Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Top Ten Tennessee Turns the Tide in Tuscaloosa

This team played as hard as any I've ever seen. Gee, Hollinger, Hendrix, and Hillman seemed to go full speed after every loose ball at both ends of the court all night, but we didn't always play smart, we made some bad in-game decisions, and we didn't make the plays down the stretch, so now we're 1-5 in SEC play.

We were very fortunate that we did not get blown out in the first 5 or 6 minutes of the game. We started off in a man to man defense, and UT spread the floor and used their quickness to get to the basket. We gave up a ton of shots in the paint early. Fortunately for us, UT couldn't make a layup in the early going. I think we stayed with Rico at PG for too long. It was obvious very early on that he was not going to have a good game. He made poor decisions on the break, turning what should have been easy baskets into turnovers. He also missed several scoring opportunities because he was not keeping his head up. No points, 3 assists, and 5 turnovers is not what you are looking for out of your PG.

When we switched to the zone, we were able to force ut to take more low percentage shots. The problem was that we couldn't rebound out of it. I thought we did a tremendous job of rebounding on the offensive end, with Gee, Hendrix, Jemison, and even Riley putting forth a lot of effort to keep us in the game with 2nd chance points, but we were still outrebounded 41-32. As I said before the game, I liked the idea of playing a zone, but I thought we should have changed it up a little bit from time to time to keep them off balance, but we essentially stayed in the same defense for the entire second half.

I think it is time to replace Jemison in the starting lineup. He plays hard and probably pulls down more rebounds than he should, but his shooting seems to have regressed from last year. He was 1 for 5 last night, and I don't think any of those were from more than 8 feet. He can't even make a layup right now, and he doesn't have the size to be a great defender down low. Coleman isn't going to score either, but at least he can help defend the paint and maybe pull down a few more rebounds. It would be nice to see what Knox could do from time to time, but we haven't made any effort to get him playing time and help him develop. We need somebody to step up and compliment Hendrix in the paint.

Hollinger shot the ball well, but struggled at times with the pressure at point, mostly due to his size. He needs to realize that his game should be to look for the perimeter shot, he tried to attack the basket a couple of times with less than desirable results. You're not going to score many layups driving to the hoop in the SEC if you are under 6 ft.

I liked the lineup we used late in the 1st half when we had all 3 PGs on the court, but I would have much rather have seen Torrance running the point than Rico at that point.

We still do not seem to grasp the fundamental basics of breaking a press. I was having flashbacks to the Clemson game when, at the start of the 2nd half, we were unable to even get the ball across halfcourt and gave up a 10-0 run. We had at least 3 turnovers because we wouldn't run the baseline after a made basket.

Tennessee is obviously a better team. They now have some players to compliment Chris Lofton. Lofton made 5 from beyond the arc, and 3 of those were uncontested. Riley, Hillman, and Hollinger respectively either got caught out of position or were too slow to close on him. JuJuan Smith killed us from beyond the arc, and for the most part, his shots were contested, with a couple of exceptions. Still, Tennessee did not play their best game. They ended up with even more turnovers than we had, and most of those were unforced. They made poor passes, dropped balls, and missed a lot of easy shots. Considering that we got great games out of Hendrix, Gee, Torrance, Hollinger, and Hillman, we should have been able to pull off the upset at home. Turnovers, piss poor pathetic free throw shooting, and some bad decisions regarding personnel and defensive sets sealed our fate. Everytime we made a run in the 2nd half, Tennessee would answer with a key 3 pointer. Give credit to them for making the shots when they had to, many of which were well contested.

There was a good crowd of 11,800 on hand, and I would say that number appeared to be fairly accurate. The student turnout was much better than the auburn game, but the general public turnout was not as good. Once again, it appeared in my area that a lot of Tide Pride members are giving away their tickets these days. I can't say that I blame them.

Up next, Brady's Bayou Bengals pay us a visit Saturday at 2pm to determine who is the worst team in the SEC right now. We need another blowout win like we had against auburn to give us some confidence going into 2 tough road games next week, at $tarkville and Lexington.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Valiant effort, but Tennessee toughs out a W

93-86

I'm going to point out the bright spots for us:
1) Hollinger continues to shoot the ball well.
2) Hendrix is unstoppable inside when we get him the ball.
3) Torrance and Hillman provided a boost.
4) At times we broke the press nicely.

If this game didn't prove Torrance and Hillman should get more PT then I don't know what else they need to do.

We needed the win, not a moral victory. At the end of the day we're 1-5 in conference with 3 home losses.

I'll try to add more comments tomorrow about the game.

Gameplan for Tennessee

UT is ranked #1 in the RPI, while we are #90 something. This will be a difficult game, but if we could somehow pull it off on national TV, it's the type of game that could turn our season around. We usually play our best against Tennessee for whatever reason. I cannot remember the last time they beat us in Tuscaloosa. Even last year, when we had no business even competing in Knoxville, we took them to overtime and lost on a questionable call. This game may be closer than the experts think.

The key will be how we handle the press. We've struggled against it all year. We did a good job in the first half of the Clemson game, but more than made up for it with a dreadful 2nd half of that game. With the number of guards we have who are capable of handling the ball, we SHOULD be good at attacking the press. Hopefully the coaching staff has spent a lot of time the last few days preaching the fundamentals. Some things I would like to see us do tonight:

-Refrain from inbounding the ball into the corner. Keep the ball near the middle of the court, and anticipate the traps. After making a pass, immediately cut to the open area of the court and look to receive a pass. Using a series of short, quick, diagonal passes, we can beat the press.

-If we do in bound into the corner, immediately pass back to the man who threw the ball in, who will then reverse it to the other side of the court. This will give us a numbers advantage on the strong side and help us get the ball up without turnovers.

-Run the baseline after a made basket. Why we never do this, I don't know. This helps create passing lanes and also can be used to fake the inbounds to one side and then go to the other. I'd also like to see us run the play where we throw the ball to a teammate behind the baseline who then inbounds either down the court or to the original inbounder.

-When we do pick up the dribble and get caught in a trap, the other players need to come help out. We can also fake the lob pass and utilize a bounce pass in the backcourt when necessary.

This is all basketball 101 stuff, but unfortunately I haven't seen any of it this year when we've been pressed. If we will execute these fundamentals, we should be able to get some easy baskets against the press.

Conventional wisdom says you want to slow down the pace with Tennesssee, but with our lack of production in the halfcourt offense, we need to attack the basket every chance we get, in my opinion. We need to have an primary and secondary break on offense before settling into our halfcourt sets. The key is to hustle back on defense after made and missed opportunities.

The old adage is that pressing teams don't like to be pressed. I don't think we can beat them in a full court, 40 minute game, but I would throw in an occasional press just to mix things up. Normally I would suggest pressing after made free throws, but the way we shoot free throws that may only be once or twice per game. We will need to change defenses frequently to keep them off balance, but I would start out in a 2-3 matchup zone. With Hollinger and Riley in the game, I worry about us getting beat on the ball in a man to man, but I think if we extend the zone and matchup out of it, we can still defend the perimeter. Hendrix should be able to defend the paint by himself. If Lofton starts to go off, I switch it up and bring Tubbs in to defend him.

Given the amount of pressure Tennessee puts on the ball, point guard play will be key. Hollinger did a great job of running the point against auburn, but this isn't auburn. Rico may not have the experience to be able to count on a great game out of him at this point against this type of team. I would like to see Torrance get the bulk of the playing time at point, especially considering how well he played against Tennessee last year. He has the experience and the tools to handle the pressure. I would like to see Hollinger get a lot of time at the 2 guard to help bring the ball up and hopefully knock down some 3's. Also, Tennessee likes to overplay the passing lanes, so I think we could spread the floor and use Gee on the backdoor cut to get some easy baskets after faking a pass to the wing.

In conclusion, if we protect the ball (assist to turnover ratio), play good transition defense (GET BACK!), shoot the ball well, and Hendrix can pick up 15 or more points and 10 rebounds or so, then we will have a shot.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Tennessee stats pack

First, their individual stats.
Next, team stats. I'm going to use this site going forward. AUsome site for data.

