Saturday, February 26, 2011

BULL(hockey). Black Bears 68 Bama 63

I watched this one on TV, so I'm sure I missed a lot, but from what I could tell the officials played a MAJOR role in the outcome of this game.

We trailed at halftime in large part because Old Piss got to the free throw line in the 1st half and we didn't. Joe Dean may be the worst announcer in basketball. He's not as annoying as Duke Vitale, but he's a complete idiot. He explained the free throw discrepency in the first half as "Ole Miss being aggressive in attacking the basket." Yes, that's one reason why one team may get to the line more than the other, but considering we only shot 5 3s in the first half, it's not like we were settling for jump shots against the zone. We were getting the ball inside with the high-low game, and our bigs were getting hacked, but it wasn't being called. Meanwhile our guards were called for tick-tack handchecks and reach-ins at the other end.

Our transition defense was uncharacteristically bad in the 1st half, and the rebels were able to get some easy baskets against us.

On the rare occasion a bad call actually went our way, Joe Dean was quick to point it out. We were granted a timeout during a loose ball in the 2nd half, but he said nothing of the fact that the exact same thing went Old Piss's way earlier in the game. Also, during one replay in the 1st half, Releford was clearly fouled, lost the ball out of bounds, and although the refs gave us the ball, Dean noted, "it looked like Releford was the last to touch it..." with no mention of the fact that the Old Piss defender hacked the hell out of him with no call.

Old Piss did a good job of beating our traps in the first half. We made some great defensive adjustments in the 2nd half and built an 11 point lead. I was hoping we would call a timeout before that 11 point lead completely vanished, but we didn't.

Warren had a great game for Old Piss, and he is hard to defend when he is on. Still, Charvez Davis did a great job against him in Tuscaloosa, but was hardly ever matched up with him tonight. Our point guards had a difficult time with him, and we didn't try Senario on him till the very end of the game.

Chris Hines played a great game. Davis made a couple of 3s, but I wish he could have made one more down the stretch. We were still in position to win on a fast break down 1 late in the game, but Releford again was fouled with no call, and Doug Shows complicated matters by calling a technical foul on Coach Grant after we picked up a frustration foul on the rebound. In fairness, both coaches had been warned earlier in the game, but unless a coach makes a complete ass out of himself, you don't call a technical at that point of the game. ESPECIALLY when said coach has a legitimate gripe, as Coach Grant most certainly did. Still, the team kept fighting, and had the ball down 3 with 17 seconds left. Once again, Releford was fouled with no call, leading to a turnover and ending any chance we had at winning the game. I truly believe we would be 12-2 at worst, possibly 13-1 right now were it not for the incompetence of SEC officials.

Furthermore, I don't like to criticize the officials, I really don't. It's a tough job, and I do it the best I can at the high school level. I respect that it's a fast game and you aren't going to get them all right. The next official to call a perfect basketball game will be the first. But in a game of that magnitude, to call a technical foul in that situation, is ridiculous. In fairness, I don't know what Coach Grant said, but assuming it wasn't something absurd he would have to be on the court near the halfcourt line for me to T somebody up in that situation.

If anybody went, I would be interested to hear how the crowd was. The place looked nearly half empty on TV, which is pathetic for a game between a team fighting for a SEC championship and a home team fighting for a first round SEC tournament bye.

Up next, we go to Gainesville for a 6pm tipoff Tuesday night on ESPNU against Florida. The Gators are coming off of a loss to Kentucky, so we are still tied for the SEC lead. We will be significant underdogs, but I believe this may be a must win game for our at large NCAA tournament hopes. The O'Connell center is the only SEC arena that I have yet to see a game, and I am seriously considering making the long road trip.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Know your enemy- @ Ole Miss Black Bear Rebels

Stats

If we want to take ourselves off the bubble and firmly put ourselves in the NCAA Tournament, winning at this place of horrors will do the trick. Last year we had a 23 point lead at the half and totally choked it away in what was the most disappointing game of the year for us. If we jump out to a lead like that tomorrow I doubt we'll see the same.

The Black Bear Rebels come in losers of 2 straight (@ M$U, @ SC Lite), but sadly are still in the running for 2nd in the West which is a 1st round bye. We need to kill division format in hoops, but that's another post for another day.

If you want to read their press release go here

Chris Warren is obviously the guy we want to contain as he can go off offensively. He's #1 in the country at the line (94.6%) so it'll be important to whoever guard him to NOT FOUL. Reginald Buckner will give Green a hard time in the post as he's 10th in the nation with 3.1 blocks (3rd in SEC). Zack Graham is their other legitimate 3 point threat and he's coming off an AUful game @ South Carolina so I'm guessing he'll play better at the Tad Pad.

Keys to the game:
- contain Warren
- get out to an early lead
- same old same old of pounding it to Green
- can someone step up and hit perimeter shots for us?
- Releford penetrating the lane

Prediction: Like I said earlier, going to Oxford has not ended well for us in the past, BUT THIS IS NOT THE TYPICAL BAMA TEAM THAT GETS POUNDED THERE. I don't know how we do it, but somehow we escape Oxford with a win. Chris Hines with a double double to lead us to the promise land. Bama by 4.

Game time is 2/26 at 4PM EST (3PM CST) on the SEC Network. It's on ESPN3.com as well.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Alabama AUful Against auburn, 51-49

Edited to add pics.

I believe there is no such thing as an ugly win, but after last night I might have to rethink that philosophy. I will try not to rehash all the horrible offensive stats here, bobbyjack covered that in the post below. I was afraid we would have an off night at some point, and hopefully we got that out of our system now, but still got the win.

The team came out looking very flat. There was no emotion, intensity, or sense of urgency early on. I think we overlooked auburn to some degree, and they just wanted it more. A win for auburn would have made their season, and I'm not sure our guys appreciated that.


The Tide takes the floor.


This should not happen.


I was still not overly concerned when auburn jumped out to the early lead because they were fouling at a ridiculous rate. I think they had 5 fouls in the first 3 minutes of the game. It almost seemed like their gameplan was to play zone, make us shoot, but foul if neccesary to keep us from getting to the basket. Throw in a couple of stupid fouls they committed early in the backcourt as well, and they were lucky to have enough players to finish the game. Those early fouls came back to bite them. If they had any big men left at the end of the game, the outcome may have been different. Four tigers fouled out of the game, and it should have been 5, as Langford picked up his 5th foul when Andrew Steele got injured driving the baseline, but the official gave the foul to number 5 instead of 0.


auburn out to an early lead, but already with 5 fouls.



To give you an idea of how ugly this game was, the teams could not even lineup and rebound missed free throws without multiple incidents. We were called for 2 lane violations, both of which were good calls. The eagles followed up one of those by air-balling the free throw. The official then held the ball for a good 30 seconds while Barbee got his substitutes into the game, who were not even making an effort to report to the scorer's table. #45 for auburn was early in the lane at least twice on free throws and it wasn't called.


Ted Valentine on his knees, trying to blow the game.

The plainsmen did a great job in their zone defense. We tried to space the floor and work the ball into the post, but they were effective in denying the entry passing lanes and doubling down on JaMychal. I thought we were somewhat lazy in our offensive attack. Tony Mitchell was not very active in trying to get to the rim for the most part. Releford completely abandoned the dribble drive game. Add in some bad passes and unforced turnovers, and you have a complete disaster on offense. Thankfully, auburn kept fouling us, and a subpar 67.5% from the free throw line was just enough to get the job done.

The press was effective against auburn, forcing numerous turnovers in the backcourt. Unfortunately, we were rarely able to score off of them.

Andrew Steele needs to be more assertive on offense. There were a couple of designed plays that actually worked to put him a good position in the corner to either take an open jump shot, pump fake and get the defender in the air, or drive the baseline, but instead he just passed the ball back to the point. Charvez Davis was way off. At times, Hankerson and Steele looked like the only ones who wanted to be there. I thought Hankerson gave us some solid minutes, at least until he drove right at an auburn center and got rejected. He seemed unsure of himself after that.
JaMychal Green did a good job in the 2nd half of at least getting to the line and making most of his free throws.

