Friday, December 30, 2011

Bama Flogs the Dolphins, 72-55

Coach Grant decided to give JaMychal Green a little more rest against a 2-9 Jacksonville team.  Trevor Lacey started again in his place.  Much like Oklahoma State, Jacksonville did not really have anybody well suited to take advantage of his absence.  We did miss his rebounding, especially in the first half.


We started out in a man to man defense, but we did not play with a lot of intensity in the first half.  The Dolphins came out with a lot of energy and out hustled us for the first 15 minutes or so.  We did a poor job of fighting through and communicating on their screens, many of which were of questionable legality in my opinion.

I was most disappointed with our rebounding efforts in the first half.  Normally, we are a good rebounding team in the man to man but struggle in the zone.  This game was the complete opposite.  When we switched to the 2-3 zone with a little full court and half court trap mixed in, we pretty much shut them down and held them to one shot per possession.

After only leading by 5 at halftime, we held them scoreless for the first 8 minutes of the 2nd half to put the game away.  I am guessing Coach Grant was not happy with the defensive intensity and let the players know about it during the break.  Give credit to Jacksonville for playing hard and hanging tough for a half, they just didn't have the talent or depth to stay competitive.  


Another bright spot was the re-emergence of Rodney Cooper.  He air balled another 3, but did not let that affect the rest of his game.  He played good defense, grabbed some rebounds, and was aggressive with the basketball, getting to the free throw line and knocking down 5 of 7.  If he can continue to give us some production off the bench, that would be helpful.  It would be great if Hankerson could provide similar production from time to time. 

The big news of the night was the first appearance of Moussa Gueye.  The crowd was buzzing before the game as people noticed that he was dressed out.  He finally entered the game with about 4 minutes remaining.  With two 7 footers on the team, it is natural to want to compare them.  Much like Carl, the first time he came into the game the coaches had to walk him over to the table and show him where to check in. He is a totally different player from Carl Engstrom though.  The first thing I noticed, he is MUCH more aggressive and physical. 


He manhandled the Jacksonville defenders under the basket, and really got under their skin.  I thought one of the Dolphins was going to end up throwing a punch at him at one point.  He is still clearly favoring his knee, which is not surprising.  I was most impressed with his strength, and he's clearly more athletic than Carl.  On the negative side,  his hands were not very good, he dropped a couple of sure rebounds and failed to catch a pass.  One time he caught the ball in great position on the low block, but instead of going up with it he tried to make a difficult interior pass to a cutter and turned the ball over.  I am hoping the issues with his hands and decision making are due to rust from not playing in nearly 2 years.  He certainly has all the tools to be a beast.  I can't wait to see what he can do fully healthy.

 Considering it was an 8pm tipoff during the holiday season without students on campus, I thought the crowd was pretty solid.  I would guess probably 7,000 or so.  Coach Grant was very appreciative of the support in his post game comments.  We had the most lame halftime show since we had to watch 2 guys eat a chicken sandwich.  It was a bunch of small kids "dribbling" (and I use that term as loosely as imaginable) basketballs to children's music.  In the past they have had a similar act where the kids did a lot of tricks, running around, dribbling 2 balls at the same time, going between their legs and behind the back, etc.  That was pretty entertaining.  This group, however, just stood in one place the whole time and basically alternated between bouncing the ball and rolling it back and forth on the floor.

Up next, our last non-conference game of the year as we travel to Phillips Arena in Atlanta, GA for a 9 pm EST (8 Central) tipoff with the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets from the ACC.  This is a true away game, in that Tech is playing half of their home games in Phillips this year due to renovations at their on campus arena.  I'm looking forward to going to the game with Bobbyjack.  Until then, Happy New Year!



Pachyderms Pound Porpoises (In Second Half)


First the bad news.  Jackonsville out-quicked and out-hustled Alabama for almost all of the first half.  It was not clear whether Bama was playing at three-quarter speed or Jacksonville simply was faster, but the visitors beat the home team on both ends of the court for most of the first twenty minutes.  The guards seemed unwilling or unable to get the ball to Jacobs who was constantly battling for open positions near the basket.  The Tide had no answer for the Dolphins' offense in the first half.  They constantly found open shots both underneath and away from the basket, most coming off of the types of picks Alabama never has seemed able to set.  Alabama's free throwing was anemic.  Fortunately Jacksonville's was worse.  But for the free throw shooting, all of that changed in the second half.

Now for the good news.  Bama's defense was much better in the second half.  Admittedly, some of that seemed attributable to Jacksonville's having expended too much of their available energy in the first half.  But the Bama zone also stopped the Dolphins drives to the hoop and traps generated turnovers.  The Tide shot 40 percent outside the arc, hitting six in the first half and missing all four second half efforts.  Lacye hit one, Releford two, and Mitchell three.   Bama eventually stretched out a ten point lead, but the Dolphins cut it in half just before the buzzer, due largely to lazy play by the home team.

