Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Alonzo Gee a Cleveland Cavalier

Who needs LeBron?

Link

I thought he signed with San Antonio last season... says he was with them and the Wizards this year. Anyways, good luck to him... he's in a place where he can potentially shine.

Alabama ambushes Asbury 83-60

Anthony Grant gets his 100th career victory in the process... a thorough butt kicking laid down by OUR Crimson Tide to the surfer dudes from Malibu.

Box score

We had 5 in double digits with Chris Hines pulling a double-double (10 points and 11 boards). I liked the energy of the team tonight... they really seemed to get at it. The minutes were divided up nicely with Charvez getting the most (33) which is surprising. He was 5-10 from 3 point land... the rest of the team was 2-9.

Back to back impressive wins... maybe this is a sign of things turning around? We shall see.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Know your enemy- Pepperdine Waves

The Waves led by former great UA assistant coach Tom Asbury is limping into Tuscaloosa with a 5-9 record. They lost their last game at home to the underrated Cal-Poly (SLO) Mustangs.

Link to their season stats.

Keion Bell leads the team with 21.8 PPG. They're mediocre from beyond the arc (33%), not so good overall (42.6%), and average only 70.3 PPG. They've got some size, but not a whole lot of skill. This should be a slaughter.

Prediction- Bama by 25. This should be treated as a scrimmage game to work out the numerous kinks in our offense. We should be able to put this one away early in the 2nd half and empty the bench.

If you want to hear the game on the internet you can listen to the Pepperdine side here. It's on TV in the CA area on CSNCA. I have no idea what channel correlates to that on DTV or Dish. Game time is 9PM EST (8PM CST) on the 28th.

Maybe after the game Asbury can get with one of our 45 assistant coaches and teach them how to develop a big man on the team.

Friday, December 24, 2010

$tay cla$$y $tate

I don't think $tansbury is getting his money's worth out of this one. Is anybody really surprised by this? That cesspool of a program is a disgrace to the SEC.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Bama Bites Bison 71-51.

The Tide continued its home dominance and improved to 6-6 on the year. We jumped out to an 8-0 lead early, but then had a 5 minute scoring drought allowing Lipscomb to score the next 10 points. JaMychal Green got in early foul trouble but Tony Mitchell picked him up on the offensive end, with Chris Hines doing a very nice job against Lipscomb's talented center on defense. We finished the first half strong, and led 35-21 at the break. Lipscomb made a run in the 2nd half to cut the lead to 8, but Charvez Davis answered with 3 straight 3 pointers to put it away for good.

Lipscomb was one of the top 10 scoring teams in the nation coming in and we shut them down, much like we did Southeast Louisiana. For all the faults with this team, they play pretty good defense, and that will at least give us a chance to win in most games. We did a good job of mixing up our defenses to keep Lipscomb off balance. We used the press sparingly but effectively. We forced a lot of turnovers out of the 1-3-1 halfcourt trap, and the 2-3 matchup zone effectively limited their post play. Our ability to rebound out of the zone seems to be improving. Their white guys burned us for a few 3s in the second half, but Charvez Davis quickly answered with 3 in a row. If Davis could play just half as good on the road we would be a competitive team. He airballed his first attempt, then made his next 5 and finished with a career high 22 points.

Releford had an off night shooting the ball and had too many turnovers with 6, but he played most of the game and continues to get us in good position to score more often than not. Hankerson got the start at the 2 position instead of Senario Hillman who only played 15 minutes. Hillman had a steal and easy dunk, but otherwise was fairly quiet. He appeared to have some tape on his wrist, so I wonder if the lack of a start and limited action was due to some sort of minor injury. He should have been benched for his God awful Kid n Play haircut circa 1986.

Speaking of injuries, Charvez Davis went down for an extended period of time late in the game with what appeared to be cramps. Tony Mitchell was also cramping up at one point, but everybody should be fine. Tony Mitchell's play was somewhat overshadowed by Charvez Davis, but he had a great game as well with 18 points and 8 rebounds. He brings it at both ends of the court. JaMychal bounced back from his early foul trouble and had a solid game. After missing some jump shots early, he got more aggressive in attacking the basket. It seems to me that when he is moving toward the basket when he shoots, he's money, but if he's fading away, it's almost hopeless. Maybe he is starting to figure that out.

The officiating was inconsistent at best, but we did a good job of playing through it. Coach Grant got called for a technical foul in the first half for arguing a call that the officials clearly blew. Sanderson pitched much bigger fits in the game with no repercussions. We got away with several travels and a few hacks and holds in the trap, while they got the benefit of some block/charge calls that clearly should have gone the other way. They were very close to losing control of the game, but I don't think either team benefitted more than the other.