We know about Lofton from outside, the 3 Smiths (JaJuan, Tyler, and Ramar) and Chism inside, but don't forget about JP Prince and Duke Crews off the bench. Tennessee is not scared to play 10 and sometimes even more. Chances are they'll run everyone and their mother out there to rattle us after a made basket.

The stats:
- 46.6% FG
- 35.4% 3PT FG
- 19.9 Assist per game
- 12.5 turnovers per game
- Rebound margin of -2.9

Defensively:
- Force 20.4 turnovers per game
- 3.4 Blocks
- 10.9 steals

Prediction: PAIN

Ok, let me elaborate... unless we shoot lights out like we did against Auburn I fear Tennessee will run us out of the building in the 2nd half. They'll run more players at us forcing numerous turnovers. If we can't beat Mississippi State, Florida, Clemson or Belmont at home I don't like our chances Tuesday night. Tennessee by a lot late.

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!

SEC Rankings week 12

1) Tennessee- coasted to an easy win over the Dawgs. Next up- @ Tuscaloosa (Tues).
2) Florida- as I write this they're killing Vandy in Gainesville. The young team is starting to gel. Next up- @ Arkansas (Sat).
3) Mississippi State- 9 in a row... and blowing out Ole Miss was impressive. Next up- @ Arkansas (Wed).
4) Ole Miss- I thought they'd play Miss St closer. Next up- Vandy (Wed).
5) Vandy- unless something changes they will have lost 3 of their last 4. Next up- a fight for the #4 spot in the Bamahoops SEC Rankings @ Ole Miss.
6) Arkansas- good win @ LSU. This week is a big week for the Hogs to prove if they're pretenders or contenders. Next up- Miss St (Wed).
7) Kentucky- the bottom half of the SEC is dreadful. Still UK is 3-2 in conference. Next up- @ UGA (Sat).
8) UGA- the tailkicking at UT is the start of their reality check. Next up- @ South Carolina (Wed).
9) Auburn- they suck, but have 2 conference wins. Next up- LSU
10) Alabama- much needed blowout of Auburn, but questions still remain. Next up- Tennessee (Tue).
11) South Carolina- their 273 fans are counting the days to Dave Odom's retirement. Next up- vs UGA (Wed).
12) LSU- Shorthanded, but still shouldn't suck as bad as they have been. Glen Johnson returns shortly and should provide a boost. Next up- @ Auburn.

The SEC looks like C-USA in most years with one dominant team, a couple of "ok" teams, and a fistful of hot garbage. For those new to following Alabama (and SEC) basketball this was the wrong year to take up following basketball. I might have to direct you to some Big 12 and Big East games coming up to see what great basketball look like.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Tigers Tamed

We finally got our first SEC win against a God awful auburn team. I was concerned that the team would throw in the towel after the 0-4 start, but it is obvious that was not the case.

Hollinger got the start over Rico at PG and did a great job. Rico came in off the bench and also ran a nearly flawless point. We ended the game with an incredible 18 assists to 4 turnovers. The most encouraging part of the game was our 3 point shooting. We had been in an awful funk from downtown, but Hollinger, Riley, and Gee really stepped up and shot the ball well today.

Our perimeter defense was much better, although auburn did miss some open shots. We did a good job of changing defenses at the right time to prevent auburn from getting into any kind of rhythm. I particularly liked the way we extended both our man to man and our 1-2-2 zone way out beyond the perimeter to challenge auburn's first pass. This lead to some steals and easy layups on the other end.

Senario is still not a consistent scoring threat, but he showed that he can give us a good spark off the bench. His dunk over auburn's #4 with the and one may be the best dunk I've ever seen. It's definitely right up there with Jason Reece dunking on auburn a few years ago.

Hendrix was unstoppable but his playing time was limited due to foul trouble. It was nice to see us stretch the lead while playing their game. I never thought we would win a 3 point shooting contest with them, but that's pretty much what we did. At one point in the second half, we had no big men on the floor.

When Hendrix was in the game, I thought we did a good job of trying to run our offense through him. We got some open looks from our inside-outside game. We got scoring from every position on the floor, with the exception of Demetrius Jemison who scored the games 1st point but was then shut out before fouling out.

The game would have been over at halftime if we could just shoot a $#%$%@! free throw. It's way beyond frustrating at this point.

We missed a golden opportunity to get some guys some experience today. This would have been a perfect opportunity for Justin Tubbs to get some real work on his shot and maybe get his confidence back up. It would have also been a good chance to get Justin Knox some badly needed game experience. Unfortunately, they both sat on the bench the entire game. When we took a 30 point lead in the second half, the lineup should have featured Rico, Hillman, Tubbs, and Knox, in my opinion. I fail to understand why we would put Hendrix back in for the final minutes of a blowout win.

The crowd was much better today than I expected. I was expecting a lot more no shows, but I would estimate a crowd of approximately 12,000. There were a few auburn fans in attendance, but they were not nearly as numerous or obnoxious as the bunch $tate brought. Our crowd was much more loud and enthusiastic from the tip. I really don't understand why the majority of our fans do not realize that m$u is our biggest rival in basketball, but it was nice to have some positive energy in Coleman for a change. Despite the large crowd, at least in my general area, it seemed that a lot of season ticket holders either sold or gave their tickets away. None of the "regulars" in the area around my Tide Pride seats were present, and the folks in front of me even allowed their tickets to be used by auburn fans.

Up next, Bruce Pearl brings his top 10 Tennessee team to Tuscaloosa Tuesday. Tip-off is at 8pm and the game will be televised nationally on ESPN. As we speak, I'm watching Tennessee play uga and they've held the bulldogs to 9 points in the first 11 minutes with their press. Wonder what would have happened if we would have pressed uga in athens, but I digress. This will be a very tough game for us, as we have had problems handling the press, and ut is an extremely athletic and energetic team. Still, they are not unbeatable, as Kentucky proved at Rupp arena. If we could somehow or another find a way to win, it could be a turning point in this season. Fans are encouraged to wear white. I'll be there, but I'm wearing crimson because I think the white-out thing is stupid, and we've lost everytime I have participated in the past.

Bama blast Barn


97-77
in a game that wasn't as close as the final score. They couldn't stop us from outside or Hendrix inside. Total domination.

The good:
- Shot selection
- FG percentage
- Rebounding
- Enthuisasm

The bad:
- FT shooting is AUful
- Jemison looks lost out there... although did a nice job on the boards

I'm sure DJC and Alias will chime in with live observations so I'll keep this short. The only gripe I have is not getting more of the bench involved when the game was in hand (up by 30). Otherwise, an almost flawless performance by the team and coaching staff. Kudos to all.

Auburn stats pack

I apologize in advance if this is abbreviated... 3 days in Anniston sucked the life out of me. I'm still recovering.

Auburn stats to date.

The stats:
- 48% FG
- 34% 3PT FG
- 61% FT
- Rebound margin of +2.1
- 15 turnovers a game

Defensively:
- 44% FG
- 36% 3PT FG
- roughly 3 blocks per game
- 67.5 points allowed per game

With Barber out for a while, the offense has been shared by Prowell, Barrett, and Tolbert. They've won 3 straight... the most impressive was beating Ole Miiss at home. Most know that Auburn is playing with a limited roster, yet somehow they're 2-2 in the conference.

Prediction: It would be too easy to say that Auburn comes into Tuscaloosa and wins. The game will be decided on who's better from beyond the arc. We have a considerable size advantage over them, but probably won't use it so we better pray that Gee, Riley, Hollinger, Torrance, and Tubbs (if he sees the court) drains at least 40% from outside. I don't see a whole lot of wins left on the schedule, but this is one of the few we SHOULD win. Alabama by 7.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

SEC Rankings week 11

Short, but to the point...