Coach Grant evidently reminded his team at halftime that Nick Jacobs was on the floor, so they fed the ball to him with good success early after the intermission.  Jacobs was slowed later by the Jacksonville zone, but his hustle was important on both ends of the court again tonight.   Releford and Lacey both were able to drive to the basket with success, while Randolph and Cooper found ways to score points. 

Releford led all scorers with 18.  Mitchell added 17 points, six rebounds, two assists and a blocked shot.  Lacey threw in 11 points, followed by Jacobs with 9 and Cooper's 7.  Randolph's hustle contributes in many ways that don't often show up in the box score, but he led all Bama rebounders with 8 and added three assists.  Here is a box score with more detailed information.  The page includes some nice photos I cannot link from this computer.  Here's another link to the photo gallery on the rolltide.com website.

The other nice surprise (to this writer) was the first appearance of Moussa Gueye.  He stepped onto the court with about four minutes left in the game, grabbed one rebound and fought hard for position underneath the basket.  The one time they got the ball to him in position he turned it over.  He also mishandled two other rebounds.  He still should be able to contribute, but after two years off the court his skills are rusty and he's almost certainly not in playing shape yet after having nursed his knee.

All things considered it was a good win in front of a home crowd of about 12,000.  I'm glad I made the trip and hope to see you all when we host LSU in about two weeks.

Roll Tide!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Know your enemy- Jacksonville Dolphins

The mighty Dolphins come to T-town sporting a 2-9 record... and on a 7 game losing streak. They got beat by the fighting Mike Davis's of UAB in their last contest. This should amount to be a scrimmage game.

Season stats

Keith McDougald and Glenn Powell lead the team with 11.3 PPG. Powell is also their leading rebounder. McDougald and Chris Davis are their best 3 pt shooters.

They'll rotate 10 in the game on most nights... not that it'll matter against us. This is a really bad team collecting a check for a beatdown. Anything less than that and I'll be concerned.

The numbers:
- .413 FG
- 63.1 PPG (74.2 PPG against)
- .341 3pt FG
- .611 FT
- 14.8 turnovers

Prediction- this should be treated as a scrimmage game and we should be emptying the bench early. I suspect both Eblen and Engstrom will score (or at least get on the stat sheet) with Mitchell posterizing 3-4 different players. Alabama by 32.

Game time is again a late 9PM EST start (8PM CST) on 12/29. It's on Comcast Sports SE which I'll actually be able to see in sunny FL.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Bama Chokes the Pokes, 69-52.

No pictures for this recap, my gf did not go to the game and I am too lazy to take them myself, so you will just have to use your imagination.  I had pretty good seats, about 15 rows up behind the UA bench, even with the free throw line extended.

I was concerned to find out before the game that Green would not play due to a shoulder injury.  Suddenly, our size advantage was gone.  As it turned out, the Cowboys did not have anybody who could take advantage of his absence.  By inserting Lacey into the starting lineup, we were fairly even with them as far as size goes, but were much quicker and more athletic.

Also, sometimes losing a star player can actually help a team in the short term.  It forces the other players to come together with more focus and pick up the slack.  We may have seen a little of that last night.

Coming into the game, the one area that concerned everybody was our shooting.  Oklahoma State has a reputation of being a good shooting team, and we all know about the problems we have had.  Predictably, OK State dared us to shoot the 3, and we burned them for 6 of 9 in the first half.  Meanwhile, our tough defense held them to only 3 of 15 for the game.

Hopefully this will give the freshmen some confidence in their shots.  I've been saying for a while now that Lacey will eventually come around, and maybe this will be his turning point.  He was 2 of 3 from downtown, and he has a great looking shot.  I'm not convinced that he should not be in the regular starting lineup.  Cooper made a miraculous shot as the shot clock was winding down.  Even though it was admittedly mostly luck, sometimes seeing the ball go through the hoop can get ones confidence back on track.

The outside shooting opened up things on the inside for Tony Mitchell and  Nick Jacobs, who continues to improve as an offensive post player.

While all the buzz is about the unusually good shooting, the defensive effort is what won this game.  The Cowboys could not get anything going early in the game.  Bama's pressure created a lot of turnovers and open floor opportunities which led to baskets.  We were able to play more of an up tempo game with the smaller lineup which prevented us from getting bogged down in the half court.

Releford probably had his best game of the season, which was a relief after reports that his knee was bothering him after the K-State game.  It helped that OK State did not have any guards quick enough to stay with him, and they lacked the trees in the post to prevent him from finishing around the basket.  Also, we moved Lacey to the one and Releford for the 2 from time to time to keep him fresh, which I thought was a good move.

