Monday, October 31, 2011

From the Sunday Huntsville Times....

Levi Randolph (Bob Jones HS)

Seeing as if 2 of Alabama's incoming freshmen are from the Huntsville area, I thought I would post this link from The Times' Mark McCarter discussing some of the top incoming SEC freshmen for the upcoming season.

The Alabama portion:

Scouting Lacey and Levi

So, what of the potential impact at Alabama from Trevor Lacey and Levi Randolph?

"They've got to help us quickly," says teammate JaMychal Green. "They've got to be ready now. They're going to have a lot of playing time this year."

Green says that both are "great shooters, and they both have IQs of the game."

Of Randolph, Alabama coach Anthony Grant says, "Levi has come in and done a very good job. We're excited about the potential. Levi brings versatility to the perimeter for us. He's a guy that can play multiple positions and provides a skill and talent level that can help us."

Lacey's adjustment has been slightly delayed after minor knee surgery in June, though after rehab "we've got him in a good place right now," Grant says.

Expectations for Lacey are "No. 1, to make the adjustment from high school to college. No. 2, to get acclimated to a new system and a new style of play," Grant says. "One of the things about Trevor being as highly touted as he was is going to understand that adjustment and what it'll take."


Enjoy!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Tide Pride Practice Report

Yesterday evening, as a Tide Pride member I had the privilege to attend practice court side while enjoying average-at-best BBQ from Full Moon. The first 2/3rds or so of practice consisted 5 minute intense/full court scrimmages followed by a brief water break, rinse and repeat. Most of the remaining time was also spent in a scrimmage format, but Coach Grant would stop after nearly every play to draw up the next play for them to run, forcing them to focus some on the half-court game. They ended by running some full court 3 man weave drills and suicides.

If you read my manifesto after Saturday's scrimmage, it was much of the same, a lot more defensive intensity than scoring. Overall, the team looked more crisp and seemed to make fewer mistakes than on Saturday. The freshmen impressed me once again. Lacey showed he can score, shoot, and handle the rock. Retin Obasohan looked even better handling the ball, and is a great athlete. No knock on Eblen, who has greatly improved his game in all areas except for scoring, but I think Obasohan will be the #2 PG by SEC play at the latest.

Engstrom seemed to play more minutes than anybody else on the court. I was amazed at how little he came out. For a guy his size, he runs the floor well and is in excellent condition. His footwork is improving, and he even finished a couple of layups around the basket, although he still missed way too many easy shots from close range. We are going to need around 10 quality minutes or so per game from him.

I was hoping for more out of Nick Jacobs. Don't get me wrong, he is much better than the average true freshman, but it is difficult for a post player to come in as a true freshman and be very effective. He hustles on both ends and plays hard, and he has good size and strength, so I have no doubt he will develop into a good player for us. Unfortunately, we need him NOW, and his footwork is not quite there yet. He got caught out of position a few times resulting in fouls, and he didn't really show any moves or scoring ability in the post on offense. I suspect we will use smaller line ups and press a lot, especially early in the season. Which, given our athletes in the back court and the skill sets of our main front court guys, that may not be a bad thing.

One thing that has really impressed me in both of the practices I have seen is how dedicated this group of players are. Even during breaks, they aren't goofing off or lounging, they are talking to one another, asking questions, trying to get better. The freshman seem eager to learn from the veterans, and the veterans seem to be adapting to and helping their teammates with ease.

I have heard some people voice concern over Tony Mitchell's "attitude." While he does seem somewhat disconnected from others at times, I believe this is more just a matter of her personality. He doesn't run his suicides at a full sprint, but I do not seem him loafing while the ball is in play. I was not a big fan of his bright orange shoes, but you can't argue with the results he puts up. Bottom line, he seems to get along well with his teammates and is obviously a great player, so I'm fine with the other stuff, for now. One thing that did bother me a little was that some guys were allowed to play with their shirts not tucked in and with rubber bands on their wrists. I know that's minor and nit picky, but as a high school basketball official that's one of the first things I notice.

JaMychal Green proved why he is preseason all SEC. I think playing with the US National Team has really helped him out. His ball handling and conditioning seem to be much improved, which is important given the minutes we will need to get out of him. The key to success will be keeping him out of foul trouble, and I think he is improving in that area.

I went to this event last year, and it seemed like Coach showed a lot more this year than last, likely because the team is much better at this point than we were last year. It seemed like the scrimmage portion lasted a lot longer. Also, the crowd was probably twice as big, I would guess there were over 1,000 Tide Pride and Tuscaloosa tip off club members in attendance.

