Monday, December 31, 2007

Clemson stats pack, this week's SEC Rankings, and late GW post game thoughts...

... being that tomorrow will be spent watching football from 11AM to 11PM (with our game against Clemson fitting in) I figured it would be best to cram all this info into one post. Can you dig it?

First off, here's the Clemson stats pack you've been waiting for all week.

Clemson is 2-1 against the SEC this year with wins at Mississippi State and over NIT regulars South Carolina, and a close loss to surprising Ole Nutt... uh Miss in the Puerto Rico tournament.

The stats:
- 46.5% FG
- 41% 3PT FG
- 65% FT
- 16 turnovers a game
- +8.4 rebound margin

Led by K.C. Rivers, Clemson is off to another fast start. Rivers is roughly 41% from beyond the arc so we got to especially watch him there. Ditto for Terrence Oglesby (43%) and Cliff Hammonds (47%). James Mays might pose Hendrix some problems inside.

Last year I believe they started 17-0 and ended up in the Not Invited Tournament so obviously they're hoping this fast start can be maintained into the ACC schedule. I think they're better this year.. not to mention their non-conference schedule last season was pretty weak.

Prediction- I'm liking what going on with the team right now. Gee is playing like we all hoped he'd be and Hendrix is a man-child inside. We're getting good perimeter play from Riley and the bench so I'll say... Alabama by 8.

Tip off is 4:30PM (typo said 5:30PM) EST on FSNS. Channel 630 on directv.

SEC Rankings week 8

1) Tennessee- they have the makings of a Final Four team with an impressive win over Gonzaga in Seattle.
2) Ole Miss- demolished the fightin' Eustachy's of Southern Miss.
3) Vanderbilt- still unbeaten.
4) Alabama- the beatdown of GW was super impressive.
5) Florida- ho hum... next test is in Tuscaloosa January 8th.
6) Auburn- well... they did beat Towson.
7) Arkansas- someone had to beat La-Monroe... ok, ok... I'm still bitter we couldn't beat LA-Monroe in football.
8) Mississippi State- good win over Missouri. Maybe they got things turned around.
9) Georgia- I had to put them somewhere.
10) LSU- tough loss to Washington at home. Not sure what to make of them as of now.
11) South Carolina- they beat the Anteaters of Cal Irvine.
12) Kentucky- you lost at home to a bad San Diego squad of the WCC. I know they won today, but man... they truly suck.

Post game GW thoughts

I was impressed with how well the team is playing together. The guys seem to know where everyone was on the court (at least against GW). Low turnovers, good shooting, terrific defense, and for the most part understandable substitutions is what I've been hoping for all season. We still have problems breaking the press and inbounding the ball, but considering the final score there's not a whole lot to complaim about.

Gee had been a lot more active... on the boards, diving for loose balls, and taking it to the basket. I like the PG by committee of Pickett and Torrance. I disagree with DJC in IMO I still think as of right now Torrance is our best option at the point. Still, Pickett is playing well at the point.

The best part of the game was CMG calling a TO with under 2 minutes left to let Dill, Sellers, and Cage in the game. All of them acquired stats... Cage did his Reggie Rambo impersonation with 2 fouls and 2 points, Dill with a rebound and an assist, and Sellers with 2 points (assist from Dill). Good times. The 2nd best part... no one logged 30 minutes.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Whatever happened to Justin Tubbs?

More than one person has asked me that question recently. Although Tubbs seems to have gotten buried deep down the bench, the short answer apparently is that his status has not changed much.

Many fans remember Justin as one of the better defenders on last year's team who could score points in bunches when his shot was "on." We also remember his having hit huge three point shots under pressure to help Bama win at least two games. Although we tend to remember his major contributions, Tubbs averaged less than ten minutes per game according to the official statistics. He averaged fewer than four points per game with a season high of 13. None of this is intended to diminish Tubbs' contributions, merely to place them into perspective. The fans still remember his energetic play and clutch shooting when the game was on the line.

This season Justin has played an average of more than 14 minutes per game, but he played only 4 minutes against George Washington University last night and only one minute against Iowa State. Perhaps that has created a temporary perception that Tubbs has been lost. Perhaps it suggests a trend. Perhaps Tubbs has not been well. Or perhaps it is evidence that this team is getting better as its component parts improve and learn better how to work together.

Based solely on my observations and not on any "inside" information, I think Torrance, Pickett, Hollinger and Hillman are what have "happened to" Tubbs, but none of that is bad. Pickett seems to have established himself as the primary point guard. Torrance follows closely on his heels, allowing Brandon Hollinger to play at the two guard position. CMG seems to like having Hollinger there because he helps calm Pickett, his ball handling helps attack the press, he understands the game and knows how to feed the post, and he finally feels at liberty to take his shot when he is open. Torrance needs to play unless he is having a terrible night and Hollinger has become an unexpected advantage in what promises to be a challenging season.

I have not researched whether Hillman or Tubbs has been playing more recently. If one is playing more than the other I suspect it would have to do with how they are performing on any particular night. Each defends well, brings energy to the court and provides an offensive option when his shot is on. Fortunately for them and for the team both of them have been playing and contributing to this point. I hope that continues.

What have we settled to this point about what "happened to Tubbs?" Probably not much. What should we think or expect regarding Justin for the rest of the season and for the next two years? I do not know but I expect he will continue to improve as a player and to contribute to the teams success in any way he can. That is the sort of approach I would expect from a young man who was a Freshman Academic All SEC and who shared the 2007 “Hustle Award” for daily effort.

What happened to Justin Tubbs? Hard work and the future is bright, both for Justin and for the team that is growing so crowded with disciplined talent that Justin is having a hard time earning playing time.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Crimson Cruiser Crushes Colonials

Well, sports fans, the entire blog was at the game tonight. Hville brought his lovely wife. DJC was escorted by beautiful Brandi. (Please don't tell me she spells it with the ordinary "y" because the young lady is anything but ordinary.) BobbyJack's baby boy earned the blue ribbon for cuteness. And Alias, well he was the guy who had to drive the longest just to be the first to post his game report. Based on the company they were keeping I guess the other three guys had much better things to do with their evening than play on the Internet.

The score and box score tell you pretty much everything you need to know about this game. Bama jumped out to an early lead thanks largely to Rico Pickett's feeds and Richard Hendrix's soft hands and sure shot. When GWU tried to stop Hendrix, Pickett fed the ball to Gee. Riley started slowly so when Gee picked up his second foul with about 8 minutes to go in the first half, MY Man Hollinger lit up outside the arc hitting five of his six three point attempts and earning high scoring honors for the first half. Bama led 51-29 at intermission and things only got hotter in the Colonial kitchen when Gee returned for the second half. Hollinger passed up several open threes so Gee decided to take them instead.

Bama committed several turnovers against GSU's press and got beat back up court three or four times. To his credit, CMG has learned to bench a player for letting that happen. He even had to bench Brandon for that once.

