Sunday, January 31, 2010

Bama blows barn burner at the barn.

Edit-(bobbyjack) add Box Score

Lazy passes, a lack of clutch free throw shooting, and some questionable calls were too much for the Tide to overcome against a determined auburn team.

The Tigers started the game on a 7-0 run, but Alabama kept its poise and managed to come back to take the lead into halftime. We had a size advantage on them in the post, but I do not feel we did enough to exploit it. Green had a decent game before fouling out, but I believe he could have had a much better game had he played more aggressively on offense. We are still shooting too many fade away shots that are not falling. Justin Knox played well when he was in there, but Chris Hines did not have a very good game. Green's foul trouble was huge, as we really missed him the last 3 minutes.

Auburn played a tight man to man defense that gave us a lot of problems. They were able to overplay the passing lanes, and we made a number of dumb or lazy passes which resulted in steals and easy baskets in transition for auburn. Otherwise, our defense was very effective. Brock and Hillman got a number of steals out of the press, and we limited their outside shooting in the halfcourt. They did not shoot as many 3s as they have in recent games, instead using their smaller, quicker guards to attack the basket and draw fouls from our big men.

In the second half we were able to build a 6 point and 7 point lead on 2 occasions, but could not put the game away. Each time we got a decent lead, auburn would quickly get a couple of scores to bring it back to within a one possession game. Torrance had a solid game overall, but the usually consistent free throw shooter probably cost us the game at the line. With a 1 point lead in the final 30 seconds, he missed the front end of a one and one. If we can make 2 free throws there to go up 3, we most likely hold on to win the game. Instead, auburn has a chance to shoot 2 FTs at the other end, and they make one to tie the game. Torrance then gets the ball stolen with about 10 seconds left. I thought there should have been a foul called, but no such luck in auburn. Down 1 with 2.5 seconds left, we threw it the length of the court to Knox, who again appeared to be fouled as he lost the ball and time expired. Had Know been able to hold on to the ball, Torrance would have had a great look for the game winning jump shot.

I'm glad I will never have another reason to set foot into that dump known as Beard-Eaves Memorial. It was unbearably hot, and dark, in the upper level. The seats are made of wood and uncomfortable, to say the least. The men's restrooms consist of 3 troughs and 2 stalls. The councouse is tiny. The video board is actually made up of 9 smaller screens, all with different color contrasts and very little brightness. The screen went out completely on several occasions, so trying to watch replays was pretty much useless. They have no stat boards whatsoever, and the scoreboard does not even indicate the number of remaining timeouts, which is something you would like to know in a close game like this. I would estimate the crowd to be about 7,000 or so. We were represented by probably about 500 or so fans scattered throughout the arena. At one point, an Alabama fan sitting behind the basket caught a T-shirt that was tossed into the crowd, and not wanting the auburn shirt he threw it back to the cheerleader. An auburn fan cried to the cops about this, who actually threw the guy out for throwing a freaking T-shirt.

I'm afraid we will look back at this game and the Vandy game at the end of the season as the reasons why we are not dancing. It was a golden opportunity and a very winnable road game that we let slip away. Up next, the Florida Gators come to Coleman Coliseum Thursday night for a 6pm tipoff on ESPNU. This is almost a must win game now, with a 3-4 record and road trips to Ole Miss and Kentucky looming.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Auburn stats pack

They're 1-5 in conference play, but outside of the 2nd half collapse to the Viles they've been competitive in every game.

Auburn statistics

They come in with a balanced scoring attack... 4 guys averaging double figures led by DeWayne Reed. Like every Lebo team, they shoot a bunch of 3s (roughly 40% of their shots), but only have 2 we need to worry about from out there... Sullivan and Walker.

Stats
- 44.7% FG
- 32.7% 3pt FG
- 64.4% FT
- +.5 rebound margin
- 76.1 PPG

Prediction: unlike previous years, we seem to guard the 3 ball better so as long as Green stays out of foul trouble and we get some more inside production from Hines or Knox I think in the end we wear them down and win at the Barn. Alabama by 5.

Game time is 4PM EST (3PM CST) and it's on the SEC Network. For those in Atlanta it's channel 17.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Bama Buries Bayou Bengals

Welcome back, 3 point shot! We have missed you!

Unlike in recent games, we got off to a very slow start. We frequently made a lot of turnovers and turned the ball over against the LSU zone. Both Hines and Mitchell got into some early foul trouble. Hines picked up his second foul within the first 7 minutes or so of the game, but there was an error at the scorer's table where they had him down for 3 fouls. After sitting out the rest of the first half, he spoke to the officials at halftime who conferred with the bookkeepers and got it corrected. Despite looking lethargic and unmotivated on offense, which made it difficult for us to set up the press, we still played great defense in our halfcourt man to man. LSU used their bigs to set a lot of slip screens underneath, but we did an outstanding job of fighting through the picks, communicating, and switching when necessary.

I was concerned about this game for a number of reasons. LSU desperately needed it if they want to avoid an 0-9 start in league play, considering their upcoming schedule. Fortunately, they did not play as if that was the case. Frankly, they showed very little heart and we out hustled them all night. My other concern was with us being over confident after the beatdown in Baton Rouge, and having a let down after the big win over $tate. I think that could have been a part of the problem with our first half play. It was the first time we trailed at the half since the Kansas State game, but thanks to the great defense we were only down by 2.

