Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Things I would like to see in the Anthony Grant Era

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.

EXPECTATIONS

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.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Cully Payne released from letter of intent

Not surprising as he probably didn't fit with CAG's system. Best of luck to him... hope he ends up at Depaul and is part of their revival.

From the al.com blog

I assume we find us a PG in waiting for 2010 unless Andrew (don't call me Anthony Tim Brando) Steele can make the transition this season and next.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Anthony Grant PC on Tide TV

I watched it, was impressed with him behind the podium, but I'm not about to declare us to be back yet. Then again with the roster coming back we could have a LSU bounce back year next season.

Watch it here (requires login and password... this was free for all).

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Recruits speak out on the change of HC at Alabama

Some are pleased, some are in limbo.

Shooting guard recruit Charvez Davis said he was pleased to see Grant hired. He committed to Alabama earlier this year from Okaloosa-Walton Community College in Niceville, Fla.

"I feel better," he said. "I didn't know what to expect. I've watched Coach Grant in the NCAA Tournament and he's a good coach."

Davis said Gottfried's departing didn't affect his decision. He added he believes he's a good fit at Alabama because of his scoring ability.

"I signed mainly because of the school," Davis said. "Now that they got a good coach in there, I feel much better. I think it's a good situation for me."


Read the rest here.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Mal (out)Maneuvers Maligners

Anthony Grant rapidly became Bama's number one candidate for the job and he now has agreed to coach for us. Coach Grant apparently insisted on telling his VCU players himself; a welcome relief after the way so many other coaches have first reported to or departed from the football programs at our state's two major universities.

Welcome, Coach Grant. We all look forward to seeing what you can and will do for our players and our program. Now I have to scrap together the money for some season tickets in this down economy. I guess that's a problem I am happy to have.

Fox Sports- VCU's Grant accepts Alabama job

Just hours after his former boss, Billy Donovan, decided to remain at Florida, VCU coach Anthony Grant has accepted the Alabama job.

Grant made the decision early Friday night, sources close to Alabama's program told FOXSports.com.

Grant, who took Virginia Commonwealth to two NCAA tournament appearances in three seasons, replaces Mark Gottfried, who was fired during the season. VCU was 24-10 this past season and lost to UCLA in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

Grant, 42, met with Alabama officials in Richmond last weekend and then toured the campus Wednesday.

According to sources, Alabama offered Grant a deal that was worth about $2 million per season.


Read it here.

If true all the whining on messageboards has been for naught. This is a major get for the university and I'm relieved it wasn't effed up. The only gripe I have is the $2 million per salary, but I guess since it's not my money I shouldn't complain.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Grant's Army to Take Over Tuscaloosa?

Most of you have probably heard the reports that we are offering Anthony Grant $1.5 Million per year. Rumors are that he was in Tuscaloosa either Sunday or Monday. Honestly, I have mixed feelings about this. I like his style of play, and I think he will restore a lot of enthusiasm around the program. He is a hot commodity in the coaching profession right now, and this would be viewed as a good hire nationally. He's familiar with the SEC and was very successful as an assistant at Florida.

On the downside, his head coaching resume is similar to that of Gottfried's when we hired him. His claim to fame was upsetting a #6 sede Duke team in the tournament. He has made the tournament 2 of the last 3 years, and had a respectful showing even in a first round loss this year. That's not easy to do at a school like VCU, but as Stan Heath, Buzz Peterson, and so many others have proven, winning at a small school like VCU or Murray State does not necessarily mean you can win big in the SEC.

Of course, we haven't hired him yet. I must admit I was somewhat surprised to hear we were making such an offer. I have no first hand knowledge of the coaching search, but through talking with 3 friends of mine (One who has business relations with a BOT member, another who is a High School Coach with ties to some major D1 assistant coaches, and the other who is well connected in the media) so this is all 2nd and 3rd hand information, but what I was able to piece together as of a few weeks ago was that Grant was number 3 on our list, and number 2 would almost assuredly take it if offered. Number 1 would have been a homerun hire, and while I understand there was, surprisingly, some interest from his side, it was far from a sure thing and we likely would not know for weeks. Plus, he would have cost a considerable amount more.