The officials stats credit Pickett with only four assists, but I think he had that many in the first five minutes. Rico played well and rapidly is showing why he has been earning the start at the point. Torrance is giving him a run for his money though. Mikhail had ten assists in 15 minutes of play and only one turnover. The defense was focusing on the players underneath the basket until Torrence drove the hoop for two left handed lay-ins. After that he was open to drive and dish.

Bama's defense was more than serviceable. GSU's game had been to shoot threes but Bama shut those down tonight. The effort was good. The players were unselfish. There was no apparent diminution in focus or intensity after the weekend in Vegas. Things continue to bode well for Bama.

We still do not know whether this will turn into a pretty good basketball team, but they certainly are heading in a better direction than last season's squad did. I continue to be encouraged but fall short of optimism. The team is gutsy, unselfish and plays with purpose. I can hardly wait to see how they do against Clemson.

Maybe the real students of the game will give you some hard information after they wake up Sunday.

Roll Tide!

Friday, December 28, 2007

George Washington stats pack

... for your viewing pleasure.

The stats:
- 42% FG
- 35% 3PT FG
- 67% FT
- rebound margin +3.5
- 17.1 turnovers per game

Ok, GW isn't very good... they lost to Auburn and at the mighty Binghamton Bearcats. No one is going to confuse them for Memphis or Kansas. Led by the inside/outside punch of Rob Diggs and Wynton Witherspoon, GW comes into the game sporting a 4-5 record. Maureece Rice is probably the one to watch from beyond the arc.

Prediction- Don't give me false hope CMG... I believe this game should be decided at halftime. Hendrix with another double/double with Gee and Riley adding double figures. Alabama by 18.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

SEC Rankings week 7

1) Tennessee- winning at Xavier is huge.
2) Ole Miss- winning the PR tournament by beating previously unbeaten Clemson is impressive. They might be for real folks.
3) Vanderbilt- why did they slip to #3? More because UT and Ole Miss had big wins.
4) Alabama- winning the Las Vegas Classic wasn't a shock, but it was impressive.
5) Florida- while I don't think Ohio State (beat UF 62-49) is any good, I can't think of a reason to put another SEC team in this slot at this time.
6) Auburn- well... they didn't lose this week.
7) LSU- pummelled at Wichita State. Oh my.
8) Arkansas- embarrasin home loss to App State. They don't play D evidently.
9) South Carolina- they lost to Baylor... wow.
10) Kentucky- at least they broke their 4 game losing streak.
11) Mississippi State- winning 2 in a row on the road is a start. They're too talented to have 5 losses already.
12) Georgia- currently in the outhouse after a dismal performance in Hawai'i.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Viva Las Vegas

Congratulations to the 2007 Las Vegas Classic Champions!

I've read Alias' recap of the Missouri State game, and I pretty much agree with everything he said. Chris Stewart is obviously doing an outstanding job of describing the action. I will say that Missouri State is not a bad team. This was a very evenly matched tournament. Missouri State gave Purdue a very competitive game as well. I don't think any of the 4 teams are top 25 caliber, but they are all solid, competitive teams.

Since Alias and Bobbyjack have already covered the Missouri State game, I won't rehash the details. Our shots weren't falling early, but we continued to scrap and Gee made some huge plays for us down the stretch. It wasn't pretty, but we showed a lot of character by getting the job done at crunch time.

We did not play all that great in the first half against Iowa State, giving up 40 points. Riley and Rico both lost their men on defense allowing the cyclones to drain some 3's, and Richard even got beat down the court in transition a time or two. The coaching staff obviously did a good job of getting the team re-focused at halftime because we came out and looked very sharp on both ends of the court. I would say the 2nd half of the Iowa State game is the best half of basketball we have played so far this season.

Riley won the MVP, and it was well deserved as he shot the ball well and played good defense in the second half, but it could have just as easily went to Richard Hendrix. Iowa State had good size, but their big men just were not strong enough to do anything with Richard. Hendrix pretty much had his way in the paint.

Alonzo Gee also deserved serious consideration for MVP honors as he played very well in the championship game and in the second half of the Missouri State game. The fact that an argument could be made for 3 different players for MVP indicates that we are starting to play well as a team.

This was the type of game I was looking for out of Rico Pickett. He's starting to give us an additional threat from the 3-point line, and more importantly, he only had one turnover.

Two key plays stick out in mind in this game. At the end of the first half, the Cyclones had taken a 2 point lead with less than 3 seconds on the clock. We ran our patented Jemison to Hendrix in the paint, turn and shoot play, which amazingly continues to work. It could have been somewhat demoralizing psychologically to go into the half behind after surrendering a lead.

The second sequence that I feel was the difference in the game came early in the second half. We had gotten lazy on defense for a couple of possession, Torrance committed a turnover, and Iowa State capitalized on all of our mistakes to make a run and cut the deficit back to 3. Coach Gottfried called timeout, made some adjustments, switched back to the zone defense, and within 3 minutes or so the lead was back to double digits.

I did not see the Iowa State-Purdue game, so I have no idea how they managed to beat them. I do believe that Alabama-Purdue would have been the best possible matchup in the tournament. Hopefully Iowa State can win some games in the Big 12 and help our RPI. Regardless, this is a win that should give us some momentum, and perhaps winning a tournament on a neutral site will pay dividends in March.

A few non-basketball related thoughts... I agree that this tournament was poorly marketed. The price of tickets was criminal as it was, but then they make you buy for both days. Not only should they have sold separate days, but they should have broken it up into sessions. I had no desire to sit there all day for 2 days and watch the likes of Texas Southern v. Bethune Cookman. It wasn't advertised at all locally. The cab driver who took me from the strip to the arena yesterday was not even aware that there was a tournament going on, and from talking to him, it was obvious that he was a big UNLV basketball fan.

That being said, the arena was very nice for its size.

I was impressed and somewhat surprised with the size of Iowa State's crowd. They probably had us outnumbered 8 to 1. It was a pleasure finally getting to meet Bobbyjack and his crew, and I'm glad to see he made it back home safely. Up next, George Washington comes to Tuscaloosa at 5 p.m. Saturday.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Roll Tide!

Alabama wins Las Vegas Classic... downs Iowa State...

... 83-68 for our most impressive victory to date.

Box score

Gee led the team with 23 points and 11 boards while Hendrix and Riley added 18 a piece. Pickett had 13 points and 5 assists with only 1 turnover. Heck, if it wasn't for Coleman we'd been perfect from the charity stripe.

I guess what I'm most impressed by is the 7 turnovers. I think this team is starting to gel... with a weak SEC we might be able to contend for the West.

Mykal Riley was the tournament MVP. Good for him.

Next up... George Washington next Saturday the 29th. I hope there's a good crowd at Coleman to greet the players. I'll be there.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Photos from the Las Vegas Classic- Missouri State

Let me preface this by saying I didn't go there as a "reporter" so that's why I didn't take pictures while the game was going on. I was too busy watching.

