Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Rebel Stats Pack

Stats pack

Obviously this is a must win for both teams... albeit slim NCAA tournament hopes. Ole Miss is much more balanced than I thought... 4 averaging double digits in points.

The stats:
- 45% FG, 36% 3PT FG, 70% FT
- Rebound margin of +.5
- Still a small team (like that was going to change from the last time we played)
- A little over 11 turnovers a game

Contain Doyne and Sanders from the outside and not allow Abernathy to penetrate and we should be ok. Arkansas blasted them a couple of weeks ago and we could do the same if the team shows up. If there was a time for this team to play an "A" game it would be on senior night.

Prediction- We'll be tied for 1st place in the West... Alabama 74 Ole Miss 70.

Why Bother? Tough Love!

Okay, I'll admit it.

If I were a student or if I lived within an hours drive of Coleman Coliseum, I would be there to support the team and to express my appreciation to Jermario Davidson on Senior Night. I'm not, I don't, and I won't; but probably not for the reasons you might expect.

CMG frequently reminds us fans how important our attendance and support are to the players on the team. I try to support them by showing up every chace I get. Refusing to show up tonight, therefore, seems to be the best way to communicate my dissatisfaction with what CMG has done (or not done?) with and to this team this year.

I don't want to hurt the players. I don't want to hurt the team. I don't want to hurt CMG. What I do want is for CMG to come to his senses, realize just how badly he has mismanaged this team this year (and pretty much for five of the last seven years), call someone who knows more about how to lead a basketball team and program than I do, and get some help. Next year will be too late, in my opinion. It's already too late to really salvage this season. Even if they get invited to the NCAA Tournament and make a run to the Sweet Sixteen or Elite Eight, this season has been a disaster!

I don't want to harm anyone. But I want CMG to know that I will not accept this sort of performance and I don't think any of our other real fans will either. This is my last chance to express myself to him in any sort of language that he speaks. I will boycott tonight's game which I deem relatively meaningless in the over-all scheme of things.

I have not made up my mind whether I will listen to or watch any tournament games we might play. I tired of that emotional roller coaster.

College basketball is an intensely emotional game for both the players and the fans. CMG has disappointed me too often for me to expose my feelings to the the risks associated with his decisons and performance. It's almost like having a family member who is addicted to drugs. I love CMG, this team and our program, I want them to succeede, but I cannot do anything to help them until CMG decides to help himself.

In parenting classes I think they call that "tough love."

Monday, February 26, 2007

Random college basketball thoughts

1) Michigan State had a big week... beating Wisconsin and Indiana to lock up a tournament slot. BTW- On College Gameday, Tom Izzo sank 10 free throws in a row. Find me a college player that can do that!

2) My childhood favorite team got stomped vs Duke. The most disturbing part of the game was hearing the cheers for Duke at MSG. I remember as a kid going to the Garden to see St John's vs Georgetown (with Ewing). It was an electric atmosphere. Basketball has fallen off the radar for the Red men (I still can't accept the name change to the Red Storm).

3) Speaking of Georgetown... to quote the greatessst possster on tiderinsider, "They're on FIre!" The Hoyas beat Pittsburgh to take over the top spot in the Big East. Remember they were the only team in the tourney last year to challenge Florida. Me thinks they're an Elite 8 squad (and possibly more).

4) North Carolina continues to lose games they shouldn't... this time to a mediocre Maryland squad. AS of now they're a 2 seed, but I wouldn't be shocked if they fall another slot to 3.

5) The SEC West sucks... top to bottom.

6) Oklahoma State is free falling like us... and a possible opponent in the Not Invited Tournament. Texas Tech is hanging around, but will probably sweat Selection Sunday (I think they're a 11 seed).

7) I don't care what the RPI says, the PAC-10 is the best conference in the country.

8) Louisville and Syracuse are making late runs to the tourney. Louisville is in for sure while the Orange(men) could use one more big win (against Georgetown would clinch it).

9) The NIT is going to have a bunch of name teams this season. LSU, Oklahoma St, Oklahoma, probably Alabama, Washington, maybe Arizona... what a wacky season this has turned out to be.

10) Finally... from the failed former NBA coaches log: Tim Floyd and Lon Krueger are doing masterful jobs at their schools (USC and UNLV). I know we'll never see the Tark Rebels, but it would be nice to see them make it back to some prominence (sp?).

Sunday, February 25, 2007

API Apathy

The one good thing I noticed at yesterday's blowout by API of the Alabama home team was that the student section was almost completely filled for the first time since the LSU game when Nick Saban was introduced. It's a good thing the students showed up because the coach and several members of the team did not.

Because the coach has not cared all season, just enough of Alabama's players didn't care yesterday whether we got blown out by API at home for it to happen. And that's just fine with me now, because as of this point I don't give a darn about this coach either. If the coach had cared, all our players would have given full effort and would know how to play the game.

Ron Steele remains excused from any criticism. He has done whatever he could, whether healthy or ill, to help his team. His talent, heart and commitment will remain beyond question. But two of the most important cogs on this team failed to show up yet again yesterday afternoon. Unfortunately for our program that says more about our coach and the status of our program than it does about the two young men in question.

I am beyond disappointment at this point. I am even beyond disgust. I am not quite to contempt, but I will not withhold that reaction for more than one more season. Everything that went wrong yesterday lies clearly at the feet of the same coach who did such an excellent job last year. Then again, last year he had a healthy Ron Steele who plays well in spite of his coach's shortcomings, so perhaps it is Ron Steele who did an excellent job last season.

But for the two above-mentioned players, the team has given consistent and improved effort ever since the first blowout at API. (They put up a freaking curtain to keep their lack of attendance from being so noticeable, for heavens sake!) The problem is that they simply do not know how to play defense.

No one has taught them the fundamentals of the game of basketball and they especially have not been taught the mechanics, philosophy or importance of defense. While I'm on mechanics, we need to scrap that High-post offense and go to one where the players are taught to run toward the passes they receive because all our defenders to that and beat us to them.