It was good to once again be able to empty the bench at the end of the game. Carter, Engstrom, Eblem, Hunter Jeffrey, and Justin Luguire were all able to get some playing time. Engstrom scored on a put back, but one strange thing we have noticed with him is that he has a habit of removing his mouth piece every dead ball and is slow to get it back in. On one throw in, he was literally reaching for a deflected ball with one hand, while his other was still trying to get his mouth piece situated.

The crowd was about what you would expect for a game over winter break. It was better than the last game, but still probably only 4,000 or so with very few students. Lipscomb actually brought a decent following from Nashville of probably 150 or so scattered throughout. If we continue to dominate at home, hopefully attendance will rise.

Up next, our old friend Tom Asbury rides his Pepperdine Waves in all the way from the West Coast. Tip off is set for 8pm CST on Tuesday, Dec. 28 at Coleman Coliseum, and will be televised on CSS. Until then, I wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.

Bama beats down Bison 71-51

I have to say this was our best played game of the season. The Bison are better than what they showed last night... we beat them to a bloody pulp which was unexpected (by me).

Box score

I started getting worried when Lipscomb cut an 18 point lead to 9 with under 11 to play... Charvez went off with back to back to back 3 to stretch the lead back to 18 and it was lights out. We held Hodzic and Slater in check, defended the 3 well, and more importantly had solid games from Hines, Mitchell, Green, and a great game from Davis.

The only gripe I have is an ongoing one... Charvez is our only real outside threat. He was 5-6 from beyond the arc... the rest of the team was 1-11.

This was the most complete game we've played all year. Hopefully this is a preview of things to come in SEC play.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Know your enemy- Lipscomb Bison

They come into Tuscaloosa sporting a 7-2 record. I looked at the losses to UNC and Baylor and from the PBP they hung with UNC up to the 8 minute mark of the 2nd half. This won't be a cakewalk people.

Scott Sanderson returns home (again)... the last time was 2006 when we beat the Bison's brains in 80-58. Writeup from Lipscomb.

Stats

Adnan Hodzic is a force inside. He leads the team in PPG (21.1) and rebounds (9.1). Josh Slater is 2nd in PPG (19.0), rebounds (8.2) and leads in assists (4.8). Keeping one or both of them in check is KEY if we're going to win. Jordan Burgason is hitting 41% from beyond the arc so someone keep a hand in his face.

Other things to note:
- average 85.6 PPG (7th in the country)
- 42.0 rebounds per game (12th)
- 47.5% FG

Prediction: this one is going to be tough. Green needs to watch his fouls, Releford needs to penetrate, we REALLY need something from Hillman, and Davis has to hit some 3s. If Hines can contain Hodzic on the boards that would be nice. I'll be an optimist this time... Bama by 4.

Game time is 8PM EST (7PM CST). No TV that I know of. On rolltide.com if you so want to pay to watch this.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

For giggles... our RPI and tracking the teams we lost to this year

From this site we're currently #245. Damn. That's scary AUful. We have lost to #53 (OSU), 54 (Providence), 137 (St Peter's), 214 (Iowa), 95 (Seton Hall), and 48 (Purdue). Our highest RPI win was over SE Louisiana (148). That is brutal.

Oklahoma State is 10-1 with a loss to VA Tech.

Providence is 10-2 with losses @ Boston College and to LaSalle at home.

Purdue is 10-1 with a loss @ Richmond.

St Peter's is 6-4 with losses @ Robert Morris, Old Dominion, Long Beach St, and @ Seton Hall.

Iowa is 6-5 with losses to SDSU, Xavier, Long Beach State, @ Wake Forest, and Iowa State.

Seton Hall is 5-4 with losses @ Temple, Xavier, Clemson, and Arkansas.

This is purely for informational purposes.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Our best road effort so far. Still not enough. Cowboys 68 Tide 60

Box score

The 1st half set back college hoops 30 years. Both teams looked AUful with us out AUfuling OSU by scoring 20 points at the break. I swear I could've fielded a team from the Bama Rec Center that could've hung with OSU better.

The second half... well we SAW ADJUSTMENTS! Releford took the ball to the hoop more, Green was a presence inside (and shut down Moses), and Davis hit a couple of key shots to bring us close. We forced OSU into some bad shots, but every time we got within 5 points the Pokes would respond with either a wide open 3 or a relatively easy shot.

I'll be honest... I thought we were going to get run out of the building in the 2nd half in front of that sold out audience of about 2500. Instead, the team showed some heart... clawed their way back into the game, but in the end we don't have enough offense to complete the comeback. When Green fouled out it was mostly over... when Releford followed that was the end.