About the crowd... IMO it was a huge mistake by Orleans Arena to sell the tournament only as a 2 day ticket. They should've had daily sessions to buy. I know there would've been more fans if they did... much more.

Missouri State's version of Mark's Madness?

Missouri State's coach is the guy to the left of the ref. Is that Verne Troyer?

Crowd shot... looked like a UAB home football game.

Timeout on the floor by CMG. I thought CMG did a great job of calming the team down when Missouri State went on runs.

Iowa State stats pack

Most of us expected to be playing Purdue in the championship game. I'm surprised.
Anyways... here's the stats you've been dying to read.

Iowa State comes in at 7-4 riding a 4 game winning streak. They did lose a close one to mighty Drake (79-44), but things have turned around since then.

The stats:
- 44% FG
- 29% 3PT FG
- 68% FT
- +1.2 rebound margin
- 13.5 turnovers per game

4 guys come in scoring 10+ PPG. Bryan Petersen and Rahshon Clark are the guys to watch from beyond the arc while freshman Craig Brackens (6'10") and senior center Jiri Hubalek (6'11") bang it inside.

Prediction- Hendrix is going to have a harder time dominating the paint so we need the guards to step up. I look for another good game from Gee and hope Riley finds his range. Alabama by 6.

I think there's going to be a bigger crowd tonight... as I was leaving the game I saw quite a few Iowa State fans lining up to get in. I'm back in the ATL so DJC is going to have to harrass the officials on his own :).

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Bama Bests Bears

in what sounded like a lackluster game. BobbyJack and DJC attended the game live at the Orleans arena in Las Vegas. Back here in Alabama it's a good thing we had Chris Stewart at the michrophone because no television stations or networks carried the game. On second thought, maybe I should be glad I did not see this one.

Box score

Perhaps Missouri State is a good basketball team. I don't know. We should know more by the end of the year. Still I was not particularly impressed with Alabama's performance in this contest.

To their credit Alabama never gave up. Well, they never gave up for the rest of the game, but they did seem to go on cruise control three or four times: sleep walking on defense and forgetting how to find and hit an open shot. Yet again Bama's defense gave up a career three point shooting night to a player who apparently could not even spell those words before this game. The good news is that he went only 3 for 3 outside the arc. I have no idea how that impacted the 14% average he had coming into the game.

Bama let the Bears complet 57% of their shots from the field. That will not win many games.

The things I did like about this game? Everybody contributed. Hendrix had a career high 30 points and Gee had 17 or 18, all but two coming in the second half. Gee went into a shell on both ends of the court after earning his third foul (one of his patented over the back calls), but one of our coaches must have done a good job with him because he came back to life in a big way. Hollinger hit two big three point shots down the stretch after his man collapsed on Hendrix to try to slow down the big man. Credit Hendrix with the well earned assist on both shots.

Torrance and Riley scored near the basket. Jemison got into early foul trouble and was not able to make his typical contributions. Kudos to Coleman who played solid defense allowing Hendrix to earn some well needed rest.

I'll take a sloppy W over a pretty L any day. The good things out weighed the bad tonight. The team continues to play hard. CMG and his staff keep putting them in a position to win. (As alcrtide told me earlier today, Alabama is one of the best teams in America for about 36 or 37 minutes per game. Too bad we can't find a way to speed up the game clock.) The kids suffer lapses, but they have yet to fall asleep for an entire game. Again, credit CMG and his staff for that.

It's a win and I'll take it. I looked for a box score but could not find one. If BobbyJack is reasonably sober after taking all the Orleans' money at the black jack table, perhaps he will post one for us later.

Hasta man~a. (Sorry, I don't know how to make the tilde work on this key board.) Roll Tide.

Abbreviated Missouri State stats pack

... and I mean abbreviated as I didn't have the time to look it up in detail due to lack of sleep in Vegas.

Stats pack... sort of. Here's ESPN.com's stats for the Bears.

Prediction- I saw them once against Arkansas and wasn't impressed. We should beat them by double digits. Alabama by 11. I'll do my part to cheer them on to victory.

I know this is not as detailed as usual... I'll get more info for the Sunday game.

Friday, December 21, 2007

TV for the Las Vegas Classic

For those of you who will not be in Vegas this weekend, you can watch the games at the link below for a small fee. Unfortunately, the games will not be televised.

http://www.lasvegasclassiconlinetv.com/

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Bama Beats Broncs by 10

Edit- Box score
The final was 75-65, but it was a 20 point lead late in the game. The team stayed focus and played hard throughout, and this should give us some confidence going into Las Vegas.

Richard Hendrix was too much for the UTPA center. When they allowed the 6'6 center to handle his own against Hendrix, he was abused. When they double-teamed him, Richard seemed to always find the open man, and more often than not, we were able to convert. The bad news is Richard got in foul trouble in the first half. The good news is we were still able to find scoring from other areas.

We had a chance to put the game away late in the first half with a 13 point lead, but sloppy play and a horrible call on the last shot of the half allowed UTPA to close within 6.

After a bad outing against Wofford, Riley bounced back and had a very good night. He shot the ball extremely well, and forced a couple of turnovers out of the zone defense. His on ball defense was not as bad as it has been lately. Gee turned in another good performance. Rico and Hollinger both made shots from beyond the arc which kept the UTPA defense spread out.

Richard Hendrix was 1 for 2 from 3 point land. That's 2 more than he should have shot, especially considering UTPA didn't have anyone who could even slow him down in the low post. I was very disappointed to see Coach Gottfried nodding his head in approval as Hendrix came to the bench during the next timeout following his successful 3 point attempt. We have some good shooters on this team, we don't need Richard playing around the perimeter. We sure as heck do not need him shooting from out there. I do not care if he made one or not, if I were coaching I would have chewed his butt out, and told him the next 3 he jacks up will be his last, as he would be sitting on the bench for the rest of the game. We had to suffer through this with Chuck Davis, Jemareo Davidson, and now Richard Hendrix. I bet all 3 of them combined shoot for less than 25% from 3 point range. For the love of God, Gottfried, tell your bigs to quit jacking up stupid shots!

Overall, I thought we defended very well out of the zone. At times we did not rotate fast enough and they were able to get some open looks, but for the most part we played good defense. We did an adequate job of switching to the man just enough to keep them off balance. One area of disappointment is our rebounding out of the zone. It's difficult to rebound out of a 2-3 zone, and we have not improved on this area from last year. It is much more difficult to box out because you are not assigned to a specific player, and instead must get a body on the nearest opponent. We need to get better at locating the proper assignments as soon as a shot goes up so that we can maintain a good rebounding position. It seems we give up more offensive rebounds than we should out of the zone.