CMG has not taught these kids how to play basketball. He has not emphasized to them how important consistent effort is. He has not developed a team concept within these players. He has not exerted control (ala the bench) when they have refused to play fundamentally sound and with full effort. He has not taken full advantage of his opportunities to develop the younger players to have them ready when the veterans were unable to participate. (Why was Torrence on the bench all season before he hurt his hand? Why did it take forever to get Tubbs on the court? Where is Coleman? He at least could have let an elbow or two fly yesterday when the zebras were letting API maul our players in the first half.)

I could type for hours about what is wrong with this team and our program right now, and I probably don't know nearly as much of most of our other real basketball fans. I shudder to think what our former players and fans who actually have coached the game might be able to add to my paltry observations. But here is the point.

If CMG does not care enough about our team, our program and our players to have them ready, both in terms of having instilled the necessary skills into them and emotionally ready to play two of our biggest rivals AT HOME, then I am not going to participate either.

I will buy my tickets for next year but I will not drive to or watch a single game unless CMG makes some kind of staff changes. If he does not hire someone who can and will teach these kids how to play basketball, then I will not attend the games and I will boycott all the programs sponsors. (I'm really going to miss that Mayfield Ice cream!)

I have talked to no fewer than a dozen real Bama Basketball fans and every one of them has at least as dismal an assessment of this team and our coach's performance as I do. Not many of them are willing to vote with their feet like I am. But I have given 35 years of love and support to this program and I will not participate any further in its being run into the ground.

I would encourage every Bama Basketball fan to send a letter to Mal Moore with copies to Wendell Hudson and to CMG. Tell them what you really think and how you really feel. Let them know this type of mediocrity will not be accepted.

As I said in my open letter to CMG a few weeks ago, we all know where the Bama Basketball buck stops. He is accountable and responsible for everything that goes well and that goes wrong with our program. I believe he needs to look in the mirror and ask himself what he has done wrong with this team and with these players. I also think Mal Moore and Wendell Hudson need to insist that he do that if he does not come up with the idea on his own.

I still agree with all the favorable things I said about CMG in my open letter a few weeks ago. He gets credit for all those things and they are very valuable to our program, players and university. But if he teaches our kids to accept mediocrity and to sleep walk through life, he will be doing them a disservice. Among other things, he was hired to teach our kids how to play fundamentally sound, winning basketball. It is obvious he is not capable of doing that. As coach Bryant used to say, he needs to hire the people who know how to do what he does not know. That's called sound management and effective leadership. Then he needs to let them do their jobs and be accountable for the results.

The results this year were unacceptable. If our team is equally fundamentally flawed and under motivated next year, then the head coach needs to be fired. For this season, the head coach needs to replace the assistants who did not do their job with some who will next season.

I will be back when our program is.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

PATHETIC! Auburn whoops Alabama in T-town

Out-coached, out-played, out-willed... that's the story of this game (and truth be told most of the season).
Here's the box score of that pathetic game if you like pain.

The good:
- The Crimson Cabaret.
- Hendrix... when we got him the ball.

The bad:
- We looked lost on offense.
- Auburn practiced layup drills all game.
- Transition defense.
- Coaching... our kids did not look ready to play.

Get your tickets in advance to the NIT where we'll be matched up with South Alabama in the first round... in Mobile.

Sadly, we're still only a game out of the SEC West lead. Beating Ole Miss and MSU would put us at 8-8 and clinch a tie, but let's be honest... there's a 2% chance of that happenning.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Auburn stats pack II

War Eagle stats pack

I'll keep this short and sweet... their one road conference win was at South Carolina. I'd be shocked (mortified) if they stay within 10 of us. They are coming off a win over a soon to be NIT bound Razorback team so they should have some confidence. Hopefully that lasts about 5 minutes into the game.

Prediction: Alabama by 15. We need to blow someone out and it might as well be the Barn.

Gametime- 5PM EST (4PM CST) on FSN.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Another tough road loss... Tide falls 69-66 in OT


To quote the great band Tesla... "It's getting better every day." This in reference to playing much tougher on the road.
Box score

I'm going to start with some positives... the bench played great! I mean absoultely awesome. I've been begging to see Torrance on the court and yesterday he didn't disappoint. Kudos to Coleman, Jemison, Riley (who kept us in the game in the 1st half), and Tubbs as well. Great job as they brought us back starting at the 14 minute mark of the 2nd half.

Also, Davidson owned the boards. He was quiet offensively, but he rebounded well and played decent D. He still needs to beat his guy down the court in transition, but overall a good effort.

The good:
- CMG's use of the bench. Subbing the bench for all the starters in the 2nd half changed the game. Hopefully it made a point.
- Torrance at the point. I think we're ok there with him.
- Hendrix played good D despite having an off-night offensively.
- Defensive job on Lofton. I thought Hollinger played him well in the first half.

The bad:
- The other point guards were dreadful against UT pressure D. Almost a turnover a minute in the first half. I was amazed that we were only down by 4 at the half. BTW was Steele hurt or did CMG decide not to play him most of the 2nd half? I didn't hear either way. EDIT- Steele was too hurt to play.
- Gee. Man does he look lost out there. He might be seeing more of the bench.
- Unable to feed the post. That was due to turning the ball over and not getting into the offense.
- Not fouling with under 10 seconds to go in OT down by 1. Did our guys not know what to do? I was screaming at my TV. Couldn't we have a better shot with 1.6 seconds left (instead of the 3/4 court heave)? Maybe that's something that should've been talked about in the last TO.

I'm not going to say we should've won this game. A team that turns the ball over 26 times should not win. Saying that, we let another one slip away on the road. This was a disappointing loss, but I saw a lot of positive things about it. Let's see if some of those things carry on throughout the rest of the season. What I saw yesterday (sans the turnovers) was a team that can legitimately win the SECT.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Volunteers stats pack

I'm sorry... this picture never gets old to me. I'm sure they're good people.