I was very concerned when we were still down 12 in the 2nd half. I did not see the same swagger and intensity that we had when trailing Arkansas in the 2nd half. We still looked very timid on offense, and the basket seemed to have a lid on it. This team found a way to win though, playing lock down defense. During the comeback, there was a series of 4 possessions in a row where auburn did not even get a shot off that hit the rim.


Good defense got us back in the game.

Barbee had the better gameplan, but Coach Grant outcoached him in the final minutes. He managed his timeouts so that we still had one if needed at the end of the game, and that allowed us to draw up the winning play with 7 seconds left. On the previous play, we put an emphasis on guarding the perimeter, which allowed auburn to tie the game on a 2 point play. I liked the defensive call, and was surprised that auburn took the 2 in that situation as they would have only had about 6 players left to play the overtime period. On the last play, Tony Mitchell used a screen coming off the weave to drive the lane. I thought he was fouled, but was glad it wasn't called, as JaMychal Green tipped it in with .3 seconds left. While we were all celebrating and chest bumping on the court, auburn heaved a shot that nearly went in. By rule, it would not have counted, since .3 seconds is not enough time for a catch and shoot, it would have to be a tip in during that situation. Still, I would like to see a little more awareness regarding the fact that auburn had the ball and there was still time on the clock.


Coach Grant did a good job of managing his timeouts.



It was a sellout crowd but there were a few empty seats in the corner. The student turnout was great. auburn kept the crowd out of it until late in the 2nd half, but the tigers seemed to get rattled under the pressure when it finally started to get loud. Former players Bobby Lee Hurt and Jason Reese were in attendance. Bobby Lee was sporting some bling and a pimp suit. Anyway, survive and advance, that's what it is all about.


Final Score, all that matters.

Up next, we travel to Oxford, MS to take on the Ole Miss rebels. It's a 3pm tipoff Saturday and will be televised on the SEC network. We will have to play a lot better than we did last night to have a chance, but I have no doubt that we will.

Quite possibly the ugliest game I've seen in my life. Bama survives 51-49

This game set back offense 75 years. If you are reading this website first off, thank you and second you have to be an Alabama fan to suffer through that. I saw better play at the courts behind Paty Hall in the 90s.

Anyways... win and advance. We're now 11-2 in conference. Not getting style points for this, but it's a win and that's all that matters. I'll add more tomorrow.

box score

Now that I had a night to think about this...

In the ENTIRE GAME we had 11 FGs. Think about that. We scored TWENTY-FOUR points from the field. If you're keeping score at home we shot 11-42 with 2-12 from 3 pt range AND STILL WON! Also, 4 assist and 18 turnovers... man that is UG-LY!

The 1st half Auburn jumped (more like plodded) to a 11-1 lead as we couldn't throw it in the ocean. Senario Hillman's hit a 3 WHICH WAS THE 1ST FG of the game for us (almost 8 minutes in) that sparked us on a run to tie the game at 14.

Auburn responded with a run of their own to lead by 15 as Green was the only one scoring (3 FGs) in that span. We responded to that with another run ending with Hankerson hitting a 3 to bring us to within 5 at the half.

The 2nd half was no better as Auburn 'stormed' us, outscoring us 10-5 in the first 10 minutes of the half. LET ME REPEAT, THE 1ST TEN MINUTES OF THE 2ND HALF WE SCORED 5 TOTAL POINTS! Being that this was a game of runs, we came back and 'outscored' them 13-2 to tie the game with under 4 minutes to play. Auburn already lost one player to fouls (Chubb) and were about to lose more as I thought they'd run out of eligible players. Chubb was Reggie Ramboesque... 12 minutes 5 fouls 0 points.

We went back and forth with Auburn tying the game at 49. Mitchell drives, misses the layup, but Green tips it in with .3 to play. Auburn almost won it as their desperation 3 heave bounced off the backboard and rim. We survived.

The upside: we played quite possibly the worst game of the season (including the stinkers in St Thomas) and still won. We also forced 19 turnovers and after a slow start we won the rebounding war.

A random observation: we seemed to play better on O when Hankerson was in last night. Not sure what that means, but it sure seemed that way.

Give credit to Barbee and his staff. They forced us to shoot and we couldn't hit the ocean. Charvez chucked up 2 airball 3s and Releford threw up an airball 3 and jumpshot as well. We never could find any rhythm on offense.

It's a win. It is the ugliest basketball game I ever saw in my life.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Awful Alabama > Atrocious api

(but not by much.)

This is perhaps the ugliest win by an Alabama team I have seen in a long time.  The best thing about this game is that our players never stopped fighting and kept doing the things they had to do to win the game.

Give credit to api.  They knew what they had to do to have a chance to win the game and they controlled everything about the game until 3 or 4 of their best players fouled out.  Coach Barbee had an excellent game plan, his players executed it to perfection, and api almost beat us on our own court. 

I hope I will have something insightful, or at least positive, to say by tomorrow.   For now, I am simply grateful for the win.

Roll Tide!

Know your enemy- Auburn Toomer Tree War Eagle Tigers

Stats

Auburn is on a roll. They've won 2 of their last 6 and only one of those losses was by more than 20 points. I call that progress.

For a writeup from their official site go here.

Earnest Ross is the only player we need to watch. The rest of the bunch are sporatic at best.

Keys to the game:
- defend the 3. It's Auburn's only chance to win.
- pound it inside with Green and Hines.
- Releford in open space.
- Mitchell bringing the energy he's been the past month.

Prediction: I don't think Auburn has a chance. Maybe they'll get a boost from that darn poisoned tree of theirs and play us close for about 10 minutes. Then reality sets in and we roll. Alabama by 19.

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

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Bama Brings home Bacon, 69-56


Alabama clinched the 2011 SEC Western Division Crown with the 13 point win over Arkansas. I know we generally don't hang banners or otherwise celebrate division championships around here, and I know the West sucks, but considering it's only our 3rd SEC West title in 20 years I think this team deserves some recognition for the accomplishment. Obviously, there is still a lot of work left to be done.

I was concerned about the quick turnaround again, having to play Saturday after a road game on Thursday. There were some signs of fatigue at times. The team looked very fired up in the pregame, and jumped out to a 5-0 lead. Unfortunately, after that burst of emotion wore off, we were flat at times and Arkansas came back to take the lead.


Tide jumps out to a 5-0 start.

Arkansas is a team that gives us some matchup problems. Rotnei Clark's ability to shoot basically forces us to stay in a man to man. That puts a lot of pressure on our post guys, but they did a great job. It also prevents us from pressing as much as we would like, because if that guy gets open, it's 3 points on the board. We lost him a couple of times early and paid for it, but for the most part Davis played great defense on him, as did Senario and Andrew when they were in the game. He made a couple of shots that could not possibly have been better defended.


Clark at the line shooting 3.

There were a series of close calls in the first half that seemed to go against us. There were a couple of block/charge situations, and a block/goaltend within a short span during which Arkansas was able to build a lead. Honestly, I can't say with 100% certainty that any of them was the wrong call, but it was frustrating because there were so many close calls going against us. Coach Grant called a timeout to refocus the team, and we were able to claw back and tie the game going into the half.


Anthony Jordan was hearing it from the crowd after a number of close calls went to the Hogs.


Tied at the half.


The Beale Street Flippers entertain at halftime. This guy was built like a bowling ball, but he could do backflips the length of the court.

Senario Hillman seems to be losing playing time to Andrew Steele. I would like to see Steele be more assertive on offense, but he played solid defense again. With Senario's ability to create turnovers and fast break opportunities, I would like to see him getting a little more playing time than he has the last couple of games.

JaMychal Green silently had another very solid game. He took some bad shots early but settled in and went back to his bread and butter of being aggressive and attacking the basket. He was only one rebound short of a double-double.

Arkansas deserves some credit for hanging in there. It seemed like everytime we got some momentum they would answer, and vice versa. For the first 30+ minutes, both teams answered each other's runs. I was expecting the game to go down to the wire, and the fatigue factor was a major concern for me. It turns out those concerns were unfounded. After falling behind 5 with 12 minutes to go, the team responded with a sense of urgency at gut check time. Tony Mitchell and Trevor Releford simply would not allow us to lose. When Releford decides he wants to get to the basket, he is unstoppable. With Charvez Davis having an off night shooting the ball, Releford stepped up and knocked some huge shots down the stretch. When Tony Mitchell makes a play, it's more than likely to end up on a highlight reel. If you haven't seen this dunk yet for some reason, do yourself the favor. Even if you've already seen it, it's worth another look. He also had a couple of violent blocked shots that got the crowd going too.