1) Tennessee- probably a lock to be here all season although losing last night was unexpected.
2) Ole Miss- suprising loss to the fightin' Lebos, but still the 2nd best team in the conference.
3) Florida- I still don't know how good they are, but they keep winning.
4) Vanderbilt- demolished by Tennessee.
5) Mississippi State- winners of 8 in a row.
6) Auburn- Lebo is still getting the most out of his team.
7) Georgia- Good win over the struggling Hogs.
8) South Carolina- Dave Odom's last hurrah... slightly better than mediocre play.
9) Arkansas- questionable substitution moves by Pelphrey... they should be better than this.
10) Kentucky- I can't believe they're still under .500. Good win over the Vols though.
11) Alabama- Only LSU can keep us from the bottom.
12) LSU- it's a race between Brady and CMG for the coach on the hottest seat.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

To change things up... what the starting lineup should be for Alabama

PF- Hendrix
SF- Jemison
C- Coleman
PG- Torrance
SG- Gee

I'm sure the congregation is saying, "WTF, are you on drugs?" Let me explain. We have an athletic team that can run but doesn't so if we're not running then we should field the best half court team we can.

Obviously, Hendrix and Gee are givens (even though at times I'd like to see Gee get more pine time for ill-advised shots), but what about the rest. Torrance is our best defender playing the point. Some might argue Hollinger is, but he's a liability against bigger guards. Pickett should be the 1st off the bench. I know he's shown flashes of brilliance at the point, but overall I just don't think he's ready to log 30+ minutes leading this team.

Coleman is AUful on the offensive side, but could bring something defensively in the middle. You know... maybe someone to intimidate all those uncontested drives. He might foul out early, but heck... we get something out of him.

Jemison IMO could become a bigger offensive threat if once in a while we run a play for him. He's regressed a bit from last season, but not for a lack of effort.

As for the bench... 1st set of substitutions should be Pickett, Riley, and Hollinger for Gee, Torrance, and Coleman. Bring back Gee (with Knox) to give Hendrix and Jemison a breather. Mix and match from there... maybe adding Tubbs and Hillman in and out.

I know some of this is "crazy talk" but what we're putting out there right now isn't getting the job done. I know defense has never been the calling card for our team under CMG, but right now it's about the only chance we have so somewhat salvage what's left of this season.

While I'm making "crazy talk," a shift in philosophy could get us into the NCAA tournament via the SECT. The SEC is really weak this year and anyone can win the tourney... including us. I'm not holding my breath or anything... just want to put that small glimmer of hope out there.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Great Players Make Great Coaches- Or Do They

I posted the title to this entry before doing any research. I have had many friends over many years who have said that great players make great coaches. I've had other friends who have said great coaches build great players and great teams. We will never reconcile those two camps, but I wondered how that might apply to the present Alabama regime.

I am neither a recruiting guru nor even an enthusiast. What is left of my life is way too short to spend worrying about whether some 17-20 year old kid wants to play ball for my old school. These numbers will be based solely on Google searches. So here goes:

Richard Hendrix - He came out of high school with a Six Star Rivals ranking and was deemed the ninth best player in the nation and the sixth best player at his position.

Mykal Riley - No Rivals Ranking

Mikhail Torrance - 31st best point guard in the nation. Ranked the 143 best player in the Rivals 150 with no Rivals Star rating.

Justin Tubbs - Does not play enough to count but he had no Rivals Ranking as a Junior.

Brandon Hollinger - 6A Allstate Player , no Rivals rating

Rico Pickett - 12th best point guard and Rivals 71st best player

Alonzo Gee - 10th best shooting guard and 33rd best player in the country (as a junior?)

Senario Hillman - 9th best shooting guard and 40th best player in the nation based on his sophomore year results. Scout had him as the 10th best shooting guard his senior year. He doesn't see the floor, presumably because he can't buy a basket. His defense certainly is not any worse than Riley's.

Demetrius Jemison - 148th best player in the nation and 31st best power forward. No stars.

Justin Knox and Yamene Coleman were ranked the same or slightly better than Jemison.

Only three players on this year's team were ranked in the top 50 nationally in their respective senior years: Hendrix, Gee and Hillman. Hillman barely sees the court. Why is that the case when we so obviously need a consistent outside threat? Hendrix matured substantially after his first year, especially under Tom Asbury's tutelage. Gee still is just as likely to dribble the ball off his own foot as he is to score 20 plus points in a game. My conclusions? School is still out on Pickett. Hendrix has improved. Gee does not show any signs of any substantial impact of coaching on him. He does have more moments of focus than he used to but he remains too inconsistent to be deemed a particularly well coached player.

Jemison showed streaks of excellence last season. He frequently seemed well coached, boxed out, defended fairly well, and scored a few points. He has not been nearly as consistent this season, but I am not really sure why that is. Conclusion: His absence of improvement does not reflect any exceptional coaching results.

Coleman can contribute eventually if he receives proper coaching. Ditto for Knox. Neither is in a position to make a major contribution right now. School is still out on both of these players' development.

Which of the remaining guards shows evidence of substantial improvement due to the way he has been coached? I saw a fair amount of both Hollinger and Torrance during their high school careers. I'd say they both are about on par with where they were in high school, except that each is less reliable now when shooting out side the arc.

I'm not sure we have enough information to draw any real conclusions, but we have at least three exceptional players on this team. One almost never see the court and the other is talented but unreliable. I've also yet to see consistent over achievement by any of the remaining players.

My tentative conclusion at this point is that we will not be a great team until we are full of great players, and even that remains in question absent a floor general like Ron Steele or Antoine Pettway.

Perhaps we can revisit this after other readers link and post more information because my searches certainly were an inexact science.

This might explain why Alabama basketball is struggling this year


You can't make this stuff up.

SEC Coaches on the hot seats

From AOL Sports. This was before the debacle against MSU. They linked our "About CMG's Salary" post.

Ray Melick from the Bham News says that cliches don't cut it anymore.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Beaten by Bulldogs

If you want to know what happened, just read my recap of any of our many other losses this season. It's the same old crap...poor free throw shooting, poor perimeter defense, no outside shooting, inconsistent guard play, and turnovers at key times.

This is one of the worst offensive teams I have ever seen. Much like UGA, m$u put a priority on denying the entry pass to Hendrix. They fronted him all game, and after getting burned a few times early, they decided to double team him. It seemed like on the rare occasion in the second half when an opportunity presented itself to get the ball in to Richard in the post, our wing men would not make the pass. Despite all of this, Hendrix still had a monster game thanks to a fast start and some loose ball and second chance scoring opportunities. For the first 7 to 8 minutes of the second half, our offensive production consisted of one 3 pointer, one dunk, and a free throw.

For the most part, I thought we played pretty good defense. m$u had trouble attacking our 2-3 zone. They extended the lead in the second half thanks to Jamont Gordan shooting long range 3's over the top. We finally made the adjustment and switched to a box and 1, but I thought we should have made that move a lot sooner than we did. Torrance and Hillman both did a pretty good job of defending Gordan.

Free throw shooting continues to suck, but it's hard to blame this loss on poor free throw shooting when m$u shot even worse than we did. We desperately need Riley to find his perimeter shot. With no other viable options inside other than Hendrix, it is imperative that we have the ability to make some 3 pointers to keep the defense honest. Right now, our shooting is atrocious, and that is why we are losing games.

Overall, we took better care of the ball in this game than we did at UGA, but the turnovers we committed came at key moments and $tate was usually able to capitalize on our mistakes. The final blow came when we had cut the lead to 4. We came out of a timeout and tried to run a play out of the high post. Of course, it did not work and Rico ended up committing the costly turnover. m$u scored at the other end. We then decided to run the exact same play, resulting in a very contested, low percentage shot. m$u got the rebound, and scored at the other end, effectively putting the game out of reach.

This was the smallest crowd I have seen for an SEC home game since the David Hobbs era. Unfortunately, that isn't the only thing about this team that reminds me of the Hobbs days. I wonder if the poor attendance was more a result of the weather or the piss poor product we are putting on the floor these days. I guess that question will be answered next weekend.

m$u brought a large crowd, and they behaved like ignorant jackasses as usual. One of the funniest comments came from some redneck $tate fans sitting behind us. They were discussing our poor crowd, and stated, "and this place is tiny...you could fit this whole arena inside of ours..." I started to explain to him that Coleman seats 15,000 whereas the dump only seats about 10,000, but I figured that math would likely be beyond his comprehension level.