I don't like moral victories, but MAYBE we can learn something from this game going into SEC play on the road. Truth be told, the SEC West doesn't have a team as good as OSU and if we can hang with them we might could steal one @ the Barn or LSU.

I was scoreboard watching the SEC West today. This might collectively be the worst 6 teams in a half of a conference. We compare nicely to Big East football.

Know your enemy- Oklahoma St Cowboys

The Cowboys come into the game 9-1, but outside of VA Tech (their only loss), they really haven't played much of anyone. Cupcake city for the most part.

Marshall Moses and Keiton Page lead their offense at 18.6 and 14.7 PPG. Moses also co-leads the team in rebounds (with Darrell Williams). OSU really doesn't have a 3 point threat, despite jacking up roughly 13 of them a game. 9 players average 10 minutes per game.

Writeup of the game from OSU

Stats

Keys to the game:
- limit Moses inside
- need to hit some 3s (Davis, Hillman, Releford)
- Green has to stay out of foul trouble
- Releford with penetration (as I don't think they have a player that can guard him).

Prediction- I normally don't do game comparisons, but if we couldn't win at Providence which was probably the most winnable road game we had out of conference I can't see us pulling the upset in Oklahoma City (essentially a road game here). I believe we stick around and don't have the late meltdown like we did against the Friars, but nonetheless we come up short... again. Cowboys by 9 late.

Game time is 6:30PM EST (5:30PM CST) on ESPN2, Sirius 112, XM 231, and ESPN3.com.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Tide Tames Lions, 59-38

We improved to 5-5 and remained undefeated at home with a convincing win over SE Louisiana. Alabama never trailed in the game, and it was never really in doubt.

The Lions came in averaging over 80 points per game on good perimeter shooting. We basically shut them down with a tight man to man defense, holding them to 4 of 18 from downtown. Releford and Hillman both did a very good job on defense against their top scorer.

It was interesting to me that we did not press in this game. Also, Jason Carter and Carl Engstrom did not enter the game until later in the 2nd half long after the outcome had been determined. I can think of two possible explanations for this: 1) Coach Grant realizes he does not have the depth to run the type of style of play that he would prefer, and is adapting and we will see mostly an 8 man rotation but a slower pace game or 2) with the scouting report on SELA being that they are a good 3 point shooting team, he did not want to go to the zone (you have no choice but to go zone when Engstrom is in) and did not want to give up open shots in transition. Time will tell if this was a shift in philosophies or a strategic move against this particular opponent.

Releford had another great game with 10 points as did JaMychal Green with 16 points and 15 rebounds in the post. Hankerson actually had a solid game, and Charvez made a couple of 3's. Jason Carter played well when he first came into the game, but then for some reason he decided to start jacking up 3's. Engstrom got a rebound and a couple of blocks. It was good to see Justin Luguire score, and Hunter Jeffery from the practice squad get some playing time.

The crowd may have been the smallest I have ever seen for a men's game. Several factors, including the students being on winter break, the cold rainy weather (and ice earlier in the day), and the inexplicably late start likely contributed to the poor turnout. I would be surprised if there were even 1,000 people there. I counted at least 4 sections that were completely empty.

Up next, we travel to Oklahoma City for a "neutral site" game against Travis Ford's Oklahoma State Cowboys. Tipoff is set for 5:30 pm Saturday, and it will be televised on ESPN2. I'm sitting this one out, but will be watching it on TV with the rest of you.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Know your enemy- SE LA Lions

The writeup from their athletic site.

The come in 5-2 coming off a huge win at Southern. They're 2-2 on the road with both of those losses coming by 20+ points (UNLV and UCF).

Link to stats

They seem to be a decent shooting team against sub par competition, but if you D up they struggle. Trent Hutchins is their offense, David Ndoumba clears the boards... that's about it for them. The Lions have 10 that average 10 MPG.

Prediction: I can't see them giving us a game. Releford should go off and Green should dominate inside. I also see a few highlight dunks in Hillman's future. Bama by 19.

The game is on ESPN3 (there is no such channel, just the internet) at 9PM EST (8PM CST). Also on the Full Court package if you want to watch it on TV.

Forgive any typos... I'm in a rush for the day job.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Illinois v. Oakland plays with a women's ball

Not Alabama related, but I found this incredibly unbelievable and had to share. Apparently Illinois and Oakland played the first 7 minutes of their game with a women's ball. It is amazing to me they went 7 minutes without correcting it. First of all, the referee should have noticed at tip-off. I officiate high school basketball and the first thing I do before tip off is make sure we are playing with a proper ball. Maybe because they don't have as many men's and women's games playing on the same day and court in college they don't check as closely, but still, you can immediately tell a difference when holding a women's ball. I remember playing coed intramural basketball and we had to use a lady's ball; my first shot from the top of the key nearly hit the top of the backboard. With 10 players handling the ball, one would think somebody would have said something. There is a HUGE difference in a men's and women's ball.