It was a sellout crowd, and with the exception of only a few dozen empty seats in the top corner of the student section, and a few empties scattered throughout the Tide Pride seats, it was a packed house. It was a great crowd that got very loud when the game was on the line midway through the 2nd half. With the team playing on short rest, I do think it played a factor in the increased energy to close the game. Arkansas looked like the team that was tired down the stretch.


Coach Saban on his way to his seat to take in the win with Barry Sanders Jr.


Yours Truly along with our great photographer, doing our part as the "6th man."


Coach Grant Salutes the Crowd after the win. If this man isn't the SEC Coach of the Year, there should be an investigation.

I apologize for the delay in getting the recap and pics posted. I stuck around Tuscaloosa today and went to the women's game. Congrats to Coach Wendell Hudson and team for getting another win at Foster, despite blowing a 21 point lead to Ole Miss.

Up next, the hapless auburn tigers come to Tuscaloosa for a 7pm tipoff Wednesday night. The game will be televised on the SEC network. Yes, auburn sucks, but despite our record we are not good enough to overlook anybody. For them, a win over Alabama to knock us out of the NCAA tournament discussion would make their season. Let's pack the Coliseum again and support the SEC West Champions in making sure that doesn't happen.

Pachyderms Poke Pigs

Well, at least they did in the second half.  Or at least they put a sack on Arkansas sharpshooter Rotnei Clarke in the second half.  Clarke scored 21 points in the game but earned only one field goal in the last twenty minutes of play.  Tony Mitchell continues his streak of leading Bama scorers registering a game high 27 points.  Mitchell shot 11 of 15 from the field, which included one of his four three point attempts.  He had several incredible dunks, perhaps the most impressive of which was made on what looked like a miscommunication between him and Releford.  Speaking of Releford, he scored 17 points, including 2 of his 4 three-point attempts, and had three rebounds to go with his four assists.

The Hogs earned a five point lead in the first half and again with just over 12 minutes left to go in the game.  I was getting a bit discouraged, but at that point Bama dialed up its defensive pressure and outscored them 25 to seven to end the game. 

Coach Grant used Hillman, Steele and Davis to guard Clarke, with Davis drawing the assignment for most of the second half.  Clarke is a smart, gutsy player who set hard screens for his teammates and ran the court all night trying to find an open shot.  Arkansas was shooting at the goal right in front of me in the second half and I spent most of my time watching which ever Bama player was shadowing Clarke.  He was covered so effectively outside the arc that Coach Pelfrey had to let him drive past his defender to try to get an open shot underneath the basket.  Several of his shots were blocked, but he did hit several free throws after being fouled.

I hate to have to admit it, but we could not have won this game without some cooperation from the zebras.  It's not that they made any critical calls like we witnessed in Fayetville and Nashville.  But they did call a very loose game, particularly during the last 12 minutes of the second half where the Tide reclaimed the lead for good.  If they had not allowed a considerable amount of contact, the Hogs would have killed us at the free throw line.

Chris Stewart said this is only the fourth time Alabama has won the Western Division of the SEC.  Everyone acknowledges that the West is down this season, but it still is quite an accomplishment and we can finish no worse that 3-3 against Eastern Division opponents.

Hopefully DJC will provide a more detailed and informed summary of the game and his girlfriend will provide some photos.  It's already been a long day for me and I have to go to sleep. 

Roll Tide!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Know your enemy- vs Arkansas Razorbacks

They've won their last 2 against cupcakes LSU and Florida A&M. Before that they were on a 3 game losing streak with consecutive home losses to UGA and Ole Miss.

Stats

The team goes the way Rotnei Clarke does. In their 6 SEC losses he's only hit double digit scoring once (10). Frustrate him and they can't score. Marshawn Powell and Delvon Johnson round out their offense scoring 10.9 and 10.0 PPG.

They're 4th in the SEC in scoring defense and FG defense and 3rd in 3pg FG defense. The latter probably doesn't concern us as we don't shoot many 3s to begin with.

Team stats
- 44% FG
- 34.8% 3pt FG
- 71.2 PPG
- 13 turnovers per game

Prediction: Despite the disappointing season the Hogs have a lot to play for. Right now they're fighting with Ole Miss for 2nd place in the West. It's an important slot to be in for the first round bye in the SEC Tournament. Saying that, I doubt Clarke has room to breathe and WE DON'T LOSE AT HOME! Bama by 16.

Game time is 7PM EST (6PM CST) on FSN or ESPN3.com. Sorry for the short writeup... don't think I'll have time Saturday to do this.

Sluggish performance, but a W @ LSU is all that matters 67-56

Box score

Outside of Andrew Steele, no one on the team shined, but it was enough to thwart a really bad LSU team. LSU got out to an early 7-0 lead in the first 5 minutes, built it up to 8, but we came back and took the lead at halftime (by 5). In the 2nd half we pounded it inside to Green to build the lead up to 10, but couldn't put LSU away until the last 2 minutes of the game. LSU got the lead down to 2 on a couple of occasions, but we responded with a bucket to keep them at bay.

We did do our job from the line (15-19) while LSU floundered (13-23), but our defensive intensity was not what we are used to seeing. Our offense once again was stagnant, depending on turnovers for easy scores.

I'm not sure what happenned to Hillman as I can't remember seeing him in the 2nd half. As for Charvez... it is now a fact he's a home court player. Start him at home, leave him on the bench on the road.

We only had 5 assists last night. It did seem like Releford struggled at times, but he'd also show flashes of brilliance driving to the hoop and scoring.

Like I said... it was an ugly game, but we won which is huge as it puts us in position (assuming we win out at home) to finish at 12-4 in the SEC and probably a spot in the NCAA Tournament.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Know your enemy- @ LSU Tigers

Stats

I'm going to keep this short and sweet. LSU have lost their last 8, 10 of 12, and 12 of 15 games. They are the suck. Can they beat us? Sure they can if everything goes their way. Will they beat us? Probably not.

They have all sorts of size, but no real inside scoring threat. That's odd. They're bad offensively (40% FG, 32% 3pt FG, 66.4% FT) and turn the ball over roughly 14 times a game.

So they can't shoot and we're one of the best in the nation defending. This doesn't sound good for the Bayou Bengals. Dale Brown and John Brady are rolling over in their graves.

Prediction: LSU might hang around for a half, then Green goes off inside with Mitchell putting in 18-20 points to pull this one out. Bama by 13.

Game time is 9PM EST (8PM CST) Thursday 2/17. I believe it is on ESPN. ESPN3.com if you can't find a TV, but have access to the internet.

Side note- seems like all the SEC sites have similar content. I liked it much better when they were independent of each other.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Randomness- Wimp Sanderson's coach career at Alabama

This blog has dissected the Mark Gottfried era to shreds so I thought a write up on Wimp would be good. I'm going to keep it to stats.

In Wimp's 12 years as head coach he won 10 games in conference 10 times, made the Sweet Sixteen 6 times, won 4 SEC tournament titles, and finished 3rd or better in the SEC (counting before the divisional split) 7 times. (link)

The link above says 5 NCAA Sweet Sixteens in the write up, but I see 6 listed. I date back as a fan to 1990 so I'm going with 6 until otherwise told.

1980–1981 Alabama 18–11 10–8 4th NIT 2nd Round
1981–1982 Alabama 24–7 12–6 3rd NCAA Sweet 16
1982–1983 Alabama 20–12 8–10 T–8th NCAA 1st Round
1983–1984 Alabama 18–12 10–8 5th NCAA 1st Round
1984–1985 Alabama 23–10 11–7 T–3rd NCAA Sweet 16
1985–1986 Alabama 24–9 13–5 T–2nd NCAA Sweet 16
1986–1987 Alabama 28–5 16–2 1st NCAA Sweet 16
1987–1988 Alabama 14–17 6–12 T–8th
1988–1989 Alabama 23–8 12–6 T–2nd NCAA 1st Round
1989–1990 Alabama 26–9 12–6 2nd NCAA Sweet 16
1990–1991 Alabama 23–10 12–6 2nd NCAA Sweet 16
1991–1992 Alabama 26–9 10–6 3rd (Western) NCAA 2nd Round

I don't have a link to back this up, but I remember at one point in the early 90s that Alabama had either the most or 2nd most(to UNC) active players in the NBA. Obvious that's not the case now (we have 4 in McDyess, Mo Williams, Wallace, and Gee).