I don't know what Coach Grant said to the guys at halftime, but we were a completely different team in the second half. We made 5 straight 3 pointers in a stretch which turned a 3 point defecit into a 12 point lead. Charves Davis, who has been off the last few games, was 5 for 7 from downtown. A confident Davis is essential to the success of this team. Torrance, Hillman, and Mitchell also got in on the fun from downtown. Making those shots blew the game open for us, as it allowed us to set up the press which LSU had no answer for. This led to turnovers, which led to more open shots before LSU could set up their defense. It also forced them out of their zone, which opened up the inside game for us. Torrance and Mitchell both had double-doubles, and Hillman was relentless in the press.

It was one of the best defensive efforts by us (and worst offensive efforts by LSU) that I have ever seen. They didn't have a single player score in double digits. We held them to 13 points in the 2nd half, and under 40 for the game. They had only 4 assists to 16 turnovers. LSU lost a lot from last year, and Trent Johnson is a pretty good coach, but if he can't recruit better than he has shown in the short time he has been there, he will not last long. This LSU team is bad.

I was disappointed in the crowd. The student turnout was average at best, and there were many empty good seats throughout the arena. There was hardly anybody sitting up in the corners, I would say a crowd of 7,500-8,000, at best. We need to do better than that, especially coming off of a big win against $tate.

Speaking of poor attendance, up next, a trip to the ugliest village on the plains to play our last game ever in Beard Eaves Coliseum. The tipoff against auburn is set for 3pm Saturday afternoon. On paper, this is a game we should win, but Lebo's teams always play hard, and we will get their A game as they will want to send us out of their dump with a L for the last time. We need to jump on them early and take their small gathering out of the game.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

2nd half 3s fall, LSU hits the wall...

... as back to back to back 3s in under a minute stretches a 3 point lead to 12 and effectively puts the game away for the good guys. 57-38 Bama rolls.

Box score

The 1st half was brutal to watch for both team... it should be required viewing on how NOT to play basketball. The 2nd half we started with Mitchell with a layup, then pressure defense, and then a barrage of 3s from Davis, Torrance, Mitchell, and Hillman. LSU has no answer. When the game got to a double digit lead we worked the inside game with Green and Hines to make sure LSU wasn't coming back.

I thought LSU quit when the lead went to 12 with about 8 minutes left in the game. As bad offensively as we are, LSU is even worse... Tasmin Mitchell is their only real scoring threat.

The good:
- intense defensive play
- Charvez Davis found his outside stroke
- Torrance dishing assists
- overall good ball movement in the 2nd half (finding the open man)

The bad:
- the 1st half... AUful. Forgetable
- crappy FT shooting (started 0-4)

It's funny how a season changes... after beating LSU in Baton Rouge some of us thought we'd be the surprise team in the SEC. 3 losses in a row to Vandy, Arkansas, and Tennessee and all of a sudden we were one of the worst in the SEC, and now back to back home wins over M$U and LSU gives us hope.

Two minor rants:
- Attendance: those empty seats you see on TV are SOLD, but unused. Someone has to find a way to get those tickets to those that will use them. Burns me up...
- I keep hearing we don't have a PG... who is this Torrance fella? He seems to know how to find the open man. He's not a 'true' PG (whatever that means) yet I can't think of 3 other true PGs in the SEC I'd rather have.

LSU stats pack II

The Bengal Tigers make their way to Coleman.

They've played better since we blew them out in Baton Rouge, but yet they're still perfect (0-5) in conference. Tasmin Mitchell has been carrying the team... while Bo Spencer can't seem to find his stroke.

Write up from LSUsports.

Stats:
- 42.6% FG
- 28.7% 3pt FG
- +3.4 rebound margin
- 12.8 turnovers per game

As you can read, they're not good from the field. Make them try to beat you from outside.

Prediction: They'll probably play us close for a half before we get a comfortable double digit lead. Bama by 13.

Game time is 8PM EST (7PM CST) on the SEC Network.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Crimson Crushes Cow College West, 62-57

This upset win over $tate could be the turning point of the season, as we snap a 3 game losing streak to get back to 2-3 in the conference. We knew the tempo of this game would be key. We were able to make some shots early and set up our press, which gave $tate fits. Varnardo is a dominant player in the halfcourt, but we were able to neutralize him by making him run. The early tempo allowed us to build a nice lead early in the first half.

$tate was finally able to get things under control, and when they slowed it down and forced us to work against their zone, they were able to get back into the game. We've made some adjustments in how we attack the 2-3 zone. As opposed to running a 1-4 set or drive and dish from the point, we were penetrating from the wing on the weak side. This was effective for a while, as we were able to make good passes underneath. Unfortunately, we missed about 4 dunks or layups and then we got away from it and went back to trying to shoot over it.

Tony Mitchell had a great game defensively and on the boards. If only he would start catching the alley oop passes with 2 hands, he missed a couple of dunks trying to one-hand the alley oop. Hillman played a lot better than his stats would indicate. Although he wasn't credited with a steal, he gave $tate hell on defense. We really need him to find his shot at some point though.

Chris Hines started and received the bulk of the playing time ahead of Justin Knox. I've been hard on Hines at times this year, but he did an outstanding job. He is the main reason we were able to keep Varnardo in check. Hines doesn't bring much to the table on the offensive end, but he's a big, strong physical presence on defense and was able to hold his ground and block out the $tate big man.