One of Illinois' players complained that the ball felt funny to Coach Weber, and he basically told him to "shut up and play ball." I bet there were some interesting perimeter shots at the beginning of that game.

Knee surgery for Andrew Steele

I came across this information today at Tidesports. Since it factored into what I wrote yesterday and some of you commented on, I wanted to include it here.

Apparently, Andrew Steele has undergone arthroscopic surgery on both knees.

From Tidesports:

Grant, speaking at his weekly press conference on Monday, announced that forward Andrew Steele, who has not played this season because of nagging knee pain, had undergone arthroscopic surgery on both knees and would be out for an indefinite period.

“About a week and a half ago, Andrew had both knees scoped, just to make sure the doctors were not missing any possible source of the pain, and to clean some things up,” Grant said. “I don’t think they found anything major.”

It is uncertain whether Steele will be available to play this season or whether he will apply for a hardship year. Steele was a redshirt last year after injuring an ankle after seeing action in six games.


At this point it appears we will not be seeing Andrew this season, if ever. Man oh man, the bad luck with injuries for Andrew and Ron is truly amazing.

In other news: Obviously we're not the only ones discussing the amount of minutes Releford plays. In the same article at Tidesports, there was information concerning Trevor's minutes per game.

Freshman point guard Trevor Releford, who has clearly been an offensive spark for a UA team that struggles to score at times, is currently averaging 29.8 minutes per game. Grant said Monday that he was unlikely to push that number much higher.

“I’d like to keep him in that 28- to 32-minute range,” Grant said. “I think it can be dangerous to push more than that. I think Mikhail (Torrance) averaged 33 minutes last year and that’s pretty high.”


It could be Grant is trying to keep Trevor as fresh as possible throughout the season since there is no one behind him nearly as productive. Nevertheless, if the bench production doesn't improve, he may not have a choice but to play Trevor more minutes.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Alabama Basketball: My Two Cents

I want to take the time and chime in on the recent struggles of the team. Like many of you, I am frustrated with the losing. However, I'm trying to retain my objectivity when it comes to the realities facing this team. The first reaction to losing is always to criticize the coaching staff even if it's not always the right reaction. I was watching a documentary the other night about the North Carolina/Duke basketball rivalry. I found it amusing knowing what we do now that both Dean Smith and Mike Krzyzewski came under fire early in their careers and were almost fired before their subsequent successes made them into Hall of Fame coaches. Not that I'm comparing Anthony Grant to those two coaches, but I do think it's important to remember that sometimes patience is a virtue.

Let's look at this situation objectively. Let me first say up front that I'm a fan of Anthony Grant. I was a fan of his before he came to Alabama and was pleasantly surprised that the university made the effort to hire him. When Anthony Grant took over this team I think most of us can agree that Gottfried had really let it go in terms of discipline and the talent level. I'm not going to turn this into a Gottfried bitch-fest, but a change probably should have been made a year or two before it happened in order to keep the program competitive. It wasn't, and Anthony Grant walked into a difficult situation with a team that was lacking discipline, talent and toughness.

Despite this lack of talent, Alabama went from being one of the worst defensive teams in the conference to one of the best. And Mikhail Torrance finally had a chance to shine under Anthony Grant, becoming one of the top guards in the conference who would have been drafted if not for the heart ailment that has, at the very least, severely stalled his career. The team notched 17 wins and appeared headed in the right direction. Coming into this season, there was still much work to be done but there was a feeling this team could still compete. Despite no returning point guard experience, the team would return a potential star in JaMychal Green, an improving player in Tony Mitchell and depth in both the back court (with the return of Hillman, Steele and the incoming class) and front court (Justin Knox and a healthy Demetrius Jemison).

Unfortunately, summers in Tuscaloosa where it concerns basketball rarely go as planned. At the 11th hour both Justin Knox and Demetrius Jemison opted to leave the program, thus stripping away the depth in the paint that the coaches were anticipating. The coaching staff seemed surprised by their decisions and had no time left to recruit for the positions. By that time, the best recruits were signed anyway. Jason Carter had been signed, but was not expected to play many minutes. In fact, my opinion is he would have been redshirted if Jemison and Knox had not left. They did bring in Engstrom for some size and depth, but the kid is a project who has some upside but needs time to develop. The result is Green and Hines were the only reliable post players the team had coming into the season. And they were without even Green during his three-game suspension.