Why the look to the past? Well, I think we got a coach right now that (if he sticks around) can equal or even surpass what Wimp accomplished. This is coming from someone that had Grant 3rd on my wishlist of coaches to hire when Gottfried resigned (Lavin, Greenburg). This is one of those times I'm glad I was wrong.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Bama Busts Black Bears 74-64

Alabama survived the dangerous trap game by building a 23 point lead and hanging on for a 10 point win. Andrew Steele started over Tony Mitchell for some reason. Steele played a good game, scoring 9 points and getting to the free throw line by driving the lane. His return has been a very pleasant surprise, and he gives us another option on offense. I would like to see him taking a few more shots.

Charvez Davis rebounded and had a great game. He drew the tough defensive assignment of guarding Chris Warren most of the game, and holding him to 15 points is pretty solid. As bad as our offense has been at times this year, we put on a clinic in the 1st half, scoring 47 to lead by 20 at the break. When guys like Davis and Releford are making 3s to free things up for Tony Mitchell and Green inside, this team is pretty difficult to defend.


Chris Hines continues to play great defense in the post.


The "human slinky" entertains fans at halftime.

Charles Hankerson even came in for a couple of minutes and played pretty good. He got a rebound, scored a basket, and didn't give up anything on defense. Maybe he will be able to contribute some minutes down the stretch after all.

Alabama did show some signs of fatigue. I thought we got a little too complacent with a 23 point lead. Tony Mitchell got beat at least twice on defense in the open court because he was slow to move his feet, which is very uncharacteristic of him. Of course, he still came off the bench to silently lead all scorers with 20 pts in addition to leading the team in rebounds. Senario, Releford, and Green all picked up some bad/dumb fouls at times for either reaching in unnecessarily in the back court or getting beat and being caught out of position.

JaMychal Green needs to be careful. I love his aggressiveness, and he is a big part of the reason why we are 8-2. He plays solid defense and is the key to our offensive in the post. We are a pretty bad team offensively when he is not in the game. Nevertheless, he is developing a reputation as a hot head and teams are trying to take advantage of that. #1 for Old Piss was almost able to bait him into a technical foul at the most inopportune time in the 2nd half. Thankfully, the officials did not see JaMychal throw an elbow in his direction.


Ole Miss made some long 3s and we gave up some offensive rebounds on missed free throws, although I felt a couple of those should have been called over-the-back fouls. The Rebels were able to cut the lead to 6, but Coach Grant did a good job of using timeouts to get the team refocused and they answered with some big defensive stops and scores to put the game away.


Regrouping during a timeout

The crowd was very close to a sell out, but I was disappointed with the few hundred empty seats in the student section. Still, there was probably around 14,000 there, including Levi Randoph and Coach Nick Saban with his wife Terri. It's great to see the Saban's supporting basketball even on a non-football recruiting weekend.


The Sabans make their way to their seats.


Obviously, we focus on men's basketball here, but I stuck around to watch the women win a historic game by beating Florida in their first game at the newly renovated Foster Auditorium today. So, after one day, our women have the same number of SEC wins in the new arena as auburn's men do in theirs, despite auburn having played there the whole season.


Foster Auditorium

I used to follow the women's team fairly closely. In fact, my cousin is the program's all time leading 3 point % shooter. I was skeptical as to whether the move to Foster would be a good thing for the program, but I am now on board. The atmosphere was great, and it got really loud. The lower capacity makes it feel like a bigger crowd. They really did a fantastic job with the renovations.

We all have different memories of Foster Auditorium. Of course, the first thing that comes to mind is the George Wallace v. Vivian Malone stand off. While that incident was one of many black eyes our University and state endured during the Civil Rights Movement, the courage of Malone and Hood ultimately prevailed, making the event a most important part of the University's proud history.


Malone Hood Plaza in front of Foster Auditorium

Older generations remember watching men's basketball games there in the pre-Coleman era. Other grads recall going there to register for classes. For me, it was a place to sneak into for late night pick up basketball games, often with members of the football team. Going forward, it will be home to the Lady Tide, and one of the most unique women's basketball venues in the country. I will definitely go back.


Awesome Video Board in Foster


Video Board with banners.


AD Coach Moore, along with President Witt and his wife take in the women's game. Coach Grant and Coach Brannen were also there.


Women's team warmups prior to start of 2nd half


Bama overcomes a 10 point halftime deficit to get the win.

Thanks again to my gf for taking the pics.
Up next, we go to the Bayou to take on the LSU Tigers Thursday night at 8pm. The game will be televised on ESPN2.

A must read Pat Forde column- Bubble begins to take shape

I'm more interested in his critique of officiating. Talking about our boy Ted valentine for a minute.

Excerpt:
But if O'Connell's schedule sounds crazy, it's relatively sane compared to a recent run by Ted Valentine (31). He's nicknamed "TV Ted" because he's on the air more than Anderson Cooper -- and he likes to make his presence felt. Check out this run:

Works an 8 p.m. ET tipoff at Alabama, Jan. 29. Works a 2 p.m. ET tipoff at Kent State, Jan. 30. Works the next four nights in Jackson, Miss., High Point, N.C., Birmingham, Ala., and Charleston, S.C.

The Minutes has no idea how you even get from Tuscaloosa, Ala., to Kent, Ohio, in time for a 2 p.m. game. Or how TV Ted's work schedule is good for anything but his bank account.


A blurb about Anthony Grant:
Anthony Grant (38) of Alabama. The Crimson Tide improbably have the best record in the SEC at 7-1. Grant was at his imperturbable best Saturday, somehow refraining from breaking anything while watching his team go the final nine minutes at Tennessee without a field goal and still winning. (For the record: That was four minutes of regulation and all five minutes of overtime with seven missed field goals and four turnovers. Bama pulled it out thanks to 10-of-12 shooting at the foul line.)

Read it all here. If you want to skip past the bubble and go to the overworked officials due to time constraints read that portion first, but I suggest you read it all when you get a chance. This is about as solid as a writeup as I've seen in a while.

Would You Please Help Your Team

As best as I have been able to determine, there are two ways we fans can help our team.  First, we can show up for the games.  Second, we can make noise after we have arrived.  During the last few seasons of the previous administration, we Bama Basketball fans had been sucked into the malaise of merely responding to what happens on the court.  Responding is good, but being pro-active is even better in my opinion.

I was a bit miffed when I first found out they had taken the floor seats away from some of my friends and put students down there, but having students on the floor at both ends of the court has been very beneficial to our team.  As they shout back and forth at each other, they tend to energize the crowd and suck the others into their enthusiasm.  I have to defer to the wisdom of the person who put those students down there.  It was a great move.

I suggest the rest of us can take our cue from the students and learn how to make noise before the team does something significant.  It might not always make a difference, but if we make noise before half of a 23 point lead has been squandered, then perhaps we can do our part to help energize the team and get them over the next hump in their 40 minute war of attrition with the visitors.

Please do not use profanity.  We finally have a truly inter-generational fan base and the six year olds you see in the stands today will be the students, season ticket holders, and basketball bloggers of the future.  I never "boo" players.  I usually sit pretty close to the visiting bench so I say a good deal to their coach and not infrequently express my displeasure to an official.  How else are we going to develop a home court advantage?   Adults are fair game, but remember that the visiting players are just doing their best to obey their coaches and represent their own schools.

So please show up and please make some noise.  You will have a great time and might even get caught up in the magic that is the spirit of Bama Basketball.  You also can help your team.

Roll Tide!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Bama beats Black Bears 74-64

We jumped out to a big 1st half lead, went into our Nick Saban offensive shell to let the Black Bears (Rebels) within 6, and then came to our senses and put the game away.

