Wednesday, March 31, 2010
I'm happy for him... and instead of bashing the past I'll go ahead and say the Spurs got themselves a heck of a gem. Gee has always had NBA potential... and it looks like it's being realized.
Alonzo Gee will sign with the San Antonio Spurs for the rest of the season along with non-guaranteed deal for next season to secure the rookie's rights over the Summer as well as for vet camp next year, according to a source with knowledge of the negotiations.
Gee's second 10-day contract with the Washington Wizards expired Sunday, meaning the team had the option of either signing Gee for the remainder of the season or letting him become a free agent. They've apparently chosen option B, even though he started in their last two games.
I'm utterly and completely surprised that Washington declined to keep the potential-laden forward (especially after coach Flip Saunders said they'd keep him), but I'm not at all surprised that the Spurs have re-added the 6-foot-6 rookie who scored 19 points in his first NBA start as soon as they were able.
Monday, March 29, 2010
This is the way I see it:
Butler beats Michigan State in front of a hometown crowd.
West Virginia beats Duke
West Virginia beats Butler to win the tournament.
Duke has a pretty easy draw through the tournament... and I think t catches up to them Saturday. Nevertheless, 11 Final Fours in 30 year for Coach K... I don't care who you are that's impressive. What about Izzo's 6th Final Four in 12 years... also amazing.
As some of you know, West Virginia has been my adopted 2nd favorite team for a while now and I'm rooting for them. I like Huggins... th guy is brutally honest about what his role is on campus... to have a solid team year in and year out. If the kids want to graduate they can do so.
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Regardless, Grant will have to step his recruiting game up in the coming years. Barbee was a key factor in rebuilding the Memphis program under John Calipari and should be able to recruit some quality players to Auburn. I'll give credit where credit is due, it's a good hire by Auburn. The Auburn/Alabama basketball rivalry has just become a lot more interesting.
So it is with my ESPN Insider account. I grew tired of clicking on college basketball stories at ESPN only to find myself turned away because I was not an Insider subscriber. Never mind that I find the majority of the ESPN college basketball analysts as interesting as passing a kidney stone; if I became an Insider I may find out college basketball news a full 24 hours before the rest of the country! How could I resist? Oh, and I also received a free subscription to ESPN's the Magazine, which really made it worth the effort.....I guess. Oh, not to mention my free long sleeve t-shirt and my ball cap. I don't wear a ball cap, but just in case I ever do, I have one now. Boo Ya!
Truth be known, I haven't seen much Insider news that piqued my interest...until tonight. Turns out Alabama might just be interested in luring some kid from that cow college in west Georgia. From ESPN:
The initial goal for Alabama's team under first-year coach Anthony Grant must have been one of both the coach and players feeling each other out. Now, Grant has a chance to put his own stamp on the team and to do that, he has to start building his recruiting base.
Alabama's 2010 recruiting class is strong but features no players from the state of Alabama. And even though he isn't from 'Bama, Charles Goldberg of the Birmingham News reports that UA has been in contact with Jalen Steele, Auburn's top recruit.
What is it with Alabama and kids with the last name of Steele? Oh, he's no relation to Ron or Andrew by the way. The kid is getting some favorable press, which is good. He's considering not going to Auburn, which is smart. What's not to like? ESPN wrote this about Steele:
Simply put this young man is a straight up winner. Steele has two state championships under his belt and possibly another on the horizon this season. He is a big time shooter who gets maximum lift on his jumper and is deft from out to 22-23 feet. Jalen can score in a variety of methods using the dribble, the short pull-up or the deep stroke, his game improved significantly off the dribble this summer and he will be an immediate asset for the Tigers. He is a wonderful on ball defender who really takes the message of defense to heart, thanks to a wonderful high school mentor who drove this point home on many occasions. He uses the screen to his advantage and is a perpetual motion machine while working without the ball. Some believe he cannot play at the SEC level, but we feel his approach to the game and his sheer will and determination will allow him to excel at any level.
Monday, March 22, 2010
Those of you who have yet to plan your vacation for later this year, the Alabama Crimson Tide basketball program is here for you. Your beloved Tide will be part of the field for the 2010 Paradise Jam tournament held in the Virgin Islands, affording you the opportunity to mix your love for basketball with everyone's innate desire to spend the better part of their days happily wasting away in a tropical paradise.
Alabama, which won this event as recently as 2006, will be joined in the field by Clemson, Iowa, Long Beach State, Old Dominion, Seton Hall, St. Peter's and Xavier. Xavier and Iowa were also in the 2006 field with Alabama.
First of all, the NCAA limits Division 1 men's basketball programs to 13 scholarships per year. Scholarship players returning next year include:
1. Charvez Davis
2. Ben Eblen
3. JaMychal Green
4. Senario Hillman
5. Chris Hines
6. Justin Knox
7. Tony Mitchell
8. Andrew Steele
9. Demetrius Jemison.
So, that leaves us with 4 available scholarships. Also, sometimes you may not sign up to the full limit if you are holding out a spot for prospects in the coming years. This particular class is considered to be very weak for in-state recruits. However, this year's Junior class is one of the strongest. There could be 3 or 4 blue chip prospects coming out of the state of AL next year, but with Davis, Hillman, Hines, Knox, and Jemison all being Seniors next year, we should have plenty room even if we add 4 guys this year.