Depth in the backcourt also hasn't gone as planned. Senario has been solid for the most part, but he's never developed much past being a great athlete. Charvez got off to the slow start after hernia surgery, and has yet to become the consistent perimeter threat needed. Andrew Steele has yet to play a second due to an injured foot. Steele's absence in particular really hurts because of his ability to defend plus he could have been counted on for 5-10 points a night. On a team struggling to score points, you'll take any production you can get. A book should be written detailing the injuries to the Steele brothers and their impact on the Alabama program and coaches.

A lack of floor leadership has also hurt this team. Last year, Mikhail Torrance stepped up and became the de facto leader of this team. With his departure, none of the upperclassmen have opted to take on the role, which has left the team floundering at times.

It remains to be seen if the first recruiting class for Grant will be productive over the long haul. Releford has been solid. In fact, once he gets stronger, I think he could become one of the better point guards in the SEC. Nevertheless, he's still a freshman and that shows from game to game with highs and lows. I thought as good as he looked at times on Saturday getting to the basket and passing the ball, he played too fast at times when Alabama needed to slow the game down. In time he'll learn how to control tempo.

The rest of the class though has been iffy. As mentioned, Engstrom and Carter are not yet ready for major minutes. Charles Hankerson has shown a flash here and there, but to say he's off to a slow start would be an understatement. Unless he can make major improvement, he's going to be buried on the depth chart when the 2011 class arrives. Kendall Durant is a player I thought would play more minutes than he has up to this point. He appears to have struggled with the transition from JC but I still expected more minutes. He was not dressed on Saturday, ostensibly due to an injury, so it's possible that he has not been healthy enough to play more minutes.

Finally, there is Ben Eblen. A lot has been said about Ben Eblen. I've said a lot about Ben Eblen. Seems like a good kid, but to date has not shown that he's capable of playing at this level. A lot of fans have wondered why he's getting the minutes he has. Unfortunately, there is no one else to play. Seriously, who else can Grant put out there? Releford isn't physically able to play 30-40 minutes a game. Eblen is proof positive that the talent level of this team is far below what it needs to be in order to win consistently. If it was better, Eblen would only see limited minutes. At this point it seems like a case of what it is is what it is. And, frankly, Eblen isn't the only problem this team has.

There’s nothing wrong with expecting your team to win and win now, but I think we're all being a little unfair to this coaching staff. You could take 95% of the coaches in the country and they would likewise struggle with the talent level that Alabama has right now. That's not to imply the coaches don't deserve some criticism, but there's only so much they can do until the talent level increases. Talent will make some into geniuses. Just look at Gene Chizik. Take Cam Newton away and he's still that 5-19 coach that Auburn fans hated upon his hire. With Cam, he's a coach of the year and a part of the "Auburn Family" (A lot like the Manson Family, but without the creativeness). Regarding the Alabama basketball talent: that is being addressed through recruiting. I think we need to wait and see how that pans out before we pass too much judgment.

As far as this season goes: I'm not ready to pack it in just yet, but at this point the best we can possibly hope for is a .500 finish. If there is a silver lining, the team has played better since the Virgin Island debacle. The effort has been better and guys like Tony Mitchell and Chris Hines have attempted to step their games up. You also have to like how JaMychal played coming off the suspension. He's not exactly been a double-double machine in his three years so the fact that he posted one after missing three games is promising. There are still some tough games left before conference play so hopefully the team can finish on a high note. If Mitchell and Green continue to play at a high level, they have a chance

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Fried in Friartown, 82-70

In a battle of two bad teams, we got smoked. There were some positives. It was a tie game at the half, 40-40. It was still tied at the 8 minutes left media timeout in the 2nd half. Providence dominated from there on.

I was optimistic when it appeared the team had more energy pregame than it did at Purdue. I was sitting about 6 rows behind the bench and I could see and hear Chris Hines showing some leadership trying to get the guys fired up during a timeout in the first half. Our press seemed to cause them some trouble, but when we went to the zone they killed us with penetration along the baseline.

I really don't want to hate on Ben Eblen, but we've got to cut his minutes if we want to have any chance of being remotely competitive this year. I think Coach Grant has some sentimental connection to him because he's from Florida and he stuck with him when he changed jobs, but there's no way he should be seeing 15 minutes per game. He played the 2 position with Releford in the game for a good portion of the second half, and it's beyond confusing as to why you would have both of them on the floor at the same time. I understand that Hillman was in foul trouble, but still...

Providence is picked to finish near the bottom of the Big East. Despite their good record, even most of their fans readily admit that they pretty much suck. It was an away game, but it was far from a hostile environment, there is no excuse for losing this game, especially as badly as we did. What concerns me the most about this game is that we were badly outcoached.