Box score

Releford, Mitchell, and Green once again led the offense with Hillman and Hines D-ing up. Charvez finally found his stroke, Steele played some good minutes, and there was even a Hankerson sighting. We even hit a few 3s (6-14).

The end result is we won, but taking the air out of the ball at the 12 minute mark probably wasn't the best idea.

Know your enemy- Ole Miss Black Bear Rebels

They come into this game on a 3 game winning streak. Make no mistake this will be a tough game made even tougher by our quick turnaround from the Vandy robbery on Thursday night.

Stats

They struggled with LSU at home on Wednesday, squeaking by 66-60, but they have been playing better and they pose some matchup problems. I don't know who we have to guard Chris Warren who leads the team with 18.7 PPG. Zach Graham is their only other player scoring double digits with Terrence Henry leading the way with 5.8 boards. They lack size so we should be able to pound it inside.

Keys to the game:
- make someone besides Warren score.
- pound it inside to Green.
- Get Charvez back on track.
- keep the game in the mid 60s.

Prediction: Ole Miss is probably the last threat we have to losing at home, but I DON'T THINK SO! We frustrate Warren and Green dominates inside with Mitchell putting in another 20 points for the win. Bama by 11.

Game time is 4PM EST (3PM CST) on the SEC Network.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Vandy Victorious Despite Valiant Effort

We all would have been happy with a split of the Tennessee road trip coming in, but it's quite disappointing to have a lead with under 30 seconds to play and come away with a loss. This game had a little bit of everything, a lot of positives, a few negatives, and some controversy at the end. Thanks to my friend for hooking me up with a great ticket.


The view from my seat.

I give Coach Stallings credit for being the best X's and O's coach in the SEC. They lit us up, especially in the first half, but it was not due to a lack of defensive effort on our part. Vandy moves without the ball and sets screens as good as anybody in the country. We actually did a pretty good job of defending Jenkins and Tinsley on the perimeter, but they just have too many players who can shoot the ball. Jeffery Taylor went off on us, and everybody else they had seemed to knock down shots as well. They don't even have to get penetration, all they need is a decent look at the basket and it is going in. If we play man, they would eventually get somebody open off of a screen. If we played zone, they would just pass it around the perimeter and shoot over it. When most teams get an offensive rebound, they go back up for the put back. Not Vandy, they take advantage of all the defenders being in the paint for the rebound, and kick it back out for a wide open 3, which they usually make. I'm really not sure how you can defend that, other than not let them get any offensive rebounds.

Conversely, we have no outside game whatsoever. We tried to play their game for a good part of the first half, forcing several 3's and not making any of them. This allowed Vandy to build an 11 point lead. Thankfully, we started getting the ball to Tony Mitchell on cuts through the lane, along with some help from Green, and Mitchell finally made a 3 at the buzzer to cut the halftime lead to 3.

I think it's time to shake up the starting lineup for away games. I would start either Senario Hillman or Andrew Steele at the 2 over Davis. I like Charvez at home, but it's becoming obvious that he can't shoot anywhere outside of Coleman Coliseum. He forced some ridiculous shots and found himself on the bench until our final offensive possession.

In the 2nd half we finally turned up the full court pressure which forced some turnovers that led to easy scores, and at least disrupted Vandy's offensive rhythm a little bit. It seemed like every time we took the lead, Vandy would answer and stretch their lead back out. We made the necessary plays down the stretch to hang in the game and have a chance to win. Free throw shooting was great, as JaMychal consistently got to the line and knocked them down in the second half.

There were a number of controversial calls down the stretch. First, with 2 or 3 minutes left and Bama down by 3, Tony Mitchell appeared to get hit in the face when he got his shot blocked. From where I was sitting, the initial block appeared clean, but then Tony regathered the ball and went up a second time, and got hit in the face. No call. Next, after Releford made a shot to give us a 1 point lead with 40 seconds to play, he picked up his 5th foul on an "And 1" by Vandy's white guard with 17 seconds left. At the game, I thought it might have been a good call, but many people who I've spoken to who saw the replay on TV said not so much. That was a huge call, not only because it stretched the lead to 2, but it left us without our star PG for the crucial final possession and potential overtime.

There was some discussion about our play call at the end of the game. My friends thought we should have gone for 3 and the win, and I understand that line of thinking. We were on the road, we have a quick turnaround with our next game, and our only good PG had fouled out. Nevertheless, I agreed with Coach Grant's decision to attack the basket with JaMychal. If we had any decent 3 point shooting options, it would be different, but JaMychal might have been able to get an old fashioned 3 point play, and stood a good chance of either scoring to tie or making 2 free throws. Momentum would have been on our side going into OT after Vandy led most of the game, and we would have confidence coming off the OT win in Knoxville.

None of that mattered, because Tim Higgins said Green stepped on the line. Obviously, I couldn't tell from where I was sitting because the play happened on the other end of the court, but it appeared to me that Green was pushed as he drove by the defender. Coach Grant had a great angle due to the stupid configuration of that gym, and he went ballistic. My phone was blowing up with txt messages from people watching on TV back home who said he didn't step out of bounds. The Vandy radio announcers referred to the call as "controversial" on their post game show. The call is even getting some national attention with the general consensus being that we got screwed.

The officiating crew further jacked things up by failing to grant Coach's requested timeout before Vandy's last free throw. Frankly, we were better off with him not granting it, because it was our last timeout and if he would have missed, then we would have got the rebound 95 ft from our basket with no way of stopping the clock. Nevertheless, Grant ripped them a new one when he was finally awarded his last timeout, down 4 with 6 seconds to play. I suspect Coach actually wanted to get a technical at that point, as he was all the way up on the sideline where the coach's box would be in a real gym.

It was a great effort, and would have been a great win, but we are still in good shape if we take care of business at home and against the inferior teams left on our schedule.

It was my 4th or 5th trip up there, and that arena is still a piece of garbage (edited for the sake of keeping this a family site). Obviously, the configuration sucks, there are 15,000 seats and not a good one in the house. They have something like 24 scoreboards but they don't have one in the center over the court. Instead they have a tv screen that produces an image that would be state of the art if this were 1974. Apparently, they don't even have the capability of showing a replay, as I didn't see one all night.

Even though the game was a sellout, there appeared to be a lot of empty seats scattered around. The ridiculous configuration of that arena makes it difficult to give an estimate, but I would say 11,000 or so. There were at least 1,000 Alabama fans scattered throughout, mainly in top levels. The atmosphere was good, and the Vandy fans were loud. I thought Kentucky fans were the worst about wanting every single call, but these people were ridiculous. They booed EVERYTHING. Everytime we got a steal or a stop on defense they thought they were fouled. A couple of their fans were nice to us before the game, but for the most part they were a combination of old, rich snobs, and dorky jerks. One nerd decided to yell "war eagle" in my ear as I was trying to get out of the arena. I should have let it go, but instead I started jawing with him, and another dork decided to push me in the back. Thankfully, he apologized and backed down when we confronted him. Believe it or not, the Tennessee fans in Knoxville were 10 times classier than that private school, silver spoon bunch in Nashville. I hope Kentucky beats the hell out of them Saturday.

Up next, a quick turnaround for a 3pm start against the Ole Miss Rebel Black Bears Saturday at Coleman. Whoever they are, they have been playing pretty good lately, and come in on a 3 game winning streak. Show up, be loud, and support this team. They will need the boost to bounce back from such a disappointing loss with little time to rest and prepare.

Screwjob in Nashville. Refs, Tinsley squeak by Bama 81-77.

Box score

I'll add more tomorrow, but if you're expecting the normally objective recap I put up you'll be sorely disappointed. It felt like Vandy was on the power play all dang night.

On our end we couldn't buy a three while Vandy killed us with it, but we dominated the paint. Davis was again a nonfactor, but the rest of the guys played well.

I'll add more in the morning. I'm a bit angered by the way we lost, but proud of the team....

JaMychal Green should file charges at the Nashville precinct. He was mugged all night long. He did hit 10/11 FTs, but it seemed more often than not he was being fouled the second he got the ball inside. Green had a quiet first half, but exploded in the 2nd. Vandy had no one to stop him (unless you include the refs as part of their team). He finished with 23/10. He also hit a 3.

Tony Mitchell carried us in the 1st half... and made our only 3 in that half... at the buzzer. He also got mauled at the end of the game (no call) that left him woozy minutes after.

