming in with a ton of confidence. Alabama by 8 late.

Gametime is 1:30PM EST (12:30PM CST) on CBS (yeay... national coverage)

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Pathetic effort in Nashville... again

How we can look like ass against a pretty bad Vanderbilt team is mind-boggling. Oh wait... let's play a 2-3 zone and leave Vandy a bunch of open 3s. They won't hit them. UGH!

If you want to see the box score of this pimpslap click here.

Riley was the only bright spot in this game... the rest didn't show up (of the starters). Jemison put in some good minutes for another silver lining.

I'm tired of these half-assed showings on the road. If we can't out-talent them we lose... same old, same old year in and year out. At least that's consistent. Championship teams don't get embarrassed on the road by mediocre teams. We're not a championship team... heck we might be a bubble team if things don't change this year.

The good:
- Only outscored 40-36 in the 2nd half
- Riley kept us within 30.
- It wasn't on TV

The bad:
- Uh... 57% FG and 15-28 from beyond the arc for Vandy.
- Outhustled, outplayed, outcoached.
- Vandy put up 94 points

My outlook has changed on this season... losing as badly as we have on the road this year (at ND, Ark, and Vandy) tells me we're slightly above mediocre. Even with a healthy Steele we still lose this game by double digits. I don't know what to say.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Vanderbilt stats pack

Vandy Stats pack
For those that like mice type... here

The have some pretty bad home losses... vs App. State, Furman, and Georgetown (not the loss itself, just how bad it was). They did beat UT last week, but I suspect that was more of a fluke than what they are. UGA beat them down in their last game and they did lose to Auburn to open up the conference schedule (both on the road).

The hard stats:
- Scoring margin: +9.1
- Rebounding: -.2
- FG: 46%
- 3pt FG: 37%
- FT: 71% (thought that would be higher)

I haven't seen them play this year, but we all know if they sink their 3s we're in big trouble. Cage is their best 3pt shooter although Foster and Byars have no problem chucking them up as well. Heck, looking at the stats the three of them take roughly 50% of their shots from beyond the arc. Wow.

Neltner is their only "big" guy that gets real PT (6'9") so again... we should pound it inside early and often.

Prediction: This is the year to break that jinx in Nashville. Alabama by 12 led by another Hendrix double-double and a gritty effort from Steele.

No TV for this game. Gametime is 8PM EST (7PM CST) 1/17. Audio broadcast on yahoo.com amongst other places.

Monday, January 15, 2007

New Polls Out

We are #9 in the coaches and #10 in the AP poll. The Gators are the new #1. I picked the top 10 teams... just not in order. I like my poll better anyways.
Latest poll

Other links:
- Jerry Palm has us as a 7 seed in the San Jose bracket as of Jan 12th.
- Bracketology has us as a 5 seed in the Midwest. -
- College Hoops Net's Mock Draft has Steele at #20 and Davidson at #31. Also, their Power 50 has us at #11.

Just for fun... my guess at the new AP top 10

1) Florida
2) Wisconsin
3) UCLA
4) Kansas
5) North Carolina
6) Pittsburgh
7) Texas A&M
8) Ohio State
9) Alabama
10) Oregon

Side notes:
- Greg Oden is 34 years old.
- Arizona is still overrated. Ditto for Oklahoma State and Duke.
- West Virginia is making a liar out of me... a blowout loss to Marquette should push them out of the top 25. Related news... Marquette is better than I thought.
- South Carolina looks poised to 3-peat... in the NIT. Getting hammerred by UGA, UF, and Kansas in a 2 week span probably puts them in the Not Invited Tournament. There's time to change that, but I suspect the 'Cocks will be back in NYC to defend their crown. That's pretty freakin' sad.

Side side note- It's tragic what has happenned to the woman pictured on the right. Talk about going downhill fast.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Random college hoops notes

Look for us to revisit the top 10 next week as #10 Oklahoma State, #11 Duke, and #12 Butler lost last night (to Kansas, Ga Tech, and UIC).

SEC stuff:
#20 Tennessee lost at Vandy last night ending their 9 game winning streak. Kentucky killed Auburn, UGA pasted South Carolina, and M$U beat Ole Manning.

UConn lost at home to Marquette. All signs point to them being a bubble team. Who knew?

Wisconsin is better than I thought.They took care of Ohio State Tuesday night. I guess I need to take notice.

Records of our "name" non-conference opponents:
Xavier 11-4 (1-0)
Notre Dame 14-2 (2-1)
Oklahoma 9-5 (1-1)
NC State 10-6 (0-3)
Iowa 9-7 (1-1)

Eek... it looked good on paper, but our non-conference schedule wasn't exactly brutal. Of the 5 name schools only Notre Dame and Xavier look like NCAA tournament teams.