I was really hoping Rico Pickett would separate himself at point guard by this point. I still think he is our best option, but he made some silly, freshman mistakes tonight. He dribbled the ball off his foot on a key possession late in the first half which allowed UTPA to hang in the game, and he made a few ill advised passes. That being said, he also created some plays off the dribble and did an adequate job. Torrance was also sloppy at times, and I think Hollinger has found his role as the backup 2 guard. It was good to see Hollinger willing to let some shots fly, as I think he can best contribute at the 2 spot.

Justin Tubbs seems to be in a funk. He's certainly showed in the past that he is capable of playing better than he has the last few times he got in the game. He was out of control on defense and his shot was off. Senario Hillman looked much the same. Senario Hillman has amazing athletic ability, but I'm afraid he won't be able to contribute much until he can start shooting the ball more consistently. He missed a wide open 3 from the wing by about 4 feet.

Free throw shooting continues to be a problem, although Rico did make 3 in a row at one point.

Yamene Coleman came in and did a good job of playing defense and rebounding while Richard was in foul trouble. Justin Knox got a few minutes, and I still think he will be a contributor before it is all said and done. He was in position to make some plays tonight, but it seemed like he had Yamene's hands.

In other news, Wofford went to West Lafayette, IN and beat Purdue 69-66 tonight. Prior to tonight, I would think Purdue would be the favorite to win the Las Vegas classic, but now we appear to be the team to beat. I still think Purdue is a good team, but maybe not as good as some thought. They did beat Louisville, but Louisville was without several of their key contributors at that time. As we saw first hand Monday night, Wofford can be tough if they are executing their offense and making their jumpshots. I'm guessing that was the case tonight, but obviously I did not see the game.

Up next, we travel to Orleans Arena in Vegas to play Missouri State at 7pm Central, 5pm Pacific on Saturday. For what it's worth, which isn't a lot, Missouri State played UTPA Monday night, and led by 7 throughout most of the game before finally winning by 12.

Depending on the outcome of that game, we'll either play Purdue or Iowa State in either the championship or consolation game on Sunday. I'll be making the trip to support the Tide, but I will probably be too busy trying to see how many sins I can commit in one weekend to bother posting an update, so expect a full report when I get back next week. Roll Tide!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Your UTPA stats pack

That's the University of Texas Pan American for those that didn't know. Click here for their season statistics.

They're 6-7... losers of back to back nailbiters to Tulsa (90-61) and Drake (83-55) and a 1st round loss in the Vegas Tourney Monday to Missouri State (64-53). They should come into Coleman with an abundence of confidence. Ok, not really.

Brian Burrell is the guy to watch, only because he shoots more 3s than anyone else on the team. Zack Trader is their "big" guy (6'7") who probably gets to guard Hendrix... who should have a monster game unless they triple team him (which is possible). The other shooter to worry about is Paul Stoll... he's hitting 3s at a 39% clip.

The stats:
- 45% FG
- 35% 3PT FG
- 72% FT
- Rebound margin -5.6
- 13 turnovers per game

Prediction: Man do we need an easy win. This is probably our best chance the rest of the year for one. Maybe the 575 fans (which is still more than UTSA averages at home- 442) at the game tonight might see action in the waning minutes... who knows. I fully expect to see 12 get minutes. Alabama by 16.

Side note- PLEASE... someone step up and take the PG position. Torrance, Pickett, or Hollinger... one of you need to step up and take it.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Win over Wofford

As I sat in Coleman Coliseum with maybe 2,000 of my closest friends last night, in the first half I felt like I was watching us play Vandy. The gold jerseys, the motion offense, and 10 3 pointers in one half seemed like an all too familiar storyline.

We always seem to have a difficult time defending teams that use the motion offense to get good looks from the three point line. Riley looked absolutely lost on defense at times. He could not get through a screen or keep up with his man. I think he gave up 5 or 6 of those 3 pointers in the first half. In his defense, on a couple of those plays Rico got beat off the dribble, and when Riley came over to help he left his man open, but he still needs to get be a little quicker in getting back to his man.

We defended a little better out of the zone, but they were still able to shoot over the top of it from time to time. Switching to the zone with an occasional full court press seemed to throw them off of their rhythm in the second half.

Alonzo Gee was the difference in the game. He bailed us out in the halfcourt offense several times by making contested jumpshots late in the shot clock. He hustled on both ends of the court, and made some huge plays down the stretch. One sequence of events sticks out in my mind, he blocked a 12 ft jumpshot on defense, ran the floor, and made a 3 at the other end in transition.

Richard Hendrix was double teamed all night. He did a good job of finding the open man, and our guards did a good job of continuing to run the offense through him. We actually had a pretty good inside-out game last night, and once the shots started to fall in the second half, that opened things up.

The biggest positive to come out of this game in my opinion was the play of Rico Pickett in running the transition offense. In the second half, we got away from the halfcourt game and started pushing the ball up the court in nearly every possession. Rico did an outstanding job of running the point and making good decisions. The uptempo game allowed us to take advantage of our athleticism and take control of the game. I also liked the line up of Rico at point and Hollinger at the 2.

Free throw shooting continues to be abysmal. At times I honestly think I could pull 5 random people out of the stands, spend about 15 minutes teaching them how to shoot, and they would be able to make a higher percentage than our scholarship athletes on the floor. 50% is inexcusable for a 7 and 8 year old youth team playing at the YMCA, much less an SEC contender. The one bright spot, is we got several offensive rebounds off of our missed free throws last night.

Overall, I thought we did a pretty good job on the boards, considering Wofford was known for their rebounding. We were able to eat up a lot of clock with offensive rebounds late in the game. Gee and Hendrix did a good job on the glass.

Our substitution patterns, or lack thereof, continue to baffle me. Justin Tubbs did not even see the floor last night. In my opinion, he would have been a better option than Riley in the man to man defense against their motion offense in the first half.

Bottom line, a win is a win is a win. Good teams find a way to win on nights they don't play well, and that's what this team did.

Up next, the Broncs from UT Pan-American will pay us a visit Wednesday night at 7pm in the second game of the Las Vegas tournament. I hope to see more of you out at Coleman Coliseum.

Tide Tops Terriers

I could not attend the game because I have a trial today. My older daughter is home for Christmas and I had to work on a computer project for her after the game so I will not have time for a lengthy post. I did want to get the byline up, though. I find it more entertaining than most of the game was.

Wafford's 10 first half threes were well earned but still due to Bama breakdowns. CMG evidently keeps Riley on the court for his offensive punch. He cannot keep up with his man on defense. Sure, some of those threes were from 5 or 6 feet outside the arc, but if you know they can hit them you have to go out there to cover them. Riley also needs to learn not to force his man outside and not to give him a straight shot at the basket. Several of the freshmen have this problem, but Riley is a senior.

Gee played well. He hustled on both ends of the court and only got out of control a couple of times. I have been pleasantly surprised with his play.

Torrance needs to learn to make the best of his opportunities. I really like the kid as a player and athlete but I saw him defending an under the basket, in bounds play last night with about as much enthusiasm as King Tutt's mummy which has not moved in over three thousand years.