My guess is the Board of Trustees nixed this idea for fear that our #2 and #3 would not be available by then, not to mention being able to save some $$. If that is indeed the case, then I am somewhat disappointed, as I believe it would have been worth the gamble. I know we don't have the same stature as the football program, but that reminds me of the Saban situation where we almost settled for Rich Rodriguez.

As far as number 2 goes, his team is still playing, and maybe they were afraid Grant would not still be available if they waited out the first two options. Given the likelihood that number 2 would accept the position, to me that is all the more reason to wait out number 1.

Another aspect of all of this is that Kentucky is rumored to pull the trigger on Gillespie and go after Donovan. Donovan has already turned them down once, but should he have a change of heart and go to Lexington, it would be highly likely that Grant would return to Florida, thus taking him out of consideration for our job.

There were also some rumors that Haith from Miami was being considered. I would suspect this is nothing more than him contacting us and expressing interest. Surely we can and will do better than. I would rather re-hire Gottfried than give the job to Haith.

At any rate, the days and possibly weeks ahead should be quite interesting. At this point, I wouldn't be surprised if we end up with someone who isn't even included in the 4 candidates I've discussed here.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Power conferences dominate Sweet Sixteen

Unlike the media retards I don't believe it's the end of the mid majors having an impact in the tournament. What it is, is there was a clear separation between the top 12 teams and the rest of the field.

The Big East is dominant. 5 in the Sweet 16 and I can see 4 in the Elite 8 is pretty damn impressive.

I know I never made my official picks for the Final Four... therefore I give you Pitt, Missouri, Syracuse and Louisville. I picked this before the tourney began, but was busy getting my rear kicked in Las Vegas to post it.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

If we strike out on big name coaches we should consider...

Steve Lavin. Yes, I am prepared to take a lot of heat for even mentioning him as someone we should consider, but looking at his resume I see him on equal footing with some of the other names being thrown around. Add to that he was the coach at UCLA and IMO it separates him from the rest of the B list guys being thrown around.

His resume:
- 5 Sweet 16s in 7 years at UCLA
- 145-78 record (his last year skewed the number down)
- Elite 8 in 1997
- 2001 PAC-10 COY
- 4 wins over #1 ranked teams
- 6-1 in 1st round NCAA Tournament games

He never won the PAC-10 in his 7 years there and UCLA fans make the argument that they underachieved (and they're right to a point) under Lavin, but for Alabama five Sweet Sixteens in 7 years is much better than 1 in the last 17 years.

Lavin is still young (44) and he learned a lot from being the UCLA HC. People have to remember that Lavin was thrusted into the position when Harrick was fired. Looking back, I think he did a decent job, but decent is not enough for UCLA. They want championships and Lavin at that time probably wasn't ready for that level of scrutiny. When he was fired, I believe he thanked UCLA for the opportunity and left with class and dignity.

He probably can be had for $1-$1.5 million per year... and I'd lean towards the lower number. I think he'd do well here.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Potential coaching candidates and their bios

This is in no particular order. I'm including anyone rumored and those I heard about.

Mike Anderson- Probably the most popular one most of our fanbase thinks can be had. I know I'd love to see 40 minutes of hell in Coleman.

Oliver Purnell- probably the most realistic candidate out there considering our past. I think he would do well here, but he's not the big name people are looking for in the fanbase.

Tom Izzo- this one was initially hard for me to believe. I still think it's unlikely, but if there's even a hint of him being interested we should be prepared to back up the Brinks truck for him.

Frank Haith- the most recent name to surface and probably the least appealing to the fanbase. I think he's a decent coach, but I'm not sure if he's much of an upgrade over who we had.