Interesting.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Late LSU Update

I got back from the game too late last night to post, but I agree that this generally was a sloppy game.

Perhaps the brightest spot was Bama's defense. Hendrix did a reasonably good job of keeping Davis in check. Davis is one of those marquee players whom my friend alcrtide suggests is protected by the officials. Like the Arkansas post men last week, Davis was allowed to shove Hendrix and Davidson out of positions underneath the basket and seemed to get almost every other rebound in the game. I was disappointed with Hendrix and Davidson's rebounding, but their numbers are not too bad given the way the game was played.

I believe the first-half Bama run was 18 to 2. I thought we were down 17 to 15 and scored 18 points before LSU got their second basket and began to cut into the lead.

The turnover numbers are not good, but LSU had more than we did until the last few minutes of the game. CMG teams seem to get rattled when they are pressured. My man Hollinger has trouble passing out of the double team and the players do not seem to recognize the press when it comes. They also sometimes look for the home run when they really just need to get the ball across midcourt. I am not sure where they should be spaced on the court in those situations, but the frequently do not look like they know what to do. I did see Riley run almost the full length of the court to give help on an inbouds play under the LSU basket, and even that inbound pass was almost intercepted. Bama needs some defensive packages like that.

While on the Hollinger subject, I think either Gee or Hendrix got credit for one of Brandon's rebounds. :-)

I thought our field goal percentage was lousy last night, perhaps due to the poor start (including Gee's going what seemed like 1 for 6 or 7 to start the game), but the numbers actually are pretty good - especially given the physical nature of the game and the fact that many of our layups and dunks were missed due to blocks (I can't belive LSU was credited with only three blocks!) and defensive pressure. We had trouble finishing on the fast break last night; LSU runs well and contested almost everything.

If Ron Steele is not going to be able to drive to the basket, we need to find a way to set screens to give him clean looks from outside the arc. I know CMG's offense can do that because we did it all the time for Earnest Shelton.

I wonder why we did not see Coleman or Torrence last night. I would have thought Yameen could have helped defend on Davis some. Tubbs played only one minute. I like Tubbs' defensive intensity and he will force opponents to defend him outside the arc which might open up some room for someone else.

All things considered, it was a good win. It probably looked as sloppy as it did primarily because LSU played good defense and the officials allowed all sorts of contact. I don't think the officials could hear me from my seat in the 29th row (I will be back in my regular seat next week), but I did not let their fairly even handed calling of the game keep me from complaining to them. They called a loose game, except for a few two minute spurts when they blew whistles for almost everything, but I wonder whether they do that from time to time just to keep things from getting out of hand. They also made one three-second call against each team. I had not seen a three second call in Coleman Coliseum that I could remember for about three years.

The crowd had a major impact in this game, especially the Marks Madness kids. Kudos to Marks Madness. I also like the fact that CMG is beginning to make situational substitutions. I might be stupid, but I don't think I've seen much of that out of him in previous seasons.

Roll Tide!

Let's hope Steele rests up and that we finally can get a win in Nashville. I like Vandy, but I am sick of losing to them. I hope CMG and the crew communicate that to the team.

Crimson Tide bounce back... beat LSU

... a real shuggish start, but Gee got hot late in the 1st half and Hendrix took over in the 2nd half to defeat LSU 71-61.
Box Score

Led by Hendrix's 18 points, Gee's 4-7 from beyond the arc, and a Davidson double-double (12/12) Alabama overcame a monster game by Glen Davis (24/17) to easily put away LSU. We were down early (13-6), but a 19-6 run (from memory... might be off by a few points) put the Crimson Tide up for good. The refs allowed physical play inside which was to our advantage.

The good:
- held LSU to 36% FG and 18% beyond the arc.
- forced LSU's guards to beat us and they couldn't.
- shot 47% FG and 56% beyond the arc.

The bad:
- rebounding and 2nd chance points. This is probably why LSU wasn't blown out of the building. Outrebounded 40-35, but 16 were offensive boards for LSU.
- a generally sloppy game (16 turnovers). Got to take care of the ball better.
- minute distribution... I guess CMG has settled on a 7 man rotation. This will continue to bother me.

Overall, this was a good way to rebound after a nightmare game in Fayetteville. Arkansas lost to the Gators in Gainesville last night so we're now we only trail Auburn in the SEC West. That'll last another day.