Someone needs to teach this team to spell box out, because none of them knows how to do it.

Like the man said, this team is scrappy but not very good. Scrappy but crappy? Nah. Not that bad. But they can continue to improve if they keep playing with this much effort.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Surviving Wofford...

... pretty sad if you ask me, but in the end it still counts as a W.

Box Score

I'm sure DJC and Alias will have a more detailed recap of the game... my assessment is this team is scrappy, but just isn't very good. Every game is going to be a struggle with this team.

1st half recap- Wofford hit 10 3s... led at the half. Inexcusable.
2nd half recap- defense stepped it up, Riley made some key shots... Gee continued to shoot poorly.

Wofford stats pack


For those that just got to know.
Also, here's a Wofford men's basketball prospectus.

Wofford comes in at 4-3. They're coming off a heartbreaking loss to the mighty Elon Phoenix. Against Arkansas and Wisconsin they lost by 22 and 27 points.

Drew Gibson andd Shane Nichols are the only players averaging double digits in points. Nichols is playing his 3rd game of the season... not sure why he didn't start/play the other 5... oh well. Tyler Whatley is their leading rebounder, but Wofford does a good job overall at clearing the boards. At one point they were #1 in the country in rebound margin (now #11). They're also in the top 20 in scoring defense and FG % defense.

The stats:
- 45% FG
- 38% 3PT FG
- 56% FT
- 13.4 turnovers per game
- roughly 7 steals and 5 blocked shots per game

Ok, the stats look impressive until you look at the roadkill they compiled it against. Lees McRae, Virginia-Wise, and Toccoa Falls aren't exactly basketball hotbeds. For humor, look at the Wofford-Toccoa Falls box score. Wofford outrebounded Toccoa Falls 48-6. Is that possible?

Prediction- I believe this is a critical week for Alabama basketball. We have to win at least 3 of 4 in this stretch. Wofford just played on Saturday so I'm guessing they might not have their legs under them. The winning begins tonight in impressive fashion. Alabama by 17.

Gametime 8PM EST (7 CST). The game is on CSS and is available for the millions of ESPN Full Court subscribers... YEAY!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

SEC Rankings Week 6

1) Vanderbilt- Edges Tennessee for still being undefeated.
2) Tennessee struggled with Western Ky in Nashville. The loss of Crews might be tougher on them than I thought.
3) Ole Miss- Andy Kennedy keeps on winning.
4) Georgia- Still amazed how they're winning.
5) Florida- struggled against Ga Southern. Growing pains maybe... or they're just not very good.
6) South Carolina-on break... might be the best thing for them.
7) LSU- hammerred NWSt.. I guess that counts for something.
8) Arkansas- should they drop this far for losing to Oklahoma on the road? Maybe not, but they nosedive anyway. OU did lose to SF Austin at home.
9) Alabama- Wofford coming up next (who lost to Elon). This is a critical week in Bama hoops if you ask me.
10) Auburn- Southern gave them a game. Not good.
11) Kentucky- losing to UAB in Louisville? They borderline suck. BTW- did anyone else see Walter Sharpe in that game for UAB... what could've been.
12) Mississippi State- loses at home to Miami and on the road to USA. Maybe they shouldn't have run off the Delk twins.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Please excuse the mess...

... I'm messing with the template html code. My goal is to add a 2nd sidebar. After that I'll get more technical with the blog.

Update- fixed for 1024x768 viewers. Higher resolutions get more border.

Around the SEC...

12-13: Ole Miss is still undefeated... beating Winthrop 76-71. Mississippi State on the other hand... loses again at home to undefeated Miami 64-58. I'm starting to believe MSU really sucks.

12-12: Vanderbilt is still unbeaten topping Depaul in OT 91-85. Impressive win onthe road. Arkansas crushed Texas-San Antonio 67-42 for their 6th win in a row.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Collegehoopsnet.com ranks the SEC HCs...

Gottfried is #4. I think they read our ranking the SEC coaches list from earlier this year. I demand royalties :)

Collegehoopsnet.com

Commentary on link:
I have no idea what this guy's been smoking, but some of his explainations are waaaaay off. For instance, Brubaker says that Felton has had talent to compete at UGA. Where was this talent?

For reference, here's the link for our rankings.

Slow week for news... things will pick up next week.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

An Open Letter To Bama Basketball Fans

(and you know who you are):

The media publishers and those who attempt to drive public opinion have begun to pay a great deal of attention to those Bama Basketball fans who have decided not to support Coach Gottfried. Some of you remain loyal to our team and to our program but you continue to express your lack of confidence in our coach. I respectfully request that you consider perhaps keeping that particular opinion to yourselves until after this season is over, because you are harming our program and not helping it at this point.

Those who read this site late last season know that I too had lost confidence in our coach. Here is a link to just one of my posts on the subject. My criticism was more direct in other posts both on this blog and some private boards where I participate. I would not have been disappointed if Coach Gottfried had been fired at the end of last season. Guess what, fans: He was not fired! It's time his detractors learned to live with that fact.

Coach Hudson (who certainly has forgotten more about basketball than I will ever know and who has given more to our University that most in the present generation can ever appreciate) and Coach Moore decided to keep CMG for another season. Whether we liked the decision or not, nothing we do now is going to change that established fact.

Here's another news flash for you: They are not going to fire Coach Gottfried in the middle of the season. Nothing we do or say is going to change that either. On the contrary, every time a fan complains this early in the season that our coach should be replaced, he or she can do nothing but hurt our team and our program.

Coach Gottfried is our coach this season. If you have showed up at any of our games then you know he is trying to correct some of his prior teams' most glaring problems. Should he have required nine seasons to learn those lessons? The answer to that question has no relevance at this point. He is our coach and he finally is trying to fix the things that have been broken.

As this past football season should have instructed us, these sorts of problems cannot and will not be fixed over night. The players who have been around for a while had learned one way of doing things. Now they are having to learn new and more correct ways. Those new habit patterns will not be learned over night or even in a single season. Assuming Coach Gottfried sticks to his guns and assuming that he now is teaching the proper techniques, habits and attitudes, theb we should see progress this season (rather than the digression of last season) and the real fruit of their efforts will begin to evidence itself next season.

I honestly do not know whether Coach Gottfried can and will right the Bama Basketball ship; but I hope he can and will and I intend to support him while he tries. I also intend to support the team while they try to take our program in a more positive and productive direction. They probably will have to sacrifice some short term success to achieve long term goals, but that is one of life's lessons they are supposed to be learning from their participation in our program.

So please, lay off of the coach bashing for at least as long as it takes to see whether Coach Gottfried really has learned his lessons and is willing to change enough to improve as a coach and as a director of this program. He is a good man who has done many good things for our program and our University. He has attracted good players and good citizens to our program. Unlike some coaches he has refused to accommodate the off-court antics that have damaged other very good teams and programs. He cares about his kids and graduates all of them who stick around. He has not sold the soul of or program to those among the AAU ranks whose only goals are money, power and prestige. He does not tolerate and under the table payroll as some others are reputed to enjoy.