When Providence went on their run in the second half, we never called a timeout. In fact, we didn't use a single timeout in the second half. I think by now everybody knows how I feel about Coach Grant's use of (or more accurately, lack thereof) timeouts, so that's all I am going to say about that. Even a Friar fan sitting in front of me said, "you should never have 4 timeouts left at the end of a game that you are losing."

It seemed like after every media timeout Providence went on a run. Nearly everytime they had an inbounds on the baseline under their basket they scored.

We should have had a much bigger lead in the first half. We did a good job of getting to the rim, but we couldn't finish. Credit Keno Davis and Providence for making the adjustment in the second half to play off of us and force us to take more jumpshots. Unfortunately, we took the bait and as usual we couldn't hit anything.

This team's shooting is average at best at home, and it sucks ass away from Tuscaloosa. Charvez Davis is going to have to figure how to shoot the ball outside of Coleman Coliseum. At this point, I would have him shooting 200 3 pointers per day, at a different local high school gym each day. Furthermore, Senario Hillman needs to step it up. He dominates against poor competition but goes into hiding on the road and in big games. Fouling out with 6 points will not cut it.

JaMychal Green scored 15 points and had a pretty good first half. Unfortunately, he got soft at times in the second half and couldn't make a shot in crunch time when we needed it most.

Providence can't shoot either, but they finally got hot toward the end of the game. Major props to Marshon Brooks, he is a hell of a player and basically carried them to victory.

Coach Grant appeared very frustrated after the game. He was the first one off the court for our team, actually walking amongst the Providence players into the tunnel.


This is a bad team right now, and it's hard for me to see it getting any better. It will be a struggle to finish with a winning record, much less make a postseason tournament. I could see us going 3-13 in the SEC if there isn't some sort of drastic change.

Providence is a really neat town. There are a lot of cool bars and restaurants in the downtown area, and it has most of the big city conveniences with a quaint, small city feel to it. The Providence fans were very nice and respectful. The arena is one of the nicest I have seen. It seats about 12,000, has a very nice lobby area and concourse. It has a good, comfortable configuration with everyone having a good view and being close to the court. My only complaint is that it seemed very dark in there, although that could be due to the black seats. The arena is owned by the city and is not on campus; I still have not seen Providence's campus. I was on Brown's campus last night, and it was very nice.

The crowd was not very strong. There was probably around 7,000 there, and the atmosphere was lame. They didn't really make any noise at all until they went on their run late in the second half, and even then it wasn't that loud. Their fans didn't even stand up for the starting lineups, student turnout was pathetic, and they didn't even have a pep band there. I assumed this was due to the winter break, but I was told that the students were still on campus, although I'm still not sure if that information was accurate. We actually had a decent following. I would estimate we had close to 200 fans there between the block from the NY and Boston Alumni chapters and others scattered throughout the arena. My gf didn't make the trip, so the number and quality of pics is limited, but I did take one of the BOA building and a few at the game. Note the 1987 final four banner, sorry to bring back bad memories.

Up next, SE Louisiana comes to Tuscaloosa Wednesday night for an inexplicably late 8pm tipoff.





Disgusting final 5 minutes... Friars beat Tide 82-70.

We were outplayed, outcoached, out everything in the last 5 minutes of the game. Once Providence got up by 6 we decided to be a jump shooting team. NEWSFLASH- we don't have a FREAKIN' decent jump shooter. Here's an idea... they give each team timeouts to use... specifically for stopping runs. How about using one.

Box score

Up until the last 5 minutes we did a good job controlling the boards, feeding JaMychal, getting Mitchell some open shots, and defending Council. Then the floodgates opened and Green decided he was a jump shooter, Hillman fouled everything that moved, and our coaching staff watched it all without doing much of anything.

I have to say this team so far ranks up there with the 97 Hobbs team in terms of enjoyability. I feel I have to get tanked up to watch this... and if we can't compete for 40 MINUTES with a bottom 3rd Big East team what is going to happen when we get into conference play?

It's rare you see a team that can't shoot, is soft inside, and consistently burnt on the defensive end.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

JaMychal Green reinstated to team

Fortunately, JaMychal has been reinstated to the basketball team. Anthony Grant announced the decision today, though he added that Green will not start Saturday's game at Providence.