Torrance and Brock made the shots we needed to make down the stretch. $tate had slowed the game down and taken a 1 point lead as we were struggling against the zone, but a couple of 3's and we were able to speed it up again and get the crowd into it. $tate is usually a much better 3 point shooting team, but I think our defenders deserve a lot of credit for their bad day. Most of their shots were closely contested. We do need to stop falling for the head fake, as once again we fouled their 3 point shooters on 2 seperate occasions.

Free throw shooting was much better after Jamychael Green started out 1 for 4. This game was starting to look like so many others this year, build a big lead, only to lose it in the 2nd half due to lack of depth. This time we were able to make the shots and get the stops needed down the stretch to get the win. This was a good win for the program, on national television against a top 25 opponent. Hopefully it will give us the confidence needed to start a winning streak, with 2 very winnable games coming up.

I will say this for $tate, if they could have got Renardo Sidney (top recruit they bought from CA) and the 7 footer they bought from Serbia into school, they would be very good, close to Kentucky good. Thankfully, it appears the NCAA has finally grown a set and is telling slick Rick "no" for a change.

There was a good, energetic crowd of around 11,000 or so. The student turnout was a little disappointing, but that's to be expected for an 11 am tipoff on a Saturday. As usual, a couple of thousand $tate fans made their annual trip to the "big city." At one point they were doing a "maroon-white" chant during a break when a U.S. Marine was being recognized at center court. Classless, but not at all unexpected from that bunch. I hope they all had a miserable time and an awful drive home.

Up next, the LSU Tigers will come to Coleman Coliseum Wednesday night for a 7pm tipoff looking for their first conference win. They will also be looking for revenge after we beat the crap out of them in Red Stick. They are playing better now, as they led Ole Miss for a good part of their most recent game before finally blowing it late. We are not good enough to survive a let down, so hopefully we will bring our A game and get back to .500 in conference play.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

M$U sink a three, Bama fans celebrate with glee

A defensive struggle won by the good guys... 62-57.
Box Score

CAG had a great gameplan... pressure the ball to keep M$U's offense out of sync. It worked. Varnado struggled, their guards couldn't hit the outside shot, and for the most part they seemed lost on offense... taking bad shot after bad shot. Torrance and Green came up big today, Hillman and Brock played great D, and Toni Mitchell pulled in 12 boards.

We struggled at times in the offense... every time we pushed the lead out to double digits, State tightened the D and we went into a xCMG cold spell that let them back into the game. Until the previous years this team kept on chugging along and got the momentum back.

I've been harsh on Hillman... and while he had another miserable offensive game he was a big reason we won today. His defensive play and pulling in 9 boards was HUGE.

The good:
- as mentioned... DEFENSE. Held State to 31.7% FG and 2-18 from beyond the arc.
- Torrance and Green combined for 38 points.
- Out rebounded State and was especially aggressive on the offensive glass.
- Brock with 2 big 3s and he also played great defense.

The bad:
- we didn't shoot much better than State (35% FG).
- Offensive lapses.
- Take out Torrence and Brock and the team shot 0-7 from 3. We need someone else to step up.

Let's see what this win does for us the next 2 weeks... we have a chance to win the next 3.
-

Friday, January 22, 2010

Miss St stats pack

This one's going to be abbreviated... I apologize in advance.

Season statistics

Can we contain Varnado inside, Bost, Stewart, and Ravern Johnson outside, and find some offense? M$U is 3-0 in conference, but a combined 10 points is the margin of victory. They can be had... the question is can do we have the manpower to take them down Saturday in Tuscaloosa.

Stats:
- 75.3 PPG
- 45.8% FG
- 40.2% 3pt FG
- 8.5 block per game
- +6.9 rebound margin

Prediction: This one doesn't look good for us... they score 75 give up 61, we can't seem to find an offense, they own the glass, we have problems there... all signs point to this being ugly. I just don't see how we can match up inside with them and our shooting woes are unlikely to end against a superior defensive team like the Bulldogs from Starkville. M$U and Slick Rick by 12.

Game time is noon EST (11AM CST) on CBS. Maybe being on network TV fires up the team to play inspired basketball. I hope so.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Vols beat Tide, offense runs and hide

We had numerous opportunities to win this game, but didn't. We got Tennessee's C game and gave them ours... you're not going to beat a top 10 team playing the way we did.

Box score

Our big men were the only reason we stayed in the game... Green, Mitchell, and Hines played well, but our guard play was atrocious. I'm the biggest Torrance fan on this blog, but even I have to say he was AUful tonight... and of all the games to have a bad one this was the one we could least afford. The upside is we played hellacious D. I saw very few uncontested shots. Saying that, Green, for all he brings to the offensive side, was regularly getting schooled on the defensive end. I counted at least 5 easy baskets scored by UT when defended by Green.

The good:
- defense... 39% FG
- +2 rebound margin
- 8 blocks

The bad:
- guard play... don't think they collectively were 33% from the field
- transition... saw too many easy baskets
- as bad offensively as I've seen us all season
- bad shots. We took plenty of them

This was a game we could've stolen, but didn't. At 1-3 in conference this Saturday's game vs M$U is huge. We almost have to win this one. What started out as promise (road win at LSU) has turned into despair as right now I'm having a hard time piecing together 5 more wins in conference.