Unlike football, basketball has two signing periods. There was an early signing period from November 11-November 18, 2009, and the regular signing period will be from April 14 through May 19, 2010. Two players signed their letters of intent to play for Alabama in the early period: Trevor Releford and Charles Hankerson.
Trevor Releford, a 5'11 point guard from Kansas is rated a 4 star by Rivals. From all reports, he is a wizard handling the rock with great quickness and athleticism. His shot likely needs some work. Scout ranks him as the #11 point guard in the nation. He also had offers from Oklahoma, Missouri, and Tennessee. We will likely be counting on him to come in and start at the point guard position as a true freshman. There has been some discussion that he may not qualify. For now, let's assume and hope that he does, otherwise we will desperately need to sign another point guard.
Charles Hankerson is a 6'5 210 lbs shooting guard from Miami, FL. Rivals rates him as a 3 star and the number 128 player in the nation. He is a great shooter, averaging 36.9 PPG. From everything that I have read, it sounds like he is very strong and physical with the ball for a wing man, but does not rely on his quickness or foot work much. He also had offers from auburn, Virginia, and Tulane. He can probably help us out at the point some, but he will primarily be a 2 guard, and hopefully another scoring threat.
So, now we are up to 11 scholarship players assuming no attrition and Releford qualifies, which leaves 2 spots open. Here are some of the guys we are rumored to be interested in:
1. Ricardo Ratliffe is a 6'9, 226 lb center from Central Florida Community College. Rivals rates him as a 4 star and he averages 25.6 points per game. Many consider him the top JUCO prospect in the nation. He has stated that he wants to go where he can showcase his skills for the NBA. Arkansas is probably our main competition here. It appears that they are going to hang on to Pelfrey for at least one more year, but a coaching change in Fayetteville would have greatly helped our chances. He also has offers from Cincinnati, Missouri, and Clemson.
2. Luke Cothran is a 6'8 210 lb Power Forward from Red Springs, NC. He was committed to NC State but decommitted about a week or two ago. He is originally from Huntsville. Rivals ranks him as the #8 power forward and #33 player overall nationally. Kentucky is also recruiting him, so you know how that goes. If Kentucky decides they don't need him, I think we've got a great shot at landing him. He's a big man with good moves that can run the floor, so I think he would be a good fit in Coach Grant's system.
3. Josh Langford is a 6'6 210lb small forward from Huntsville. ESPN calls him the prototypical SF for a pressing and running team. Sounds like a good fit for Coach Grant's system. He was previously committed to Louisville but reopened his recruitment. Georgia, auburn, and clemson are all also in the mix, but he is not expected to qualify academically.
4. Jalen Steele is a 6'3, 165 lbs SG from Knoxville, TN. He was previously committed to auburn, and is considering re-opening his recruitment since Lebo got fired. He was Mr. Basketball in the state of Tennessee averaging 27 points and 13 rebounds per game. UCLA, Georgia, Miami, and Cincinnati have all shown interest. It will be interesting to see who auburn hires and how it affects his recruitment.
5. Majok Majok, a 6'7 225 lb Power Forward from Northfield, MA is rated a 3 star by rivals. Honestly, I only included him because of his name. He does list us as a school that he is interested in, but as far as I can tell his only offers are from Fordham and Harvard.
Another possibility is Travis Releford, Trevor's older brother who plays for Kansas may be looking to transfer after seeing very limited playing time with the Jayhawks for 2 years. Maybe he will want to come play with his brother.
Keep in mind this is by no means a comprehensive list. I am sure the staff is recruiting people that nobody has any idea we are even interested in. These are just the names I have heard and read about as possibilities. I would really like to get Ratliffe and/or Cothran. If we were able to sign more than two, I would think and hope that Ben Eblen would be encouraged to transfer. If Releford can live up to the hype and we can sign one of those big men, we could be a pretty decent team by the end of the season next year.
Friday, March 19, 2010
I think the pressure GA Tech is putting on Hewitt will give him an out to St John's. He'd be a good fit there.
Oregon is going to go after Few at Gonzaga and probably get him. I can't see Few turning down that Nike money and with that state of the art arena opening up, it'll bring in some top notch talent.
Iowa is looking for a HC with HC experience, but their last one had that and took them even further back than Alford did so IMO they should look at a high ranking assistant at a big school instead.
Seton Hall will get some retread and continue to be a bottom tier Big East school. Unless they find an assistant that can come in and clean house they'll be what they've been for most of the last 15 years... at best mediocre.
Thursday, March 18, 2010
I have Duke losing in round 2 and only Kentucky winning their first round game of the SEC team. Vandy is a team that could be either one and done or make their way to the Elite 8. I'm going with one and done.
Outside of Kansas, I think this is the weakest group of 1 seeds in a long time.
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
There have been those in message board and blogging land that have lamented so far that Alabama has been unable to recruit the best talent from the state of Alabama. In fact, the message has been resounded that Grant can not succeed unless he successfully recruits the great state of Alabama. People saw a commit from Kansas and Florida and they just stood there scratching their head, drooling and repeating, mantra-like, "Grant can't recruit the state, Grant can't recruit the state..." and on and on into that good night.
Well, do I have good news for those of you worrying about in-state recruiting. According to Jerry Meyer with Rivals, Luke Cothron - a 6-foot-8, 210 power forward from Huntsville - who had verbally committed to N.C. State has officially decommitted from the Wolfpack. The top two schools in play are Alabama and, surprise surprise, Kentucky. Other schools interested in Cothron are Tennessee, Connecticut and Ole Miss.