I'm going to go ahead and declare this season over. I see no realistic scenarios in which we could turn this thing around. I seriously doubt we will even make the NIT.

Up next, after a week off we will face Jeff Lebo and his 6 midgets from auburn. They are coming off a big upset win at home over Ole Miss today. They run a motion offense and shoot a lot of 3's, much like Belmont. Those types of teams give us trouble, so this will be another tough game, despite the fact that we have far superior talent and depth.

State beats Tide 66-56... now 0-4 in conference

Another terrible day from beyond the arc. We keep shooting ourselves in the foot in the midst of a comeback. Case in point... down by 4 late and driving, Pickett fakes a 3, drives, and turns the ball over which results in 2 the other way on the fast break. The game was truly over then.

Box Score

The good:
- CMG did try to confuse State by using different looks defensively
- Hendrix was a beast inside.

The bad:
- 3 point shooting (2-14)
- FT shooting (14-24)
- Jamont Gordon went off

This has the makings of being a really long season. If we don't beat Auburn we could be staring at 0-6 to start conference play. On the bright side we're not last in the SEC by ourselves... LSU is also AUful.

A lot of fans were disguised as seats today. I think that tells you all you need to know about how disgruntled fans are right now.

Mississippi State stats pack

Winners of 7 straight... they've been playing some good ball the past 3 weeks. Here's your stats pack.

Jamont Gordon leads the team in scoring and has picked up his game in conference play. Charles Rhodes and Barry Stewart are also guys to watch on the offensive end. Defensively look for Jarvis Varnado to swat shots left and right (I believe he's leading the nation in BPG). Ben Hansbrough is doubtful for the game. He did not play against Kentucky due to a broken middle finger. Mississippi State is off to their best start in conference in 14 years coming in at 3-0.

Here's a press release about the game from Mississippi State.

Offensive stats:
- 46% FG
- 32% 3PT FG
- 61% FT (worse than us... wow)
- 73 PPG
- Rebound margin of +7

Defensive stats:
- 9 blocks per game
- 7 steals per game
- 61.2 PPG

Prediction: We got 2 teams going in opposite directions. If this were football I'd call for a blowout, but in college hoops there's always a chance. We shouldn't be this bad and I have to figure if there's any game we show up for this year it's got to be this one. Still, I think in the end State wins it late. State by 4. Man I hope I'm wrong and we beat them by 49.

Tipoff is 3PM EST (2PM CST) on Raycom Sports. It's also on the ESPN Full Court package if you bought it (and I won't make that mistake next season) and available online to watch at this link. Click on the video icon and enjoy.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

About CMG's contract...

$1 million per. We all knew that part. What I didn't know (or did know and probably forgot) was it's a 6 year deal that started in 2005.

From USA Today dated 6/27/05

For giggles I found a site that lists 2007 coaching salaries and how much is each win worth. Click here to see it.

Ugly loss to UGA

Neither rain, nor sleet, nor snow, nor freezing rain, nor a combination thereof shall keep me from watching very bad basketball! I had not planned on going to this game, but when I found out it wasn't going to be televised live anywhere, I decided to take off and make the trip. I was one of about 20 or so UA fans at the game.

This was an important game for us. We were much more talented than UGA. I honestly don't think they have a single player who would start for us...Maybe one of their forwards over Jemison, but that's it. It's always tough to win on the road, but against a team with little talent and absolutely no depth, I thought we had a chance going in. A win would have put us at 1-2 going into the homestand, and a .500 record should be good enough to compete in the West this year. We had every reason to be fired up about this game.

Instead, we came out flat. UGA set the tone early playing very tight man to man defense, once again shutting down our high-post offense. Speaking of the high-post, for some reason we had Hendrix playing at the elbow and Jemison on the low block for a good portion of the first half. UGA did everything they could to keep the ball out of Hendrix's hands, so I guess we were thinking we would have a better chance of at least getting him the ball in the high post. Unfortunately, this strategy failed miserably. Still, I thought Hendrix played well, getting second chance points, coming up with loose balls, etc.

Our interior defense was pretty good, but once again we failed to defend the perimeter. This was not a case of UGA making a bunch of tough, contested shots. This was a case of Riley, Rico, and at times Gee playing very poor defense. We tried to play man to man, but our wingmen would leave their man, usually unnecessarily, to help down low, and UGA would use an inside-out game to get a wide open 3. We switched to the zone, but were always out of position, so all Georgia had to do was reverse the ball around the perimeter to get a wide open shot from the wing or corner. At the end of the day, shooting (as a byproduct of poor perimeter defense) was the difference in the game.

UGA stretched the lead out to 15 at one point late in the first half after Hendrix went out with an injury. However, the play of Justin Knox was not the reason for UGA's run. UGA continued to bomb 3's even with Hendrix out of the game. Fortunately, he was able to come back in, and we closed the half on a 5-0 to go in down 10.

The only real positive I can find in this game is that the team did not quit. There were several times when UGA had stretched the lead to 12 or more with momentum, but we were always able to at least keep it somewhat respectable.

Once again, free throw shooting killed us. If I were coaching against us, I would institute a "hack a Shaq" policy on Hendrix at this point. He's awful at the line. We also missed the front end of a one and one that could have been a big factor in our comeback late in the game.

When we finally started pressing late in the game, we were able to cut the lead to 4 with just under 2 minutes left. However, we gave up yet another open 3 after allowing UGA to run the shot clock down, thus extending the lead back to 7. Needing to answer quickly, we took 28 seconds to get off a very poor shot which never had a chance, and we were then forced to foul. UGA, who shot 90% from the free throw line, converted on both to stretch the lead back to 9 and end all hopes for a comeback.

We are now 3 games into conference play and we still do not know who is our best point guard. Coach Gottfried's best teams have come when he's had a great leader at the PG spot, namely Pettway and Steele. Make of that what you will. In this game, it was obvious early on that Hollinger was not going to be able to repeat his second half performance at Arkansas. Rico seems to be struggling on the road at this point. I thought Torrance performed best of all the PGs, but that is not saying much. He was at least able to penetrate and score on his own a couple of times when everybody else was just standing around. I still think Hollinger is most valuable coming in off the bench at the 2 spot.

Our offense was painful to watch. We made no effort to get into transition all night. Most of the time, we would not even get into our set until the shot clock was down to 20 seconds or so. As I've already stated, UGA had a good game plan to prevent us from running the offense through Richard. We desperately needed to make some of the open perimeter shots they were giving us to open things up. Instead, we shoot 2 for 20 from 3 pt range. If Riley, Tubbs, Hollinger, Gee, or somebody doesn't step up and start making some 3's soon, we aren't going to win an SEC game. With no other post players to compliment Hendrix, it is imperative that we make some outside shots.

Once again we were sloppy with the ball. 13 turnovers in the first half, and UGA rarely pressed us. This was the result of poor fundamentals. We made lazy, lob passes. We jumped in the air with no clue what we were planning on doing with the basketball. We tried to force it into Hendrix even though there was no passing lane. I have not seen such poor offensive basketball since the David Hobbs era.

Justin Knox appears to have the tools but he is very raw right now. You can tell he does not look comfortable, and he had a couple of turnovers. I question the way we have handled him. He hardly plays at all in the non-conference schedule, which would have been a good time to get him some experience, but now all of a sudden he is ahead of Yamene Coleman on the depth chart? Surely there was a better way to prepare him for playing on the road in the SEC.

I also cannot understand why we were content to play a halfcourt game with UGA. They have no depth whatsoever, and only one ball handler. On the other hand, we have 9 or so guys who can play. Why not press? Especially when we had Torrance and Hillman in the game, it was painfully obvious we weren't going to have much success in the halfcourt offense, but I believe a full court press could have forced the tempo a little bit and maybe given us an advantage.