Please guard Lofton from outside. I'm begging the team for this.
Vols stats pack

Let's start with Lofton... 49% FG and 43% from 3 point land. Ewwww. Somehow, someway we need to get a hand in his face. I'm guessing Gee gets the job of covering him.... Riley is also a possibility. Between the 2 of them I hope we can hold him to under 20. We shall see about that. Next is Chism. He's only averaging 9PPG, but lately he's become more of an inside presence (see Kentucky game). I think Hendrix can take care of him. Lastly, the Smiths (JuJuan and Ramar)... containment by Steele/Hollinger/Gee would be nice. If anything I'd let them try to beat us.

The stats:
- .450 FG, .366 3PT FG, 66% FT (inflated by Lofton and JuJuan Smith)
- Rebound margin of -1.2
- 15 turnovers a game

Hendrix should have his way inside and if Davidson can do the same I have a good feeling about this game. Steele seems to be coming around and I like the bench play of Riley, Jemison, and Tubbs. Maybe we'll see some of Coleman (DNP last game, but logged about 15 minutes the game before... huh). Tennessee is coming off a beatdown at South Carolina so I'm thinking they might be angry. It's in Knoxville so it'll be a tough task to squeak out a win.

Prediction- both teams need this game... UT for their NCAA hopes and us to solidify them. I'm going with the team wanting to solidify an NCAA berth. Alabama 81-78 as I down a case of premium Red Dog beer.

Gametime is 8PM EST (7CST) on LFN. If you can't see it go here and click on the video link to watch it on your PC.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Update on ex-Bama players

It's been a while since I posted, so hopefully, this will make up for it....

Turk Telekom faced Panionios for the fourth time this year in Fiba EuroCup competition and Tuesday's game was no different than the first three, another tough and close game full played with full intensity. Both sides stayed in the game till the last second but Turk Telekom managed to grab the third straight victory over Panionios. Despite creating an 8 points deficit in the last minutes Turk Telekom paid for missing the free throws and a 7-0 Panionios run cut the lead to one. Ercument Sunter immediately called a time out to prevent a possible loss only six seconds remaining and the Ankara side sealed the deal without letting the visitors send them to the line. Telekom big men Erwin Dudley and Derrick Alston totally added 32 points and 10 boards as Jan-Henridk Jagla and Tutku Acik scored in double figures. On the other hand Kennedy Winston nailed a game high 20 points and also added 6 steals while Andre Hutson hit 16. Turk Telekom clinched a place in the quarter finals and if they beat Lokomotiv Rostov in Ankara next week for the leadership, Panionios will only have to defeat Charleroi to get the second ticket for the quarter finals.

Here is an update on ex-Bama players and some other players that have generated interest on this board in the past.

Akini Adkins (Florida A&M-MEAC) is averaging 16.4mpg, 4.2ppg, 3.2rpg, and .8apg.
Demetrius Alexander thru 22 games is averaging 11.6ppg, 6.3rpg, and 2.5apg for Caja San Fernando Sevilla in the Spanish ACB League which is the premier league in Spain.
Michael Ansley thru 19 games is averaging 11.2ppg, 4.7rpg, and 2.4apg for Stal Ostrow Wielkopolski for the Dominet Basket Liga in Poland.
David Benoit is still on the Saitama Broncos of the Japanese BJ League. His stats were not available, but he is struggling thru an Achilles injury from last season.
LaKory Daniels (David Lipscomb) is averaging 14.7mpg, 3.4ppg, 1.3rpg, and 1.2apg.
Chuck Davis thru 15 games is averaging 18.8ppg (good for 2nd in the league) and 8.9rpg for Casa TED Kolejliler Ankara of the Turkish D-1 League.
Erwin Dudley thru 18 games is averaging 16.0ppg (good for 8th in the league) and 8.3rpg for Turk Telekom of the Turkish D-1 League.
Rod Grizzard is playing for Atomeromu of the Hungarian A-Division (no stats available).
Justin Jonus (Troy State) has played in only about 2/3 of the games this season since transferring in, but is averaging 19.6mpg, 9.1ppg, 2.6rpg, and 1.0apg.
Terrance "Doc" Martin is in his second year as a member of the basketball operations staff for the National Basketball Development League, his first as manager of basketball operations.
M.C. Mazique thru 8 games is averaging 12.4ppg and 6.8rpg for KK Zagreb of the Croatian A1 League.
Glenn Miles (Bevill State-Sumiton CC) is averaging 11.3ppg, 5.4rpg, and 1.9apg.
Cedric Patton is playing for Quimsa Santiago Del Estero (ARG-LIGAA).
Ernest Shelton thru 14 games is averaging 15.1ppg (good for 3rd in the league) for Apollon Limassol in the Cypress A1 League.
Shawn Taylor (Fresno State) is averaging 9.8mpg, 2.4ppg, 2.0rpg, and 1.0bpg.
Emmett Thomas is currently playing for DJK Nord Regensburg in the German Regionalliga-2 League.
Kenny Walker thru 19 games is averaging 9.6ppg and 7.1rpg for Tekelspor of the Polonia SPEC Warszawa for the Dominet Basket Liga in Poland.
Eric Washington is currently playing for Pyrinto Tampere of the Korisliiga in Finland.
Albert Weber went undrafted last year after declaring from Connors State JC. He has yet to be picked up by any team.
Brian Williams is currently playing for Qatar Club of the Qatari-D1 League.
Lucky Williams recently wrapped up his college career at UNA. He is still in the Masters of Business Administration program at UNA.
Kennedy Winston is currently playing for Panionios Forthnet Athens in the Greek-A1 League.

Various college basketball links

ESPN's Bracketology now has us as a 9 vs Creighton.
College RPI doesn't have us in, but this is from 2/16.
CBS Sportsline and one of our favorites Gary Parrish has us as a 10.
Collegehoopsnet.com hasn't been updated in a week.

ESPN Bubble Watch- Interesting how many "name" teams are on the bubble.