Four-star prospect Luke Cothron has been considered a soft commitment to North Carolina State, but now the 6-foot-8, 210-pound power forward is officially decommitted.
Cothron, an Alabama native who is now at Red Springs (N.C,) Flora Macdonald Academy, has opened up his recruitment and is likely headed elsewhere than NC State.
Alabama and Kentucky are likely visitation destinations for Cothron and Tennessee, Connecticut and Ole Miss are also on his list.
Connecticut’s Coach Calhoun is scheduled to visit Cothron this week.
Cothron, who averaged 31 and 14 points per game, is looking to make an impact early in his college career.
“I want to come in and play as a freshman,” said Cothron. “I also want a good relationship with the head coach, and I want to be surrounded by a great team.”
Cothron is the No. 33 ranked prospect in the Rivals150.
If Cothron's top two schools truly are Bama and Kentucky, and Kentucky wants him bad enough, it will be a tough recruitment for Grant and his staff. Unfortunately, that is going to be the reality for SEC schools while Calipari is in Lexington: he's going to take what he wants and the other schools can have what's left.
Cothron is by no means a lock to be wearing Crimson next season, but if Grant can land him it would be a legitimate top 50 player added to his first recruiting class to go along with two very solid guards. The question is could Cothron come in and start immediately? 6-foot-8, 210 lbs isn't small by any stretch of the imagination, but it's not exactly imposing. I've seen video of the guy and he doesn't quite have the body of a college power forward yet. With Green and Jemison returning and Hines and Knox showing vast improvement over the last few weeks, it's not a given that Cothron could start immediately. Still, there's no question that for Bama to continue to rebuild the talent level must increase. Cothron would certainly be a part of that process.
Monday, March 15, 2010
Our very own Justin Tubbs made the right decision at the end of the CMG era to transfer to East Tennessee State. He will be dancing against Kentucky this weekend.
Same can be said about Avery Jukes, who transferred to Butler. He will be in action against UTEP, who is coached by Auburn's early frontrunner as coach, Tony Barbee. I really do think Auburn goes after a minority hire. One, because they love to copy us, and two, because they need to get the Turner Gill stink off of them when they hired Chiz-nik.
So, Charlotte just fired Bobby Lutz? Wow.... Didn't see that coming. He really is a decent coach, and will not be unemployed long.
Cornell got the shaft. I was looking forward to seeing them do something, but they were jobbed and deserved a higher seed than what they got.
This HAS to be the first time an entire division of the SEC has been left out of the Tourney since its inception in 1992. Going into yesterday, it all hinged on the Dawgs to keep that streak alive. Knowing that the SEC looked like it would only get 4 teams in anyway, it was down to MSU and Florida to fight out the last spot. Well, the Dawgs even beat Florida Saturday 75-69. Neutral court win against a Florida team that it was ahead of in RPI. Everything should be lovely. Sunday, they lose a 2-point lead to a shot with 0.1 seconds left, and eventually lose that game in Overtime. This loss was against a #1 seed in Kentucky, which, again, should have helped the case for MSU. But, they lose out to Florida for the remaining slot, which, coupled with their obnoxious, backward fanbase, brought a smile to my face, as it couldn't have happened to a more worthy ilk....
The funny thing is, as much as State fans may be pi$$ing and moaning, Virginia Tech really did deserve to be in before MSU and Florida. It appears they were being taught a lesson about their crappy non-con schedule, so expect Seth Greenberg to do some bulking up for next season.
Bring on the Madness!
Sunday, March 14, 2010
At some point I'll fill out a bracket and with pinpoint accuracy tell you who the Final Four teams will be. It's wide open if you ask me... as only Kansas seems to be a legit #1 seed IMO.
For those that never been, the first week of March Madness should be spent in Las Vegas if you're not attending a game. I'm missing out on it this year (it was either this or the BCSNC), but I HIGHLY suggest you go if you have the chance to. Watching the games in a sportbook with thousands of people on pins and needles on EVERY possession (money is on it) makes for an entertaining first few days.
Baseball season is around the corner and I'm catching a Spring Training game for the first time since I was a teenager in Orlando. I'm looking forward to it.
Last 4 in
Friday, March 12, 2010
Despite being outmanned, our guys played very hard. I liked the game plan. We attacked the basket early and often. It would be tempting to just throw up a bunch of 3's against a team like Kentucky and hope for the best, but by going right at them it sent a message to our team that we have confidence in them. It also sent a message to Kentucky that we were not going to be intimidated by them. We played about as well defensively as could be hoped for. We did a good job of slowing down the pace of the game and switching defenses, although I thought we pressed a little too often. UK is just too athletic to hope to have a lot of success against in a full court press.
The officiating was inconsistent at best. I felt they missed several obvious fouls in the post and we got called on a number of plays with minimal contact. It definitely had the feel of an away game, with UK having close to 85% of the fans, as you can see in the pic below that I took 9 minutes before tipoff.
Once Chris Hines fouled up, we had little chance of slowing down Wall. Despite the foul trouble, our post players played very well. It was good to see Jamychal Green bounce back and have a nice game, although he did miss some badly needed free throws. Torrance showed great leadership today and made the plays in the second half to keep us in the game.