I thought our substitutions patterns were somewhat better.  There were still a couple of times where we had Eblen in at the 2 with Releford, but that did not last long.  Engstrom played 8 minutes, but that was understandable with Green's absence.  Watching Engstrom battle in the post with the big goofy center from Oklahoma State was rather entertaining.

At one point in the 2nd half OK State managed to cut the lead to 9 before we were able to stretch it back out.  As Alias noted, most of the damage was done with an unconventional lineup on the floor for us.  The shooting was not nearly as good in the 2nd half, we were only 1 for 6 from the 3 point range after the quick start.  We were able to answer their run by creating turnovers and easy baskets in the full court press.

There was a decent sized crowd on hand, I would say close to 11,000 or so.  It was nice to see the Tide roll in my hometown, but we still need to do something about that arena.  While they have improved the looks of the place since our last game there a few years back, it still leaves a lot to be desired.  It was completely impossible to get food/drink from a concession stand within 20 minutes of tipoff or at halftime.  The video replay screen on the scoreboard looks like it was installed shortly after the color television was invented.

While there was a decent sized crowd, I was very disappointed with the enthusiasm.  It was not a very loud or intimidating atmosphere at all.  The Jefferson County Alumni Association did their part handing out shakers in local bars before the game and in the seats at the arena, but the fans sat on their hands for most of the game.  After going to the K-State game in Kansas City, it was quite the contrast.  In fairness, they served alcohol in Kansas City whereas they didn't in Birmingham, which may account for some of the difference, but not all.

I am still not sure if this will count as a neutral court win or a home win on our resume, and the same goes for the K-State loss.  In years past, when we played K-State in Mobile and Georgetown in Birmingham, it had more of a true neutral site feel in that we did not bring our own announcers, intro video, and tickets were not included with season tickets.  This year, both neutral site games have been the same presentation as the closest school's home games, we had Tony Giles doing the PA last night and all the same routines we use in Tuscaloosa.

Finally, it was great to see our fearless leader Bobbyjack along with Rocky Mountain Tider last night.  I hope they had a good time in the 'ham, and I look forward to watching the Ga Tech game with Bobbyjack in his hometown of ATL in a couple of weeks.

Up next, the Jacksonville Dolphins come to Tuscaloosa Thursday, December 29, for an 8pm tipoff.  Until then, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all Tide hoops fans!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Bama Beats 'Boys In Birmingham 69-52

(AP Photo)
Welcome back, three point shot.  Bless you, friendly officials.  And get well soon JaMychal Green. 

All-SEC power forward JaMychal Green sat out tonight's game.  He's looked like his elbow has been hurting him since the home loss to Georgetown.  Evidently a shoulder is what forced him to the bench tonight.  When Trevor Lacey started in his place the on-court chemistry seemed to be just what the Alabama offense needed.  Randolph, Lacy, Releford and Mitchell hit three point shots early in the game, with the team going 5 for their first six outside the arc.  The officials called a game that allowed Bama's quickness advantage to disrupt the Oklahoma State offense, and the early rout was on.

The Tide held an 18 point lead for most of the middle twenty minutes of the game.  The Cowboys cut the lead to 9, largely when Eblen, Hankerson and Engstrom were on the court.  Bama required two or three additional minutes to find their offensive rhythm again after Releford, Lacey and Jacobs returned to the floor.  Other than missing the front end of what could have been two crucial one-and-one opportunities, the Tide played pretty well offensively once they relocated their stride.

Nick Jacobs' defense away from the basket was rather impressive in the early going, leading to a couple of Cowboy turnovers.  Mitchell missed 3 or 4 dunks, but still had a solid game, posting a double-double with 16 points, 11 rebounds and 2 blocked shots.  Releford led all scorers with 19 points, grabbed 6 rebounds, logged 4 steals and 3 assists.

Box scores and more detailed analysis should follow when DJC and MSmile get access to their computers.  Until then, it's good night from the Alias household, welcome home Bama, and Merry Christmas to Bama Basketball fans everywhere.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Know your enemy- Oklahoma St Cowboys... in Birmingham

I jokingly said the outcome of this game should determine who plays LSU for the BCS Title, but after seeing us the last 2 weeks I change my mind.

The good news is Okie St is 0-4 in neutral site games... and being this is in Birmingham this bodes well. The Pokes come in at 6-4 with all of their losses coming to 'name' teams (Stanford, VA tech, Pitt, New Mexico). They are on a 2 game skid.

Note- New Mexico was in OKC, but not at their home arena so somehow that counts as a neutral site game... or something.

Season stats

Led by Le'Bryan Nash and Keiton Page at 12.7 PPG, they don't exactly strike fear offensively. Page and Guerrero are the ones to watch beyond the arc. They don't have a lot of big guys so Green should in theory have a big game. I'm sooo looking forward to watching BIG Carl Engstrom post up Philip Jurick and vice versa. It will be like the moveable object vs the stoppable force.