The highlight of the night came during one of the timeouts. They had a promotion where one contestant had 30 seconds to shoot from various marks on the court. For each basket made, the contestant won a certain amount of money in relation to the difficulty of the shot. He started out by making a layup for $25. He then ran to half-court to attempt the $2,500 dollar shot. He missed, got the rebound, and chunked it from halfcourt again. With time now running out, he ran back to halfcourt to try one last shot. The crowd groaned, sensing that he had wasted his opportunity by trying 3 unrealistic shots. With the clock running down, nothing but net! The third time was a charm, and he took home $2,525. The place went nuts, and even the UGA fan sitting in front of me (who I suspect had been getting annoyed with me), turned around to give us a high-five.

Up next, Rick Stansfield brings his m$u bulldogs into Tuscaloosa Saturday. They are coming off a big win at home against Kentucky, and they are playing pretty good basketball right now. This will be another tough game for us. I know people are down on this team now, and rightfully so, but this is a huge game. The beauty of college basketball is that no matter how bad you start, you aren't out of it. A .500 record will be good enough to compete in the West this year, and we get our next 4 games at home. If we can win Saturday and get some momentum, a 4-3 or even 3-4 record at the end of the homestand and we are back in the middle of things. With Tennessee being a part of that homestand, it's going to be difficult to accomplish that if we start out 0-4. We need a big crowd Saturday to help prevent that from happening.

Only Scientology and Tom Cruise can save our season

It's true, it's true.

According to this, Tom Cruise has introduced LOH (?) technology to 1,037,361,227 people. Maybe CMG can learn from the master and propel this team to unrealized heights.

What a nutjob.

Edit- for more humor check out this link from the tidedruid blog. The picture made me chuckle.

SEC Rankings week 10

I'm late on this, but it's really ok.

1) Tenneessee- a "friendly" officiating staff gave them the win against Ole Miss.
2) Ole Miss- played the Vols tough... officiating was the difference IMO. Beat the Gators last night so they're 4real.
3) Vanderbilt- loss at Kentucky was surprising, but in a weak SEC they're pretty much #3 here until the Gators prove something.
4) Florida- close loss at Ole Miss.
5) Mississippi State- they're playing really good ball right now.
6) Auburn- Lebo is getting the most out of his ragtag bunch.
7) Georgia- they beat us... like everyone else so far.
8) Arkansas- how did they lose to South Carolina?
9) South Carolina- can they build on the win at Arkansas.
10) Kentucky- big win vs Vandy... tough loss at Miss State.
11) Alabama- we suck.
12) LSU- they suck even worse... right now.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Here's The Scoop On The Game At Georgia

The Tour Down Under (UCI Pro Tour Cycling) starts Tuesday, January 22d. It can be viewed at www.cycling.tv. I'll see you there. Thanks for the memories.

Another ugly game... another loss...

... UGA wins 61-54 and it was never in doubt. Yes I realize we got to within 4 late, but let's be honest... no one thought we were going to come back and win. I didn't and if you did I suspect it was due to the influence of cheap alcohol.

Box score for those that care.

I'm going to be brutally honest... I am indifferent to this loss. I remember the low of the Hobbs era and IMO right now rivals it. Something has to change and quick or this team is going to end up 4-12 in conference play (or worse). Coleman Colesium might be mistaken for a home UAB football game if this team continues to underperform the way it has been so far this season.

UGA stats pack


To be totally honest I know nothing about them. Here's their season stats to date.

The stats:
- 44% FG
- 33% 3PT FG
- 67.6% FT
- Rebound margin of +5.6
- 16 turnovers per game

Check that, I know about Sundiata Gaines and Bily Humphrey as they are the top 2 scorers on the team. Everyone else was suspended or kicked off the team. I kid about that... sort of.

I was trying to find a UGA blog that somewhat covered their basketball team, but failed. I'll try better next time. Chances are UGA fans care even less about basketball than the state of Alabama. Check that, Ga Tech is the basketball school and UGA is the football one.

Prediction: I'd like to say this a game we win (we could), but somehow UGA muscles out a win in front of 2,200 fans at Stegman. It would've been 4,000, but there's snow (flurries) on the ground and that means people around here panic on the road. You know what... I changed my mind. We won in front of 487 fans in Las Vegas so we can win in front of 2200 diehards in Athens. Bama by 4.

Tipoff is 7:30 PM EST (6:30 CST). The game is not on TV so if you're not there in Athens it's the old radio for you. For those out of state fans (like me) either pay yahoo.com for the broadcast or find an Alabama station that streams over the net. When you find the latter I suggest you bookmark it for future use.

BTW- if there's a UGA blog that covers basketball, post the link in comments and I'll add it to the SEC links.

Monday, January 14, 2008

What's wrong with this picture


Click on the picture and let me know. I saw this earlier in the day and figured it would've been corrected by now. Did I miss the news of SEC expansion?

They are the worldwide leader of sports right?

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Good 2nd half effort, but fall to Hogs in OT...

... 71-67 in a pretty ugly game. If you looked at the box score only you'd think there was some great defense played. You'd be wrong... both teams missed more than their fair share of open shots and both of them had quite a few "scratch your head" shots.

The good:
- outrebounded a bigger team
- didn't throw in the towel down 11 late in the 1st half

The bad:
- free throw shooting sucks
- Tubbs can't throw it in the ocean
- Gee took a lot of bad shots

Overall, I like that the guys kept on motoring, but being that the Hogs played like crap I really think this game was for the taking and we missed an opportuntiy to steal one on the road. Maybe we can steal one in Athens coming up.

Arkansas stats pack

Next to us, I probably know more about the Razorbacks than any other team.

We just got a stats pack, we just got a stats pack, we just got a stats pack, I wonder who it from? If you got the reference... you're welcome.

I think you know that they're a big team (4 guys that see the floor over 6'10"), but ironically they rely more on their guards to score. Beverley and Weems log the most minutes and are #1 and 2 in scoring. Steven Hill and Darius Townes (seems like they've been there for a decade) clog the middle, Gary Ervin sometimes handles the PG duties (he's not very good so Beverley handles the point as well), and Thomas and Washington also pound it inside. I have no idea why Welsh plays as much as he does, but that's Pelphrey's decision not mine.

Offensive stats:
- 48% FG
- 32% 3PT FG
- 68% FT
- +6.9 rebound margin
- 17 turnovers a game

Defensive stats:
- 41% FG
- 30% 3PT FG
- 17.5 turnovers per game
- 5.7 blocks per
- 8.3 steals per game

Prediction: Unless we all of a sudden get hot from the 3 point line I don't see us being in this game for more than 30 minutes. Too much size, too much talent, and it being a road game spells a possible beatdown in Fayetteville. Arkansas wins comfortably.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Where are they now (former SEC head coaches)?

(pic from worth1000.com)
Some of this you probably know already... some you don't:

Rod Barnes- He's the HC at Georgia State (right up the road from me). They're 4-10 this year.

Buzz Peterson- now the Charlotte Bobcats Director of Player Personnel. After being fired by the Vols he coached at Coastal Carolina.

Stan Heath- currently the HC at the University of South Florida. 10-6 overall and 1-2 in Big East play.

David Hobbs- last I heard he was a scout for the Charlotte Bobcats. I don't have a link to verify.

Jerry Green- was the Director of Basketball Operations at Indiana, but retired in May of 2007. No idea if he stayed retired or found another gig.

I'll post more as I find them out over the course of the season.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

What has happenned to Hendrix and his FT shooting?

Alias made the comment about Hendrix poor FT shooting last night which piqued (sp?) my interest on whether or not Hendrix has truly declined at the charity stripe.

The data

Survey says... he has gotten worse. How is that possible? Was he taught to shoot FTs differently since he stepped foot on campus? Maybe Hville can give us his HS stats so I can investigate this further.

For those too lazy to look at the link... Hendrix's free throw percentage has declined from 64.7% (fr) to 62.9% (so) to 56.8% (this season). The good news, Hendrix has improved his FG% each season.

Oh yeah, according to that link Hendrix is #22 overall in the 2008 mock draft. Take it for what it's worth.

Discuss.