Tennessee stats pack

The Viles are coming off wins over top 25 teams (Kansas and Ole Miss) and have reinstated all except Tyler Smith who was kicked off the team. How they beat KU with 6 scholarship players is a mystery to me.

Vols year to date

Stats:
- 48.1% FG
- 34.4% 3pt FG
- 67.3% FT
- +2.8 rebound margin
- 80.8 PPG

Are they more talented? Yes.
Will Chism (who's been there 11 years) give us problems inside? Yes.
Other than that, do we match up well with Tennessee? Yes.

Prediction: I was leaning toward Tennessee, but we're due an upset win. I don't think UT has anyone that can handle Torrance off the dribble and if we can hit some 3s to open up the inside for Green and Knox we can pull the upset. I say this is CAG's signature win for the year... Alabama by 5.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Arkansas 71 Alabama 59

I don't feel like coming up with a goofy title so the final score will have to suffice. I'm also not in the mood to sugar coat, so you've been forewarned.

It seems like every game this year we either start out like gangbusters taking a big lead, or like retards falling way behind. We were on the short bus today as Arkansas got off to an 8-0 lead. Not what you want in your first game in a hostile environment on the road. Yes, I know we played at LSU and Toledo, but please....

Coach Grant picked up a technical foul. I was unable to see what he did from my seat in the last row of the lower level in the corner behind the Arkansas band. In any event, the team seemed to respond and we came roaring back. We took a 6 point lead in the first half and managed to hold on to a 2 point lead at halftime. In recent years past, the start would have likely resulted in us getting run out of the gym in the first half, so at least we are improving.

We had a chance to stretch the lead in the first half, but we were significantly hampered by Torrance picking up his second foul. Anthony Brock was cold, and Ben Eblen simply is not an SEC caliber point guard. He's absolutely no threat to score, and he's too small to be considered a shut down defender. I appreciate his effort and contribution to the team, but I question whether there were better options for Coach Grant to pursue before offering that scholarship. I'm sure he could be a star at VCU, but this is the SEC, and we need to start recruiting accordingly. With Eblen looking to pass at all cost and Brock laying more bricks than a mason, Arkansas knew they only had to stop our inside game. As a result, Knox and Green had absolutely no room to work with when they got the ball down low. Charvez Davis is supposed to be our top perimeter threat, but he is now 3 for 12 over his last 2 games. Somebody is going to have to start making some shots.

With that being said, our post players need to start playing their size. Green and Knox are too tentative around the basket. I agree the refs gave the Hogs some home cooking, but for the most part the reason they got to the line more than us was because they were aggressive and attacked the basket, whereas we were timid and shot too many fade aways. Chris Hines is little more than a warm body out there providing minutes and rest for the other bigs at this point. We have got to get some more production out of these guys if we are going to be a contender this year. Tony Mitchell is our most physical player, but unfortunately he does not have the requisite size and game to play in the post.

Vandy and Arkansas both used the same plan to shut us down in the second half. Zone defense, and force somebody other than Torrance to beat you. As I said above, until we get a consistent perimeter shooter, this plan will beat us everytime.

On the bright side, we kept our cool, played as hard as we could, and played solid defense to keep the game close. In years past, our offensive woes would have led to a blowout. If we can keep the intensity and make some adjustments in the half court offense, there is still hope.

I was hard on Senario Hillman at times last year, and I'm calling him out again. He wasn't the only one playing out of control today, but his errors were certainly the most costly. He got away with an elbow earlier in the game that bloodied an Arkansas player's nose. Then he got away with a reaching in foul on the possession that turned the game. Apparently the Arkansas player held him (on a play that should have already been called dead anyway) and Hillman decided it would be a good idea to throw an elbow right in the guy's face out in the open floor where everybody in the gym could see it. Even the kind Arkansas fans sitting around me, who had been complimentary of our team all day, jumped up screaming "Throw that POS out of the game." I tried to stick up for Senario saying that it wasn't as bad as it looked, but honestly, my heart wasn't in it. It was a stupid play by him, and it likely cost us a chance to win the game. It went from a 1 point game to a 5 point game, but more importantly, it got their crowd involved and the Arkansas players seemed to feed off of that. I'm not saying we would have won were it not for that play, but I think our chances instantly went from 50/50 to about 5/95.

Down the stretch, we switched to a 2-3 zone against Arkansas which was effective in stopping their first shot, but we could not get a rebound out of it. Arkansas made the most of their free throws, and we were woeful in the few opportunities that we had at the line.

This team is scrappy enough to still make some noise. We are likely looking at a 1-3 SEC start, but if we can pull together and beat m$u after that, the schedule will allow us to get back into it if we play our game.

It's hard to estimate the crowd for this game because I couldn't see a good portion of the upper level, and Bud Walton seats over 20,000. My very rough estimate would be around 11,000 or so, considerably less than the last time I was there 3 years ago. The Arkansas fans that were there expressed disappointment in the level of their attendance, particularly in the fact that it wasn't full for their most recent game against rival Texas. We were not very well represented. There was one other Alabama fan directly in front of me about 13 rows or so, otherwise, I did not see or hear any in the entire arena.