Personally, I'm happy to hear this. JaMychal seems like a good kid who simply has struggled with maturity issues at times (what kid doesn't?). His return certainly helps the team on both ends of the floor. Hopefully JaMychal grows from this experience and rejoins the team with the attitude and focus the coaching staff expects.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Know your enemy- Providence Friars

Probably one of the coolest team names on the planet... in one of the coolest town in the northeast... they come into this game 9-1 and relatively untested. This is the best start to a season they've had in a while. Before they take us on they got Boston College on Wednesday. Let's hope that one goes to 4OTs.

Big time scoring threats in Marshon Brooks and Vincent Council at 21.4 and 17.1 PPG. Other than that they have issues on the offensive end. Bilal Dixon and Brooks average 10.2 and 8.6 rebounds so we REALLY need Hines and Mitchell blocking them out as much as possible.

I'm concerned about Council. I think he'll carve us up with penetration. We don't have a guard that can man up to him.

Good news... they can't shoot from 3 worth a damn... and despite the crappy competition they're only shooting 45.7% from the field overall. The bench is thin as only 7 see the court for more than a cup of coffee.

Stats

Keys to the game (changing things up):
- get the ball out of Council's hands. I say assign Hillman to him.
- Charvez needs to have a big game shooting.
- play even on the rebound war.
- get the lead early... lead/be within 5 at halftime.
- play with some DAMN emotion.

Prediction: I blame DJC. We're 0-4 when he attends a road/neutral site game so far (I'm 0-2) and I suspect it continues. Until we find some sort of offensive identity there's no way I can call a win on the road. Friars by 12.

Game is December 11th at 2PM EST (1PM CST) on ESPNU. No excuse not to watch this... sssupport the team and let's hope I'm wrong.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Boilers Beat up Bama



The 19 point loss is the worst of the Coach Grant era so far. Unless we start playing better, there will be many more to come this year. I understand that JaMychal Green has started practicing with the team again, but he did not make the trip. I think we were overly concerned about getting beat in the post and stuck with the zone defense for too long. We were very poor in the zone, and were slow to close out on their shooters. Once they got hot, especially #33, there was no stopping them.

I was disappointed with the team's body language coming into the game. During the starting lineups and pregame, everybody had their heads down and there was very little emotion or communication. I would think they would be fired up, jumping around and excited about playing a top 20 team on the road on national television. Maybe I am reading too much into that, and I know it probably doesn't have anything to do with what happened on the court, but it bothered me that we didn't seem excited to be there.

We hung with them for the first 15 minutes or so until their shots started falling, and then things just got progressively worse. I said before the game to have any chance at all we would need a big shooting day from Davis, Hillman, and Mitchell. They were a combined 0 for 8 from downtown. We did not make a single 3 point shot. This might be the worst shooting team I have ever seen.

Ben Eblen plays hard, and I appreciate all the hard work he puts into the program, but he is simply not an SEC caliber player. We would be better off using Durant as the backup PG. I would even be fine with playing Releford 40 minutes per game like Gottfried did with Ron Steele at this point. Eblen had 0 assists and 4 turnovers. I once read somewhere that the assist/turnover statistic is the most reliable predictor of the outcome in college basketball games. We had 8 assists and 18 turnovers. That is pathetic.

You have to give credit to Purdue. They are a very sound fundamental team. We have athletes, but they have basketball players. Their man to man defense is a thing of beauty. Painter is a very good coach. We tried to press to pick up the pace of the game, but they calmly broke it and got into their halfcourt offense. It was mostly a halfcourt game, and we had no chance in that style of play. Purdue might win the SEC if they played our schedule. Honestly, we didn't belong on the same court with them.

Overall, it was still a good experience. I was sitting behind the basket and right across the stairs from the Purdue band. Most of their fans were extremely knowledgeable and very friendly. A few of their band nerds tried to give me a hard time, but that's to be expected. They weren't overly obnoxious or aggressive. They do seem to have an inferiority complex with Indiana. Several people went out of their way to let us know how much they hate IU, and their students had organized "IU Sucks" chants. Mackey Arena holds over 14,000, and it was nearly packed, with only a couple hundred empty seats at the top behind one of the baskets. We had a total of about 20 fans there. The atmosphere was great, probably the 2nd best I've seen behind Kentucky. The arena is currently undergoing badly needed renovations. Frankly, the place is a dump. It's all bench seats, there is no lobby area to speak of, and the concourses are bland and ugly. My gf takes more pics than a foreign tourists, so scroll down to see some from the game, around campus, and me ice skating later that night (this was before I busted my ass).

No midweek game this week as the players will be taking their finals. Study hard and good luck, boys, we can't afford to lose any more of you. Up next, we go to Providence to play the Friars in the Dunkin Donuts Center next Saturday. Tipoff is 2pm EST, 1 Central, and will be televised on ESPNU. I will be there, and I understand the Boston and New York alumni chapters are organizing a trip, so hopefully we will have a decent following.