Coach Grant spent a few minutes after the practice talking to the crowd and asking questions. He said we are excited about the expectations and are working hard to live up to them. He would like to have an 8-10 man rotation by SEC play. When asked about our outside shooting he said, "I say my prayers every night," then went on to say that he believes as we learn the system and what we are hoping to accomplish we will get better shots and hopefully the outside shooting will improve. He praised Jamychal's game and said that we will work our offense through him, an inside-out approach, and guys will learn how to use his skills to get better shots for themselves. He explained the new block/charge rule, as NCAA has now adopted the NBA rule and there is a semi-circle underneath basket, inside which a defender cannot take a charge. He also explained the new SEC standings format, that we will still play the former west teams twice this year, but there will only be one division. The top 4 teams in the SEC will get byes in the first round of the SEC tournament. He mentioned that some people believe if this were in place last year, we would have been 2nd in the SEC and got an NCAA tournament bid. He added that he is not sure if he buys that argument though. They are not sure how the schedule will work next year with Texas A&M and possibly Missouri coming into the conference. Moussa Gueye's rehab is right on schedule, he's walking without crutches and doing some work on the treadmill. He still has a long way to go and there is no way to predict what will happen in the months ahead.

This has nothing to do with basketball and I know nobody cares, but allow me to vent anyway. The Alabama Department of Transportation needs to give it a rest on all the damned construction around my hometown of Birmingham. It's impossible to get in or out of this city on any of the interstates right now. I used to be able to make it to Ttown in 45 minutes. It took me an hour to get down there, and OVER AN HOUR AND A HALF to get back, thanks to the repaving being done on I-59 West of town. It would have taken even longer had I not got tired of sitting still and taken Jaybird Rd through the hood. It's bad enough they had it down to 1 lane, then shut that one lane down for periods at a time for no apparent reason. There has got to be a better way, or at the very least, let's not work on I59 West of bham, I 20 east, and I 65 both north and south, ALL AT THE SAME DAMNED TIME!

Predicting game by game- Alabama 2011-12 basketball

11/11/11 vs. North Florida. W
11/14/11 vs. Oakland
W
Puerto Rico Tip-Off
11/17/11 vs. Maryland TV
W
11/18/11 Colorado/Wichita State
L
11/20/11 TBD
W
11/23/11 vs. Alabama A&M
W
11/27/11 vs. VCU
W
12/01/11 vs. Georgetown TV
W
12/07/11 at Dayton
W
12/11/11 vs. Detroit
W
12/17/11 vs. Kansas State
L
12/21/11 vs. Oklahoma State TV
W
12/29/11 vs. Jacksonville
W
01/03/12 at Georgia Tech
L
01/07/12 at Georgia * TV
L
01/11/12 vs. LSU * TV
W
01/14/12 at Mississippi State * TV
L
01/19/12 vs. Vanderbilt * TV
W
01/21/12 at Kentucky * TV
L
01/25/12 at South Carolina * TV
W
01/28/12 vs. Arkansas * TV
W
02/04/12 vs. Ole Miss * TV
W
02/07/12 at Auburn * TV
L
02/11/12 at LSU * TV
W
02/14/12 vs. Florida * TV
L
02/18/12 vs. Tennessee * TV
W
02/23/12 at Arkansas * TV
L
02/25/12 vs. Mississippi State * TV
W
02/29/12 vs. Auburn * TV
W
03/03/12 at Ole Miss * TV
W






That's 21-9/10-6 folks.
Good enough for a 7 seed.
Forgive the font...

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

JaMychal Green Named Preseason First Team All SEC

It should come as no surprise that Bama's Green has been given this honor.  Here's a link to the story. 

This should be an exciting year for Bama Basketball and JaMychal will play a huge part in it. 

Monday, October 24, 2011

Basketball Practice Report

First of all, my apologies to the poster who requested pics from Saturday's practice. Our resident photographer, my girlfriend, did not attend, and I forgot to bring my camera.

They played three 20 minute scrimmages, with the scores to each remaining in the 20s. It was all about defense. As expected, we ran a lot of 2-2-1 and full court man to man. Coach Grant and staff demands that the players exhibit intensity on defense.

There were more turnovers than I would have liked, but again, most of this was due moreso to aggressive defense than sloppy offense. One of the biggest concerns coming into the season is depth in the post with Gueye out with an injury. A lot of people have asked me if JaMychal Green has gotten any bigger, and the answer is no, but I do not view that as a bad thing. His quickness is a big part of what makes him effective, and he runs the floor very well, which is extremely important in our system. His outside shot was on, and he even made a 3. You all know how I generally don't like to see power forwards and centers shooting from the perimeter, but if JaMychal can continue to consistently make shots from 16+ feet out, he will present a lot matchup problems in the front court.

As we already know, Tony Mitchell is a man amongst boys and plays larger than his size. He did take a couple of bad shots, which is to be expected. He really needs to improve his outside shot to help his chances of going to the NBA, and he showed signs of doing so toward the end of last year, but he was off Saturday. Every other aspect of his game was awesome though.