Monday, January 08, 2007

LSU stats pack

... unlike us, they come in with confidence after beating down UConn on Saturday.
Bengal Tigers stats pack

I think most of you know that LSU played a pretty brutal non conference schedule (at Washington and Texas, at home to UConn and Texas A&M... all probably seeded higher than 7 in the NCAA tournament). The loss at home to Wichita State wasn't looking so bad until recently... as the Shockers have dropped 4 of their last 5. Regardless, LSU is a very talented and road tested squad.

Hard stats:
- 8 players get 16MPG or more
- 47% FG, 37% 3pt FG, 72% from the line and a +7 rebound margin
- 13 turnovers a game. Not great, not terrible.

Other notes:
- Glen Davis (I refuse to use his nickname) was in a car wreck. He's a bit sore, but alright. Maybe Hendrix can exploit that soreness by bodying up on him.
- Terry Martin is a transfer from Texas Tech. I guess he didn't like playing for Bobby Knight. He's a tall guard that could give us trouble.
- Mitchell and Temple are the other guys to watch besides Davis. Read... let Tack Minor shoot 'til his arms are sore :)

Prediction:
I have a feeling CMG ripped the team a new one behind closed doors and we'll come out strong. If Davis is still sore and we contain Mitchell I believe we win by 15. I think we force the guards to beat us and they won't... Alabama by 15 led by Riley and Hendrix.

Gametime is 9PM EST (8PM CST) on ESPN2 on January 9th.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Pitiful Performance at the Porcine Palace

I wanted to turn this game off after the first four minutes. We were down by double digits without a single basket and Tom Lopes was the head official. I honestly expected to lose the game as soon as I heard that Lopes was the referee, but that is no excuse for Bama's poor performance. Besides, I promised Bobby I would post something after the game.

Bama played flat footed for about one-third of the game. Our TI Buddy Flash probably already has posted that Bama failed to demonstrate the mental toughness they needed to have a shot in this game, much less keep a game they could not win close. Flash would be right.

The Tide did not defend well and did not shoot well against one of its primary SEC opponents (M$U and LSU being the other two). Bama got out hustled, out coached and out "athleted." All of that, IMO, is due to lack of concentration and the failure of Davidson and Steele to provide the on-court leadership our younger players so desperately need if they are to succeed.

In Bama's defense, however, Lopes and Co. took them out of their game several times. In the beginning of the game they allowed Arkansas to get away with murder all over the court. Bama not only did not shoot uncontested shots. They did not shoot any unmolested shots. Admittedly the officials seemed to allow Bama similar indiscretions underneath the hoop, but Bama does not have the bodies required to play that sort of game for 40 minutes.

Every time Bama seemed poised to make a run, or at least to break get Arkansas out of their rhythm, the zebras called a fatuous charge against one of Bama's interior players. I am disgusted with the SEC officiating, but I am even more disappointed that Davidson, Riley and Gee did not play better or smarter.

Maybe Bobby will delete this post after he returns from his weekend trip. Right now, however, I am too disgusted to think of anything else good to say.

Let's hope CMG uses this as another educational tool. We still have several big SEC games on the road, and Florida will eat us alive on national television if our kids play like this. Steele needs to get well. Davidson, Riley, Gee and Tubbs need to learn how to make their shots (even when they are being bumped while shooting without the benefit of a whistle). All of our kids need to learn to play mentally tough, especially in a hostile environment with unfriendly officials. If they are going to lose, they at least need to play harder while losing.

Please show up Tuesday if you have a ticket. Our kids could stand to enjoy a friendly crowd against a big LSU team.

Now please excuse me. I think I'm going to get sick a few more times.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Razorbacks stats pack

Not from my usual source, but it'll work: Arkansas stats pack

11-3 on the surface looks good until you look at their losses. A blowout at Missouri, a thumping by Texas Tech in Little Rock, and a game they let get away at Texas. Their biggest win so far is over West Vriginia in some Orlando tournament finals (which is looking better every day).

I've seen enough of their games to give a reasonable analysis... they're a big team that relies on their guards. This one's a head scratcher... why would you rely on your guards so much with all the size and athleticism on that team. Beats me. Anyways, Beverly has played well at times (statistically their best shooter), Thomas is their most dependable inside guy, and Ervin somehow gets a lot of PT (that's the best I can say about him). Don't forget about Mango Salsa (Hill) as he's a big time defender and shot blocker/alterer, Townes and Hunter are both athletic big guys (6'10") that are up and down, and Weems who IMO is the best guard they've got spotting up from outside.

The cold stats:
- 47% from the field
- 37% from beyond the arc
- rebound margin of 4.3
- FT at 71%

It's going to be a tough game to win. They're one of the few teams we'll play that outsize us so we're really going to need Steele, Gee, and Riley to step up big time.