Gator Bait

We lost at home to the least talented Florida team in the last decade. Billy Donovan is a good coach, and he absolutely owns Coach Gottfried.

There were some positives in this game. In the first half, we did a fantastic job of breaking the press. We had only 3 turnovers, and I think we had about 11 assists, which is an excellent ratio. One area that we improved on since the Clemson game, is that when we did break the press, we attacked the basket and took advantage of our numbers. Defensively, we did not play very well. Riley and Gee consistently lost their man. Florida's guards and wing men killed us driving the lane. We did not have any answer for their pick and roll. On several occasions, the player guarding the screener would switch to defend the ball, and the on ball defender would go through the screen, leaving the screener wide open. At other times, it was just the opposite. As a result, their guards were able to get plenty of space to penetrate our defense. Hendrix continues to not play aggressive enough on defense. He did a good job of defending Florida's bigs, but he would not step up and help out when Rico, Gee, or Riley got beat off the dribble. Despite this, we executed so well on offense we were able to build a 10 point lead in the first half.

Give a young, well coached Florida team credit for not losing their composure on the road. We missed a free throw at the end of the 1st half, then Florida made a 3 at the buzzer for a 4 point swing to cut the lead to 7. The Gators scored on the first possession of the second half, then immediately forced a turnover. Suddenly the comfortable lead had evaporated.

As good as we were against the press in the first half, we were equally inept in the second. Combine this with continued poor defensive play, and the disaster was inevitable. I can't understand why we go from making good, quick passes and attacking the pressure in one half to making lazy lob passes and not moving to get open in the second. For some reason, the concept of faking a lob pass and going with a bounce pass is a foreign concept to this team.

Due to the aforementioned problems with Florida's screens, we switched to a zone defense. This did not prove any better, as Riley and Gee played undisciplined defense and were constantly out of position allowing Florida's shooters to rain 3's.

The offense seemed to bog down with Torrance running the point in the second half. He waited too late in the shot clock to call the play, and we often ended up having to force a shot. At one point in the second half, we got a little too 3 point happy. We missed about 6 in a row but kept shooting. Hendrix had a very good game in the paint, but Florida resorted to fouling him every time he got the ball and he couldn't make a free throw.

In my opinion one of the keys to the game came in the second half when Alonzo Gee made a 3 pointer to tie the game at 71. The officials called a timeout to review the play to see if Gee's foot was on the line. During this break in the action, Donovan had his team huddled on the sideline. Presumably setting up the press and scripting the next 2 or 3 offensive possession. Meanwhile, all 5 of our players stood on the opposite end of the court from our bench, while Gottfried stood there looking pretty in his red jacket. Finally, with about 20 seconds left in the timeout, he called the team over, probably because he realized it looked bad that coach Donovan was actually coaching his team while Gottfried was not. After this official's timeout, Florida promptly went on an 11-0 run.

The effort was much better tonight. I was afraid the team would quit like they did when they fell down by 10 to Clemson, but to their credit they turned it up a notch and got back into the game. Thanks to some good shooting and some defensive stops, we were able to cut the lead to 3. With about a minute to go, Florida spread the floor and their small forward flashed toward the wing. The point guard faked the pass, Gee bit on the fake, and the forward cut backdoor for a wide open layup, after Hendrix was late on his attempt to steal the pass. Another crushing blow came when Florida finally missed a free throw, but it took a bad bounce and they were able to get the offensive rebound and make 2 more free throws for a 3 point play.

I cannot understand why we did not press more in this game with Florida's youth. We did not even press when down 10 with 3 minutes to play. We were badly outcoached tonight, but most teams will be outcoached when playing against a Donovan team. Still, with our talent, we should have been able to win this game at home.

Up next, we travel to Fayetteville, Arkansas to take on the Razorbacks Sunday. After suffering through the 40 point debacle up there last year, I have decided to stay at home and watch this one on television. Hopefully we can get back on track.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Florida's 2nd half adjustments too much to overcome...

... another home loss. This time to the baby Gators 90-83. Give the Donovan and the Gators credit for shutting down Hendrix in the 2nd half, pressing more, and forcing us into low percentage shots.

I'm too disgusted to break this game down more... I'll try again tomorrow after sleeping on it.

Defensless Demise of De Tide

Alabama allowed a very young Gator team to score 90 points in Coleman Coliseum. Is there any need for me to tell you which team lost this game?

I could point out that we would have won this game IF Hendrix could shoot 75 percent from the charity stripe. I could point out that we might have won walking away IF Riley could have bought a bucket outside the charity stripe in the second half. I could point out that we would have won this game IF our guards (we have about 20 of them on this team!) had not made 5 lazy passes. I could point out that we would have won this game IF our kids had any idea how to beat the press on a consistent basis.

Instead, I think I'll let the man who is responsible for running our program make those excuses for himself. Instead, I will point out that a well coached team does not consistently make those types of mistakes against decent competition.

While I'm at it, weren't Alabama fans expecting to see our guard rich team press opponents this year to try to set up the transition game? Why did we not press the Gators' freshman guards the entire game?

I will give the kids credit for effort. Gee and Hendrix played well. Pickett played well in the first half. Riley's man scored about half of Florida's threes because he does not know how to stay in his position. I think Gee's man probably scored about a third of them for the same reason.

I have yet to see any evidence this season that the coaches know how to coach defense. They do tend to force some steals, but it seems like the majority of those have come in the first half of each game. It also seems that they force them with their hands and not with their feet.

I do not know how to coach basketball, but when a thing is this broken even I can identify it. I am not sure there is enough time left for Coach Gottfried to put the wheels back onto this team. I hope he can. I'm just glad I did not drive seven hours to see another debacle like that Clemson game.

Good luck!

Anyone see the final score of Kansas State-Savannah State?

Posting this just before our tipoff... KSU beat SSU 85-25, but the real story was SSU scoring 4 points in the 2nd half. How is that possible. I could field a team of out of shape 30 something year olds that could put up 10 against a college team.

Anyways, here's the box score and story from espn.com

All I have to say is... WOW!

Monday, January 07, 2008

Florida stats pack

The 2 time, 2 time defending National champs are coming to Tuscaloosa Tuesday night. Read up on them if you want.

Their non-conference schedule was a joke. Like us, the only decent teams they played they lost to (FSU and Ohio State... and I'm still not sure tOSU is anything above mediocre). Check that, they didn't lose to a Belmont-like squad.

The Gators did lose their entire starting lineup to the NBA (NBDL and foreign leagues) and the only name I recognize from last year is Walter Hodge. Only 2 juniors fill their roster. That's right, zero seniors, 2 juniors, and the rest underclassmen. They're legitimately a young team.

Led by Nick Calathes and Walter Hodge from the outside and Marreese Speights (who has stepped up his play the last 3 games) inside, Florida brings a potent offense and a stingy defense... although most of the stats can be attributed to playing weak competition. Still, we all know the Gators are talented and only youth stands in the way of them being a dangerous team later on in the season.

The stats:
- 51% FG
- 39.4% 3PT FG
- 70.7% FT
- rebound margin of +7.6
- 12.5 turnovers per game
- defensively 41% FG, 32% 3PT FG, 14 turnovers per game, 60.5 PPG

Prediction: In their only road game Ohio State pretty much dominated them. I figure they'll take their lumps on the road early so this as good of time as any to play them. On the other hand, we haven't been unstoppable at home. We need the win more so I'll say Bama by 3. I'll be a homer for once.

SEC Predictions

With the non-conference games out of the way, I thought it would be fun to predict how the SEC standings will look at the end of the season based upon what I've seen so far.

SEC East

1. Tennessee- They are good. I don't agree that they are final 4 good, but they are probably the best team in a down SEC. Losing their power forward will hurt more than most realize, especially if someone is able to slow them down and make them play a halfcourt game. Also, they always seem to peak too early. I look for them to fade down the stretch once again as teams get more of an opportunity to scout their press. Still, Chris Lofton will light up the scoreboard on a nightly basis, and they will hang on to win the East by a game or 2.