Saturday, December 04, 2010

Purdue Pulverizes Pachyderms

Bama did not have any offensive punch, made too many mental errors, and did not cover the Boilermakers' shooters effectively in the zone defense.  There was one bright note.  When the Tide did get to the line they made almost all of their free throws.  Here's a box score

Boilermakers bash Bama

We played them close for the first 15 minutes until we hit a Gottfried scoring drought of 7 minutes. Purdue is far superior to us and proved it the last 25.

Purdue killed us from 3... While we stunk it up. If Releford doesn't penetrate I don't know how we score. We are terrible offensively. We have no leader on the court, outside of Davis... no shooter, outside of Green (suspended)... no inside threat. I don't see it getting better come SEC play.

DJC will have a more detailed report I assume. We lose 66-47. Quite honestly I'm disgusted at how we are playing. I expected Purdue to win... But they didn't play great and still dominated.

Outside of holding them under 70 I can't think of anything we did well. I probably should've been one of those football only fans and watched Oregon-Oregon St or the 1st half of the Barn-Gamecock game.

Purdue Preview

They lost their best player to injury for the season, but are still 6-1 and ranked number 18 in the nation. They have been dominate at home, but have not really played any tough games in Mackey Arena yet. Purdue is returning home from a 2 game road trip where they suffered their only loss to a good Richmond team, and bounced back with an overtime win in Blacksburg over Virginia Tech. Last year they came into Tuscaloosa as a top 10 team and we blew a huge second half against them. They have a big guy who is fairly athletic and has a good jump shot, which could create some matchup problems for us. I predict we hang with them in the first half, but lack of depth in the post does us in down the stretch. Purdue by 14.

I will be at the game, sitting about 7 rows behind one of the baskets. It's 28 degrees here, and we got about 3 inches of snow last night, and it's still coming down. It's quite a change after being in the Virgin Islands just a little over a week ago. We got in late last night so haven't had time to check out the campus or anything yet, but I've been pleasantly surprised with what I have seen from the Lafayette/West Lafayette towns so far. Tip off is 3:30 EST, 2:30 Central on ESPN2. RTR!

Edit: A couple of pics of the skating rink and Wabash river, courtesy of my girlfriend.


Thursday, December 02, 2010

Bama 72 USA 50

We started off sluggish, and trailed the first 8 minutes of the game. Ronnie Arrow had a good defensive gameplan for us, playing a lot of zone and switching to a soft man to try to limit our ability to penetrate. Thankfully, Charvez Davis came in and starting making some perimeter shots to open things up. Davis, Hillman, and Mitchell all had good games, and Chris Hines was solid in the post.

We continue to have way too many turnovers, especially in the first half of games. This will kill us against good teams on the road. Hankerson struggled again on offense, with 2 turnovers and no assists or points. His defense has improved. Obviously Coach Grant sees practice everyday and I do not, but based upon what I am seeing in the games my starting lineup right now would be: 1. Releford 2. Davis 3. Hillman 4. Mitchell 5. Hines.

We gave up a disturbing number of baskets in the first half because we got beat in transition. We finished the half strong and were able to take a 10 point lead into the half. In the second half, things started clicking and we forced a number of turnovers with the 2-2-1 press which led to some easy layups and dunks. Tony Mitchell had one incredible dunk on alley oop pass from Ben Eblen that appeared to be heading to the top of the backboard, but somehow Mitchell got up, caught the ball, and slammed it home. There was one sloppy spell in the 2nd half where we allowed them to cut the 20 point lead down to 13, but for the most part we were in control of the game.

JaMychal Green was still nowhere to be found. We are very thin in the post right now. We switched to a zone everytime Engstrom came into the game, presumably because it's easier for him to guard the general area under the basket than risk being isolated on someone one on one. He did make 2 free throws, which is better than most everybody else from the line. Jason Carter made a couple of nice plays while he was in there, but these guys just aren't ready to be significant contributors in big games at this point. It was good to see Jason Carter back after his injury in the last game. Unfortunately, I will be surprised if Andrew Steele plays again this year. He is on crutches and not moving very good.

The crowd was surprisingly decent for a Wednesday night game, probably close to 6,000 or so. There was a strong student turnout, likely due to a promotion featuring an Ipad giveaway. The women beat Alabama State 80-31, and there was a nice presentation for the back to back defending National Champion UA wheelchair team. Up next, our first true road game, and it will be a tough one as we go to West Lafayette, IN on Saturday to take on the 18th ranked Purdue Boilermakers. Tip off is 3:30 Eastern, 2:30 Central and will be televised on ESPN2.