Prediction: ugh... Hogs by 3. I think home cooking will be the difference. I really hope I'm wrong.

Gametime is 2PM EST (1PM CST) on Lincoln Financial Network (old JP Sports).

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Why I Love College Basketball - Lesson No. 12

I absolutely love games like Notre Dame's wins at home over Bama and Louisville!

The fact that a team like Notre Dame can win games at home over competition like that gives almost every college game the opportunity to be an exciting contest to watch and to produce sheer joy for the fans who emotionally invest themselves without reservation in their home team. We at Bama have enjoyed many similar moments, one of my most recent favorites being the win against Florida that won Bama the SEC regular season championship. I usually leave as soon as the game is over because I have to drive so far each way. But that day (and after the Ohio State game at about the same time) I hung around Coleman Coliseum for an extra 20 minutes or so just to soak in the atmosphere.

My wife and I traveled to London this past week where the three big sports being discussed were soccer, cricket and darts. (Yes, I said "darts"!) I don't understand cricket at all and don't even know how the score is kept, but any time a guy throwing a ball is called a "bowler" then you have lost me. Soccer would be more exciting if they could find a way to score some more, but to me it's about like ice hockey sans the bench clearing fist fights. I can see that it requires tremendous athleticism and skill, but I don't understand it well enough to enjoy it.

A traveling companion called his father to find out whether we'd won the bowl game. I had to get back to the Atlanta airport to call my daughter to learn the score of the Oklahoma game. I annoyed all my traveling companions because I started talking about basketball two days before we even headed home.

I ate one meal with an older married couple that had spent about $500 Pounds (about $1,000 U.S. Dollars) to travel to London to see their Chelsea team play; and they played poorly. They lost their match by a score of 1 to 0, and their coach said, "You can't expect to win if you can't play defense." The fan I met complained that some of these men earn $160,000 per week and they don't even try to play defense. Maybe they need to find a way to score at least one goal per game to win some?

We had a drink in the hotel pub where all the buzz was about the World Dart Throwing Championship match which was being broadcast live on no fewer than 3 big screen televisions in the room. As Weber, the British favorite, failed to take advantage of a brief lead he had over his some Dutch upstart by missing one of those tiny slits on a dart board by a little more than the width of the white part of my finger nails, the local guy at the table next to me said in disgust, "He never can hit the sixteen! He loses more matches that way." For some crazy reason the Brits did show all kinds of NBA hi lites but never bothered to tell me the Bama-OU score.

I finally got to watch my recording of the game. I thought we would be in for a dog fight when I thought I spotted Rod Barnes on the OU bench about 90 seconds into the game. I paused the video to find OU's website. Sure enough, that guy really was Rod Barnes. I thought we'd be lucky to score 35 points!

Oklahoma had trouble scoring and they could not get their threes to drop, but Bama played pretty well against a very physical Rod Barnes style defense. When OU took away Gee's drive and JD's inside game by denying him the ball and Riley failed to hit a three, I was glad I'd known the final score before I watched the rest of the game. But this team and this staff seem to keep finding ways to win when our primary plays and players don't quit work.

Riley missed all of his three point shots in the first half (I think I counted three). But he had five rebounds in the first ten minutes and found ways to drive to the basket to score. JD could not score down low because of the physical nature of the game the officials allowed. So in the second half he hit his outside shot and a couple of those hooks he's worked on for three years now.

Hendrix had less trouble rebounding than Davidson, but the officials let OU push them around and go over their backs. So their teammates took up the slack. I have not studied the box score, but this looked like a solid team win to me. We get into trouble if we don't rebound well and score some fast break baskets, but they always find a way to win.

I don't think JD's lack of production had as much to do with his emotional state as it did the physical nature of the game. But Ron Steele obviously is not healthy and we still are not as good a team without him on the floor. (Where is Torrence?) But I do like Tubbs defense and Gee, Tubbs and Hollinger all seem to be finding their range.

I still think this will be a fun year and expect us to make a deep run. I think we will continue to get better as they year progresses. Isn't that what we want?

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

A little perspective on our season thus far....

We are 13-1, with wins over Iowa, Xavier, Oklahoma and a tourney win (Paradise Shootout).

We have 3-4 potential NBA players, which is a huge step from where we were when CMG signed the true foundation of the future (Dudley, Meade, Grizzard, Walker).

We have a tourney MVP (Paradise Shootout) and the best athlete since Gerald Wallace in Alonzo Gee.

We are the only SEC team with less than two losses. I repeat, the ONLY team.

Heading into SEC play, only UK has a better RPI after our win against OU.