2. Vandy- They've got some players for a change, and Stallings system is working like a well oiled machine right now. They may not lose at home in that goofy gym of theirs, but they will be in trouble on the road when they have an off night shooting the ball.

3. Florida- The two time defending national Champions have an entirely new team. Billy Donovan is the best coach in the conference, but they are too young to contend for a title this year. I've got them as 3rd, but would not be surprised to see them finish anywhere between 3 and 5.

4. Kentucky- These are not good times for the Big Blue Nation. Tubby has left the cupboard bare, and their talent does not mesh with Gillespie's system. The rest of the conference needs to beat up on these guys this year, because brighter days are ahead for the wildcats, assuming Gillespie does not get fired for Mike Price type activities in Lexington. Still, if they get healthy and improve, they could finish 3rd.

5. Georgia- Despite not being very talented to begin with, and losing some players to off court issues, this is a scrappy bunch. Like Florida and Kentucky, they could conceivable finish as high as 3rd in the East. I'm not sure how Felton is keeping this ship afloat, but they should fall into 5th by season's end.

6. South Carolina.- Once again, it's NIT or bust for the gamecocks. Odom is a nice guy and at one time was a good coach, but it may be time to start looking to go in another direction in Columbia.

SEC West

1. Ole Miss- These guys are for real, and may even end up with a better overall record than Tennessee. They are probably only the 3rd or 4th most talented team in the West, but Andy Kennedy has got them playing with great chemistry. I knew Cincy was making a big mistake when they let Andy go. I don't see the Ole Miss people coming off their wallet to improve their God-awful facilities, so look for Kennedy to move on to greener pastures in the near future. At least Rebel fans will get to enjoy one SEC West Championship.

2. Mississippi $tate- They haven't looked all that great thus far, but Jamont Gordan, Rhodes, and Hansborough will be enough to get them over .500, which should be good enough for 2nd in the West.

3. Alabama- With a young point guard, it's going to be an up and down year for us. We'll win some games we aren't supposed to (expect at least one upset win over Ole Miss or Vandy, maybe even Tennessee if we learn how to break the press), but then we'll lose some to the likes of Georgia, South Carolina, LSU, or auburn. 2nd through 4th in the West are very evenly matched, and it may even end in a 3 way tie for 2nd. At any rate, I see 2nd in the West as best case scenario, and 4th as worst, and the difference being 2 games or less.

4. Arkansas- Athletic team adjusting to a 1st year coach. I look for them to improve over the course of the year and possibly be a surprise team in the SEC tournament.

5. LSU- They are bad. Just as bad as auburn, but I had to put one of them last, so I'll give Brady's bunch the benefit of the doubt.

6. auburn- They play hard, and I like Lebo's system, but their tallest player is probably 6'6. They've lost players to arrest and injury, and this will knock them down to last. There is no reason for Lebo to STILL not have a big man. They will win a game or two when their shots are falling, but they won't be competitve jacking up 30 3's per game in the SEC.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

SEC Rankings week 9

1) Tennessee- Clearly the class of the SEC. Probably the only real threat in the conference of making the Final Four.
2) Ole Miss- nice story... I bet Cincy is kicking themselves for not hiring Andy Kennedy.
3) Vanderbilt- good win over an underrated UMass squad.
4) Florida- 'cause there's no one else better to put here.
5) Auburn- we'll know more about Lebo's bunch today at home vs Xavier.
6) Arkansas- really nice road win against Baylor.
7) Mississippi State- currently on a 4 game winning streak.
8) Alabama- hideous loss to Clemson. Still... better than the ones below (which is not saying much).
9) Georgia- played tough against Gonzaga.
10) LSU- Texas A&M took them to school. John Brady might be in trouble.
11) South Carolina- another impressive home loss to UNC-Asheville (sarcasm off). Is Dave Odom on cruise control?
12) Kentucky- I bet UK fans are yearning for the days of crappy offense and winning ugly from their previous coach.

SEC Standings
East
Vanderbilt 0-0 15-0
Tennessee 0-0 12-1
Florida 0-0 13-2
Georgia 0-0 8-4
South Carolina 0-0 8-6
Kentucky 0-0 6-7

West
Ole Miss 0-0 13-0
Auburn 0-0 9-2
Arkansas 0-0 11-3
Alabama 0-0 11-4
Mississippi St. 0-0 9-5
LSU 0-0 7-7

This is as bad as I've seen the SEC since 2002. For us to make the tournament we'll have to go 10-6 in conference and do well in the SECT. As of right now I rate us 4th in the west... 5th if Auburn somehow beats Xavier today.

Update- Auburn clinches the 5th spot... got hammerred by Xavier. I think they're down to 6 scholarship players so they have an excuse.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Chicago State recap

A win is a win, but frankly I was hoping for a better showing after the Clemson debacle. We jumped out to a 7-0 lead, but then we got into a funk. We did a very poor job of taking care of the basketball in the first half, and once again our intensity on defense was not what it should be. At one point in the first half, we went to a 2-3 zone, despite the fact that we had better athletes on the floor at every position, and Chicago State had one of the nation's best 3 point shooters. This allowed the Cougars to take a 28-24 lead, before we switched back to the man to man defense and shut them down for the next several minutes. Riley, Gee, and Hollinger made some perimeter shots to fuel the run at the end of the first half that gave us the lead for good.

Hendrix was dominant inside on offense when we managed to get him the ball. Still, both Gee and Hendrix missed too many easy shots. Sometimes I think we try to lay the ball up and end up missing close range shots when we could go for a dunk. We desperately need more production out of Coleman and/or Jemison.

I did notice Coach Gottfried get in Riley's face and yell at him for his poor effort on defense late in the game. Riley had a typical game, he made some huge shots but also shot a couple of air balls, had a few great plays on defense but also seemed to get lost at times.

18 turnovers against Chicago State is ridiculous. Thankfully, they did not have the depth to press us the whole game. If we don't learn how to break the press between now and then, Tennessee will come in and beat us by 50.

I thought both Hollinger and Pickett did a good job of defending their top scorer.

Justin Tubbs got some playing time, but he picked up 3 quick fouls, including fouling a 3 point shooter late in the game. I like his intensity, but he's got to play smarter on defense if he wants to see more playing time. I was not happy with Gee shooting quick 3's in the last 2 minutes of the game when we should have been trying to run out the clock.

There was a herd of kids sitting behind me, babbling loudly about random subjects as kids are prone to do. The bright spot of the evening came when one of them inquired, in all seriousness, "Is there such a thing as auburn basketball?"

Up next, we start conference play at home Tuesday night against the "two time defending National Champion" Florida Gators. Fortunately, they are defending national champions in name only, as they bring in a very young team that looks nothing like the monster they had last year. This appears to be a matchup between two mediocre basketball teams. If we are going anywhere this season, we need to get this win at home. If you can't make it to the game, it will be televised nationally at 8pm on ESPN.

Tide tames Cougars 93-79

Box score

Maybe DJC can give a more in depth analysis of the game... I was too busy being sick so I only listened to the 1st half.

4 starters played more than 30 minutes... that shouldn't happen against Chicago State.

The good:
- shot 50% from the field
- outrebounded Chicago State 45-22
- 6 blocks

The bad:
- 18 turnovers... too much
- Chicago State shot 45% from beyond the arc

We need more production from Jemison and/or Coleman... I don't think we'll survive the SEC with a 3 guard lineup. JMO.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Chicago State stats pack...

... because we really want to erase what happenned on Tuesday. Chico St stats pack for all!

What do I know about Chicago State? They're in Chicago and they suck at basketball. Otherwise, I know nothing about them.

The stats:
- 42.6% FG
- 37.5% 3 PT FG
- 68.3% FT
- 18.5 turnovers per game
- rebound margin of -3.7 per game

Prediction: After an embarrassing 2nd half against Clemson I fully expect someone to pay for it. Might as well be Chicago State. Alabama by 22.