Enjoy

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Kat Kickin'

Neither team played particularly well. I suppose neither team could be categorized as much more than pretty good at this point. The good news for Bama fans is that the Tide continues to show improved effort of the defensive end of the court. The better news is that the Tide coach is exhibiting a continuing willingness to bench the players who don't play hard on defense.

The best news for Bama is that Ronald Steele looks like he is almost back. He defended better, penetrated, scored, dished, and did not turn the ball over. The next best news is that Bama enjoyed balanced scoring. Everyone who played scored. Hendrix came up big, especially early in the game. He also exhibited much quicker feet on defense than I have noticed before. Tubbs hit two crucial three point baskets when the game was on the line. Little Man Hollinger had two rebounds (the official scorer gave him only one but that guys eyes must have been as the idiot zebra under the Kentucky basket in the second half), hit all but one of his clutch free throws, drove effectively toward the basket, and committed no turnovers. Sadly Hollinger's playing time will diminish as Tubbs' increases, but he is a team player and will do what is best for his team.

Davidson, he could not find the basket but his defense underneath the basket was much better today. He still had troubles getting back in transition, but CMG introduced him to Mr. Pine several times to reinforce the lessons taught in recent weeks. JD could come up huge down the stretch if he learns from this discipline and does not sulk. Bama will survive next year, but for JD's sake I hope he "gets" it and quick. It could mean millions of dollars for the Davidson coffers just a few months from now.

Riley was our leading scorer for most, if not all, of the first half. His defense was a bit better. But all our guards looked better today because Kentucky could not buy an outside shot for the first 12 to 15 minutes of the game.

Gee was a real disappointment. When he does pass he ball into the paint, he is more likely to earn a turnover than an assist. But he probably did not make anything other than an outlet or escape pass all day. His shot was off, he could not drive on his man, and he played porous defense much of the day. Sure, Gee and Riley both had big steals during the game, but Hendrix probably grabbed as many balls back from the Kats under the basket as those two combined.

I am concerned for Gee. CMG had to sit him early and often for refusing to play defense. On one occasion CMG pulled him about a minute after having put him back in. CMG tried to talk to him as he came off the court, but Gee just walked to his place on the bench and sat down. I hope he is not developing a Grizzardesque attitude. That could be disasterous for him. It would be even more disasterous for CMG if he tolerates it. I hope I am overreacting and things are not as bad as they seemed at the time. Maybe a video of the game would change my mind but I forgot to turn on my recorder.

It's always good to beat Kentucky. I don't know how much longer they will tolerate their coach. Tubby Smith is an excellent motivator and floor general. I hear the UK fans are upset with the kids he recruits. If Rod Barnes and T.R. Dunn are not available, maybe David Hobbs would come back and be Bama's defensive coach again.

The end of the season still is a mystery. I really hope the fans, Wendell Hudson and Mal Moore remember that this is the seventh or eighth straight year that CMG has put us through this midseason meltdown before apparently turning things around. We could and should have been a third or fourth seed in the Big Dance this year instead of a bubble team if CMG had used his bench and preached defense all season long.

This was a fun win but I hope Mal Moore noticed all the empty seats. Why was the student section not filled when UK came to visit? I don't know, but I suspect it's because the students never know whether their team is going to lay an egg. They should have showed up this afternoon. I rather wish I had not showed up when the Pigs were here.

One great thing about college basketball is that you always can finish strong and sometimes you can finish strong enough to make a splash. I hope we do both. But I don't intend to forget that the splash just washed the egg that remained on our faces after the disasters at Notre Dame, Arkansas and API.

Tide stomp Cats 72-61

Kentucky never had the lead in the game although they did cut it to 2 a couple of times in the second half.Box Score

Let's be honest... neither team played well. Kentucky played worster than us. Our defensive effort the entire game was good as Kentucky never got in rhythm on offense.

The good:
- Tubbs... he really needs to see the court more.
- 17 UK turnovers. Nice.
- Hendrix... yet again. I'll stop mentioning him as he's a regular on 'the good'
- PG play. One 2 turnovers between Steele and Hollinger.
- Steele. He found his shot today and looked close to his former self.

The bad:
- Transition defense. Ugh... why are we constantly getting beat down the court.
- Davidson and Gee. Both couldn't find the basket.

All in all a good win over a ranked team (our first this season BTW). Let's hope we parlay this win into another win in Knoxville on Wednesday.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Kentucky stats pack

Tubby Smith leads his 'Cats into T-town for a pivotal match up between 2 aspiring NCAA tournament teams. Kentucky is probably in already, but could wind up 9-7 in conference when it's all said and done.

We all know Kentucky will probably press us as we seem to have a hard time with that... let's hope this was worked on in practice (and I can't imagine it not since Ole Miss and Florida killed us with it). We also know Crawford and Bradley are going to sit beyond the arc and do their best to burn us from downtown. Maybe both of them are off their game tomorrow.

As for us, we need to continue to feed it inside to Hendrix, hope Steele hits from outside, and Davidson pulls a repeat performance of dominating the Wildcats like he did last year. It would be great to see Gee dribble penetrate as that can open up Hollinger and Riley from outside.

The stats:
- 48% FG, 36% 3PT FG, 69% FT
- Rebound margin of +3.7 (I thought it would be more than that)
- Almost 15 turnovers a game

Morris is going to push his way around inside... hopefully he's called for it and rides the bench. Meeks has been coming on strong and as noted, Crawford and Bradley are their sharpshooters. Lately, Kentucky has been playing 9 over 10 minutes, but overall this isn't a deep bench. On paper we match up well with them, but as noted in the opening sentence their pressure D is probably going to cause havoc.

Prediction- man WE REALLY NEED THIS ONE. A loss here probably put the kibosh on any hopes of playing in the big dance. Alabama late 75-73.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

28 minutes of hell... then 12 minutes of 'uh oh'

A good effort for most of the game, but again we wilt away in the end to the mighty Gators.
Box Score

I know many are going to say we played well and the better team won... blah blah blah, but I'm going to take a different route. We should've won this game. Really, we should have won this game. The first half was everything I've been waiting to see from this team all year. Everything clicked and Florida was waaaay off their game in the first half. Hendrix got started early and Gee was dribble penetrating like I haven't seen from him since the trip to St Thomas.