Charvez again laid an egg for the 2nd consecutive game. This time he forced his shots (one from Germantown included) and was again ineffective. Steele and Hillman picked up his slack though.

Releford impressed again off the dribble. I thought he won it for us in the final seconds, but then was called for a phantom foul on Tinsley's shot that gave Vandy back the lead.

A note on our big men... Hines played out of his mind again and was a defensive presence. He also is one heck of a passer. We can talk about Green or Releford being our team MVP, but IMO you take Hines off this team and we're hovering with the rest of the West. He does all the little things to keep us in the game. Green is a good passer as well.

I still think we got jobbed by the refs, but we didn't do ourselves any favors by going 2-15 from beyond the arc. Vandy hit 9-19 from three and that was one of the factors in us losing.

Splitting the state of TN was a pipe dream at the beginning of the season. We did that and almost won them both. This has been beaten to death, but man if we had a shooter we'd be sitting at 9-0 in conference.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Clutch Commodores Crush Crimson Comeback

BobbyJack's post reflects my feelings on the way the game ended, but we have to give Vandy their well deserved kudos.  The officials had to call a loose game for Bama to have a chance to break the Memorial Gym Jinx.  They did in spots.  I'm sure one of the officials would have blown a whistle if they'd seen Mitchell get his clock cleaned going for an offensive with rebound 1:15 left in the game, but it might not have made any difference given his free throw shooting this year.  The fifth foul on Releford could have gone uncalled and the no-call when Greene was forced out of bounds driving toward the bucket is the sort of thing the home team should expect to go its way in our league.  It really was nice to see an Alabama coach forcibly arguing his player's case to an official.  I'm not sure we've seen that since Wimp got caught - well, you get the idea.

It looked like Alabama was trying to preserve it's energy in the first half.  They did not stay on the Vandy shooters and the Commodores lit it up outside the arc. I think they might have been five for seven outside the arc in the first 17 minutes of the game.  Vandy had an 11 point lead with just over two minutes to go in the half, but Bama used its defensive pressure to cut it to three before the intermission.

Alabama was able to force the ball in to Greene near the basket in the second half, and the Dores' fouls finally began to mount.  The game was back and forth from that point.  Bama clung to a one point lead and had the ball with about 90 seconds left on the clock.  The difference from there was that Vanderbilt was able to get the ball into the basket and Alabama was not. 

Wishes and excuses cannot change the score, but I sure would like to see what this team could do if it possessed even on outside scoring threat.  They came close tonight, but close will not be enough to get them into the Big Dance at the end of the season. 

We have a gritty, determined coach.  I hope they have enough fuel in their tank to beat Ole Miss at home Saturday.  Please come out and support your team.  They deserve your support and you should see one heck of a performance.

Know your enemy- Vanderbilt Commodores

I'm sure many of you know that we haven't won at Vanderbilt since 1990. This is Coach Grant's first shot at this. Previous coaches Gottfried and Hobbs did not come close.

Stats

They have a dynamic scoring attack with John Jenkins, Jeffrey Taylor (seems like he's been there 10 years), Brad Tinsley, and Festus Ezeli all averaging double figures in scoring. Three of them are shooting better than 37% from 3 point land, with Rod Odom coming off the bench hitting at a 42.6% clip. Lance Goulbourne leads the team in rebounds despite playing only 26 minutes a game.

Keys to the game:
- guard the 3 point shot.
- despite them having a bigger lineup, pound the ball inside.
- slow the game down.
- need production from someone off the bench (Steele, Hillman).

Prediction: being that we haven't won there in over 20 years the easy way out is to predict defeat. NOT SO FAST MY FRIEND! If Arkansas (a bad Arkansas) can go up there and win this year so can we! Releford shines and hits some key 3s to bring us home with the upset. Bama by 5.

Game time is 9PM EST (8PM CST) on ESPN2. Pull out your favorite beer, drink them, and watch our Tide roll!

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Levi Randolph scores 40 in OT loss to Hoover

I went to the Bob Jones v. Hoover game last night to check out Alabama signee Levi Randolph. We missed most of the first half because tipoff was moved up from 7:30 to 6:30.

If I had to compare him to someone, Kennedy Winston would certainly be the first player to come to mind. They are of similiar size and build, and much like Kennedy, Levi is amazing at creating his own shot. He was definitely the go to guy for Bob Jones, and he pretty much single handedly brought them back from an 11 point defecit to force overtime. Whenever they needed a basket, they would run an iso play for him, and he consistently beat his man. He's so quick he got to the basket and scored before the helpside defense could get into position. He's got all the moves off the dribble. He's got a wicked cross over, he can spin, go right or left, hesitation, up and under, drop step, he can do it all. I was very impressed with him offensively. He has a good midrange jumper, and was deadly with the teardrop runner through the lane. Good at following his own shots and putting in his rebounds. He has a decent jumpshot, but he's not going to light it up from downtown. He has the versatility to play the 2 or 3.

He made some good defensive plays, but was inconsistent on defense. He got some steals in the open court, but I was not overwhelmed with his intensity on defense, especially off ball. That being said, I think both teams were looking ahead to the area tournaments later this week, as this was pretty much a meaningless game. Meaningless as it may have been, it was still a great game. As I mentioned, Bob Jones was down 11 with about 4 minutes to play, but rallied to force overtime. It was tied again with time running out, when Bob Jones got a stop and Levi was fouled with 3 seconds remaining. He made the first but missed the second, and there was a jump ball on the rebound, with the possession arrow giving Hoover the ball with 2.8 seconds left. That was huge, because Hoover had no timeouts remaining, and time would have expired otherwise. Instead, they threw the inbounds pass close to halfcourt, where a kid crossed the line and nailed a 45 foot shot as the horn sounded for the win.

Other players of note in that game included Reggie Ragland, who is committed to play football for Alabama. He was in foul trouble most of the night, but he certainly has the build of a linebacker. Bob Jones had a white kid who is signed with Gardner-Webb, and I think he will do well for them. I was impressed with his passing skills. They also have a junior who has a nice shot and will likely play D1 ball, but his name escapes me. #24 for Hoover can flat out shoot, I think he made 5 or 6 3's just in the time we were there.

Monday, February 07, 2011

RPI below 100 and other fun filled stats

Beating the Viles in Knoxville put our RPI below 100 for the 1st time since the early part of this season. Currently 96. What kills us are the losses in St Thomas to #133 (Iowa) and #135 (St. Peter's). I wish we could play them again... we'd blow both of them out.

We're 5th nationally in scoring defense (57.0), 20th in 3 Pt FG percentage defense (29.8), 11th in steals (9.5), 71st in FT percentage (72.3%), and 21st in blocked shots (5.5). I'm surprised at FT and blocked shots statistical rankings.

We are getting some love from ESPN. First this one:

2. Speaking of the SEC, how about Alabama? There’s at least one other thing we know about the SEC: Alabama is making a legitimate run at an at-large tournament berth. After the Crimson Tide’s 65-60 win at Tennessee over the weekend, Anthony Grant’s team is now 7-1 in conference play and 15-7 overall. Complete link

Also this:
But the Tide is now rolling in the SEC, off to a league-best 7-1 start. Alabama will be a good test case for the selection committee. The team has nothing to show for itself in the nonconference, losing also to Seton Hall and Iowa in St. Thomas, as well as Oklahoma State, Providence and Purdue. But if the Tide can roll to at least 11 or 12 wins in the SEC, then it would be hard to keep out a team on that hot of a streak in a major conference. This is an example where the body of work may be judged by how much Bama improved from November to March. Regardless, barring a collapse, Grant can clear space for an SEC coach of the year trophy. Andy Katz.

Kenpom.com measures our efficiency. We rank 5th in efficiency defense.

Also, we are getting votes in the AP (21) and USA Today top 25 (8).

Regardless if we end this run in the NCAA tournament or not, it sure is nice to get some national press for the hoops team. It's been... well 4 years since we've had some positive vibes from them.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Rocky Stopped. 65-60 OT


Bama improves to 7-1 in the SEC with a 65-60 overtime win on the road over a top 25 team. We are now halfway through league play, and maintain a one game lead in the conference over Florida.