I was shocked by the blatant, open racism of the Arkansas fans. One asked me, "So, what kind of ball do you guys play, N***er ball?" When I explained that I had no idea what that means, he clarified with, "you know, I figure Grant is like Nolan Richardson with that put em all out there and just see what happens stuff." I explained that while our system may look chaotic, there is a rhyme and reason to what we do and that we do use the full court. That wasn't the only incident, another said we needed more "white boys who know the game, and we will be alright." Other than that, the Hog fans went out of their way to make me feel welcome, and were very polite and respectful. It's also interesting to note that they seem to be split on Pelphrey, with maybe even a slight majority of them ready to run him off. Incidentally, Bud Walton is probably the 2nd nicest arena in the SEC. My only complaint is their fans are as bad as ours about arriving late and walking down the aisle in the middle of the game. Thankfully, they had TV screens located just above our seats, so I was still able to watch even when the Walmart jackasses were blocking my view.

Up next, 10th ranked Tennessee comes to Tuscaloosa for a 6pm tipoff Tuesday night. They get 2 of their drug smoking, gun toting thugs back for the game. We desperately need a win over somebody of their caliber right now, so if possible, get to Coleman and do your part.

Pig Pugilists Pound Punch-drunk Pachyderms

Box Score

This game bore several similarities to Wednesday's Vandy match up. Alabama simply did not have the bodies necessary to match up with a very physical Arkansas in a game where the officials evidently decided in advance to allow a good deal of contact. The Tide's inability to hit an outside shot ultimately cost them this game, as Davis and Brock missed no fewer than seven consecutive three point shots that allowed the Hogs to continue to add to the slim lead they had earned after Hillman was ejected from the game.

Among all the calls and no calls in this game, the flagrant foul on Hillman probably was the most important. Hillman looked like he might have lost his cool, as he and his mates had been pushed and shoved all over the court with impunity. Clarke made a shove on him and when he retaliated Hillman's elbow slid up Clarke's chest to his chin, which Clarke accented with a sudden head jerk. The officials probably remembered the most memorable no call against Hillman from the first half when his elbow contacted Clarke's nose. I think the earlier event might have factored into their decision to eject Hillman. I did think it was comical when a uniformed law enforcement officer escorted Hillman off the court. What did they think he was going to do, shoot someone with his sweaty headband? Sheesh!

Hillman and The Tide need to learn how to use their hands and bodies in these loosely called games. SEC officials are going to call hacks and slaps anywhere near an offensive players hands and arms, so the Bama boys need to learn how to use their feet and bodies to make plays and to disrupt the other team's offensive flow.

This is another game that the good guys let get away from them. It's important that they keep their cool when they do not feel they are getting a fair shake; especially in light of the fact that a perception of that type usually is going to be an inaccurate one. It also is essential that Bama find a three point bomber if they are going to have a snow ball's chance of making a run at the big dance.

As a guy who gets caught up in the moment of the game it is important for a fan like me to remember that this never was a game I expected our guys to win. What is most important now is that the players learn from their mistakes and continue to improve. Tennessee comes to town Tuesday night. I'll see you there.

Arkansas stats pack

Here

The Razorback are 0-1 in conference, but played well against M$U Thursday night in Starkville losing by a bucket. With Fortson back they are a different team than the one that lost 4 in a row to mediocre/bad teams. They have some scorers (Clark and Powell), play good half court D, but struggle in transition.

Stats:
- 46.7% FG
- 37% 3pt FG
- 66% FT
- 4.1 blocks per game

Prediction: Man I wish we played them before Fortson came back... a road game against an improving Arkansas team coupled with a heartbreaking loss at home on Wednesday... Hogs by 3. I hope the extra day of rest we have can make the difference, but I'm thinking it won't.

The game is on SEC TV at 1:30EST (12:30 CST). Check local listings. In Atlanta we get Ole Miss-Tennessee so it's either 722 on DTV (for those with Full Court) or ESPN360.com.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Commodore Conspiracy Cuts Crimson 65-64

A very disappointing 1 point loss at home to a pretty good Vandy team. It was a fun game to watch, as both teams left everything on the floor, but poor free throw shooting, untimely turnovers, and inconsistent officiating were too much to overcome.

The game started about as good as we could hope for. We forced some early turnovers, held Vandy to one shot on their end of the floor, and we were making pretty much everything we put up. We were able to build a 9-0 lead right off the bat. We seemed to have more success when we were able to set up our press and push the ball on offense. Vandy plays more uptempo than they have in years past, but I thought it was to their advantage when we got into more of a halfcourt type of game. They ran a lot of 2-3 zone and we didn't really have an answer for it. It was a frustrating day for our post players as we really were not able to get them the ball. We needed more than 1 for 6 from 3 point range out of Charvez Davis this game. They killed us on the offensive boards in the second half, which was another huge factor in them getting back into the game.

Both teams had some foul trouble to deal with, but it seemed to effect our play more. Hillman fouled out with around 4 minutes left, and it would have been really nice to have him in there to possibly create a shot at the end of the game. Green and Torrance also were forced to play with 4 fouls. Torrance handled it very well and he is the main reason we were able to stay in the game. We were able to get Ogilvy in foul trouble but the officials refused to call him for his 5th.

Tony Mitchell also had a very good game. He had a couple of amazing dunks, and made one of the best hustle plays I have ever seen in the first half. He blocked a shot, then ran to the corner and saved his own blocked shot from going out of bounds by diving over the Alabama bench. We got into transition, and he realized he would be way behind the play if he re-entered the playing area in the backcourt, so he ran behind the scorer's table and jumped over the Vandy bench to get back into the play.

