1. Better marketing of the basketball program. Unlike the football program, the basketball program will not sell itself, at least not in its current state. Coach Gottfried did a good job when he first arrived of going around campus and getting the students interested. He became complacent in this area as the years went by. I would like to see Coach Grant do some things to get the student section full again. Also, I hope he pushes the administration to market the program in the Birmingham area. It's a short 45 minute to one hour drive. Tuscaloosa has shown it does not have the population base or the demographics to adequately support Bama basketball. Of course, the die hards like me already drive in from Bham, and will regardless. Still, I think there are a lot of casual basketball fans in the 'ham who would make the short drive to Ttown several times per year if the program were adequately marketed.
2. Bring back Midnight Madness. It's fun for the students and exciting for recruits. If some of us alumni want to see it, it's not going to kill us to stay up past our bedtime once per year. The pregame scrimmage at 6pm in the middle of the week, or 9am on a Saturday morning before a football game, has got to go.
3. Move the student section closer to the floor. I know Coach Gottfried tried to do this at one time, and it may not be feasible. Ideally, I would like to reconfigure the whole arena so we have more fans closer to the floor, and have all the seats actually facing the floor, but I realize this probably is not possible. Still, most places give the students premium seats along the sideline on the lower rows. We stick them up in a corner and behind the basket. If we have to displace some blue bloods to create a better home court advantage, so be it.
4. Fix the damned scoreboards. I know, this isn't really a head coach's job, but as CEO of the basketball program, I would think he could lean on someone to make this happen. For one thing, the scoreboards we have now are pieces of crap. There have been rumors for the past 4 years that they will be replaced with one large scoreboard hanging from the ceiling at center court. Short of that, at least lets get the stat board, clocks, and PA system to work on a consistent basis. This has been a problem for the past several years, and frankly, it's an embarassment.
5. Continue to schedule tough non-conference opponents. This is one area where Coach Gottfried was successful, at least after getting screwed one time by the NCAA tournament committee. Let's continue to play in as many preseason, neutral site tournaments as possible, get a few home and home arrangements with other BCS conference schools, and fill the rest of our home non-conference schedule with mid majors and small confernce schools that project to have strong seasons. It's all about the RPI these days.
What should we expect as far as on the court results go? I'm hopeful that we can make the tournament next year, especially with a down SEC, but I wouldn't go so far as to say that needs to be an expectation. Our returning players will have to buy into Coach Grant's system, and they have probably learned some bad habits and will need to relearn some fundamentals. That takes time. Also, Coach Grant will need time to recruit the type of players to fit his system. That being said, when you consider the amount of money we are paying him, I don't think it's unreasonable to expect a fairly quick turnaround. So, here is what I want to see:
Year 1: I realize the limitations that I mentioned above, and while I hope and think we could make the tournament, I'm not going to be too caught up in using wins and losses to evaluate Coach Grant. If I see a team that brings its A game defensively every night, that puts forth maximum effort, hustles for loose balls, that uses substitution patterns and in-game strategy that makes logical sense, and competes, then I will be happy.
Year 2: After a full year on the job, it will be interesting to see how recruiting is going. I don't get caught up in recruiting rankings, but if we are signing kids who's only other offers are Mercer and Troy, then I will be concerned. The biggest thing I am looking for in year 2 is improvement over year 1. By Year 2 we should certainly be back into post season play.
Year 3: There is no excuse for not making the tournament within 3 years. I think that is the bare minimum for what should be expected. I would hope we could make a sweet 16 or better run.
Good Luck Coach Grant. I believe you can and will not only meet, but exceed our expectations.