Coach Gottfried can be very, very good for our kids and for our program if he is committed to making the types of changes he mentioned after last season's debacle. So far I believe I see evidence of it on the court when the kids are playing and my student friends tell me they have seen it in practices. So please follow your mother's instructions and if you can't say something nice then don't say anything at all. If your present concerns turn out to be accurate, you've already made your point I will be more than happy to hear you say "see I told you so" for as long as you like. For now, your whining and complaining is harming the program you claim to care for.

Roll Tide!

Finally an easy win.

The game was over by halftime, with Bama leading 51-19. In all honesty, we did not play that much differently than we did against SeLA, but the shots were actually falling tonight. This is what the SeLA game should have looked like. The most important aspect of this game was the improved perimeter shooting. Riley, Gee, Hollinger, and Rico Pickett all made some shots from behind the arc. Nicholls State double and triple teamed Hendrix all day. With no other serious scoring threats from the post, we can expect to see a lot of that this year unless we can consistently shoot the 3 to keep defenses honest. Seeing the ball go through the net in a game situation like this should help our shooters get their confidence back.

I was disappointed that Tubbs did not get more playing time in this game. He played for 8 minutes, and did not attempt a shot from the field. This would have been a good chance to try to get his shot back on track, like we did with Riley, Hollinger, Rico, and Gee. I also do not understand why we put Hendrix and Gee back in the game with 8 minutes left and a 30 point lead. There is absolutely nothing good that could come out of that situation. I wish Knox would have got more than 8 minutes in this game.

We had more turnovers than I would have liked, but some of that was due to the walkons playing the final 3 minutes of the game. We played a 2-3 zone defensively for the better part of the game, and it was very effective. Given our advantage in both size and athleticism, I was somewhat surprised to see us run so much zone, but it proved to be a great move. Riley and Rico are both much better defenders in the zone than in the man, primarily because they are active and able to disrupt the passing lanes. I've never seen an offense like Nicholls State where their shortest player is also their center. They kept posting up a 5'9 guy in the paint, who would immediately pass the ball back out.

Hendrix only had 5 points, but he still played a good game. We dominated them on the boards, and Hendrix did a good job of finding the open man when he was double and triple teamed. If our guards so much as looked at Hendrix, the entire Nicholls State defense collapsed on him.

The crowd was a joke. They announced the attendance as over 8,000, but I would be willing to wager that there wasn't even 2,000 people actually there. I know a lot of Bama fans won't come out to support basketball if there is any football being played, but at noon on Saturday that was not the case. The students were still on campus, albeit many were probably preoccupied with studying for exams. Kids these days need to get their priorities in order, I would have never missed a basketball game to study! I did not even see the football recruits at the game. I would not be surprised if Coach Saban decided after the SeLA game, that taking them to a Bball game would not be a good recruiting tool, thanks to the dead atmosphere in Coleman these days. Come on people, if we are going to demand excellence out of this program, we can at least do our part by showing some support.

No more games until the Wofford Terriers come to town as part of the Las Vegas Invitational on December 17. Until then, good luck to all of our student-athletes on their final exams.

SEC Rankings week 5

1) Tennessee- keeps on chugging along. Chattanooga did play them tough.
2) Vanderbilt- still undefeated with a final non-conference test at Depaul.
3) Ole Miss- a good win at UCF. Is it smoke and mirrors or does Andy Kennedy have a solid team in Oxford?
4) Arkansas- the kings of Missouri. Should go into conference play with one loss as going to OU just got easier (Sooners lost to SF Austin at home).
5) Florida- they should get Vitale's cupcake scheddule of the year.
6) Georgia- impressive beatdown of Wake Forest. How is Felton winning with this ragtag bunch?
7) South Carolina- the only SEC winner in the SEC-Big East challenge. Four losses at this stage isn't great, but all of the losses were competitive and to probable NCAA tournament squads.
8) Mississippi State- they beat up SELA. A 3 game road trip starting next week should be interesting.
9) LSU- despite the serious choke job against Nova, they're getting better.
10) Alabama- tough loss to Georgetown and blowout of Nicholls State. Did I mention we're playing D?
11) Kentucky- losing to Indiana isn't bad... getting run out of the building is another thing.
12) Auburn- no excuse in getting hammerred by West Virginia. I guess the Weagles are back where they belong.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Crimsons Crush Colonels

Alabama finally enjoyed a breather of a game for the first time in several seasons. Nichols State simply was outmanned at every position. They played hard and well, but this game was evidence that sometimes one team just is that much better than the other. I'll take that as a good sign coming out of the ATM and Georgetown losses.

Here's a quick Box Score. Bama enjoyed balanced scoring, committed few turnovers, shot the ball well and shot 80% from the free throw line. It also might be the only chance the walk on kids get to play this year. Let's hope they carry some of the confidence generated by this win into Las Vegas with them.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Nicholls State stats pack...

This team isn't very good. They are coming off a big win at New Orleans last week, sending the Privateers to their 1st loss of the season. Still, FSU, St Mary's, and Tulane beat them by 20 plus points. I could not find season statistics for Nicholls State so instead I linked a bunch of other stuff below.

Links:
- Team stats
- Roster
- Schedule/Results
- How they fared against LSU

Stats:
- 41% FG
- 30.7% 3PT FG
- 63.3% FT
- 18.8 Turnovers per game

Prediction: I've not seen Nicholls State play so I know little about them. Saying that, if there's a game this season we could blow someone out in it's this one. No blowout, a little closer than expected but, Alabama by 11.

Gametime is 1PM EST (noon CST). The game is on CSS and is part of the ESPN Fullcourt package. I have to tivo it as tomorrow is going to be too nice of a day to stay indoors. Golf is calling me.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Experience Edges Enthusiasm

Alabama fought hard and played about as well as it could, but Georgetown's experience and poise won the game for them down the stretch.

Edit- Box score

Richard Hendrix was a force underneath the basket, especially in the first half, and Mykal Riley provided an outside threat that kept the Crimson in contention. Justin Knox got in early foul trouble, but Yamene Coleman grabbed six rebounds and harassed the Hoya's big men underneath the basket effectively enough to throw off their tempo until the last few minutes of the game.

Bama lost this game at the free throw line again, but give Georgetown credit. They made the big plays and the big shots when they needed them. Alabama was not able to do that during the last four and one half minutes of the game.

Alabama's defensive effort was good again. Georgetown got three or four open threes late in the game when Bama's guards ran in to give help when the Hoya's Hibbert got the ball underneath the basket. Bama's guards could not hustle back in time to cover Hibbert's outlet pass for the open three.

CMG continued to show improvement as a floor coach. He made effective timeout calls and substituted liberally. We never saw Hollinger at the point, probably because of the Hoya's size and athleticism. I also wondered why we did not see Pickett at the point a bit more. Torrance looks most at ease in transition, but he did try to make a few moves toward the hoop tonight.