Seth Greenberg- winning at Va Tech is tough and he is doing that, but his teams are world beaters and slump breakers at the same time. Inconsistent. Saying that, I wouldn't mind if he ends up here as I believe better talent would equal more stability.

Tubby Smith- timing is everything and we're 2 years too late. I don't see Tubby leaving Minnesota after 2 years. I think his character is too strong to job hop and leave a group of kids behind in a short timeframe.

Anthony Grant- to be honest I wasn't a big fan until recently. He's dominated the CAA and was a key component in bringing Florida 2 National Titles. Watching Donovan struggle makes me believe Grant was more of a factor than I first thought.

I intentionally left out Brad Stevens, Sean Miller, Jay Wright, and Jamie Dixon for various reasons from not being a HC long enough to waiting for a top tier job, to being comfortable where they are.

If I were a betting man I'd lay money on Purnell. He's not my top choice, but I'd be happy with him.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Link: The shot that saved lives (SI)

It's a great piece written about Mykal Riley leadin up to his buzzer tying 3 point shot that took the 2008 SEC Quarterfinals game between us and Mississippi State into overtime. Some excerpts:

The shooter flicks his right wrist at the peak of his jump, and if you photographed him now, you could put it in a textbook. Eight tenths of a second. The ball is still airborne when time expires and the horn sounds. The shot is almost perfect. But the shooter was drifting left, as you recall, and the ball lands just left of the target. It hits the back of the rim, the boxy part with the springs, and the springs rattle. The ball caroms from back rim to front, seeming to gain speed as it goes, and it suddenly leaps out of the cylinder.

The secret things belong unto the Lord our God. The shooter believes this because his King James Bible says so, and because of what he has seen, and soon he will believe it more deeply than ever. The ball sails toward the backboard, hits the center of the white square, and falls through the net.

This shot does nothing to change the game's outcome. And yet, for pure utility, it may be as great as any play in the history of sports. Eight minutes later, on the evening of March 14, 2008, during this Southeastern Conference tournament game between Alabama and Mississippi State, a tornado will roar through downtown Atlanta, and high winds will breach the Georgia Dome, and metal will strike the hardwood, and players will flee for cover, and it will seem to be snowing indoors. By morning Mykal Riley's three-pointer will be known as The Shot That Saved Lives.


Read the rest here.

I had a ticket to go to that game, but with a late arriving flight from Salt Lake City I travelled home from the airport instead.

Season is over. No NIT, CBI, or collegeinsider.com tournament bid

Mitchell pointed that out in comments under the last post. Links to the other tournaments:

CBI
collegeinsider.com
NIT

Looking at the CBI and collegeinsider.com brackets, we probably had a good shot at winning both of them.

If the university turned down bids to the CBI or collegeinsider.com tournaments called me pissed off about it. This team deserves some sort of postseason for the way they played the last month and a half. The only argument I can see is if we won one of these whispers about making PP the permanent HC might surface. That's a weak argument.

Anyways, the coaching search is now officially upon us and I hope to heck we hit one out of the park. I'll try to put up a candidates list with resumes and stuff this week.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

NCAA tournament bubble predictions

Normally I keep up with bubble watch throughout the year... the mixture of us sucking and the day job have got in the way.

Anyways, here's my predictions. I did not include automatics.

ACC at large (6)
- Duke/FSU loser
- Clemson
- BC
- Maryland
- UNC
- Wake Forest

A-10 at large (2)
- Xavier
- Dayton

Big East at large (6)
- UConn
- Pitt
- Villanova
- Marquette
- Syracuse
- West Virginia

Big 12 at large (5)
- Kansas
- Oklahoma
- OSU
- Texas A&M
- Texas

Big 10 at large (6)
- Michigan State
- Ohio State/Purdue loser
- Illinois
- Michigan
- Wisconsin
- Minnesota

MWC at large (2)
- BYU
- San Diego St

PAC-10 at large (4)
- UCLA
- ASU
- Washington
- California

SEC at large (1)
- LSU

Others
- St Mary's
- Butler

I believe my math is right... 34 at large teams. As for the SEC... Auburn and South Carolina punch their Not Invited Tournament tickets. If M$U somehow beats Tennessee, then it's either St Mary's or Wisconsin IMO that gets kicked off the bus.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Reality bites. Vols crush Bama.