Even after the ND loss, we have remained inside the Top 15 and are now sitting in 8th. So essentially, we have been a Top 10 team throughout the preseason.

With all this in mind, if I had read all of these stats off to you at the beginning of the season, I guarantee that 95% would have jumped on it in a second.

Why, then, is there so many people still complaining about one freaking loss to ND? Get over it. The days of the '76 Hoosiers is over. The team that wins the NC this year will have some losses that will be due to less than stellar performances. Look at Florida. They were 17-0 last season and then went 7-6 in their last 13 regular season conference games before their last loss, at Bama no less, propelled them to sweep the SEC Tourney and the NCAA Tourney. On paper, Alabama really is a team that can do something this year, especially with a healthy Ron Steele. After the ND loss, we have shown improvement and will continue to improve...

As the famous quote in the movie Stripes: "Lighten up, Francis."

Bracketology from ESPN

Joe has us as a 2 seed in the West

Having us as a 2 seed in the West is strange... I'd figure we'd be a 2 in Lexington. Also, I'm not sure what the fascination is with Duke and Arizona this year... both are overrated if you ask me.

Random thoughts:

- Indiana is better than I thought. They took it to Ohio State and came up just short. Their 4 losses have come to Kentucky, Duke, and Ohio State on the road and Butler in Indy. Every one of them were close games.

- We'll find out what UConn is made of this weekend at LSU. IMO this is the weakest Huskie squad Calhoun has had in years.

- I'm still cold on Wisconsin. They might change my mind next week at Ohio State.

- West Virginia is also better than I thought. I thought replacing Gandy and Pittsnogle equalled a rebuilding year. Right now they're 11-1 with a win over UConn (and a now head scratching loss to Arkansas in the Orlando tournament... can't remember the name of it). They might end up being the 2nd or 3rd best team in the Big East.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Tide rolls to easy 70-55 win over the Sooners

This game was never in question as we dominated from start to finish.
Box score

The good:
- Held OU to 37% FG and 24% 3pt FG.
- The lead was always comfortable... can't remember anything less than 7 the 2nd half.
- Shot 46% FG, 36% from beyond the arc, and hit 22-24 FTs

The bad:
- Out rebounded by a smaller team 33-30. Not that much of a big deal since we held them to 37% from the field, but we really should've cleaned the boards.
- Shot selection. That was partially due to OU's D, but still... there were some really head scratching shots taken.
- Minute distribution. I'm going to beat this like a dead horse, but in a game that was never in doubt we need to get the bench more involved. BTW- someone put out an APB on Mikhail Torrance.

Steele is clearly not 100%... I doubt he's better than 75% as he can't drive the lane. We REALLY need him to get healthy. It won't happen against Arkansas, but at least we don't have to worry about them pressuring the ball.

Last thing... not to nitpick at Mark's Madness (the student group that cheers the team on), but the "airball, airball, airball, YOU SUCK!" chant well... sucks. Otherwise, I think they're a great asset to the team and the atmosphere at Coleman Coliseum. It's good to see a section of the student body pumped about Alabama basketball.

Oklahoma stats pack

Jeff Capel took over for Kelvin Sampson (who left for Indiana). It's a name team, but they're not all that good. Former Ole Miss coach Rod Barnes is an assistant at OU.
Sooners stats pack

Longar Longar will probably give Davidson fits inside so we're really going to need others to step up (Hendrix down low and Gee/Steele around the rim). LL leads the team in points per game, blocked shots, and rebounds. This is one of the few times I'll be happy to see JD take someone outside.

Taylor Griffin is their other inside guy. He supposedly has a 38" vertical so I'm guessing Gee gets to man up on him.

Tony Crocker might give Steele fits as he's a good defender (and at 6'5" might be able to alter shots). I assume he'll get the task of covering Steele as their PG (Austin Johnson) covers Riley.

The stats:
- 48% FG, 33% 3pt FG, 68% FT, and rebound margin of 38-30.
- Johnson and Godbold are the guys to watch from the perimeter (40% and 36% from 3).
- They play 8 regularly... 10 that average 12 MPG (make that 9 as Keith Clark is out for the season with a knee injury).
- Had their 49 game non-conference home winning streak snapped by Villanova. Nova isn't all that good despite their 10-2 record (inflated by beating bad teams).

This is the first road game for the Sooners... and I don't think they have enough to beat us or keep it close. Prediction: Alabama by 17 led by Gee and Steele.

Game is 2:30PM EST (1:30CST) on ESPN (no listing for HD... that sucks). I'm expecting a good showing... hopefully there's a good crowd to witness it.