The numbers:
- 42.1% FG
- 33.8% 3pt FG
- 69.3 PPG
- -.7 rebound margin
- 12.6 turnovers

Prediction: Okie St can hang with us for maybe a half, but our size advantage (rare to us) and athleticism should put this game out of reach with under 5 to go. Alabama by 13.

Game is on ESPNU at 9PM EST (8PM CST). I wish I could tell you I'll be taking notes, but that would be a lie. I'll be there in attendance though.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Alias' Absence

Your intrepid reporter needs to apologize for his posting paucity on your favorite blog.  Life has been a blur in the Alias Abode since long before Thanksgiving.  Family and work obligations have kept him from attending or even watching most of your favorite team's games live.  Still more of those obligations have forced him to surrender his Oklahoma State ticket to associate reporter H'ville this Wednesday. 

The first half of last night's game in Alias' brother's home town of Kansas State (okay, his brother lives on the Kansas side of the river, so sue me) did not even allow us to turn on the radio until the first half of the game was almost over, and the outcome was assured before we completed the 45 minute drive home from the reception where both Alias daughters had served as bride's maids in the wedding of the beautiful young lady who had become almost a third Alias daughter when they all were in high school.

Alabama had not taken their last lead of the second half when Mrs. Alias responded to Chris Stewert's typically excellent call of the game, "It sounds like they might be getting some home cooking."  I did watch the last ten minutes of the game live and I cannot say that I saw any really bad calls.  After watching the first possession just a few minutes ago and seeing Releford get butted into a traveling call while dribbling toward the basket, I was pretty sure what the rest of the recording will show.  Our key players got into early foul trouble, disrupting their rhythm and taking them out of their most effective offensive game.  I have not yet seen what I expect to view: our under sized players being unable to keep the ball away from Kansas State's big men underneath the basket.

I am not complaining.  Home cooking is a fact of life for everyone in college hoops; Duke being perhaps the lone exception because they seem to get the benefit of the doubt now matter where they play.  I noticed plenty of calls and no calls going our way the last time I visited Coleman Coliseum and mentioned several of them to my younger daughter (who graduated from our beloved University this month a semester ahead of schedule) as they happened.  Plenty of those calls will go against us when we play on the road.  But that is not likely what cost us last night's game, nor will it be in the future.

This is not intended as a criticism of our players or staff.  I would not swap coaches or personnel with anyone else in the country.  But another fact of basketball life is that teams have to find a way to score under adverse circumstances.  Randolph and Lacy are going to have to start hitting more of their threes.  So is Mitchell if he is going to keep taking them.  Greene has to be able to hit that 7 to 15 foot jump shot.  Jacobs has to hit his jump hook.  Greene has done a much better job of defending without fouling.  He and the coaches need to help Jacobs learn to do the same.

Finally, Releford frankly needs to play at a higher level.  He was a most pleasant surprise as a freshman.  Now that every team we will play has seen his film, he will need to develop a consistent three point shot if he is going to be the point guard who can take us all the way.  His 14 points last night were very important, but if he can force teams to cover him outside the arc that should generate some slack for both him and his teammates.

None of this is intended as an excuse.  The better team definitely won last night's game.  Four of Coach Grant's first eight players are true freshmen, and Releford and Hankerson are true sophomores.  This team is only beginning to work toward its potential.  If the youngsters can develop quickly while Greene and Mitchell still are on the team, then they still could make plenty of noise in the conference and the NCAA tournament.  I will try to become more consistent in my reporting.

Now hopefully some of our real students of the game will dissect what really happened last night for the rest of you.

Roll Tide and Merry Christmas!

Box score of Wildcat rout and a couple comments

Box score

DJC summed up nicely what is wrong with the team right now... what I want to stress is the SERIOUS PROBLEM WE HAVE IN THE HALF COURT OFFENSE. We look like a Mark Gottfried coached team out there... a bunch of dribbling around the perimeter, a bunch of guys just watching, and Green putting up shots with under 10 on the shot clock. I did like seeing Releford driving early in the game... and that vanished in the second half.

Another glaring weakness I see is getting the rebounds. I stopped counting at 10 that KSU (most recent team) either pulled down on the offensive end or at least got their hands on it to extend the play. We really miss Chris Hines as we don't have a single player that does what he did last year... not to mention leadership... another quality this team sorely lacks.

As DJC posted below... the rest of the non-conference games are critical now. We need to win them all... and while I think we squeeze one out of the Okie St Cowboys, I have doubts of winning in Phillips Arena vs GA Tech. I'll be at both so DJC and I can compare note and post 2 different views of the games :).

Not Pretty in Kansas City. 71-58


My view for the game.

We aren't a very good team right now.  This will be short, as you can look at any of the recaps over the last 2 weeks and get the general idea for how this game went.  Once again, our offense was abysmal, our substitution patterns were incomprehensible, and we got our ass kicked.