Box score

UT had a plethora of second chance shots, beat us down the floor, and shut down our offense for an easy win. It's a disappointing end to the season, but at least now we can focus on the coaching search. Well, hopefully we get into the NIT so the seniors can get a game or two more under their belt. Who knows... maybe this team can make it to NYC.

I realize I posted before the final score, but with 7 minutes to go I doubt we're coming back from 20 points down.

No good/bad tonight... read the Vandy recap and assume the opposite.

Reminder- Alabama vs Tennessee tonight at 7:30PM EST

If you want to read up on the Vols, I posted a stats pack for them from last week.
I don't see a webcast for this game so if you're not by a TV try sopcast.com or something else to watch streaming video or listen to it on the radio.

Prediction: Bama by 6... I was spot on for Vanderbilt so take it for what it's worth :)

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Biggest Change In This Team Is

the coach. I know that is stating the obvious, but it does bear some attention.

Before bragging on my own team let me admit that Vandy did not play its best or smartest game and that their shots simply were not falling. While I'm being honest, I think I also have to admit that the game plan and play of the Bama players probably had something to do with Vandy's results. Now back to may main point: the coaching.

None of us was particularly surprised when Alabama jumped out to an early lead. We've seen that happen regularly throughout the past four seasons. As the game progressed I kept expecting the wheels to fall off. My anxiety grew as the clocked moved into the last ten minutes of the second half. Then with about 8 minutes left on the clock I realized something I had not seen in a long time: Alabama was playing to win the game!

How many times have we seen Bama blow a big lead because they started playing not to lose under the previous coach? Way too often the result was offensive ineptitude, tenuous defensive play, and missed free throws probably caused by all the extra pressure associated with trying not to be the guy who lost this game for the team? None of that was present tonight.

Sure the team botched more than enough plays and made enough unnecessary mistakes down the stretch to lose a close game against an evenly matched opponent. And yet this team did not lose. I think one reason was that the players expected to win the game. They kept taking the game to Vandy and to the hoop and kept hammering away expecting things to go their way.

Another reason the team does not wilt down the stretch might have to do with the Pearson substitution philosophy. Everywhere Bama Basketball fans could be found they have tried to figure out Coach Gottfried's substitution "pattern" for at least five years. The theme seemed to be that you find seven guys and run them into the ground. Pearson perpetually moves players in and out of the game keeping fresh legs on the court. He also appreciates that times out are no good if you do not use them until after the other team has finished its 17-0 run.

I was very happy for the team and the staff tonight. I believe Mark Gottfried can coach again somewhere some day. I hope he watched tonight's game to see what a thinking and engaged coach could have been doing with all that talent the past few years. I also hope Coach Pearson has caught the attention of some other program. This team's turn around has been amazing.

Way to go, guys. Roll Tide!

Torrance's brilliant PG play leads Tide to easy win.

Gee had a great game too... taking a bunch of shots in the paint as Alabama led throughout and come away with a 82-75 win over Vandy. We led by as many as 16 and every time Vandy made a run we hit a big shot to stop their momentum. It was like the Tennessee game this past Sunday, except even more dominant.

The good:
- FT shooting (25-28)
- Shut down Ogilvy and Beal
- 47% FG and held Vandy to 40%
- Torrance and Gee with 20 and 25 points
- Green a monster inside

The bad:
- I can't think of a single thing

A great win and a great team effort tonight. Next up, Tennessee at 7:30PM EST.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Vanderbilt stats pack II

Two teams playing their best ball are matched up in the 1st round. This one is easily the most anticipated game in the SEC on Thursday.