The second half... well... not so good. Florida picked up the full court pressure which led to turnovers and ill-advised shots. I credit the Gators with some of that as they are the #1 team in the country, but still... some of the shots taken in the 2nd half were things I'd try in the schoolyard. Despite the defensive intensity by Florida in the 2nd half, they still never got in rhythm on offense. Honestly, I think that was the worst I've seen the Gators play since their loss to FSU earlier in the year. Humphrey was off... missing open 3s and Noah for the most part was contained.

Oh yeah... I normally don't have issues with officiating, but yesterday I thought the refs were pro-Gators. We were getting mugged inside while Florida seemed to get some of the tick tack fouls called in their favor. Noah must've went over the back at least 3 times without being called for it.

The good:
- Hendrix down low (again). This guy is the team MVP.
- Defensive presence... at least for the first 32 minutes.
- Gee taking it to the hole.

The bad:
- Disappearing O. We went scoreless for almost 4 minutes at the end of the game.
- Rebounding- Florida cleaned the boards.
- Not taking care of the ball. 7 steals... ugh.

I don't mean to "poo-poo" on the game, but moral victories doesn't impress the NCAA committee. Texas Tech won at A&M, Va Tech won at UNC, and Louisville won at Pittsburgh this week. We had the chance to do the same and let it slip away. Like I said earlier, we got the Gators on their off-night... we should've taken advantage.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Gators stats pack

An apology to the millions and millions of readers... my workload kept me swamped the past 2 days.
Florida stats pack

I just hope it doesn't turn ugly. For some reason I think this game is closer than what the experts think. We need to make sure Humphrey doesn't kill us from three point land.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Bracketology links for your viewing pleasure

Bracketology- updated 2/11
College RPI bracket- From 2/9
CBS Sportsline bracket- not sure when this was updated
Collegehoopsnet bracket- updated 2/12

My guess is after this week none of these brackets will include Alabama.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Rebels too much for Tide down the stretch

A good effort, but still it's another road loss.
Box Score

I thought the effort was there for most of the game. Gottfried even benched most of the starters early for their lack of defensive intensity and it paid dividends. I think we had a 64-57 lead with 5 minutes to go... then Ole Miss ended the game with a 18-5 run. We wilted down the stretch from their ful court D.

The good:
- CMG's intensity. It was good to see.
- Hendrix. What would we be without him?
- Only 10 TOs... although a bunch of them came late when it counted.

The bad:
- Guard play was pretty bad.
- Davidson was non-exitent for most of the game.
- Another 39 minutes for Steele and 5 to 4 assist to TO.
- Outrebounded by a smaller squad 29-27.

While the effort was much better on the road than we're used to, I think we let this one slip away and now we're officially on the bubble with games at Florida (shudder) and Kentucky coming up next week. Next week is probably our last time in the top 25... and that worries me. We need to steal one on the road at Mississippi State or Tennessee in a big way and TCB with Kentucky next Saturday.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Mississippi Mishap

In a game where Bama showed improved focus and effort, especially on the defensive end of the court, two of our stars threw the game away just as crunch time was beginning to arrive. Riley and Gee both made very bad passes with the game on the line resulting in easy baskets for the Rebels. Gee has been prone to make bad passes into the lane all season. Riley has not developed the habit of making lazy passes. Unfortunately both of them got lulled to sleep when they should have been focused on continuing to do all the little things necessary to win the game.

Another very avoidable mistake that I place on the entire team is that they allowed the trap to force two turnovers just as Ole Miss was beginning to make their run. They should be coached to look for that and to come back to give the trapped player help. A championship caliber team simply does not play like that, especially with the game on the line with a cornered animal for an opponent.

I don't know what the numbers will tell us when Bobby posts them, but these are the positive things I saw in the game. Gottfried benched his entire starting five when they were not playing defense the way they should. The second biggest positive is that the starters responded favorably to being benched while the second line players more than held their own. Almost everyone on the team played defense with better concentration and effort. All the regular players contributed in big ways.

Offensively the team continues to struggle. In fairness, Gee, Hollinger and company are continuing to make freshman and sophomore mistakes. We simply cannot afford for them to do that, especially on the offensive end of the court. Gee needs to work on his fundamental mechanics during the off season. I don't think there is any way to improve them at this stage of the season. If they are going to work hard on defense they don't need to rest on offense. Lack of movement away from the ball was a continuing problem.

Like the coach, I saw a good deal of improvement today. Unlike the coach, I think we should have seen that immediately after the Notre Dame loss. With Davidson at less that full strength (but apparently beginning to improve again from the concentration angle) and Steele suffering from whatever continues to hinder him, we simply are not going to be a very good team if all we have left are freshmen and sophomores. Sure Hollinger and Gee have played tons of minutes, but they continue to make mistakes.

I am at the point where it is impossible for this team to come close to meeting my expectations for them. I think I have to accept that we have a team full of underclassmen who are going to continue to play like underclassmen and our three upperclassmen simply are not going to be able to carry them. Given those assumptions, there is no reason for us to have expected to beat a well-coached Ole Miss team on its home court (regardless of the horrendous no-call on Hendrix rebound which led to a third possession that produced a three point shot for Ole Miss).

We are not a physically superior team to them. We are not as experienced. We are not as well coached or as mentally tough. But we are improving in those last two areas. I wonder where all that was during the month of January.

Perhaps CMG has a secret plan for peaking in March this year sort of like Richard Nixon's secret plan to end the war in Vietnam? Henry Kissinger, where are you?

Friday, February 09, 2007

Rebels stats pack and other thoughts

Ole Miss Stats pack

Before I start... I didn't comment on the M$U game since I couldn't coherently hear it. Internet radio was choppy at best. Listening to it was like me translating spanish to english. I can pick up every 3rd word.