Things were going fairly well early.  We weren't scoring, but they were scoring even less, missing free throws and open jump shots that we were giving them by design.  We had a 7 point lead at one point, but our inability to create anything offense had us doomed from the start.

I know people are tired of hearing me bitch about this, but our substitution patterns have got to change. Eblen once again played way too much, and the vast majority of his minutes were at the 2 position.  In doing so, we turned a 7 point 1st half lead into a halftime deficit, and a 2nd half 7 point deficit into a 16 point hole.

Nick Jacobs started again and picked up the fouls that Green usually gets.  Releford played well in the first half but tried to force too much at times and had some costly turnovers.  K-State had the athletes to match up with Tony Mitchell, and while he had a couple of thunderous dunks, they were mostly inconsequential and after the game had been decided.  We were outplayed and out coached tonight, by a team with equal AT BEST talent.


We are overrated, and until we figure out the rotation and get some form of an outside shot, we will have a very difficult time beating decent teams.

The arena was very nice, it had an NBA feel to it except for the seats being very cramped as our section seemed to consist of temporary seating that was admittedly well blended into the rest of the arena.  They had a good crowd, it was a large arena and probably about 85% full, the only empty seats being in the upper part of the lower level behind the opposite basket.  There were probably about 100 or so Alabama fans scattered throughout.  Frankly, I was disappointed with the K-State fans based on past experiences with fans of Big 12 teams.  We had a few people who went out of their way to be nice to us before and after the game, but we also endured many assclowns sitting behind us who talked trash the whole game.  I'm no saint by any means, but repeatedly dropping "F Bombs" and calling us a "P*** (other word for vagina) basketball team, is uncalled for. Not to mention the homophobic slurs.  Also, they are worse than Kentucky fans in their perception of the officiating. Apparently, the game was called uneven in our favor,even though over half of the fouls called went against us.  This seems to be a common theme amongst little brother, agricultural schools (see Mississippi State and auburn).  Screw the RPI ratings, I look forward to seeing Kansas beat their ass.  Rock Chalk Jayhawk!

Up Next, another Big 12 little brother comes to Birmingham for a neutral site game that should favor us as far as crowd support goes.  The Oklahoma State Cowboys, still butt hurt over not being selected for the BCS National Championship game in football because they couldn't beat lowly Iowa State, will come to the BJCC for a Wednesday night for an 8pm tipoff, highly motivated.  If we don't get our head out of our ass, it could be another loss.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Know your enemy- Kansas St Wildcats... in Kansas City

We travel to Kansas City to take on the Wildcats in a return trip of sorts from the matchup in Mobile, AL. Kansas City is home to the best BBQ in the country so hopefully CAG took the boys out to Danny Edward's for some good eats last night. On second thought... I hope not... don't need our players to be overstuffed.

We do have a common opponent already... we crushed UNF while they had to go to OT to beat the pesky Ospreys in their last game.

Here's the media release from KSU.
Season stats

Thomas Gipson leads the team 14.0 PPG and 8.1 boards. He'll bang around inside with Green or Mitchell... let's pray Green doesn't pick up silly fouls early like he usually does. Will Spradling is their only real shooter... shooting better from 3 (41.2%) than overall (39.7%). Let's keep him in the 12-15 ft range. Jamar Samuels is the other guy to keep tabs on... he gets on the boards and picks up a few 'garbage' baskets.

The numbers:
- 76.4 PPG
- 43.3% FG
- 27.8% 3pt FG
- +4.0 rebound margin
- 64% FT

Prediction- The numbers say they're not good, but their record says otherwise with their only loss coming to WVU in OT in Wichita, KS. They did win at VA Tech though. If this were a real neutral site game I'd pick us to win, but it's Kansas City where they have a good fan presence so I'll go ahead and say KSU wins this one... by 7.

Game time is 10PM EST (9PM CST) on ESPNU.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

For those wondering... season stats for Eblen and Engstrom

Ben Eblen (65 minutes)
- 2-8 FG
- 0-2 3pt FG
- 8/1 assist/turnover
- 3 rebounds
- 4 fouls

Carl Engstrom (66 minutes)
- 1-3 FG
- 20 total rebounds (8 offensive)
- 19 fouls
- 1/6 assist/turnover
- 1-3 FT

Monday, December 12, 2011

Bama Exploits Detroit, 62-54

After 2 straight losses, Coach Grant decided to make a change in the starting lineup.  I posted after the Dayton game that Trevor Lacey should start over Rodney Cooper.  Instead, it was Nick Jacobs who replaced Cooper in the lineup.
It proved to be a wise move as Alabama jumped out to a huge early lead.  This lineup has two major advantages: first, it allows Tony Mitchell to play his natural 3 position, and second, it takes a lot of pressure off of JaMychal Green inside.  Nick Jacobs has really stepped up as a freshman.  He gives us another much needed scoring option on offense.  He still needs to work on his defense, especially in the man to man, and his rebounding, but he will get there.
The team seemed to have a renewed focus on defense after the Dayton debacle.  We forced a number of turnovers that turned into transition baskets.  While we still had trouble in the half court sets, I thought we did a better job of attacking the zone in the first half.  We were able to get the ball to the short corners and get Tony and JaMychal some good looks inside.  Unfortunately, our 3 point shooting continues to be abysmal.  


