Sunday, January 27, 2008

Additional Attention After Auburn

DJC is not the only plagiaristic SOB on here. I see BobbyJack now is doing the same thing. I'll have to remember to ask Dr. Witt to require a mandatory ethics class for each degree awarded by the University. This conduct is appalling. I would take my talents elsewhere but these guys are paying me too much to leave right now, especially during a season when the team has been struggling. Oh well, here it is anyway.

I thought Coach Gottfried's game plan was excellent. It was apparent to me early that he had decided to try to run the depleted api to fatigue. That plan had worked before the midpoint of the second half. (To their credit and their coach's credit, api never stopped playing hard even when the game obviously was over.) He also had the presence of mind to go back to a zone defense as soon as Bama put api in the bonus, because they would have killed us from the free throw line if we had kept fouling at that pace. I would hate to see what Jeff Lebo's full court press is going to look like when he has enough bodies to run it. We were fortunate he did not have enough to employ it yesterday. CMG made the right decisions here.

I was personally excited to see My Man Hollinger finally have another really good day outside the arc. He threw up one ill-advised air ball with about 25 seconds left on the shot clock while we were trying to end the game. He had a few other mental break downs, but this was a great game for him. All Bama fans should be both pleased for Brandon and proud of his effort. If he could develop some consistency, then one of our other shooters who won't play defense could sit on the bench a bit more.

We cannot yet count on him to score points, but the turning point in the game in my opinion was when Scenario Hillman came off the bench. Bama had been feeding Hendrix in the post up to that point, but no one else was moving on offense at all. Apparently our players have been allowed to believe that they don't have to be doing anything but standing around so long as the offensive game plan is to feed Hendrix.

The defense was almost nonexistent until Hillman came off the bench, but his early pressure and steals seemed to inject a little extra life into the Bama legs on both ends of the court. Hillman and Hollinger were the MVPs of this game because they brought the little bit extra that has been missing almost all season long.

Other than Hillman's contributions, I saw the same deficiencies on defense yesterday that I have seen all this season and last. No, let's be honest with ourselves: Those same defensive problems have been present throughout CMG's tenure. Only the names have changed.

We always can count on two or three of our kids to play defense, while the other two or three are allowed to ignore that part of their game. I have pretty much reached the conclusion that the ones who do play defense, especially the guards (in this case Hollinger, Hillman and Tubbs on this squad) learned their defense in high school. Those who do not play defense (Pickett and Gee on this team) did not look like they knew how to play defense when they arrived on campus and do not seem to have learned anything more about it during their Bama tenure. School is still out on Pickett. He looks like he can and does play defense, but if his mistakes are not corrected by the coaching staff then his habit patterns will digress rather than improve.

Defense is played with the feet. Riley and Gee play defense with their hands. They probably were the best athletes on the floor in high school so they never were forced to use their feet then. Things are different now. Sure, they pick up the occasional steal. But for every turnover they force, they surrender several open three point shots, an uncontested drive along the baseline, or are beaten back up court on defense. Neither of these young men looks like he has any clue how to play defense and both of them are perpetually out of position which contributes to the above problems.

I know all players give up these plays. But good players do not give them up as consistently as some of ours do. Other players on our team exhibit the same problems, but these two get the most playing time which makes their problems the most obvious.

Please forgive me if I appear to be disparaging our players. That is not my intent. The responsibility has to lie with our coaching staff. As some guest on a state-wide radio show said last week, "The problem is that all their problems seem to be correctable." That would be a good thing, provided we could have any confidence that our staff would correct those problems. I wish I could explain why they do not. Even the 12 year old girl who sits behind me can explain the problems to our coaches because her coach has taught the problems and the solutions to her.

Another reason I say the problems lie with our coaching staff is that these same problems have plagued our teams during pretty much CMG's entire tenure. Do the names Grizzard, Winston and Shelton ring a bell? I mention them not because they are the only examples but because they were among those who were most depended upon to score for each of their respective squads. Why would our coaches keep those young men on the floor for most of every game when they would not or could not play fundamentally sound defense; especially in the games when they were not contributing on the offensive end of the court?

While I am complaining, it should be patently obvious to everyone by now that we cannot and will not win when all our perimeter shooters are having off nights. If he is not going to rotate them in to find the hot shooter every night, then CMG better find some other type of offense that gets someone besides Hendrix or Jemison a 10 foot jump shot. I don't care what it is, but we really need one.

The honest but painful truth is that the fan base is suffering some form of Gottfried fatigue. I know it's tough to say that after a win, but that was the least talented team in the SEC in a game played on our home court during one of our hottest shooting nights of the season. If Coach Lebo ever gets enough players, api could become a real force in our conference.

I do not know Coach Gottfried, but I do like most of what I know about him. He is good for our program and players in many ways. We all know about his player graduation rate, and this year's team is not just passing but passing with very high grades. I can't remember the last time we read about one of our players getting arrested or having done something else to embarrass our program our University. Coach Gottfried honestly interacts with the students on a regular basis and tells them personally how much he appreciates their support. He has spearheaded several charitable causes and in assisted in many others. He contributes to our community and pours in many other ways that are not publicized.

Given all of his talents and attributes, it still amazes me that Coach Gottfried does some of his players the disservice of not insisting that they learn and play fundamentally sound defense or that they play hard all the time. We were lackadaisical on both ends of the court yesterday until Hillman went into the game. We also seemed to loose out attention, poise and intensity during the last ten minutes of the game. All of these problems are correctable. I simply do not understand how such a good man who obviously cares deeply for the young men who have been entrusted to his care continues to neglect these responsibilities to them. Not only does he teach them a bad life lesson about not doing things properly. He also disserves the other players on the team, the ones like Hillman and Hollinger and Hendrix who are playing defense and at full speed on both ends of the court. They keep losing their games because their teammates are not being taught how to do things properly our held accountable when they do not.

I'm still glad we won. I hope my colleagues do not find it necessary to mimic the content of this post any time soon. I hope CMG gives me good reason to delete it over the next few weeks.

Up next, the viles!

4 comments:

III said...

WAIT A MINUTE!!...


How long have we been playing basketball?

Have you guys ever written an entry talking about how apathetic fans like me perpetuate the mediocrity that you passionate round-ball lovers are so upset about?? If you guys ever write something like that, be sure & post a link at CCC.

Alias said...

iii, I'm not sure I understand your question/comment. Please explain.

bobbyjack said...

I understand exactly what you mean. Somehow, a good portion of the Alabama fan base truly believes that a successful basketball program would get in the way of football progress. It's a stupid theory, but it's one believed by more than a good portion of the football fanbase.

I'll write up something on that when the time is right, but to give a quick example... the main reason most don't want to let CMG go next year regardless of how the season goes is the $3 million due to him. Meanwhile, no one had an issue with firing Shula and paying him $4 million not to coach.

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