The better, more experienced team won the game tonight. Bama continues to show improvement. They continue to look like a disciplined team, they just are trying to find their identity while mastering the fundamentals. CMG continues to do a better job than I think I have seen in years past of controlling the team and not letting things get out of hand.

Perhaps the stats sheets will reveal something more instructive. I was disappointed to come so close just to lose the game but the team acquitted themselves well against a formidable opponent for the second time in a week. Maybe they will beat the third one.

Roll Tide!

Georgetown stats pack

I have to admit I'm a bit more 'stoked' about this game being that I used to root against the Hoyas big time in the 80s. Anyways, stats pack for everyone.

They're currently #1 in scoring defense so if you thought SELA played good D then get ready to be wowed. Led by Roy Hibbert and Jonathan Wallace (from Harvest, AL) Georgetown has one heck of an inside/outside game. Hibbert is near the top in FG% and Wallace is 43% from beyond the arc (he's better from 3 than 2).

Other players to watch are Patrick Ewing Jr who seems to have found comfort since leaving Indiana, Jessie Sapp (2nd leading scorer and APG leader) who was injured against Fairfield, but expects to play, and DaJuan Summers... a a sophomore that led the team in scoring against Fairfield. Jeremiah Rivers (so) and Austin Freeman (fr) are the guys off the bench to watch.

The stats:
- 49% FG
- 37% 3PT FG
- +5.6 rebound margin (you'd think with their size it would be more)
- 10.8 turnovers per game
- 52.7% FT... makes us look like Bobby Hurley at the line

Prediction: Georgetown has been sleepwalking through their first 5 games. Trouncing Michigan is their biggest win so far. Saying that, right now I don't think we're as good as Michigan so I can see this game getting away from us early if we can't stop Georgetown inside. Still, the game is in Birmingham so we got a shot. In the end it's too much size and stingy D that gets the Hoyas the win. Georgetown by 9.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Stats, stats, and more stats (NCAA basketball)

From ncaasports.com. It didn't link correctly so I'll summarize below. I figure my boredom should be the millions that read this blog's gain (g).

Scoring Offense
#1 VMI- 98.7, Alabama- 77.0

Scoring Defense
#1 Georgetown- 50.0 PPG (uh oh), Alabama- 75.7 PPG

Scoring Margin
#1 West Virginia- 31.3, Alabama- 1.3

FG%
#1 Texas- 54.4%, Alabama- 45.1%

FG% Defense
#1 West Virginia- 32.4%, Alabama- 42.6%

3PT FGs per game
#1 Troy- 12.8, Alabama- 5.2

3PT FG%
#1 Texas- 48.6%, Alabama- 30.7%

FT%
#1 Florida State- 80.8%, Alabama-58.4% (holy crap)

Rebound Margin
#1 Wofford- +17.0, Alabama- +5.5

Assist per Game
#1 Tennessee- 21.6, Alabama- 16.3

Blocked Shots per Game
#1 Dusquene- 9.7, Alabama- 4.8

Steals per Game
#1 VMI- 15.7, Alabama- 7.5

Turnovers per Game
#1 Butler- 9.4, Alabama- 12.8

Assist/Turnover Ratio
#1 Pitt- 1.71, #23 Alabama- 1.27

What does all this mean?

The positives:
- We take care of the ball and play good defense.

The negatives:
- Can't hit FTs and don't clear the boards as good as we should.

Taking over the barn

Tickets for the February 24th game at auburn went on sale this morning. This game is on a Sunday afternoon, so hopefully we will have a lot of Bama fans supporting the team in auburn. Hit the link below and do your part to help us take over the barn!

Tickets

Sunday, December 02, 2007

The dark side of the SELA win.

Alias pretty much covered all the positive aspects of this game, but when you need a miraculous comeback to get into overtime with a directional school from Louisiana, there is work needed to be done. For what it's worth, I agree with Alias 100%, to play great defense and overcome some God awful shooting and still get the win is certainly a good sign.

We did not turn the ball over a lot, and for the most part we took high percentage shots, they just were not falling. In the first half, I thought the intensity was lacking on offense. Coach Gottfried even said as much in his post game comments. We seemed to be going through the motions, rather than making crisp passes and cutting with a purpose. In the second half, the effort was much better, but the shots still were not falling.

I would have liked to have seen us go to more of a drive and dish style of game. We were much bigger, stronger, and quicker than SELA. When the shots weren't falling, we should have tried to attack the rim and at least get to the foul line. Of course, with our pathetic free throw shooting, that probably would not have worked either.

At one point we called a timeout, then came out of the timeout and nearly got a shot clock violation. There is no excuse for not realizing how much time is left on the shot clock during a timeout at this level.

Even though they were double-teaming Hendrix, I still wish we would have got him the ball more. I can think of 6 or 7 instances where Hendrix worked to get in position to receive a pass in the low post, but our wing players rotated the ball back around the perimeter instead of working to create a passing lane and getting the big man the ball. Even though the double team was coming, Hendrix could have found the open man to potentially create some more easy scoring opportunities.

Speaking of Hendrix, I am sick and tired of seeing our centers and power forwards shooting 3's. First it was Chuck Davis, then it was Jemareo Davidson, and now Hendrix is shooting from beyond the arc. Please, Coach Gottfried, I beg of you...Make this stop! I know he made one, but that's not the point. The man is an absolute beast in the paint. Furthermore, we don't have any other big men we can really count on to get the rebound. There is no reason Hendrix should be shooting from the perimeter.

For three games in a row now, our perimeter shooting has been absent. As a former "zone buster" I believe this problem is mostly mental. Gee and Hillman have shown they can shoot at times, and we know Riley and Tubbs have the ability to be good outside shooters. Everyone is in a slump right now. When you miss a few shots in a row, you start pressing and thinking too much. Tubbs took one shot last night when he didn't have his feet set, but for the most part, I don't think the problems right now are mechanical. In my experience, you shoot the best when you have a relaxed but focused mindset. If you are over confident you tend to get sloppy mechanically or step outside your range. If you haven't been shooting well, you get tense and sometimes you tend to try to change something or simply get out of rhythm. If one of our guys can break out of this slump, I think the rest will follow suit. They just need to get used to seeing the ball go through the basket again. The only way to get out of it, is to continue shooting until they make a few and get their confidence back. Maybe Tubbs and Riley's big 3's late in the game yesterday will be the spark. We can't afford to make it 4 straight games with no perimeter play, otherwise we will be in serious trouble against a top 5 Georgetown team.

I hope everyone will come out to the BJCC Wednesday night as we try to upset one of the best teams in the country on national television in my hometown. RTR!

Ranking the SEC- week 4

Or is it 5... I didn't check. Anyways...