We had stretched the lead to 22 with about 2 minutes remaining in the 1st half, but Detroit closed on a 6-0 run, thanks in large part to some inexplicable substitutions.  If anybody can explain what in the hell we are trying to accomplish with this lineup, I would love to hear it.  First of all, as I have said before, Eblen and Engstrom should never be on the floor at the same time, unless they are 2 of only 5 players available.  For a team that is having such a hard time scoring, we cannot afford to play 3 on 5 on the offensive end.  Furthermore, Eblen should never be in at the 2 guard.  His role on this team is to take care of the ball and play defense while giving Releford a rest.  With this lineup, we have 3 players playing out of position, and 2 that bring nothing to table offensively.  
Detroit at the free throw line was a common sight last night.  They scored nearly half of their points from the charity stripe.  In fairness, most of the calls against us were good calls.  We hand check and foul a lot.  That is a side effect of having a tough, physical defense and running a lot of pressing and trapping sets.  I did feel like the officials let a lot of stuff go for Detroit, either because of the score of the game or not wanting to give JaMychal or Tony any breaks.

In the second half, our offense went stagnant and Detroit was able to chip away at the lead by making free throws and getting second chance points.  Our rebounding was not very good this game.  They cut the lead to 9, but we were able to force a couple of turnovers that led to Tony Mitchell dunks to regain the momentum. 
 
This guy picked up a technical foul in the 2nd half to help our cause.  I'm still not sure what he did.

Releford had a better game, but he still does not look like the same player from last year.  He seems a half of a step slower to me.  He was rejected a couple of times trying to beat his man off the dribble on plays that I feel certain he would have finished last season.  I have heard rumors that he had an off season leg injury of some sort, but I do not know that to be true or the extent.  It certainly seems plausible watching him play.  

It is always good to pick up a W, and maybe this will be the start of another nice home winning streak.  The crowd was pathetic, probably only around 5,000 or so.  It was the lamest atmosphere we have had at Coleman in a long time.  The fans were not into the game at all, with the only exception being after a couple of Tony's dunks in the 2nd half.  The student section was less than 25% full, and the people sitting behind me chatted nonstop throughout the game and seemed completely oblivious to the fact that a basketball game was being played, and others were interested in watching it.  Also, whoever is in charge of playing the music for the dance team should be looking for another job.  For at least the second time this season, the dance team came out and the wrong music was being played, so they just stood there, completely still, for the 2 minutes or so while we continued to play the wrong song.  

Up next, we travel to Kansas City, MO to take on the Kansas State Wildcats Saturday at 9 pm.  While it is technically a neutral site game, it will undoubtedly feel more like a road environment at the Sprint Center.  Frank Martin's teams have a tough defensive style similar to us, and their only loss so far was in double overtime to West Virginia, so we will have to bring our A game.  We will be making the trip, so I will try to post an update as time and internet connections allow.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Know your enemy- Detroit Mercy Titans

Duke Vitale's former gig comes to Coleman to attempt to extend our losing streak to 3 games. Detroit has won 2 in a row after losing 3... a win over a rebuilding St John's squad (a team devoid of talent) and Western Michigan. They did play Notre Dame close in South Bend losing 59-53 so this will probably be a tough one for us.

First, a writeup from the Detroit site. Next, the stats that YOU GOTTA HAVE!

Simon Chase and Ray McCallum lead the team with 16.8 and 14.7 PPG. Jason Calliste is probably their best 3 point shooter (35.4%)... overall they're not very good from beyond the arc. Eli Holman played the last game and scored 21 off the bench.... chances are we'll see some of him tomorrow.

Juwan Howard Jr is a member of this squad (RS from Western Michigan)... I'm getting old as I remember watching his dad play as part of the Fab 5.

The numbers:
- 75.9 PPG
- 46.7% FG
- 29.4% 3pt FG
- 6.6 steals
- 5.5 blocks

Prediction- unless Ray Jackson, Jalen Rose, Chris Webber, and Jimmy King also have kids on this team that play (and are 2/3rd as good as their dads) I don't see Detroit winning at Coleman. I figure a lot of shooting drills were drilled through their heads in practice... we'll see improvement (temporary). Bama by 11.