I will preface this analysis by stating that I watched this game from WAY up high in the rafters. The inside of that arena is much nicer than it used to be, but its too big. We were sitting way up in the corner.



The view from our seats.

Apparently some of the guys were feeling under the weather, and as a result Andrew Steele got the start over Tony Mitchell. Tennessee got off to a fast start and took an early 9-4 lead. With UT's top scorer out and them not being a good shooting team, we mostly ran a zone defense, but did a good job of switching it up at times to keep them off balance. With Mitchell and Hillman in the game, we switched to a full court press that forced some turnovers and gave us some quick baskets that allowed us to build an 11 point lead going into halftime.

Our offense was pathetic in the 2nd half. Tennessee deserves a lot of credit for that, as they were beating us at our own game for a good part of the 2nd half. With our bigs in foul trouble, we were terribly out rebounded. UT was getting 2 or 3 shots per possession whereas we were limited to one, which often was a low percentage, contested shot from the perimeter. It was a physical game and they were forcing Green farther outside than he would have liked. They knew we couldn't shoot so they could play off the perimeter and focus on shutting us down in the paint. I thought we got frustrated at times, and Green and Mitchell especially took some bad shots from outside of their range. We really need Charvez to learn how to shoot on the road at some point.

One thing I love about this team, they don't let their offensive struggles effect their defensive efforts. A lot of teams get frustrated when they aren't scoring and have a few lapses on defense as well, but not Alabama. Tennessee made a run and took the lead, but Alabama showed great poise by getting some key stops and regaining a 6 point lead. We should have won the game in regulation, but we missed some shots at the foul line and had some bad turnovers down the stretch that allowed UT to come back and force overtime.

This team has great chemistry and a great attitude. After turning the ball over in a tie game to give UT the last shot, half of the bench met the players on the floor at half court when UT called the timeout to set up their last play. I love the positive attitude and body language. There was no sulking about blowing the lead, nobody pointing fingers for ill timed turnovers; they were genuinely committed and excited about getting a stop and forcing overtime.

I agree with Bobbyjack that Mitchell needs to stop chucking 3's, but he does so much else for us that I am willing to overlook it. He may be the most underrated player in the SEC. He has the body of, and primarily plays the 3, but he has the ups and strength to play the 4 when necessary, and does a great job of doing so. He even played the 5 for a couple of minutes when both Green and Hines were on the bench with foul trouble and an injury. His defense was spectacular and he was our leading scorer, all while coming off the bench and playing with the flu.

JaMychal Green did not have his best day. He was also playing sick, and struggled from the field. He missed some FTs that could have put it away in regulation, and had a bad turnover that allowed UT to take the last shot with a chance to win at the end of the game. Nevertheless, Coach Grant had the confidence to run the offense through him in the overtime period, and he responded by getting to the line and making all 6 FTs in crunch time. We were 10 for 10 from the charity stripe during the extra period.

Despite the 1 to 4 assist to turnover ratio, I thought Releford had a solid game at point. He played 42 minutes and scored 13 points. The Tennessee fans sitting around us were very impressed by him. I like to see him being more aggressive and taking more shots when the offense goes into these long funks.

The UT fans were nice to us for the most part, aside from a few accusing us of having bought the refs. It was the type of physical game that would ultimately leave the loser feeling like they got the shaft in regards to officiating. For most of the 2nd half, they called a lot more fouls on us than they did UT, but that doesn't neccesarily mean we were getting screwed. I can think of a few calls that I definitely thought we got the benefit of, but I'm not comfortable criticizing the officials from where we were sitting.

We have certainly caught some breaks to get to this point. If UT has Bruce Pearl coaching, Hopson playing, and/or was not coming off of an 8pm Thursday night road game, this game probably would have had a different outcome. Nevertheless, it was still a great win in a hostile arena against an RPI top 20 team. If we continue to take care of business at home and win the games we are supposed to win, we are now legitimately in the NCAA tournament discussion. The way we play defense, I don't think anybody would be excited to see our name show up in their bracket on Selection Sunday.

Thanks to my gf who took these pics around town and at the game:


As Bobbyjack mentioned, the outside is FUGLY!


A cold, cloudy, windy day on UT's campus


The Sunsphere from Knoxville's World Fair Park.


UT isn't the only college basketball team in town. Austin Peay fans obviously don't care for Murray St.


This was my gf's view for the start of the game. That dude was also sporting a ZZ Top like beard. Yes, he smelled about like you would imagine. Thankfully, he was in the wrong section and soon became somebody else's problem.


Bama Wins!


We are assuming this is the team bus headed home with a W. We stopped for dinner in Chattanooga, and shortly after getting back on the interstate we were passed by a Tuscaloosa bound bus, and we could see through the windows that they were watching basketball on TV. On the off chance the bus driver is reading this, please be careful with these guys. You were all over the road.

Up next, we travel to the house of horrors known as Memorial Gym in Nashville to take on the Vanderbilt Commodores. We have not won up there since 1990, but this is Coach Grant's first crack at it as head coach, and I actually think we match up fairly well with them. Tip off is set for 8pm Thursday and it will be televised on ESPN2. ESPN2 has consistently missed the first few minutes of games in this time slot all year. Weather permitting, I am going to try to make the trip.

OT thriller- Bama tops Rocky Top 65-60 in a defensive struggle

Edit- our RPI sits as of 2/6/10 at 96. Made it into the top 100.

First the box score. I'm going to break this up into 3 topics: The game, the arena, and the fans.

The Game
I was unaware that Mitchell didn't start the 1st half as we walked into the game about 2 minutes in. UT jumped out to an early 9-4 lead, but we fought back and rallied I believe to go up 10-9. I believe from that point to the latter part of the 1st half we were either up by 2-4 or down a bucket. Then we made a late half run and bumped the lead to 11 thanks to some hot shooting and defensive pressure on the ball. I believe we were 16-24 in the 1st half.

The 2nd half was sluggish to say the least. At one point UT outscored us 6-4 5 minutes into the 2nd half. Then they went on a run. For a while it seemed every time they got within a score we'd put one back to push the lead to 2 scores. Then they took the lead, but we came right back to regain it. I don't think UT had a lead more than 2 in the 2nd half.

As we struggled to hold off the Vols, we took way too many perimeter shots. I'm looking at you Mitchell. There's no reason for him to shoot 8 from beyond the arc. His game is slashing, junk scores, and maybe some mid range jumpers. Despite being our leading scorer, I think he was killing us with the outside shot. Proof: he was 9-18 overall, but only 2-8 beyond the arc. That includes a curious fadeaway 3 with 33 seconds on the shot clock. I thought I was watching Double Dribble (google it- the Nintendo game) and DJC and I concluded he had to have thought the shot clock was expiring.

Speaking of strange, Charvez Davis only took 2 shots, finished with a big fat 0, but played damn good defense. While Releford only hit 1-3 from beyond the arc and turned the ball over too much, I like him taking more shots. Despite his turnovers, I believe he set the pace for our offense in the 1st half.

From what I understand Green had the flu so it explains his game. Still, he was fighting for every basket, rebound, and block shot. I want to get on to him for shooting outside of his range (I counted 3 shots with his foot on the women's 3), but his FTs in OT saved our bacon. Our bench play was erratic with Eblen not being a factor and Hillman being Hillman with great plays (back to back buckets late in the 2nd half to push the lead back to 6) and his typical out of control moments resulting in bad shots.

Speaking of OT, when UT took a 2 point lead with under 3 1/2 to play we did the smart thing and pounded it to Green. He got fouled and hit his FTs. Then Mitchell did the same and hit his. And Releford hit his. I think we were 10-10 from the line in OT.

All in all, a GREAT WIN on the road vs a top 20 RPI team! My kid enjoyed it so much it wore him out.

The Arena
From the outside it looks like a dump. Like if the name wasn't on the arena I would've sworn it was a big office building from the 70s. Inside, it is sweet.



Despite the puke orange and the rail in front of my seats, I thought the view was nice. It gets loud in there.

The Fans
We brought more fans than I thought we would. I would guess around 500 or so were there. I even saw a lost lil Barner walking around with his Barner garb and a barner basketball. I wish I was fast enough to take a picture, but I did make the comment that he was lost which drew laughter from the sea of Orange around me. What would possess someone to do this?