Side note- I've browsed messageboard (to quote the great Richard Marx, "I should've known better...") and see that firing CMG is now (again) the "thing" to do. IMO those conversations should be reserved for later on in the season. It's not happenning now. Ask again in March and maybe the answer is different.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

DJC, you plagiarizing SOB! ;-)

I've warned you before about preempting my alliteration shtick. If you were a real fan you'd drink six beers in Tuscaloosa before making the 45 minute drive back to your house. You know it takes me at least 3 1/2 hours to drive home after each game. Just for that, I'm going to burn the rest of my tickets so I can listen to the games on the radio and get my posts up before you do! That'll teach you! ;-)

Other than the obvious plagiarisms, your post is excellent and I agree with every word you and BobbyJack posted, including the part about you being in Coleman Coliseum alone because I am not going to drive that far for that crap but one more time this season.

The team played so poorly tonight that the 12 year old girl behind me was shouting stuff like, "At least try!" "This is embarrassing!" "Who's suppose to guard No. 22?" "Stay with your man!" "Mooooove!!!!!"

With all deference to DJC, I already had decided that the Tide's so-called performance tonight did not merit the effort to come up with a catchy by line. I had in mind something more like: "Pathetic? Embarrassing? No. Disgusting! Ahh, that's the ticket!" And that's only because I'm not sure anything more derogatory than "SOB" can be posted on the blog. (I'm still not sure it can get past the blog censors.)

I would like to add a couple of ideas to what already has been posted. I thought the biggest difference in the game was our guards. Their guards (heck, all their players) covered Bama's kids like fly paper. If CMG and his staff do not know how to teach defense, then they should just show their team a film of this game and tell them "Do that." Clemson's guards were all over our guards, in their faces, swatting at them with their hands, playing belly up, and still able to match all their moves. Our guards play off their man, seldom harass the ball or the dribble, and still cannot adjust to the offensive player's moves. A good coach should be able to teach his players what part of a man's body to watch to get a feel for which way he is going to move.

As a follow up to that first thought, our kids need to be told not to let the dribbler get the ball to the base line. None of our guards or forwards knows how to do that. Perhaps the problem is that the team does not know how to deal with screens and does not know how to give effective help when a teammate is taken out by the screen so they over-defend toward the lane, but they still do not know how to defend the lane effectively either.

Any decent coach could watch film from any of our games the past five years and show their kids how to deal with the "help" afforded by our forwards and centers when a guard has to go around a screen. Our "helping" player will take a half step toward the dribbling guard, make a cursory hand wave (never an earnest swipe) toward the ball, then chase down his original man (who probably is standing ready to receive the pass so he can shoot an open three point shot from the corner). This leaves both the guard and the forward uncovered for a brief time. It also allows the guard to wheel around and dribble right up the lane. If the post player has taken Hendrix well outside the lane like Clemson did last night, the guard gets a layup. Otherwise, a forward comes open underneath the basket when Hendrix or Jemison comes over to harass the guard.

Do any of our coaches know how to say "block out"?

With everything else that went wrong, I wonder why CMG never tried to employ the zone when this game started getting out of hand. I know Clemson had a kid or two who was hot outside the arc, but Riley and Torrance defend against the three better when they are rushing toward a shooter from the zone. Oh yeah, now I remember. Bama's kids forgot to put their hands up on defense tonight.

Why did Jemison never try to hit his 10 foot jumper tonight?

There is no excuse for that sort of performance. I know the team is young, but I think we have man who is responsible for recruiting and keeping good players. I won't belabor that point right now. I'd rather focus on the concept of playing with their feet and not with their hands.

I've said all season that I was willing to live with losses due to bad technique for one more season so long as I see the requisite effort. We did not see that the last 10 or 15 minutes of this game.

A good coach would use this as a learning tool to help his players understand that they need to learn to become mentally and physically tough if they don't want to be embarrassed when they go to class the next day. A great coach (does the name Roy Williams ring a bell?) would run their legs off the next day. I guess we are about to learn, once and for all, whether Mark Gottfried is a good coach. I hope he is.

Time will tell.

Clobbered by Clemson

We were competitive in the first half. We moved the ball around, had a good assist to turnover ratio, and got good looks at the basket in nearly every trip in the first half. Unfortunately, the shots were not falling. On the defensive end of the court, our interior defense was horrible. Hendrix had one of his worst defensive games of the year, if not his career. It was almost as if we were playing to avoid foul trouble rather than contest Clemson's shots. The perimeter defense was actually decent, but Oglesby was able to make some difficult 3's. Riley and Pickett were consistently beat off the dribble, and Hendrix would not step up to contest a 6 foot jumpshot. I can think of a few occasions where Hollinger, Rico, Gee, and Riley made a bad play on the offensive end, but hustled back to block a shot or create a turnover on defense. Still, we went into the half only trailing by 5. At halftime, I thought we were playing hard and figured if some shots would start falling and we could step it up some on defense, we would be okay.

The second half was embarrassing, disgusting, pathetic, and disgraceful. We rarely got into transition, and the high post offense completely bogged down against Clemson's physical man to man. We resorted to a lot of one on one type ball, with Riley and Rico taking multiple poor shots. Torrance was sloppy with the ball and spent way too much time dribbling in the halfcourt offense. Senario Hillman took a lot of ill advised shots. Our defense in the second half was non existent.

The key to the game was Clemson's press. At times, we put on a clinic in how to break the press. We got the ball to the middle of the floor, made short, quick diagonal passes with the passer breaking to the open spot, and pushed the ball up court to create a numbers advantage. A couple of times we should have attacked the basket after breaking the press, but instead we slowed things down and allowed Clemson to set up their halfcourt defense. Other times, we were completely inept. We would inbound the ball to the corner, and either try to dribble out of the trap or throw a 40 foot lob pass that would inevitably be picked off. At one point, Clemson scored 7 points without us even getting the ball across halfcourt. This is when the game got out of hand.

At one point in the second half we were in a man to man defense with Hollinger giving up about a foot and a half. He did the best he could, but Clemson posted him up and got 2 or 3 easy baskets out of the mismatch before we made an adjustment. I continue to be baffled by our substitution patterns. Riley is allowed to continue to play despite poor shooting and no defense, while Tubbs remains in the doghouse. Senario is a great athlete, but he isn't bringing much to the table on offense right now. Demetrius Jemison continues to start, but he is not producing as needed. Outside of Hendrix, our inside game is struggling right now.

We waited until we were down 20 to press. We forced turnovers out of it the first 2 times we ran it, but Clemson made some adjustments and were able to extend their lead.

This type of game is the reason many people, myself included, have been so critical of Coach Gottfried over the last few years. When we fell down by 12 with about 7 or 8 minutes left, the team quit. It was obvious that we were just going through the motions on both ends of the court. We lost rebounds because we didn't even bother to jump. We stopped diving for loose balls. We were not cutting with any purpose on offense, if we even moved at all. We jacked up contested 3 point shots and did not bother to follow our shot. Worst of all, we were constantly out of position and appeared totally unmotivated on defense.

It's not the fact that we lost that bothers me, so much as how we lost. If we would have continued to compete after falling behind by a dozen and lost by 15-20, I would not have a problem with it. These 30-40 point losses have been way too common under Coach Gottfried, although they are usually reserved for road games. Inability to stop our opponent's momentum when they get on a run has been a recurring problem the last nine years.

Coach Gottfried has done a lot of good things here. He saved the program from the Hobbs era, he's recruited some of the nation's top talent to Tuscaloosa, he runs a class program, and he graduates all his players. However, losing on our home court in the manner that we lost tonight is unacceptable and is an embarrassment to the University. As an alum, seeing my team fail to give effort is just as embarrassing as it would be to have a team of hired guns like $tate or lawless thugs like some other schools in the conference. For the record, Coach Gottfried said himself in the post game that the effort was not there in the second half. That is completely inexcusable, and should NEVER even be an issue, especially at this point in his career. In practically every public appearance he has made this year, he has begged fans to attend the games and promised, "this team will play hard and is a team you can be proud of." Well, tonight he reneged on that promise.

My love for Alabama basketball is unconditional. I will continue to show up and support the players AND coaching staff. However, if we have many more nights like tonight, I may be the only one left by the end of the season.