UK made a lot of unforced turnovers in the first half and we were able to take advantage and stretch the lead to 11. Even when we took the 11 point lead in the first half, everybody knew Kentucky would take the lead at some point. The question is how would we handle it. We were able to withstand a couple of runs before they finally built a 10 point lead in the second half, but we answered with a run of our own and had a chance with only a 3 point defecit in the last 2 minutes. If we only made a few more free throws and some of those easy shots we missed around the basket, who knows?
A few other miscellaneous thoughts:
-Kentucky may have the best fans in the nation. You have to admire the way they pack out an arena and travel to support their team. Also, they are first class. We had a row of UA fans amongst the sea of blue, and numerous Cats fans wished us luck before and after the game, and were generally very complimentary of our team and Coach Grant. I am genuinely pulling for them to win it all.
-Contrast that with mi$$ $tate fans who had a fair contingent there for today's game. I had the misfortunate of standing next to a couple of them while waiting in line to get into the arena. We were surrounded by UK fans, and one of the $tate fans asks me, in an obnoxiously loud manner so all the UK people could hear: "What do you call a well dressed Kentucky fan"...."An anomally" and then yucked as if was the most hilarious joke ever. I just shrugged and said, "Please don't throw anything at their players, I don't want the media assuming the debris came from Bama fans." To which, the $tate fan responds, "we only did that ONE time, and we weren't throwing stuff at their players, we were throwing stuff at the referees!" I said sarcastically, "oh yeah, that makes it so much better." Being dead serious and somewhat irritated, the $tate fan answers, "Yes it does! It really does! Those refs sucked!" Now, you are probably assuming this was some young punk right? Nope, 60 year old lady (and I'm being very generous with my choice of the word "lady"). The comment about the UK fans' attire was even more laughable a few moments later when I overheard a $tate fan say, "I wish we would wear those camouflage jerseys like South Carolina did that time, that was sweet." I'm sure there is a $tate fan out there somewhere who is a decent human being, but I have yet to encounter one.
-Major Thanks to the kind Alabama fans who gave me a great lower level seat (again, see pics) for only 80 bucks when everyone else was asking $300-$400, and actually getting AT LEAST $250. That was very cool, and I enjoyed watching the game with you guys.
-Nashville is 100 times better of a venue for this tournament than Atlanta. There's really not a bad seat in the house, and there is a lot to do right outside the arena. My friend and I had a great time partying with all the Kentucky fans and listening to bands until 2 am or so Friday night. The only drawback is the size won't really accomodate a strong Kentucky and Tennessee in the same session.
-I don't think I saw a single Vandy fan anywhere the entire time I was there. Which surprised me since they are pretty good and it's in their town. Of course, Tennessee was very well represented.
This was my view for the South Carolina game from the club level:
Here was the view from my seat for the Kentucky game:
Up next, we anxiously await the NIT selection show. Sadly, I do not think we are in. Too many conference champions have lost in their respective tournaments thus getting automatic bids. I hope we would accept a CBI bid, but I doubt if we will. This season is probably over. It was disappointing and even heartbreaking at times, but we improved. We played hard every night and was competitive in every game. Our worst loss was only 13 points to K-State. The future is bright. Now, Coach Grant..GO RECRUIT!
Next up... MAYBE the NIT. I say maybe as a lot of mid majors regular season champs are falling in their conference tourneys. We'll see.
If this is the last game this season, I think we should thank Torrance for suffering through 4 years here. He got the payoff this year and shined. We'll miss him on the roster next season.
Torrance came up huge down the stretch. Knox had a good game in the paint. When we cut the lead to single digits with about 6:30 to play, South Carolina took the air out of the ball, going 4 corners and running down the shot clock every possession. I understand the thinking behind that, especially with Downey's ability to hit those shots one on one with the shot clock winding down, but I still think it was a bad move on their part. I think that is sending a message to your players that you don't have confidence in them to win the game straight up. Credit Coach Grant for making the adjustment of double teaming Downey when the shot clock got down to about 5 or so, making him give the ball up. This resulted in a couple of turnovers and shot clock violations.
It didn't matter in the end, but I'm pretty sure we got screwed out of a point. Torrance was at the line in the first half and the scoreboard read USC 25 UA 23...He made both free throws, and the scoreboard read USC 25 UA 24, and it was never corrected. Nobody seemed to raise a fuss about it, so maybe I was hallucinating, but I don't think so. If anybody can explain exactly what the hell happened there, I would sure like to know.
Today's game will be like a road game. Kentucky fans have taken over this city, but they have been extremely courteous and complimentary of our team as usual. They believe Coach Grant will have us among the elite in the conference in due time. I still don't have a ticket for today's game, and with Tennessee and Kentucky both being in our session, it's looking like a very tough ticket. Checking ebay and craigslist, lower levels are going for $400 each and uppers for $300. That's just crazy. If I can't find one for under $200, I will watch it on TV at a bar across the street.
I'm not going into the stats as everyone knows what Kentucky is all about.... Cousins, Wall, Patterson, and Bledsoe. Obviously there's a talent difference between the 2 clubs, but one of these teams has something to play for (NIT and beyond) while the other has a #1 seed in the NCAA sewn up.
If you read my SEC predictions below, you know I'm 3-1 so far. You also know that I picked us to beat Kentucky today. I might've smoked something funny when making that prediction, but by god I'm sticking to it. Knox comes up huge and Davis is our unlikely hero as Alabama beats Kentucky by 4.