The officiating was inconsistent at best. We shot only 17 free throws to Vandy's 37. Nevertheless, if we shoot better than 58% from the line, we would have won the game. Vandy was even worse from the line shooting only 54%. In fairness to the officials, that was a very difficult game to call. It was very physical on both ends and was played at a fairly quick pace. Early on they were letting them play, which worked to our advantage, but I think they feared they were losing control of the game so they started calling it very tight, and in the process they were anticipating and calling fouls that never happened. Part of the reason Vandy was able to get to the line more than us was because they attacked the basket more whereas we were settling for jump shots. Nevertheless, 37 FTs to 17? C'mon man!

We were in control most of the game, with our 10 point lead being cut to 3 or 4 before we would stretch it back out again. Vandy finally tied the game with about 6 minutes left, and I knew we were in for a struggle from that point on. The last few minutes was back and forth with a constant parade to the charity stripe. Vandy had the ball with a tie game and a chance for the last shot, but we were called for a foul with 6 seconds left. I hope Alias will comment about that call, as it happened on his end of the court and he likely had a much better view of it than I did, but there did not seem to be a lot of contact from my angle. Certainly not enough to make the call in that situation. Down 1, we allowed Brock to drive in and put up a shot hoping for a foul call or a 2nd chance opportunity. There was definitely some contact, and normally I wouldn't expect to be bailed out in that situation, but given the fact that we were playing at home, and considering the foul they had just called on us with 6 seconds left, I don't think it was unreasonable to expect a whistle in that situation.

There was a solid crowd despite the late tip-off. Student turnout was fantastic, even above capacity for the student section. They should offer free pizza and Tshirts more often. I would estimate a total crowd of around 8,500 or so. Up next, we go to Fayetteville to take on the Arkansas Razorbacks. Their poor record is deceiving, as they have played most of the year with a number of player's suspended. Those players, including Courtney Fortson are back, and they played top ranked Texas close in their last game. Tip off is set for 12:30 Central time Saturday and will be televised on the SEC network. I will try to post a report from Fayetteville.

Vandy steals the game, refs are to blame

Thanks to Delta I was able to see the last five minutes of the game. What I saw were tick tack fouls called on us while Vanderbilt got away with those same type of fouls. I normally don't play the homer card, but that's how I saw it. Further proof is the FT margin between Vanderbilt and us (37 to 17 FT difference).

Box score

Tough loss... I saw we were up as many as 10 early in the 2nd half. We need to start closing out games against good opponents. We let Purdue come back on us at home earlier in the season... and we can't lose many more at home this year if we want to sniff a postseason berth. Next up, a visit to Fayetteville against a Razorback squad that's better now than they were 2 weeks ago.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Vanderbilt stats pack

The Dores come in at 12-3 off a win against Florida on Saturday. This is their first real road game since Dec 8th where they lost to a mediocre (that's being kind) Illinois squad that struggled against the mighty Penn State Nittany Lions last night.

Stats

I watched them in the Maui Invitational (man I wish I was back there) against Cincy and Arizona... they'll kill you if you leave them open shots. Put a hand in their face and they struggle... that's what I got out of the Cincy game.

Stats:
- 79.3 PPG
- 49.4% FG
- 35.5% 3pt FG
- 70% FT
- +2.2 rebound margin

Jeffery Taylor, Jermaine Beal and AJ Oglivy all average double digits (14.1/13.3/13.3) so it's a balanced offense. I was kind of surprised that AJ's production is down from last year, but they seem to be more uptempo than last years team. We need to watch John Jenkins from beyond the arc... as he's draining them at a 47% clip. They'll give us issues inside so unless we stay out of foul trouble we're going to need our guards to step it up.

Prediction: Everything points to Vandy leaving Tuscaloosa with a win, but NOT SO FAST MY FRIEND! I don't think Vandy has an answer for Green and I believe our bench makes the difference tonight. Bama by 7.

Game time is 9PM EST and can be seen on CSS, ESPN360, or Full Court (if you paid for that). Chances are I won't see or hear it as I'll be in the air. The team is 2-1 (forgot about FSU) when I am unable to listen or watch the game.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Dear Mal Moore and other Athletic Dept. Administration Officials,

Overall, you are doing a great job. Obviously the Saban hire has worked out, as we just won our 13th National Championship. So far, I think we can all agree that Coach Grant is doing a good job and basketball is finally moving in the right direction. I think I speak for everyone when I say that I sincerely appreciate all of your efforts.

But PLEASE, stop putting us fans in the position of having to choose between football and basketball. The basketball schedule has been set for some time now. We all know that we play at Arkansas at 12:30 Saturday. I would have enjoyed going to the football championship celebration, but you scheduled it to start at 2 p.m. Thus, anybody who goes to Bryant-Denny Stadium on Saturday will have to miss at least the second half of the basketball game (against an SEC West opponent, nonetheless).