The Vol fans were great to me and my boy. Not one bad word from them outside of cursing the officiating... which was deserved.

Final thoughts: It was a physical game that the refs totally jacked up. One minute they were letting them play, the next they were calling touch fouls. SEC officials suck. How do they get hired? I hate the song Rocky Top. I'd sooner listen to 24 hrs of Rick Ashley's greatest hits than endure that damn song for more than 2 hours.

Last thing... we got some road cooking from the officials. I'll take it. The 1st half we were getting all the calls... even the ones that should've gone the Vols way. I'm so proud of this team. It's about a 180 from the Providence game when I said to myself watching this team took years off my life. Whatever changes the players and the staff made between the Paradise Jam and the start of the conference schedule have worked. This team gels like the 2003 squad.

We are the best in the SEC. People in the conference BETTER RECOGNIZE! And we're in the NCAA Tournament discussion now.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Tide Topples Tennessee Stays Atop SEC

I know DJC and BobbyJack both are in Knoxville so we will have to wait for a real recap of this game, but I don't believe I have ever been more proud of an Bama Basketball team in all the years I've followed them.  This was a tough, physical game in front of a very hostile crowd against a very good team.  Bama's basketball team has adopted the physical and mental toughness their coach told them would be necessary to play his brand of ball, and they are seeing the results of their efforts at least a full season before most of us dared to hope on the day his hiring was announced.

Tennessee fought hard in spite of the fact that their leading scorer did not dress due to an injury.  I doubt many of the national sports writers will mention that Bama has played all season without the benefit of either Justin Knox or Demetrius Jemison, two of the guys we had hoped would help us underneath the basket this year.

Bama played nearly flawless defense and shot lights out the entire first half to build a double digit lead.  To their credit, the Vols stepped up their defensive pressure and played with much more heart the entire second half and throughout the overtime period.  This turned into a defensive struggle and the tougher of the two teams was the one that was going to win it, sooner or later. 

I thought we were doomed when the game went into over time, but the Tide hit all its free throws and forced three huge stops that gave it the early OT advantage and rode that horse to the end of the game.

Roll Tide~

Know your enemy- Tennessee Volunteers

Coming off a win at the Barn, Tennessee welcomes us to that ugly orange place in the mountains. Hopson was out the last game and if we're lucky he won't play tonight either.

Stats

If there is no Scotty Hopson, Tobias Harris will be the one to watch... although he's not the scoring threat Hopson is.

Most recent starting lineup:
Harris, Tobias f
Fields, John f
Goins, Melvin g
Tatum, Cameron g
Bone, Josh g

What UT has that we sorely lack is bench depth. They could wear us out in the 2nd half. 9 average more than 11 minutes a game.

The good news is they're not an especially good shooting team. 43.9% FG an 32% 3pt FG will not strike fear in our hearts... especially since we specialize in defense.

Prediction: This is a big game for both teams.We win this, win out at home and steal one at LSU and we're in the NCAAT discussion. UT needs this to keep pace with UF and bolster their resume. Originally I didn't like our chances, but if Hopson is not a go I say we pull the upset. Bama by 4. If he plays then I like the Viles by 7. How's that for hedging a bet? :)

UPDATE- It doesn't look like Hopson is playing. So go with the good guys by 4.

Game time is 5PM EST (4PM CST) on FSN.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Tide stomps $tansbury, $idney, $tate.

Alabama swept $tate for the first time since the 2004-05 season with another comfortable victory at home. The Tide now has a commanding 3 game lead in the SEC West and maintains the one game lead over the entire conference. There is still a lot of basketball to be played, but you have to like our position right now.

My gf took some pics from our seats at the game. I am going to try to incorporate them throughout the post as opposed to attaching them all at the end like I normally do. Please let me know in the comments if you like it this way, find it distracting, or don't care.

Another solid game from JaMychal Green even though he ended up fouling out. He went right at $idney to the start the game and sent the fat thug to the bench with 2 early fouls. This allowed our guards to play tighter man to man defense, which forced some turnovers and led to some easy scores giving us an early lead. A great gameplan by Coach Grant and great execution that really set the tone for the game.


Tight defense results in an early lead

We continued to use the press a good bit, which was surprising to me considering how good of a PG Dee Bo$t, but it was effective, as we forced him into 5 turnovers. I do think it cost us a little as Tony Mitchell looked tired toward the end of the first half. Tony had to play nearly the entire game as Chris Hines was sent to the bench early with foul trouble. I was afraid we would really miss Chris down low, but Tony stepped up with a career high 23 points including a few of his usual powerful dunks that always gets the crowd involved and gives us a spark. This is what good teams do, when one piece of the puzzle is not there for some reason, somebody else steps up. Tony Mitchell did it all for us last night.

$tate switched to a zone defense which gave us some problems at times. While we shot 7 of 14 from 3 pt range, including 5 of 8 from Davis, I would like to see those stats broken down into two categories: Shots taken from passes from the interior versus off the dribble or from a pass around the perimeter. After we made a couple of early 3's, I thought we got a little too complacent in just trying to shoot over the zone versus attack it. A shooter will generally make more perimeter shots from kick out passes from the post or PG's penetration than off the dribble or from perimeter passes, because you are able to step into your shot with better rhythm.

We actually did a great job of managing the clock at the end of the first half. We forced a shot clock violation on $tate (actually, we had possession of the ball before the horn sounded so there should not have been a whistle, but it worked out the same either way). Coach Grant actually used the "use it or lose it" timeout, and drew up a play for Releford to run down the clock, drive the baseline, and find Charvez on the opposite wing for the last second shot. Davis knocked it down to give us a 12 point lead at the half.


Grant gathers the team during a timeout.

With $idney back into the game in the 2nd half, we did a good job of making his fat ass run. He was consistently 10-15 seconds behind everybody else getting back on defense. I wish we would have ran some more quick hitting plays offensively to try to take advantage of the 5 on 4 situation. We built an 18 point lead, and decided to give Releford a rest so he would be fresh for the end of the game. Releford was the key to our offense tonight. We had a very difficult time scoring without him in the game, because he seemed to be the only one who could penetrate the zone. His drive and dish game was excellent, with 8 assists to only 2 turnovers, and he added 16 points himself. $tate seemed to get to the line nearly ever possession for a while in the 2nd half, and they were able to cut the lead down to 9 with Releford out of the game. Thanks to some great defense, they were never able to seriously get back into contention.


$tate shooting FTs, a common sight in the 2nd half.

What I am about to say may step on some toes, but it needs to be said. I am calling out our fans. We are in 1st place in the SEC, playing at home against our biggest basketball rival, and attendance was only around 10,000. That is pathetic and unexcusable. We are going up against some elite, traditional basketball schools for some of the top prospects in the country, including Trevor Lacey who was at the game last night. Coach Grant and his staff are doing their part of the process of building something special here. The players are working their asses off and doing more than their part. As fans, we have a role in this too. We can't control our history or tradition, but we can control our attendance and atmosphere at games and we failed miserably last night. The student section wasn't even full, and that is beyond ridiculous for a Wednesday night game. I don't get it, we pack it out against a God awful LSU team, but it's only 2/3rd full against our biggest rival? Kentucky would have twice as many for a scrimmage. If we want to keep kids in state, we need to step up our game. All of that being said, the fans who were there last night were loud and I think we were into $tate's head. The boxing gloves and "fight fight" chants directed at $idney were a nice touch.


Students wearing boxing gloves, ready for a bout with $idney


Trevor Lacey takes in the game. He was sitting in close proximity to me. Honestly, he looked bored early in the game, but seemed to be enjoying himself more as the night went on.

Up next, the Tide travels to Knoxville, TN for a 5pm EST, 4 Central tipoff against the Tennessee Vols. The game will be televised on FSN. We will be underdogs, but a win would change the talk of SEC Championships and NCAA tournament appearances from a pipe dream to a distinct possibility. Fans of elite basketball programs travel to see their team on the road. Knoxville is a short drive for most of North and Central Alabama, and the tipoff time is very convenient for making it up and back in one day. Bobbyjack and I are making the trip from Atlanta and Birmingham respectively. Who's with us? Tickets are available here.