Season Stats

Vandy comes in winners of 7 of their last 10, including a surprising road win over LSU. They have a balanced scoring attack led by A.J. Ogilvy who leads the team in points, rebounds, and FG percentage (amongst those that see the court regularly). Ogilvy and Beal lit us up for 20 each in our last meeting in Nashville so we really need to key in on them. Beal was 4-8 from beyond the arc and Ogilvy had his way inside.

Stats:
- 70.3 PPG
- 45% FG
- 34% 3PT FG
- +5.2 rebound margin
- Force 12.1 turnovers per game

Prediction: Brock lit Vandy up from beyond the arc and I suspect he'll do it again. Add a solid game from Gee, Green with a double-double, and Torrance setting the tone for the offense I say we win this by 6.

Gametime is 7:30PM EST (6:30PM CST) on Raycom Sports. I believe that's channel 648 on Directv. If somehow you're not in front of a TV, but have a computer handy you can watch it here.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

SEC Tournament Prediction

Bobbyjack usually handles the predictions, but I thought it would be fun to post my SEC tournament bracket and see how it does. I think the tournament is wide open this year, and nothing would surprise me. A lot of these games could easily go either way. All things being equal, I'm a homer, so here it goes...

(E4) Kentucky vs. (W5) Ole Miss [Raycom] 1:00 p.m. ET

Kentucky over Ole Piss. I know UK is playing awful right now, but they always bring it in March. They are playing for their NCAA life, and haven't missed the tourney since they were on probation. Jodie Meeks is good enough to carry them all the way to the championship if he gets hot.

Game 2 (W3) Miss. State vs. (E6) Georgia [Raycom] 3:15 p.m. ET
m$u over UGA, unfortunately.

Game 3 (W4) Alabama vs. (E5) Vanderbilt [Raycom] 7:30 p.m. ET

Two hot teams, we should have beat them in Nashville for the first time in 20 years, I think we get them back in Tampa. Bama

Game 4 (E3) Florida vs. (W6) Arkansas [Raycom] 9:45 p.m. ET

Florida.

SECOND ROUND - March 13 (Friday)
Game 5 Game 1 Kentucky vs. (W1) LSU [Raycom] 1:00 p.m. ET
Kentucky. LSU has slipped a little as of late, and they've already got their NCAA bid wrapped up.

Game 6 m$u vs. (E2) South Carolina [Raycom] 3:15 p.m. ET

South Carolina. This could go either way, but I'm going to be optimistic and hope $tate gets sent home early.

Game 7 Alabama vs. (E1) Tennessee [Raycom] 7:30 p.m. ET

They will be out for revenge, but if we can beat them in Knoxville, we can beat them in Tampa. Tide rolls into the semis. Alabama.

Game 8 Florida vs. (W2) Auburn [Raycom] 9:45 p.m. ET
Florida. auburn will give them a game, but the home court advantage will be too much.

SEMIFINALS - March 14 (Saturday)
Game 9 Kentucky vs. South Carolina[Raycom] 1:00 p.m. ETA friend of mine who is a USC fan is convinced they will flop in Tampa. He knows his team better than I do. By this point Tampa will be Lexington South. The Cats advance to the championship game. Kentucky

Game 10 Alabama vs. Florida [Raycom] 3:15 p.m. ET

This will be tough. If we can contain Calathes, we get it done. Gee hits a shot at the buzzer to eliminate his home state team in front of all his friends and family. Alabama

FINALS - Kentucky v. Alabama.

We've come this far, may as well win it. We become this year's version of Georgia. Then it's off to Boise as a 10 sede in the big dance! SEC Tournament Champion: Alabama

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Brock's buzzer beater beats Bruce 70-67.