Game time is 6PM EST on ESPNU.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Dayton Flyers make Bama Cryers, 74-62

This was our worst performance since St. Thomas last year.  Green picked up 2 early fouls, including an intentional that got the crowd into the game and allowed Dayton to go on an early run.  As a result, he only played 3 minutes in the first half.  I won't rehash the first half since I posted about it below, but being down only 11 we still had a decent shot.

It was more of the same in the 2nd half.  Dayton was very effective against our half court traps.  Their 10-19 shooting from 3 point range was not a fluke, most of those were wide open looks.  I thought we tried to do too much defensively, often switching from the 2-3 zone to a diamond +1 in the same possession.  For the most part, Dayton handled our press, but we did have one stretch in the 2nd half where the defense got us back into the game.  We forced several turnovers that resulted in transition baskets, and we were able to cut the lead to 4.  Unfortunately, Dayton drained back to back 3's to answer and push the lead back to 10.  We cut it to 8, got a turnover, and had JaMychal Green at the line for a 1 and 1, but he missed the front end, Dayton scored at the other end, and it was never remotely close again.

Although he was able to score 12 points in the post, this was one of Green's worst games in a long time.  He seemed tired down the stretch, holding his knees during dead balls and all of his jump shots (and free throws) seemed to miss off the front of the rim.  This is inexplicable considering he only played 3 minutes of the first half.

Tony Mitchell tried to keep us in the game with 18 points, but even he forced some bad midrange jump shots.  Our offense is terrible right now.  We don't have anybody who can shoot from the outside.  Trevor Lacey has good form and was 2 for 6 from downtown, but everybody else is pretty much hopeless right now.  Cooper was 0 for 3 and missed some early shots and lost all confidence.  I'm not convinced Randolph will ever be a great shooter with the lack of rotation on his shot.  A big part of our shooting woes are mental.  Our wing players lack confidence right now and are passing up some open shots only to end up taking the same contested shot later in the possession with the shot clock running down.  A physical defect that I have noticed, we don't seem to set our feet as the pass is coming so that we can get a quick shot off.  This is especially problematic against a zone.  Our players don't catch the ball in position to shoot, instead they take a second or two after securing the ball to decide the next move, which gives the defense time to react.

Surprisingly, Dayton did not run as much zone as I thought they would, after we had problems with it against Georgetown.  It's troubling that we struggled against their man to man as much as we did.

Releford's sophomore slump continues.  He scored 13 points, but we need more than 2 assists in 35 minutes.  He's also got to get to the foul line more, as he only shot 1 free throw this game.  When we made our run to cut it to 4, his attacking the basket was a key part of that run.

Speaking of the point guard position, our substitution patterns made no sense whatsoever.  Ben Eblen played 8 minutes, about half of which were at the 2 position.  There is no reason, under ANY circumstance,EVER, that Ben Eblen should be in the game at the same time as Releford.  Especially when we are losing by double digits in the 2nd half.  You aren't going to come back with no scoring from your shooting guard position.  Neither Eblen nor Engstrom played against Georgetown, but they combined for 12 minutes last night.  Personally, I would only play Eblen if we were facing a pressing team and Releford and Lacey were struggling and/or in foul trouble.  Engstrom would only play if Green and Jacobs were in foul trouble.  Furthermore, we would either be in a 2-2-1 press or 2-3 zone with Engstrom in the middle.  No man to man, no 1-1-2-1 as we saw last night.  He doesn't have the quickness or reaction time to get into proper position.  Also, I think it's time to start Trevor Lacey over Rodney Cooper.

This was our first true road game and we play a lot of freshmen, so it's not surprising that they struggled.  It's concerning that our veterans did not step up, particularly Green and Releford.  Dayton seems to play better against big name opponents.  Their announcer said they are something like 16-5 against teams from power conferences over the last few years. Hopefully they will start playing better against the cupcakes on their schedule, or this loss could hurt us in March.

Up next, Dick Vitale's Detroit Titan's come to Tuscaloosa for a 5pm tipoff Sunday afternoon that will be televised on ESPNU.  They are 4-6 with a win over St. John's and close losses to Notre Dame and a solid Cleveland State team.  After 3 straight sub par performances, hopefully we can find some shooting and get back on track.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Dayton 38 Bama 27 at halftime

Edit (bobbyjack)- added spacing and box score... not sure why we were dominated by Dayton, but it happens sometimes.

A quick update at halftime since I know a lot of people are not able to watch. It's not on TV, but is being streamed at daytonflyers.com in piss poor quality I might add. Very small window, grainy, hard to see, and the announcers are clueless.