I was hoping it would start at 3 or 4, so that I could go to Tuscaloosa, watch the bball game on TV, then go to the football championship. The only positive from this scheduling is that I figured if I can't go to the football celebration anyway, I may as well make the trip to Fayetteville. So, if anybody out there is going to the game in Arkansas Saturday, and wants to sit with fellow Bama fans, let me know and we'll try to get tickets together. Last time I went to Fayetteville, Arkansas jumped out to a 26-6 lead and ran us out of the gym, 88-61. I just looked up the box score from that game, in the first half we made 8 FGs and had 9 shots blocked. Let's hope we are a little more competitive this time.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Tide Tames Timid Tigers

Alabama's tenacious defense early in the game seemed to keep LSU frustrated until there was little more than 10 minutes left and produced points for the entire game. LSU scored only 18 points in the first half and Bama led by as many as 26 in the second. Bama's ball movement was excellent, frequently finding the open shooter both underneath the basket and outside the arc, although not many of those three point shots actually fell through the hoop.

The biggest thing about this game probably is that the Tide wrestled a road win in its first conference game. Not many people counted on that before the season started.

The second biggest thing about this game might be Hillman's behind-the-back, no-look pass when he got doubled up while driving the lane. I don't remember which of his teammates scored the two points, but they were "gimmes" after Senario's superlative pass. Set your DVRs to watch Sports Center because that play has to make their daily hi lites feature.

Defense set the tone. The half court offense was as efficient and effective as it has been in years. The Tide played with energy and enthusiasm for the full forty minutes and was lots of fun to watch. That will not always produce a victory but it certainly was enough today.

Bobby Jack was right, both in his description of the game and in his admonition that all Bama fans should show up and support this team. This is your chance to get on the bandwagon just like the football fans did before Coach Saban's team started competing for (and winning) championships. Vandy has been a thorn in our program's side for about 20 years now. I don't think we've lost to them with me in attendance (including my two trips to Nashville) since the early nineteen seventies. I'm driving up to the game Wednesday from Mobile. I hope to see you all there.

Let the tradition continue!

Roll Tide!!

Bama's D makes LSU frown, Tide takes them down

Final score 66-49. I think we were up as much as 26 (52-26) before letting off the gas a little with under 12 to play.
ESPN box score

A complete tail-kicking from beginning to end. LSU led 2-0 and 6-4, but that was about the highlight of the game for them. JaMychal Green dominated inside, Hillman and Torrance dished out the assists, Knox cleaned the boards, and the D stifled Tasmin Mitchell all day. That's 2 dominating road wins in a row... they must have channeled the football team's performance in the 2nd quarter of the BCSCG.

We had terrific ball movement the entire game... finding the open man outside or getting it to Green, Knox, and Hines inside with good position. That's as good as I've seen us pass the ball in about 5 years. We also did a GREAT job of getting a hand in LSU's face and out rebounding a taller squad.

If you live anywhere close to Tuscaloosa or live near a SEC opponent's gym you should go out and see them play. They bust their tails and leave it all on the court. I plan on making it to 2 games... maybe more if my schedule permits.

3 road teams won today (us, South Carolina, and M$U)... not often that happens.

LSU stats pack

Alabama opens the season on the road against a rebuilding LSU squad. I think we're catching them at the right time as they'll be much tougher later on in the year.

Stats

LSU comes in at 9-5... with a home loss to a bad Utah squad. They did play Washington State tough, but the rest of their tough non conference games showed that they can and will be run out of the building. Led by Tasmin Mitchell in his 13th year (approaching Chad Loup status) at 17.3/9.5 and Storm Warren (14.1/9.9) they'll be a force on the boards. We don't have the bodies to match up with them physically so we'll have to depend on hot shooting and an uptempo offense.

Prediction: Euphoria from the BCSCG tells me that Torrance and Hillman come up HUGE today and we steal one on the road. Bama by 4.

Game time is 5PM EST on FOX Sports Net.

Adjusting from 75 degrees to under 20 in 8 hours is rough... especially when your car doesn't start at the parking lot at the airport. Big shout out to the Hartsfield Airport roadside service for going all out to get me jumped. Turns out the guy was jumping cars all night and his jumper died when jumping mine. Found some jumper cables and got me on my way.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

The Steele Curse Is Alive: Andrew Steele Out For Season




I don't know who cursed the Steele brothers (probably someone connected with Auburn), but the news out of Tuscaloosa tonight is that Andrew Steele will miss the rest of the season after undergoing surgery to repair a stress fracture in his ankle. Obviously this is bad news for Andrew and the team, which is already woefully thin with players. We watched Ron Steele lose a potentially lucrative pro career to recurring injuries during his time at Alabama. Let's all hope the fates are kinder to Andrew going forward. While I didn't necessarily see a pro career in his future, I did think Andrew could develop into a solid 2-guard for the Tide. Bad news, indeed.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Holy Toledo! Bama 67 Rockets 50

The 2010 version of the "Rocket 8" took care of business in the first real road game of the year. In the second half we got a little sloppy at times, giving up some easy baskets and turnovers. Toledo was able to cut our 23 point lead to 13, but everytime they made a run we would answer with a basket to keep the lead fairly comfortable. We forced a lot of turnovers, but I fear we will not be able to press as much against SEC competition with only 8 players. We need to get our guys back, and fast. Torrance had a much better game than he did against TSU. Knox and Green were too much to handle down low. Toledo is a bad team, but kudos to Coach Grant and the team for staying focused and handling the pressure of playing on the road. Walkon Justin Luquire contributed some minutes to give some rest to the 8 scholarship players. We did a much better job of defending the perimeter, which was the key to getting the win.