An amazing game that ended with an amazing shot by Brock from just a shade inside of half court!

Box score

Every time Tennessee made a run in the 2nd half we answered it! Our point guards yet again shined even though the stats don't show it, Green dominated inside, and Hillman led the way with 16 points including 3-6 from 3 point range. Gee had a horrible game forcing shots, but made a CRUCIAL jumper with under a minute to play to tie the game. Andrew Steele continues to produce off the bench... his defensive play and his dribble penetration was big early on in the 2nd half. I also like the defensive effort of Knox and Coleman... they clearly made the difference inside with Green.

The good:
- Held the best FG team in the SEC to 38.5% from the field
- FT shooting... Gee started off slow, but as a team 16-19. AWESOME!
- Contained Smith and Maze. Kudos to the defense!
- Brock again from outside

The bad:
- Gee took at least 6 bad shots in the game. Forced it too much
- 20 turnovers... and only 7 assist.

What a great way to end the regular season... 4-1 in our last five is more than what any Alabama fan expected. What could've been if we hit FTs against Auburn. We are the 4 seed in the West playing Vandy in the 1st round. Get by that and Tennessee (or is it the Cocks) is next. I REALLY THINK WE CAN MAKE SOME NOISE IN THE SEC TOURNAMENT!!

Great win by the team and congrats to Coach Pearson for winning 2 in a row on the road!

SEC Power Poll week 9

I did not vote this week. I am protesting being swept by Auburn in hoops (g). Really, I forgot this week. Anyways, here's the poll.

LSU is clearly the class of the conference with Tennessee and Auburn (yes Auburn) the 2nd and 3rd best teams right now. At best I see 4 teams representing the conference in the NCAA tournament with Auburn being the shakiest (sp?) of the 4 due to lack of any big wins in their non-conference schedule.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Tennessee stats pack

We finish off the regular season with a visit to one of my least favorite destinations in the entire southeast... Knoxville, TN.

Stats

The Vols come in winners of 3 in a row including 2 impressive road wins at UF and South Carolina. We come in off a loss to Auburn at home. Tennessee is looking to improve their NCAA status... we're praying for a NIT invite.

Stats:
- 46% FG
- 32% 3PT FG
- 68% FT
- Force 15 TO per game
- +3.9 rebound margin

Chism is the guy to stop inside. He's aggressive (read he has no problem going over the back and not having it called on him), physical, and a threat from outside. Maze and Tyler Smith have been streaky from outside while Prince has been rock solid with the mid-range game. their starting 5 tops our starting five at each position.

Prediction: Tennessee has steamrolled their last 2 conference opponents on the road... and with us coming off a heartbreaking loss Tuesday I see a recipe for disaster. The Vols need this game to keep them off the bubble. We're playing for pride. Vols big... 14 or so.

I'll probably miss the 1st half. It's on CBS.
Tipoff is noon EST (11AM CST).

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Tigers Turn the Tide, 77-73.

What should have been a great senior night was spoiled by a scrappy auburn team. I thought we played great in the first half. Were it not for poor free throw shooting and a few ridiculously bad calls we may have had an insurmountable lead at halftime. We had a good gameplan coming in. We pounded the ball into the post and did a good job of guarding the perimeter and getting back in transition defense.

I think we relaxed a bit after getting the 13 point lead, and we failed to handle auburn's adjustments. We were impatient against the zone in the second half, settling for poor outside shots rather than taking the time to work the ball down low. Auburn's only chance of coming back was to get into a jump shooting contest with us, and that is what we allowed to happen. There is no excuse for auburn getting so many offensive rebounds against us with our size advantage.

Once again, we showed we have no clue how to manage a close game late. We used our last timeout with 2:35 to play to avoid a jump ball, when we had the possession arrow. Then, with no timeouts and down 2, with only a 9 second difference in the shot clock and game clock, against one of the worst free throw shooting teams in the country, we decided not to foul. Even if we get a stop there, we have to go the length of the floor and try to get off a shot in about 5 seconds.