Carl Engstrom played nearly the entire time, and he has improved. His footwork is better, and his hands are not quite as bad. He did actually catch a couple of passes and rebounds, but he still has issues in that department. He runs the floor very well for his size, and played pretty good defense. He still can't finish around the basket. He has come a long way, but still has a long way to go. I wish he would play with more confidence, he just seems a little tentative and unsure of himself at times.

Nick Jacobs should be able to help us out some. He looks the part and played good defense. We really didn't run much through the post in the half court when he was in the game, so it's hard to get a good feel for his offensive ability. He was as good as could be expected for a freshman post player one week into practice. The bottom line is, Jamychal MUST avoid foul trouble this year. He picked up a couple of dumb fouls far away from the basket going for steals in the press, and frankly, probably should have been called for more, as the refs were letting them play.

As a side note, I am pretty sure the coaching staff told the officials not to call too many fouls. I like taking this approach in an early scrimmage, as our guys should be well prepared for physical games in the season. However, given our style of play and the way we play defense, be prepared for us to get called for a lot of fouls. Thankfully, with the exception of the post players discussed above, we have some depth now.

I am sure everybody wants to know how the new guys looked. Rodney Cooper does not play like a freshman. He made a 3, played great defense, and made good decisions. He's athletic and a great fit for Coach Grant's system. He will see significant playing time early on, in my opinion. I saw both Levi Randolph and Trevor Lacey play in high school. I never saw either one of them play defense like they did Saturday, especially Levi. These kids have definitely bought in and are working to get better. They both have good looking shots, and I like Levi's midrange game.

A lot of people have asked me if I think Retin Ojomoh can take minutes from Eblen at backup PG. My answer is yes and no. We all know Eblen has some limitations, but he plays within himself and does a good job given those limitations. He's not a scoring threat, layups aren't even automatic with him and you can forget about jump shots, but he takes care of the basketball, makes good decisions, and plays solid defense, especially for his size. Ojomoh clearly has a lot more upside and can actually score. He is faster and more athletic, but he had some problems with the press. I can see Ojomoh maybe giving Releford a breather against more half court oriented teams until he gets more experience.

Last season, lack of 3 point shooting was our achilles heel. The good news is we now have several guys who CAN make a 3, as demonstrated in the scrimmage by Trevor Lacey, Trevor Releford, JaMychal Green (okay, we still don't want this to be a common occurrence), Levi Randolph, Charles Hankerson Jr, Tony Mitchell, and Retin Ojomoh. The bad news, right now I don't see any of the above being considered a consistent threat from out there. Everybody who made one, also missed quite a few. I would like to see Releford take a few more shots.

I really like the way Charles Hankerson plays, and I could see his playing time significantly increasing over last year, at least early in the season until some of the freshman get more maturity. He plays with a reckless abandon, dude is all over the place. He still looks awkward at times, and while he can shoot, when he misses, he misses badly. Still, he's the kind of guy that can make some plays and give us a spark, making everybody else on the court a little better.

Coach Grant lets his assistant coaches coach. All of the assistants were very involved throughout the scrimmage while Grant took a more passive approach, but when he did speak, he really got the players attention. Every time I noticed Grant giving instructions, it was always in regards to defense.

There was a pretty good crowd there, I would estimate maybe 1,200 or so. Still, I do wish Coach Grant would do a better job of promoting and marketing. I spoke of my desire to have a Midnight Madness here before, so I won't rehash that now, but even in regards to this open practice, I spoke to many people at the football game later that day who said they did not even know about the bball practice. Many of these fans said they would have gone if they had known about it. I also know some people who didn't attend because of the football gameday parking situation, but I will keep my thoughts on Gene Hallman to myself for now.

Keep in mind this is only one scrimmage one week into practice. A lot can change between now and the start of the season. For now, we look a lot like last year's team, great defense, and improved but still suspect outside shooting and lack of depth in the post. We clearly have more depth on the wings thanks to the freshmen, and I definitely see a lot of potential in this team.

I plan to attend the closed practice for Tide Pride and Tipoff club members Wednesday, and hopefully I will be able to post a recap by Thursday.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Open Practice Saturday!

The team will have an open practice this Saturday from 11:30 am till 1:30pm at Coleman Coliseum. They will stick around for 45 minutes after practice to sign autographs. If you will be in Tuscaloosa for the Alabama-Tennessee football game, this is a great opportunity to get a look at the team. I will be there and will try to post a report either Sunday or Monday.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Why doesn't Alabama have a Midnight Madness?

If you want to get the fanbase hyped up about hoops you should have one. Hopefully this becomes a reality.

Nothing else to add... just a random thought.

In other news... I do like this link.

It's a link to crimsontidehoops.com.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Jaren Sina Reneges

Click the title for the story. This is really surprising to me, he brought down several teammates to help with the tornado effort, and as recently as two weeks ago was publicly cheer leading for Tuscaloosa and UA Athletics. Perhaps he just wants to enjoy the recruiting process and we will get him back. It's also possible that he has more "big name" offers now that he is older and his stock is rising. Best of luck to the kid, either way.