Game time is noon today. I'll be drinking a brew or 12 as I'll be able to watch it beginning to end.
Thursday, March 11, 2010
I turned back to the ticker with about 7 minutes left in the game. I think we were down by about ten. With about three minutes left we were down by about three. Bama had the lead when I checked back with 1:44 left. USC tied the game with a shot but we took it back and held on by hitting a layup.
Here is a Boxscore. Here is a play-by-play recap so you can see just how bad my memory is becoming in my old age.
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
After losing to us at home, South Carolina went on the road and beat Vanderbilt to complete their up and down SEC season and claim the 5th seed in the East... which I'm glad for as I'd rather play them than UGA.
Prediction- Stop Downey from going off and I think we win going away. Defend the 3 ball and make them attempt to play inside with us. As small as we are, we are giants compared to the Gamecocks. Establish Hines and Knox (did I just say that?) inside, let Torrance penetrate and hope that Davis and Brock can help us out from the outside. I say most of those things happen and we play again on Friday. Bama by 8.
Game time is noon CST (1PM EST). I'll have to sneak away from my day job to catch it on the innernets.
Since I was sooo good at predicting the SECT last year I'll go ahead and predict again. Gamblers, write this down and do the opposite.
Bama over SC Lite
Tennessee over LSwho
Barn upsets Gators
UGA over Ar-Kansas
Bama over Kentucky
Ole Miss over Tennessee
$tate over the Barn
Vandy over UGA
Ole Miss over Bama
Vandy over $tate
Ole Miss over Vandy to win the SECT
Tuesday, March 09, 2010
Monday, March 08, 2010
For Alabama basketball fans the season has not been a surprise from the standpoint of a win/loss record, but from how those wins and losses were compiled. The season began with a tough loss to a Cornell team that may be responsible for many busted brackets in the coming weeks, but was followed up with several solid wins over Providence, Baylor (a win that looks much better now) and Michigan. The team also had a near miss against Purdue that would foreshadow the second half struggles that would become commonplace for the team during conference play.
While Anthony Grant's first year was certainly up and down, one can't help but feel the future is bright if the talent level is increased. The team finished 16-14 overall and 6-10 in conference, but could have just as easily finished somewhere around 24-6/12-4 when you factor in the closes losses and second half collapses. Taking into account this team had little overall talent and even less depth, the season has to be considered a success. Perhaps more importantly the team played hard, and was competitive in nearly every game it lost. There was a togetherness to this team that I haven't seen in quite some time. You got the feeling there was good chemistry despite the struggles. When one thinks of the defensive struggles this team has had over the last few years, the fact they finished near or at the top of most defensive categories in the league is quite astonishing. That is a sure sign of coaching and players buying into the staff. I thought Torrance made a telling statement during his postgame radio interview this past Saturday when he said Anthony Grant was the best coach he had ever played for. I think most of the team, if not all of them, would echo that sentiment.
It wasn't all peaches and cream though. The team has lost fourteen games this season, and still had a tendency to play out of control. There were also three players suspended this season as the coaching staff was forced to impose discipline over a group of guys who seemingly had been given a green light on and off the court during the last few years of the Gottfried tenure. While I believe the jury is still out on Jamychal Green, it appears the suspensions of Brock and Hillman benefited them greatly. Brock, a player I've long considered a defensive liability, became a consistent perimeter defender. And while Hillman's offensive numbers dropped from a year ago, his decision making with the ball has improved to a degree. He's also become a better passer, and he was easily the best perimeter defender for this team. I think he will be a key player for Grant in year two, barring injury.
So now it is on to the SEC tournament. As much as I loved the win over Auburn on Saturday, I was upset to see that Alabama drew South Carolina in the first round of the tournament. While Alabama did post an emotional win over South Carolina last week it's tough to immediately turn around and have to play and beat the same team again. Especially when that team has one of the best players in the conference. I have serious reservations about this game. I hope I'm wrong. Along with the Georgia-Arkansas game, this one should be the best of the first round. However, I wouldn't be surprised if every West division team lost on Thursday.
As for the rest of the conference: It hasn't been the rebound year I expected. I thought coming into the season six teams could be potential NCAA tournament teams. As of right now the SEC could only send three teams to the tournament again. Florida has really put itself in a tough position along with Mississippi State and Ole Miss. Florida probably needs to win at least two games in the conference while State and Ole Miss might have to win the whole thing to go dancing. I do think of the bubble teams Ole Miss is the most interesting right now and a potential dark horse to win this tournament. After going through a rough stretch, the team has played better by showing some real mental toughness in staging several second half comebacks in games down the stretch. If their guards get hot, watch out for Ole Miss.
Should the team not make a magical run through the tournament I do hope that the athletic department will strongly consider allowing this team to play in a tournament such as the CBI if they are given the opportunity and the players and coaches would like to continue playing. I think seniors like Torrance and Brock deserve a few more games. Not to mention the extra practice time would benefit the players coming back. Should the team go out and win the thing, it would only provide positive momentum for next season. If there's a way to petition the AD to make this happen, consider me in.
One more thing: I was happy to see former Tide player Justin Tubbs lead his East Tennessee State team back to the NCAA tournament. He led the team with 18 points in their win over Mercer in the Atlantic Sun championship game. I was a big fan of his when he wore Crimson, completely supporting his decision to transfer since our buffoon of a coach kept him firmly planted to the bench. If Yamene Coleman and Troy win the Sun Belt conference, that will make three former Bama players in the NCAA tournament with Tubbs and Avery Jukes at Butler. Good luck to them all.