Andy Kennedy has done a good job with them. To be honest I thought they'd go in the toilet for a few years after firing Barnes, but Kennedy has them playing well. I don't know much about their players except Doyne and Sanders are their scorers.

The stats:
- .447 FG, .369 3pt FG (uh ohh), and .698 FT
- Rebound margin of +1.5 per game
- Averages 12 turnovers a game
- No real contributing player taller than 6'8"

Again, we should pound it inside as they play a 3 guard lineup. Hendrix has been a monster inside lately and Davidson should be able to post up and score at will... hopefully this happens.

Ole Miss is having a white out. The 527 fans in attendance should have the place rocking (g).

Prediction- It's a road game. I don't feel good about this one. Gametime is 4PM CST on FSN.


Thoughts about the SEC tournament and what it means:

Winning the tournament improves seeding in the NCAA tournament. If you're a bubble team, you probably want to win at least a game or 2 to impress. Heck, if you're sitting anywhere between a 5 and 10 before the SECT winning a couple of games can bump you up.

IMO, before we think about winning the NCAA we should at least win one SECT as a "marker" of success. How can anyone think about winning the NCAA tournament when we don't have a SECT title under our belts. The argument of "resting up" for the NCAA is somewhat valid, but from memory the conference tourney winners that flame out in the first round are usually teams on the bubble before winning the auomatic bid (Ex- Syracuse 2006).

John Pelphrey

I've heard from more than one source that people expect John Pelphrey to be Kentucky's next coach. One of my best friends is a long-time South Alabama booster and I enjoy going to games with him when I can. Here are some observations after watching last night's USA game against Western Kentucky.

I think Pelphrey played every kid on his bench who was eligible. He needs to play them all and he runs them on and off the court constantly adjusting to the flow of the game. They play defense the full length of the court, everyone runs back after rebounds and turnovers, and they never walk the ball up court on offense.

USA's talent is geared toward a perimeter game, but all they did the first 8 or 9 minutes was force the ball inside underneath the basket. I wondered why they did this because they had little height and no big bodies who could create enough space to get off an open shot. My buddy said they do that every game. Once they had established an inside game, due largely to the frequent penetrating created by their 5-10 guard (why can't we do that?), they started taking their open threes. They hit the threes early, went dry in the middle of the game, and hit a few toward the end to clinch the win.

I was very impressed with the energy and enthusiasm with which this team played. They communicated well on offense and defense and almost pounded WKU into submission. They had a 12 point lead with about 5 minutes to go when WKU turned up the defensive pressure and USA's veterans started making poor decisions on offense and defense. WKU went ahead but USA hit a three to tie the game in regulation and eventually won in overtime.

It was an exciting, well played, well coached game. I sure wish we could see something like that with our players. I also hope USA doesn't have to play Florida again in the first round of the NCAA tournament this year. I'd like to see what they can do against a more evenly matched team. They play Florida style (I thinkPelphrey played for Pitino when he was at Kentucky) but don't have the horses to run it the way Florida does.

Keep an ear out for the name John Pelphrey. He may be coming to a University of Kentucky program near you some day soon.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Tide hang on to beat MSU

Box Score

Listening to it on the net was painful so I can't critique/applaud the effort as I heard every 3rd word. Alias was there and his post below is probably more detailed than I would've given you anyways.

All I can say is... Hendrix is a beast inside. He's been coming up huge lately. Also, I noticed fouls were flowing like liquor at a casino. Maybe we were too aggressive on defense (g).

Bulldog Brawl

This game did not disappoint anyone who was familiar with the bitter rivalry between these two heated SEC foes. The atmosphere was heightened by the many vocal M$U who always seem to show up in Coleman Coliseum. The play was sloppy at times, particularly by the home squad, but the game was hard-fought all the way to the end. One left with the impression that the score would have continued to teeter back and forth for as long as the officials let them play. Since I had a 3 1/2 hour drive, I was happy to see it end during regulation and even happier that M$U could not answer Ron Steele's game-winning lay up with 6.7 seconds left on the clock - Steele's only bucket of the second half if I recall correctly.

Bama gave good effort all night. The defense broke down way too frequently. Several times when they failed to get back on turnovers and rebounds. More often when they failed to contain the penetration by M$U's guards. Bama's forwards were condemned no matter what they did. If they offered inside help, a pass to the open player gave an almost sure three point basket. If they did not help, the penetrating guard scored with ease. The problem was not with our forwards but with our guards. They need to be taught proper technique for that defense. I wish I knew what it was.

Almost no Bama shot underneath the basket was uncontested. Jemison and the guards tended to get their shots blocked down there. Hendrix and Davidson both scored well, but every bucket was hard earned and they frequently were shoved or slapped in the act of shooting. Bama's outside shooting kept them in the game early but then disappeared for the middle 15 minutes.

Down by five with a little more than a minute to go, CMG set up a play that gave Riley an open look and he finally broke his streak of missed shots to pull Bama within one. Riley's next three pointer made under intense pressure and evidently not the result of a designed play tied the game.

Hollinger bumped Hansboro (Han$field?) on the way up court, and he hit one of two free throws. I think that was the first free throw the M$U guard had missed all night. With no time outs remaining, Bama's players spread the floor a little bit (not a designed clear out play) and Steele drove to lay the ball in with just under seven seconds on the clock. I think that was Steele's only bucket of the second half.

M$U did not give up. They drove the ball the length of the court, fed a man underneath the basket who appeared ready to win the game. He was harassed (I can't remember whether it was by Hendrix or Davidson) and his dunk hit the bottom of the rim. When it fell back into his hands time had expired.

The least penalized team in America was whistled with more than 10 fouls per half. I think we committed more but that means we were playing harder defense. Bama did not wilt under M$U's pressure defense and kept clawing away. If they can find a way to play like this on the road they still might make some noise at the end of the year.

I'm very tired but very glad I made it to this game. I wonder if Coach Gottfried read my letter? :-)

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Mississippi State stats packs

First, here's the Bulldogs' stats for the year. So far they've been a disappointment.