With that, the Tide finishes with a 10-4 non-conference record against the toughest non-conference schedule in the SEC. 3 of our 4 losses were to opponents who are currently ranked in the top 25. We have good wins against Providence, Baylor, and Michigan. In fact, we are the only team to beat Baylor to this point. I would say the first non conference schedule of the Coach Grant era was a huge success, and exceeded expectations. I still think making the NCAA tournament might be a bit of a stretch for this team, but we have a good resume to this point, and if we could get to 9-7 in the conference and win a game or two in Nashville, we will at least be in the bubble conversation.

Up next, a trip to Baton Rouge to take on the Bayou Bengals. Tip off is set for 4 pm CST and will be televised on FSN. Hopefully Alias and some other gulf coast area Bama fans will represent us in red stick. I'm not scheduled to get back to BHM from Cali until late Friday night, so I'm going to have to sit this one out. RTR!

Bama blast Rockets 67-50

Despite having only 8 scholarship players again we thoroughly dominated from start to finish.

Box Score

Yes, Toledo sucks, but still... winning on the road has been tough for us for the last... uh 10 years.

We played 2 walkons... Chris Dixon and Justin Luquire. They played meaningful minutes.. and from everything I heard they were more than bodies on the floor.

Halftime update, Bama 34 Toledo 19

No TV tonight, so I'm listening to Chris Stewart on the radio. Once again, we are running with only 8. It sounds like we are playing good defense, forcing a lot of turnovers, and defending the perimeter. The Rockets have not made a 3 point shot in the first half. The bad news is that we are in a bit of foul trouble, Anthony Brock has 3 and Knox has a couple. With only 8 players, and the uptempo style of our game, this could present a problem in the second half. Eblen needs to step up, and he has thus far, at least defensively. Toledo is awful, we just need to hold on and hopefully get more healthy before the trip to the Bayou this weekend.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Toledo stats pack and some random basketball thoughts

First the stats
Next the writeup from the utrockets.com

Alright, the Rockets suck... 3-10 coming into this contest with a scary 3-3 home record. Yes, this is our first true road game, but looking at Toledo's results this year it seems that when they're matched up with a decent team they get run out fo the gym.

Jake Barnett and Stephen Albrecht lead the team in scoring at 14.1 and 11.2 per with Mouhamed Lo pulling in 5.3 board per game. The team doesn't score a lot (60 PPG), but play decent D (44.6%) so I expect a slow paced game.

More stats:
- 42.8% Fg
- 36.5% 3pt FG
- 62.8% FT
- 15.5 turnovers per game

Prediction: If this was last year I'd say we'd lose... after all I saw us lose by 20+ to a Oregon team that went 0-18 in the PAC 10. Being this is a new year with a new coach I predict victory as I have to assume 1) CAG won't let them get down on themselves and 2) Mitchell is back from the flu. Alabama by 9.

Game time is 7PM EST (6PM CST) Monday night. I didn't see it listed for TV so radio or internet feed is your way to follow the action. I'll be honest... I might catch the 1st half as I've got travel plans to Pasadena coming up.

Random hoops thoughts
- My top 5 teams in the country: Kansas, Kentucky, Purdue, Villanova, Texas. Based on what I've seen from each.
- I started paying attention to hoops outside of Alabama about 2 weeks ago. Sure I watched a few games before that, but I started watching games more closely a week before Christmas. The one and done to the NBA is partially to blame... and us playing in the BCSCG.
- The Arenas/Crittenden drawing guns (allegedly) episode in the NBA is sure to reconfirm those that believe the NBA is out of control. I guess I can't get past the storing guns in the locker room part. You'd figure they'd have them in the glove compartment for safety.
- The SEC is horrible this year. Outside of Kentucky and Ole Miss the league is way down. I thought Florida was back after beating Michigan State, but losing back to back to Richmond and at home to South Alabama changed my tune.
- The ACC is wide open this year. Duke and UNC are no better than FSU or Wake with VA Tech a step behind.
- What the heck happened to UCLA and Arizona? They don't rebuild they should reload. barring a miracle neither will be NCAA dancing this year.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

4 Viles... uh Vols arrested

This is a big blow to the basketball team. Pearl's going to have to work some magic to keep them in the running for a NCAA berth.

KNOXVILLE (WVLT) -- Tennessee basketball coach Bruce Pearl has indefinitely suspended the four basketball players who were arrested for drug and gun possession late Friday morning.

Tyler Smith, Brian Williams, Cameron Tatum and Melvin Goins are not allowed to participate in any team activities for an undetermined time period, the University has confirmed to Volunteer TV.

“I am deeply saddened and troubled by today’s news," Pearl said in a release. "I am indefinitely suspending Melvin (Goins), Tyler (Smith), Cameron (Tatum) and Brian (Williams) from all team activities until we have more information about today’s incident. I apologize for the embarrassment this has caused to our University.”

When the four players were pulled over because of speeding, the police officer found two firearms with the serial numbers filed off and some marijuana.

Bruce Pearl has released the following statement:

"We take these matters very seriously. We are still gathering information. Once the appropriate authorities have provided us with all of the facts, we will act accordingly.”


Read the rest here

My guess is all of them are done for the year... especially Tyler Smith who had possession of an altered serial # firearm.