Sunday, March 07, 2010
Fortunately for our favorite readers your other contributors predictions were much more on target. At least we finally got a win over api. I don't think we lost a single game to them during my seven years in Tuscaloosa. Then again, I was drinking a lot at the time. :-)
The only point I really want to make is that in spite of the roller coaster season we seem to have wound up pretty much were all of us had expected before the first exhibition game. I have said several times during the year that the only reason I felt so dejected after a number of those games is that our team had played well enough to have won almost all of them and actually could have come away with a few more wins. I believe that bodes well for the future of Bama Basketball and look forward to our future under Coach Grant.
Greg Cage's basket as the clock ran down reminded me of my favorite senior final appearance. I never will forget the 50 point loss api put on us during Hobbs' final season. I was hoping to equal that four years ago. It didn't happen, but this moment made up for it. I love seeing a kid get some recognition from the fans, and especially from his fellow students, for all the hard work he puts in.
Now it's tournament time.
Early in the game I thought we were a little out of control. auburn made a couple of 3 pointers to get an early lead. We were very careless with the basketball and had a number of unforced turnovers.
As the game went along, we settled down and ended up taking a 1 point lead into halftime. I wrote last week that Tony Mitchell had not been on his game lately, but he came back with authority against auburn. Even though he didn't shoot well from the free throw line or the perimeter, he was the key to our victory. He had 7 rebounds and 16 points including an amazing reverse dunk on an alley-oop in the first half that really got the crowd into the game and gave us momentum.
I really expected our post players to have a big game against Lebo's band of midgets. Justin Knox was solid, and he seems to play better when in the starting lineup than he does coming off the bench. Chris Hines was a beast. I've said all year that he is an offensive liability, but he was practically unstoppable on the low block yesterday, even driving the lane for a layup on one possession. I have no idea where that came from, but I hope we see more of it.
The one negative to this game, besides all the unforced turnovers, was Jamychal Green. I was very disappointed in him, and I was hoping he would bounce back from his suspension in much the same way Senario did against South Carolina. Instead, he scored 1 point with 2 fouls and 3 turnovers, and appeared to me to be pouting at times while on the court. Jamychal Green, I'm calling you out. There is no excuse for a man of your size and ability to have such a poor game against such a smaller, lesser team like auburn. Whatever is going on with your suspension, it's time to put that behind you, man up, and start playing to your capabilities. We need you in Nashville.
Speaking of suspended players bouncing back, I've heard a lot of people complaining about Senario Hillman's play. Yes, he had a bad offensive game. He threw the ball away a couple of times, took some ill advised shots, and his shot was way off. Still, I think he deserves a lot of credit for our defensive success. auburn shoots a lot of 3's, and I thought Hillman's defense on the perimeter was a big reason why they shot so poorly.
Overall, I was pleased with our guard play. It was good to see Torrance and Brock leave Coleman on a high note. Torrance was automatic at the free throw line and put the game away down the stretch, something we have really struggled with this year. I also thought Torrance did a good job, particularly in the second half, of getting us into good position within the halfcourt offense and recognizing auburn's switches between the trap and the 2-3 zone. Anthony Brock made some key baskets but more importantly was his work on defense, as he forced a number of steals that led to easy baskets.
Our full court press was effective not only in forcing turnovers but throwing auburn off of their rythem. As the game went on, I think auburn's guards lost their legs a little bit and their shots were coming up short. Also, we were fortunate in that they badly missed some fairly easy shots.
I agree with Alias regarding the officiating, it was horrible on both sides. We got to retain possession on a couple of plays where we were clearly the last to touch the ball before it went out of bounds. auburn got away with a foul that should have been called intentional by any definition of the word. Lee Cassell, the Tebow ref as Alias calls him, once gave Anthony Grant a coach's box warning while Coach Grant was standing clearly within the coach's box. Coach Grant extended his arms, looked down at his feet, and looked back at Cassell from across the court as if to say, "um, where do you think I am?"
The crowd was very good, and I understand it was a sell out, although it was not filled to capacity. I was disappointed that student section did not fill up. Still, I would say there was probably close to 14,000 there, albeit most were probably there to see the trophy presentation at halftime. The trophy presentation was good, kudos to auburn's SGA president for actually being a good sport and singing along to Yea Alabama. I especially enjoyed Coach Saban's comments that he "has a lot of respect for the University of auburn."
As for the gray uniforms, everyone has an opinion, so here is mine. I thought they looked good, although a little Ohio State-ish. In fact, I would even go so far as to say I think they look better than our whites. That being said, I'm not a big fan of the alternate uniform gimmick. It's hard to envision the elite schools doing such, it reminds me of UGA football and $tate basketball wearing the black against Kentucky. But, I think they had fun with it and we backed it up with a win, so that's all that really matters.
The regular season is now over, and the new season begins. Up next, we are the very first game of the SEC tournament at Bridgestone arena in Nashville where we will take on the South Carolina Gamecocks at noon Thursday. This game worries me, as USC is coming off a big upset win over Vanderbilt and we all know Downey can be unstoppable when he gets on. South Carolina is usually good for 1 or 2 wins in the tournament, so we will have to be ready. Let's go make some noise and see if we can keep this 2 game winning streak rolling.