Their most impressive win was at Miami in December... otherwise they've laid eggs on the road. I think the trend continues. MSU is coming off a win over LSU, but dropped 3 straight before that. Jamont Gordon is their "everything" player as he leads the team in points, rebounds, and assists. The Delk twins are coming into their own and Ben Hansbrough (younger bro to Tyler at UNC) is improving. MSU is a young team. This team will be a force next year... hopefully they don't decide to gel against us.

Side note- Someone is going to have to explain to me how a guy from Brooklyn, NY (Vernon Goodridge) ended up in Starkville.

Stats:
- .467 FG, .371 3pt FG, .655 FT
- 13 turnovers a game
- +2.8 rebound margin (no one taller than 6'9")

Prediction- Alabama by 5. I can't predict us to win by anymore than that anymore.
Gametime is 8PM EST (7PM CST). No TV so sit by your radio or jump on de in-ter-net to listen.

An Open Letter To Coach Gottfried

Dear Coach Gottfried:

I have long been one of your most faithful and devoted fans. All Alabama Basketball fans (what few of us there are) are truly grateful for everything you have done with and for our young people and our program.

You restored the atmosphere and tradition of winning that we enjoyed in the seventies and eighties. (I'm too young to remember any farther back than that.) You pushed to have all our basketball facilities improved, especially Coleman Coliseum. You have recruited student athletes who represent our university with dignity and character, both on and off the court. You have insisted that our players earn degrees that will be valuable to them in their adult lives. Perhaps most importantly, you have served as an able and capable role model to these young men during their remaining formative years spent away from their homes and their families.

Bama Basketball's ambassadors on the court, in the classroom, in professional sports and in "civilian" life have enhanced our university's image and enriched our communities where ever they have gone. You deserve the credit for all that, and we thank you.

According to an old adage, success breeds success. Apparently success tends to breed expectations too, because the devoted fans of our program have come to expect certain results. Not all of those expectations involve winning.

A fan base that appreciates all you've done for our University and for the young men entrusted to your care would not want success at any price. Your program's small but knowledgeable fan base does not want to sell your players' health or any one's integrity just to win basketball games. Therefore we appreciate and respect all the more the way you have achieved these levels of success with our program.

The bulk of the fan base has, however, noticed one fairly consistent problem with our team, particularly this season. We do not think it unreasonable for us to expect to see consistent effort whenever a player is on the court.

I am not talking about final results or wins. We understand that this team is not a likely Final Four candidate while Ron Steele is hampered by injuries and Jermareo Davidson remains understandably emotionally distraught because of all he's suffered this school year. What we do not understand is why you will let young men stay on the court when they obviously are not playing with the type of effort you, they, and we all know they are capable of giving.

I do not say this to be demeaning or insulting. It simply is an observable fact. Joe Dean, Jr., long has been one of your most devoted admirers and he has been forced to comment in recent weeks that your teams' defensive effort has left a good deal to be desired in most of our SEC games. Like you, Joe is too much of a gentleman to single out particular players or to blame the coach for allowing that to happen. But it is fairly obvious from the stands when a player is not working hard, especially on defense. And we all know where the Bama Basketball buck stops.

I respectfully suggest that you are not serving any one's interests by allowing this to happen. The offending players will learn that they can get by in life without really trying; whereas you and I know life really is difficult at best. Their teammates will learn that you will play your favorites and still lose the game, so there is no reason for them to care enough to work hard every day.

Unfortunately many people who buy basketball tickets are fair weather fans. They will show up only when our team is winning. Many of the season ticket holders will show up only when the game is not on television and the weather is not inclement. Only time and consistent winning bear even a remote possibility of curing those problems. (Those and perhaps the proposal that our program endorse some mechanism whereby people who don't want to come to the games can donate their tickets to worthy charities.)

Those of us who understand basketball also understand that losing is a part of the game. In fact, its one of the things that makes college basketball the most exciting spectator sport known to man. What we do not expect, however, is lazy play and a lack of effort from our players.

I drive up from Mobile for almost every home game. That makes Thursdays very difficult for me, but I am glad to do it to support the players and the program I learned to love before you even knew we existed. Let me qualify that. I am glad to do it so long as I can tell that the players on the court are putting at least as much effort and energy into playing the game as I put into attending it.

Please do not do our players the disservice of allowing them to believe that they can coast through life - or a basketball game - without giving everything they have. You never played that way. You don't live your life that way. Please teach them what has worked so well for you and your family. Please insist that our kids play hard or sit on the bench. Lots of your players seldom get off the bench. They might not play well but they probably will play hard, if you give them the chance.

I will be in the stands Wednesday night making as much noise as I can in support of our team.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Looks Like We Might Need Some Folks To Lose

First, take a quick look at Bama's RPI from the website Bobby has linked: Bama's RPI

Given the way we are playing we are almost forced to concede the Florida game on the road. (Go ahead, guys, prove me wrong. I dare you! I double dog dare you!!! Please?) Even if we beat Kentucky at home, that will produce little more than a "wash" in our power rating. None of the other teams on our schedule are rated high enough to improve our position very much.

Who would have thought Iowa and Oklahoma would be rated in the eighties? UGA and Xavier are the only top fifty teams we've beaten. And that humiliating loss at API really hurt.

I don't know much about these power ratings, but it looks to me like we need to win a bunch of games and count on other teams to lose if we don't want to wind up with a really poor seed in the NCAA Tournament.

I doubt Steele will approach full strength this year. Barring a miracle I don't see much hope for approaching the expectations I had for this team at the dawn of the season. Given the fact that the coaches won't play Coleman, I am holding out little hope for next season.

Please excuse my melancholy, but all that leads me to ask why the coach needs to lose three blow out games before he starts trying to make his team play defense? And why, after losing another virtual blowout at home, does he keep playing the team's laziest defender for 30+ minutes a game.

You want stats? You can't handle stats!

Team stats that is... from NCAA.org

As many of you have heard, we're #1... in least amount of fouls. This tells me we're not aggressive enough on defense.