Ted Valentine is one of the worst officials in the history of basketball. His officiating did not cost us the game, but he missed many what appeared to be blatantly obvious calls. He even made one call against us in the first half that the announcers couldn't even figure out what he called. I can think of another play in the first half where Senario was driving the lane and appeared to be pulled down by the waist from behind, with no call.

This probably won't be a popular opinion here, but I like the way this auburn team plays. I think Lebo could be a good coach if he would just recruit a decent big man every now and then. What they lack in size, they make up for with hustle. They scrap for every rebound and loose ball, set good screens, have good spacing on offense, and get after it on defense. If you can get past those ugly orange jerseys and the word "auburn" on their chest, they are a fun team to watch.

With the loss, we lose any hope of getting a first round bye at the SEC tournament in Tampa, meaning we will have to win 4 in a row in Tampa to make it to the NCAA tournament. Meanwhile, auburn secures the 2nd sede in the West, thus getting their 20th win and a first round bye.

Up next, we travel to Knoxville, TN to close out the regular season against the Vols at 11 am Central time Sunday morning on CBS. A win at Tennessee would look good on our NIT resume if nothing else. If anyone wants tickets to that game, leave your email in the comments and I will hook you up. I had planned on going, but unfortunately I will still be stuck in Cali.

FT shooting allows Auburn to win 77-73

Give Auburn credit as they battled back from 12 down. I don't get why we abandoned getting the ball inside in the 2nd half. We were clobbering them in there!

Box score

The good:
- Torrance had a great game at the point
- Green dominated inside
- Played good pressure defensive up until the 5 minute mark

The bad:
- Gee decided to put the team on his back when it wasn't necessary. Bad shot after bad shot.
- FT shooting... cost us the game!
- Brock with bad back to back TOs late in the 2nd half
- WE WERE SWEPT BY AUBURN!!!

This one leaves a sour taste in my mouth, BUT I still feel this team can do some damage in the SECT.

Auburn stats pack II

Who knew that the two hottest teams in the SEC are in Alabama? Auburn comes in winning 6 of their last 7 including impressive road wins over M$U and UGA while we come in on a 3 game winning streak fresh off of a beatdown of Ole Miss.

Season Stats

The thing about Auburn is they're getting balanced scoring so everyone's a threat. Inside we need to contain Barber as I believe he's the only player in the SEC averaging a double-double. Outside watch Waller, Reed, and Sullivan. These two teams match up well and it should be a back and forth game.

The stats:
- 44% FG
- 33% 3PT FG
- 60% FT
- 72.2 PPG

Prediction- It's senior night. I hope there is a good crowd tonight to say farewell to Alonzo Gee and Brandon Hollinger. I wish they got better instruction while they were here. I see this being a close game for the most part with us pulling away in the last 8 minutes thanks to Gee and Brock's perimeter shooting. I look for Hillman to have another solid game and Knox to put up double figures. Bama by 8.

Gametime is 9PM EST (8PM CST) on ESPN.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Crimson Crushes Confederates

I actually got to watch this game on TV, with sound! Major Kudos to the UNC fan bartender for getting the game on and hooking me up with some volume before tipoff. If you're ever stuck in San Francisco during a Bama game, I highly recommend the Blue Light Cafe on Union St.

The road losing streak is over! We've had a hard time winning at the Tad pad, but, we've had a hard time winning ANYWHERE on the road in the SEC. Ole piss has had a lot of injuries and are not a very talented team right now, but that same team we crushed had been playing pretty good basketball of late.

Anthony Brock...he was a bench warmer under CMG. Had Steele not got hurt again and quit, he would probably be red shirting. Instead, he's taking over games and helping us win on the road for the first time in over 2 years. We shot so well from behind the arc, I think the play of our post players gets somewhat overlooked. I thought Justin Knox played a very solid game. Since the double overtime win over $tate, we've posted 20+ point victories against Arkansas and at Ole Miss. We are playing as good as anyone in the conference right now. If we can protect our home court on senior night, steal one in Knoxville, and make it to the championship game of the SEC tournament in Tampa...who knows.