Saturday, March 06, 2010
Balanced scoring, led by Mitchell with Hines being a force down low helped us pull away from the University of Auburn. Torrance made some key FTs late (and also pulled down 12 boards), Davis made some dagger 3s, Knox showed some of his post up moves from last year, and Hillman played with intensity (even though his shot wasn't falling).
We defended the 3 well, outrebounded them 41-29, forced 14 turnovers, and held them to 35.5% from the field. The only gripe I have is we turned the ball over way too much in the 1st half.
Alias and DJC were there so they'll have a better perspective on the game... I'm happy so see this team win their last 2 games. Next up, the SECT on Thursday vs South Carolina.
Auburn is 1-6 on the road in the SEC this year, but with the exception of the Tennessee game they've been in every road game so expect a close game. We need to watch out for their 3 point bombers (Waller, Sullivan, and Reed) and keep Hargrove off the offensive boards. On the offensive end we need to pound it inside to the returning Green, Knox, and Hines and wear down their smallish lineup. A nice shooting day by Davis and Brock would be sweet... with Torrance dominating off the dribble.
- 44.7% FG
- 33.8% 3pt FG
- 65.4% FT
- -.4 rebound margin
- 8.1 steals per game
Prediction: It's senior day and WE HAVE TO SEND OFF Torrance and Brock on the right note. I expect both to have great days so Bama rolls late by double digits... 11.
Game time is 1:30PM EST (12:30PM CST) on the SEC Network.
Friday, March 05, 2010
Renardo Sidney’s suspension will last into 30 percent of next season — likely nine games — and require that he repay $11,800, the NCAA said today.
State can appeal the decision. Mississippi State said in a news release moments ago that it will appeal the decision.
An excerpt from the NCAA’s news release:
“The university declared the student-athlete ineligible for violations of NCAA ethical conduct and preferential treatment rules. The university found that the student-athlete violated NCAA ethical conduct rules when he provided false or misleading information throughout the eligibility process.
He and his family benefited by using funds from a non-profit organization for personal gain, according to the facts presented by the university. These funds would not have been available were it not for the student-athlete’s athletic skills and reputation. Preferential treatment in this case also included hotel accommodations and other travel expenses, as well as free athletic gear and training.”
Read the rest here.
As others have said, even USC backed away from this guy... things that make you go mmmmm.
Thursday, March 04, 2010
For a two-team tie:
1. head-to-head; 2. division record (10 games); 3. record vs. No. 1 team in division proceeding through the No. 6 team if necessary; 4. non-division record (6 games); 5. record vs. No. 1 team in the opposite division proceeding through the No. 6 team if necessary; 6. coin flip by the Commissioner.
If we beat auburn Saturday, we will still be deadlocked through the first 4 tiebreakers, so that brings us to number 5: record vs No.1 team in the East. Their one win came against UGA, whereas our one win came against South Carolina. South Carolina and UGA are currently tied for 5th in the East. So, if South Carolina finished ahead of UGA, then we would be the 4th sede, whereas auburn would be the 4th sede if UGA takes the 5th spot.
Georgia plays @LSU this weekend while South Carolina is at Vanderbilt. Obviously one would expect UGA to win and SC to lose, thus giving UGA the E5 sede and us the W5 sede, which frankly would be my preference both from a travelling to Nashville perspective and an avoiding Kentucky in the 2nd round perspective. Of course, we would have a much tougher opponent in Florida in the first round.
For the sake of argument, lets assume that USC and UGA either both win or both lose this weekend. They split the head to head, so we go to division record. If both teams win Saturday, then they will both be 4-6 against the East, but South Carolina would get the #5 sede due to their win over Kentucky, putting us in the 4 spot. If both teams lose, UGA will have a better record against the East giving auburn the 4 sede and putting us at the 5th sede. So, if I have figured this correctly, if we win and South Carolina wins, then we are the 4 sede, but any other scenario and we will be the 5. Clear as mud?
Wednesday, March 03, 2010
Okay, so USC is not a very good team. Tonight they did not shoot very well outside the arc and even worse from the free throw line. Those misses gave Bama a chance and they rebounded better than we have pretty much all season. Tonight Alabama withstood the defensive pressure and the offensive runs that have doomed them throughout conference play. They could have quit but they never did. Kudos to Coach Grant for teaching our young people how to do the right things because they are the right things to do. Even bigger kudos to our players for behaving like responsible adults and doing the right things when it would have been so much easier to have called it in for the balance of the season.
I still do not understand whatever it is that passes for SEC officiating. Both teams got away with hacks, shoves, pulls and grabs up and down the court and underneath the basket. Both teams were whistled at odd times for behavior that was ignored throughout the game. The mystery to me tonight was location of that perpetually moving line of demarcation between acceptable and unacceptable contact. The fact that Alabama attempted more free throws than USC suggests that we enjoyed a bigger benefit, but 8 of those extra attempts probably came while the Cocks were intentionally fouling us as the clock ran down. Most of the game the players had to be asking "What's a guy gotta do to get a foul called on him," and many of the whistled fouls involved much less egregious contact that the hacks and shoves that were not called. One of the plays actually whistled as a foul was against Hines when he got his hand on a rebounded ball that was jerked away by a Carolina player. Hines never touched the guy but he got whistled for a foul when his body jerked toward the moving ball just to avoid being dismembered.