1) Tennessee- keep pounding overmatched foes to the ground.
2) Vanderbilt- needed double OT to beat USA, but still undefeated so they stay here. Also, a good win against Ga Tech.
3) Ole Nutt... Miss- undefeated and it feels so good. Might be better than most thought (including myself).
4) Arkansas- good win against Missouri. Still, flopped with Ole Miss... for now.
5) Florida- FSU loss might've been the best thing to happen to the roster.
6) Georgia- gritty squad... how long they get by on grit is anyone's guess.
7) Auburn- moving up despite not playing.
8) South Carolina- they did obilerate Campbell so that counts for something.
9) Kentucky- there's no shame in losing to UNC, but being blown out of the building at home? UK fans will find a way to blame Tubby Smith for this.
10) LSU- only here because the 2 below look dreadful.
11) Alabama- late 3s by Tubbs and Riley send the SELA game to OT... was this trip necessary.
12) Mississippi State- wasn't this supposed to be their return to the NCAA year?

Late Lunge Licks Lions

The Crimson Cabaret finally has a red headed dancer!

Perhaps I should not lead a post with that sentence after using the word "lick" in the byline, but the red head was the prettiest thing I saw on the court tonight . Although I'm not convinced she is a natural red head, I sure was glad to see her on the court tonight. Now on to the game.

I am loathe to disagree with the few other Bama Basketball fans who were willing to drive to Coleman Coliseum to watch them play a team like S.E.L.A. (there comes that cheerleader theme again!), but the people who did attend this game should not be disappointed with the team's performance. Sure, they missed their first seven free throws (which by itself could have made a huge difference in the game) and (as alcrtide put it) they couldn't hit the ocean from the beach tonight (33.8% from the floor!). But nights like this should be expected from almost any team. And since CMG finally is trying to stress and coach defense he will not have as much time to focus on shooting as he has in seasons past.

In my opinion this was not an ugly win. It was evidence of CMG's real commitment to start teaching and coaching basketball instead of "back-yard shoot 'em up," and I for one am darned glad to see it.

No one on Bama's team could hit a shot until the game was almost over. Riley, Gee and Tubbs took turns missing three point shots. Jemison could not hit his ten foot jump shot. Hollinger started at the point and didn't even try to shoot. Gee could not hit his three footers that normally float into the basket.

When it became obvious that no one else could hit a bucket, SELA packed the defense around Hendrix to deny him the ball. When he did get the ball near the basket, even Hendrix's new-found hook shot evaded him.

Riley tried another couple of threes, to no avail. Even Hollinger finally hoisted one. It was an air ball. Pickett substituted for Hollinger. His threes could not find the basket. Knox came in when Hendrix picked up his second foul with about 3 minutes left in the half. Knox hit 50% from the field, but he only attempted two shots. Hendrix hit one of Bama's two first half threes. Then he promptly missed another.

The offense did bog down at times, but for the most part the kids were missing good, open shots. They worked hard to get open. Several time throughout the game the forwards (and sometimes Knox) set double screens near the foul line to free Riley or Tubbs, but the shooters could not complete the play.

Mama said there'd be games like this. There'll be games like this, my mama said. That is why my mama told me that any good team in any sport has to learn to play defense first. Every team and every shooter suffers off nights. Not very good teams (like Bama's) will have team-wide off-shooting nights. Tonight was one of those nights. Bama would have lost the game if they had not been playing defense.

The stat sheet shows that SELA shot 40% from the field and 50% outside the arc. What it does not show is how hard they had to work to get those shots or that they had two hot shooters the entire game. SELA scored only 51 points in regulation and only 24 in the first half. (I think those numbers are accurate but it is late and I am tired.) Bama worked hard all night to deny them the ball and to harass them when they did touch it. The Lions' 18 turnovers might be the most telling defensive statistic. At least two of those were shot clock violations. Gee was the only Bama player with two turn overs, and at least one of those happened in a failed fast-break attempt.

The effort fans have longed for years to see also was evidenced both by Bama's 16 offensive rebounds and by their distribution. Gee had five and the guards collected six. Hollinger grabbed three of those.

Was this a great win? By no means. Was it a good win? It certainly was. Bama never gave up.

CMG finally won an end-game coaches duel After missing almost every shot for 39 and one-half minutes, Bama still was only six points behind. Bama got the ball and Hollinger quickly dribbled across the mid-court stripe to call Bama's next to last time out. Bama patiently ran its offense until an open Riley drained a three with about 20 seconds left in regulation. Bama was awarded the ball after a shove was called against one of the Lions underneath the basket. (Okay, so sometimes a team gets lucky on its home court!) CMG used his last time out to set up another double pick play to free Riley to tie the game. Riley's man got around the screen, hence Plan B. Tubbs got the ball and was open outside the arc as the clock approached zero, so he launched the game tying shot.

With the defense packed around Hendrix and Riley having finally found his shooting zone, he hit three more three point shots in the overtime to generate and then preserve the lead. I hope the fans who left the game early at least got to hear the end on their car radios. It was much more fun to see it unfold from the stands.

Bama is not a very good team. They may well not turn into a good offensive team before this season ends. But if they keep playing the way they played tonight they could become a very good defensive team before the season is over. Since that is what I asked to see before the Crimson-White game, I am not about to complain. The shooting can and will come for many of these kids. For now I think they need to continue to focus on defense.

Roll Tide.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Surviving the Lions... Tide squeak out 63-61 OT win...

... thanks to late heroics by Tubbs and Riley to send the game to OT. Riley took over in OT with three 3s... one being a dagger in the closing seconds of OT to seal the win.

Box score

The good:
- Riley's 2nd half
- Hendrix everywhere except the charity stripe
- defensive intensity (Jemison gets special kudos)

The bad:
- Couldn't throw it in the ocean up until the final minute of regulation.
- 39% from the charity stripe (FT line)? Someone should've started "grandma-ing" it.
- Gee was AUful the entire game and Riley was as bad the 1st half.

A gritty win... good to see the team didn't give up when SELA was up by 5 under 90 seconds to go. Saying that, call me concerned about this team...

Your Southeastern Louisiana stats pack

They're 5-1... with the L courtesy of LSU last month (11/12). Click here for SELa stats.

Kevyn Green leads the team in scoring (14.8) with roughly half his FG attempts from beyond the arc. Patrick Sullivan averages a double double (10.7/10/2) and Tavaris Nance logs the most minutes (32.8).

The stats:
- 48.5% FG
- 37% 3PT FG
- 66% FT
- +13.8 rebound margin
- 13 turnovers per game

Prediction: IF we can contain their 3 point shooting (Green and Dunbar shoot 43% and 44%) and get a body on Sullivan we should win by a comfortable margin. However, coming off a loss to A&M and an upcoming game against Georgetown I want to see if the team can focus on the game at hand. I think this one is close for 30 minutes and then we pull away. Alabama by 14.

FYI- an article from lionsports.net previewing the game.

Gametime is 7PM EST on CSS. It doesn't appear it's listed in my fullcourt package so I'll be watching Belmont at Xavier while listening to the game on the net.