My only concern is that we have shot too well from 3 point land the last couple of games. That is a good thing, but it's not realistic to expect to continue to shoot around 50% out there, and I hope we don't get too comfortable relying upon that.

Up next, senior night against Auburn on ESPN Tuesday night at 8 pm Central time. There will be a big crowd there for the Iron Bowl Trophy Presentation, but I hope everyone will stick around and support the basketball team in the second half. Seniors Brandon Hollinger and Alonzo Gee will be missed next year. They were here for our last NCAA tournament appearance, and have been through a lot. Gee's leadership has been a key component to the team's continuing to play hard and be more than competitive under Coach Pearson. It will also likely be Coach Pearson's, and possibly Coach Pettway's last game here as well. Most of my best memories of Alabama basketball since I was a student involve Pettway in some way. I hate that I can't be there due to being out of town for work, but if you can go, please pass on my appreciation by being loud and enthusiastic the entire game. No matter the outcome, this team deserves to leave the court Tuesday night to a standing ovation.

My Spartan experience last Wednesday (2-25-09) and an in game interview with the coach of the Spartans

First off, the student section is impressive. They are into the game the entire way. I like how MSU puts their students in the lower section of the arena. I would say 3/4 of the lower section is students. They seem to keep the team pumped.

The rest of the people in attendance reminded me of a Bama home game. Golf claps, sitting on hands, just being a spectator... then again it was the Hawkeyes so maybe that's why.

Attendance- it wasn't sold out by any stretch as I bought a ticket at the gate for $22. Considering how the economy has affected the state of Michigan it was more than you'd think would be there.

I had the pleasure of 'interviewing' the Spartan coach during the first 10 minutes of the game. Here's the transcript:

Bobbyjack: Thank you Coach for giving me an interview, but don't you think it should wait until after the game?

CTI: No problem at all Bobbyjack. I saw your Bama shirt in the cheap seats and had to address you. As for the game, it's the Squakeyes. They suck.

BJ: Coach... my Bama shirt is under my sweater. It is not visible... how...

CTI: I see things you only wish you can...

BJ: OK... Anyways, are you still loving life in Lansing?

CTI: It's the greatest. (Coach goes to his secret voice). It's frigging cold up here. We've had snow on the ground since November, the best part about this state is the entrance to Canada, and now I don't think the fans appreciate what I have done.

BJ: Your resume is impressive, but it's been a while since you won the Little 11...

CTI: (resumes normal speak) Well, I have done more in 10 years than all of your past basketball coaches combined.

BJ: Sigh... you're right. I know you're short on time so my next question...

CTI: I saw that!

BJ: Saw what?

CTI: You are checking out the Spartan dancers.

BJ: Sorry Coach, you caught me. But how did you see that...

CTI: You want to know a secret?

BJ: Shoot

CTI: They're imported.

BJ: Imported?

CTI: Yeah, we bus them in from Indiana, Minnesota, and Missouri. You've seen the talent here... what's your opinion?

BJ: They have great personalities?

CTI: Exactly. (turns to his team). I told you guys Iowa can't shoot from outside. Keep it up so I can take the 2nd half off.

BJ: Last question. Who do you see landing the Bama hoops job?

CTI: Coach Knight would certainly shake things up. He is a difference maker. He also fits in as he's a hunter and outdoorsy type. There should be a call made to that new guy at Minnesota. He's a good one and if I... well, he's a good coach and can bring your program back.

BJ: (someone taps me on the shoulder and hands me a note). What's this?

CTI: Hand that to MM or DH and tell NS we'll be talking. (waves to said tapper)

BJ: Okay... thank you for your time.