While it's always sad for the home team to lose on senior night, it was good to see our young men finally be rewarded for all their hard work and for trusting in their coaches. This has been a disappointing season for Bama Basketball fans, but the things we have seen on the court spark optimism in all of us who have followed the program for any appreciable period.
I'll see you all in Coleman Coliseum Saturday afternoon.
It wasn't always pretty. South Carolina came out on fire and played with a lot of emotion to build an 11-0 lead. We were playing very sloppy in the first half. A lot of turnovers and missed open shots on offense, and we were easily getting faked out of position on defense. As they have done all year, this team found a way to scrap and stay competitive. They did it by rebounding, which is remarkable considering Green was out. Congrats to our post players for stepping up. Both Knox and Hines played a great game, but more importantly they did not try to do too much. They played within themselves and helped us get the win by dominating the glass.
Hillman also had a very good game in his first game back from suspension. He made plays on both ends of the court and seemed to come up with a number of loose balls. Despite the turnovers, Torrance also showed why we will miss him next year. He attacked the basket and created scoring opportunities for us in the second half. Charvez Davis continued his hot shooting.
It was refreshing to see the team play with some poise on the road. They didn't panic after the awful first 5 minutes and managed to cut the lead to 2. The South Carolina lead went from 3 to 7 or so for much of the game, but everytime Downey made a circus shot and it felt like things were slipping away, we would answer. When we finally got the lead, we didn't play timid and actually finished the job, although we still missed too many free throws down the stretch. Overall, we had way too many turnovers and missed too many free throws, but we made up for it with great rebounding and out hustling them to nearly ever loose ball.
Up next, Senior Day at Coleman Coliseum as the auburn tigers come in for the last regular season game. Tipoff is set for Saturday at 12:30. I understand there is some sort of trophy presentation going on at halftime, and the game is sold out. As this team proved tonight, they are going to continue to play hard for us, so let's do our part and be loud, and hopefully we can send them off winners. A win Saturday would also assure us of having a winning season.
Looking ahead to the SEC tournament next week, we will either be the #4 sede from the West and likely play Georgia at noon Thursday, or we'll be the #5 sede and likely play Florida that evening. If $tate beats auburn tonight, and they trail by 5 with 7 minutes remaining right now, then we will clinch the 4th sede. If auburn wins tonight, then the winner of our game Saturday will get the 4 sede. Obviously, UGA would probably be a more favorable 1st round matchup than the Gators, but Kentucky likely looms in the 2nd round if we get the 4 sede (unless UK loses to UGA or Florida Saturday, obviously not likely).
Give it up to our players for never giving up. Hines owned the boards, Mitchell had a double-double, Torrance and Davis hit some big shots late, and Knox was an actual inside presence. Man... I named 5 players on the team that played their asses off... with Hillman showing great energy and Brock also playing well. Wow.
We had a +20 rebounding edge. A PLUS 20 REBOUNDING EDGE. That is unheard of. Hines simply wanted the ball more than any Gamecock. I've always said that's 70% of rebounding... will. We simply wanted it more tonight... even when we were getting run out of the building early in the game.
The starting lineup tonight should be the one we go with the rest of the season.
Tuesday, March 02, 2010
University of Alabama forward JaMychal Green will not be available for Wednesday's game at South Carolina, sources close to the U A basketball program have confirmed.
The University of Alabama sports information office is expected to have an official announcement on Green's status tonight.
There has been no timetable set for Green's return to the team, the sources said.
I am aware what the article says, but from everything being said he's done for the year.
Knox has a real opportunity to show what he's got the last 3 games of the year. I say 3 as we'll be one and done in the SECT.
Cocks stats pack... a battle of 2 .500 teams. Should be a memorable game. Okay, not really... both teams are playing out the string.
Since upsetting Kentucky, the Cocks are 2-6 and are coming into this game on a 5 game losing streak. That's okay, 'cause we're riding a nice streak of our own... lost the last 3 and 7 of 8.
Like us, injuries have decimated the Cocks. Downey seems to be their only offensive threat.
- 72 PPG
- 32% 3pt FG
- 41.7% FG
- -4.9 rebound margin
- 8.6 steals
Prediction: This should be a slapfest... we really have no inside option now with Green done, but we match up nicely with the equally depleted Gamecocks. It's a road game though... and in the end someone's streak has got to end. I predict it's their 5 game losing streak. Cocks by 6.
Game is 7PM EST (6PM CST) on ESPNU.
Due to the way the season has gone, many of us Bama basketball fans have already been looking towards next season. One of the big questions has been who will be the starting point guard with Mikhail Torrance and Anthony Brock finishing their senior seasons. Incoming recruit, Trevor Releford, has to be considered the front runner for the job. Should he not make a smooth transition to the college game though there has been some concern over who could run the team. Ladies and gentlemen, the answer could be Charles Hankerson.
Until now there has been little information about him. I haven't read much other than he was improving as a player and, as a result, his ranking was increasing. Early evidence is pointing to the fact that Coach Grant and his staff may have landed a diamond in the rough. Video on the guy has been as hard to come by as quality footage of Area 51....until now.
Here is the first video I've seen of Hankerson. The kid has a nice looking jump shot, but what stood out the most to me is he's pretty good at penetrating the defense and making good decisions with the ball. Now, obviously the competition will be drastically different in the SEC than what he's facing here; nevertheless, from what I've seen in this footage, Hankerson could at least be a possible option to turn to should Releford not make an immediate impact.