Other team rankings that caught my attention (out of 325 teams):
- #269 in steals per game
- #148 in assists
- #16 in blocked shots

Random thoughts:
- Duke lost yesterday. That's 2 losses this week for the Blue Devils... they'll probably move up in the polls. North Carolina comes to town next... when is the last time Duke lost 3 in a row?
- Peyton Manning finally beat a Florida QB. Actually I'm happy for Dungy that the Colts won.
- Indiana followed up a big win over Wisconsin with a loss at Iowa. Huh?
- I think the Gators go undefeated in SEC play. At Vandy is probably their biggest challenge left.
- Texas A&M is for real folks... the win at Kansas legitimatizes them as a Final Four contender.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Cocks Comeback

Box score from a game that was closer than it should've been.

Bama won a hard-fought game against a hot-shooting South Carolina in the friendly confines of Coleman Coliseum.

The Gamecocks shot 46% outside the arc, including Sheldon's 5 for 8. When that happens consistently against a team, someone has to figure out that it is not all luck. Still Bama won thanks to gritty second half performances by Riley and Gee and excellent free throw shooting by Davidson and Hollinger.

A win is a win. Bama spread the ball around getting balanced scoring from plenty of players. Hendrix quickly becomes the go-to guy when defenses focus on Davidson and continues to answer the bell every time it rings. Hollinger and Riley both hit clutch shots and Jemison showed some offensive life by at least attacking the basket. The team defense was improved and the effort level at the beginning of the game was much improved. Our kids and coaches kept playing until they found a way to win and I am happy for them and for those among the sell-out crowd who showed up.

Unfortunately the defensive intensity disappeared after about five minutes. We did not see nearly enough of Tubbs. Davidson did get sent to the bench again, but he was sent back in when I would have brought Coleman off the bench.

I think CMG needs to stop playing Davidson and Steele. Steele is hurt and Davidson only plays when he wants to play. CMG continues to tell his players that stars will play and others will sit, even when the stars are not playing hard or being productive without playing hard. Jemison and Tubbs bring energy levels that infect the entire team. They play hard defense the length of the court and are unselfish on offense.

The other defensive problem we have is Gee. He is an outstanding athlete with the quick feet a defensive players needs, but he is the guy who most often lost Sheldon every time he ran across the court. Other teams help out their teammates by grabbing shooters when they run through the lane (see UGA, API and Arkansas). We don't and Gee does not know how to keep up with his man. I don't know how to correct it, but this has been a glaring defensive problem all season.

Davidson is the only player we have who will not guard his man outside the free throw line. Not only does he refuse to come out to belly up, but he stays six feet off his man and refuses to raise his hands to disrupt passing avenues. Davidson needs to sit.

We stayed alive, but we barely beat the worst team in the SEC on our home court. We need to see better effort, especially on defense. I wish our coach would bench the kids who don't care and let put the youngsters who want to play on the court. We might not pull as many games out of the fire, but they would be much more fun to watch play and actually might improve as the season progresses.

Now I have to decide whether to drive up for M$U in spite of Mrs. Alias' objections.

There is light at the end of the tunnel and it might not be a train.

Roll Tide.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Gamecocks stats pack and mindless at-large bid predictions

Here's the season stats for South Carolina. Requires Adobe Acrobat (free download) to view). This is the best I can do... sorry.

The Gamecocks followed a nice road win at Mississippi State with a head scratching loss to the "War Eagles" of Auburn. South Carolina might be the worst team in the SEC right now... although Mississippi State should get consideration as well. Saying that, we can't afford to have an off night (day in this case) against them.

The stats:
- 42% FG
- 32.6% from 3
- rebound margin of -2.3 per game
- 63.5 PPG average... they have problems scoring

This is another small team that we should dominate inside. Hopefully we see a repeat of the effort in Baton Rouge. Tre Kelley is their scorer (16.9 PPG). He should be as he's taken 100 more shots than anyone else on the team. Brandon Wallace is the only other 'Cock averaging double digits in points. Wallace is also their rebounder (at 9.5 RPG).

This is a game we should dominate from beginning to end. South Carolina can't shoot from beyond the arc and have serious problems on the offensive side. They defend well and take care of the ball (roughly 11 turnovers a game).

Prediction- Alabama by 18... maybe Torrance and Coleman see the court in the last 3 minutes of the game.

Since I have nothing to do at work and am bored, I decided to prognosticate the at-large teams going to the NCAA tournament. I'm limiting myself to "major" conferences as I won't pretend to know much about the "mid majors." Heck, I'll predict the tournament winners in the major conferences as well (denoted in green).
(EDIT... I forgot about the ACC.)

ACC: UNC, Duke, Clemson, Boston College, Virginia, Virginia Tech
Atlantic Ten: GW, Xavier
Big East: Pitt, Georgetown, Notre Dame, Marquette, West Virginia, Louisville
Big 12: Texas, Texas A&M, Kansas, Oklahoma State, Kansas State
Big 10: Wisconsin, Ohio State, Indiana, Michigan State
CUSA: Memphis *
MWC: UNLV *, Air Force, BYU, Colorado State
PAC 10: UCLA, USC, Oregon, Washington State, Arizona, Washington
SEC: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Vanderbilt, Kentucky, Tennessee

Fee free to call me retarded for my conference tournament winners.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Davidson leads big win at Red Stick

Box Score

Alias covered the Steele issue so I won't add much... except he really shouldn't be on the court much.

The good:
- Davidson showed up big... he dominated inside and sunk some key 15 footers.
- Defensive pressure. Despite LSU shooting over 50% I thought the guys played well. I saw hands in faces and guys not losing their man (as much as previous games).
- Hendrix contained Davis.

The bad:
- Guard play was shaky.
- Riley is a real defensive liability.

A great win (and needed) in Baton Rouge. Tubbs sank a big 3 late in the game to keep us within striking distance and the defense took over. Now we need to beat the Cocks to keep the momentum going.