Anyway, from what I can tell, the key to this abysmal performance so far was JaMychal Green's 2 early fouls, the 2nd of which was intentional. We still can't hit a 3, and I don't know why we continue to shoot as many of them as we do. Our substitution patterns have been awful. We had Ben Eblen and Carl Engstrom on the court at the same time for a good portion of the first half. In fact, our last play of the first half resulted in Carl setting a pick and roll with Ben, thankfully he passed off Lacey who miraculously made a 3. Releford is not having a good game either with 2 fouls. Nick Jacobs has stepped up on the offensive end, but is not getting it done defensively. Dayton has done a good job of breaking our double teams and knocking down 3's. We are lucky to only be down 11, it was 16 at one point. If we are going to come back, Green needs to stay on the floor and be a senior leader on the road. No more stupid fouls 40 feet from the basket, especially of the intentional variety. The freshmen need to calm down, and we need to hustle. They beat us to way too many offensive rebounds in the first half. Also, they have a new format for writing these posts, and I can't readily figure out to space for separate paragraphs.

Ugh. UPDATE: FINAL, DAYTON 74 BAMA 62 Will post more tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Know your enemy- @ Dayton Flyers

Our first real road game... and they are pumped to have us there. Anthony Grant returns to the place where he played hoping to send the home fans unhappy. The Flyers are 5-3 and are coming off a home beating at the hands of the mighty Buffalo Bulls (not Bills) 84-55 and a road loss at Mark Gottfried's former HC gig (Murray St).

Season to date

4 guys are averaging 10PPG with Kevin Dillard leading the way at 12.4 (also has 5.4 assist per game). Matt Kavanaugh pulls down 7 board per. Paul Williams and Luke Fabrizius hit beyond the arc at a .450 clip... need to watch them.

Link to Dayton Flyers blog

Stats:
- 70.4 PPG
- 44.1% FG
- 33.7% 3pt FG
- 75.5% FT
- 13.3 turnovers

Prediction- As Mitchell stated in comments, Dayton won the Old Spice Classic then followed that up with 2 inexplicable losses to Buffalo and Murray St. Which team will we see... and will someone on our team step up and hit the outside shot? These questions to be answered at 7PM ET... not on TV so find an internet station to stream.

Bama by 4... I think this one will be close as we are not exactly a scoring machine.

Game can be watched on daytonflyers.com

Friday, December 02, 2011

Winning Streak Goes Down to Georgetown. 57-55

The home winning streak comes to an end at 24 thanks to a heart breaking, last second loss to the Hoyas. We jumped out to an early 7-2 lead, Tony Mitchell had a dunk in the open court, and Georgetown's center picked up 3 quick fouls. It looked like everything was going according to plan.

Then, the Hoyas 2-3 zone took over. We spent the rest of the first half spreading the court and trying to reverse the ball to get open looks. Georgetown was too long, too quick, and too sharp in their rotations for that to work. It seemed like every possession we were attempting a forced shot as the shot clock ran down. It was a very slow-paced, halfcourt game, exactly what Georgetown wanted. We were 0 for 8 from 3 point range in the first half, had an 8 minute stretch where we scored only one basket, and went into halftime with only 16 points on the board. Thankfully, the defense held Georgetown to only 23 to keep us in the game.

Green's left arm seemed to still be bothering him some in the first half. He couldn't handle a rebound and misplayed a pass the he would normally have no problem with. Tony Mitchell's ankle seems to be doing much better, as his explosive vertical was back which seemed to be missing during the VCU game.


Rodney Cooper sporting the mohawk.

I remarked at halftime that we should try to attack the basket, penetrate the zone with more of a drive and dish based offense to hopefully get some better shots or at least get to the foul line. Rodney Cooper did exactly that on the first possession of the 2nd half, resulting in an offensive rebound and put back by Tony Mitchell. The plan of attack worked a lot better in the 2nd half, and we were able to make some runs to get back into the game. While the defense continued to play very solid as always, we had a couple of breakdowns in execution at key times that allowed them to stretch or maintain their lead.

We made a few runs in the 2nd half, but it seemed like every time we would get back to within 1 or 2, they would make a 3 or answer with a big basket. The modified Princeton offense they run is fun to watch and difficult to stop. The slow paced tempo and timely baskets kept our sell out crowd out of the game for the most part. Late in the game Trevor Lacey finally broke through and made a couple of 3's to loosen up the Georgetown zone some, but it was too little too late. If we don't start shooting better from the perimeter, we are going to see a lot of zone.

I've said it before, but Tony Mitchell does not do himself any favors with the officials. He was called for a couple of fouls in the 2nd half and nearly lost his cool, throwing the ball down once, and having to be restrained by Rodney Cooper after a second foul call. It obviously disrupted his concentration, as he was out of position on defense on the next possession giving up an easy layup. During the next timeout, Coach Grant yelled at him, as Tony took his head band off and angrily threw it to the bench. On the one hand, his crazy personality is a big part of the way he plays the way he does, with such energy and recklessness, which is a good thing. His temper is going to get us into trouble though, and it can cause problems at key moments.

An official once gave me some advice that I don't necessarily agree with, but he said, "identify who the turds are, call some fouls on them and get them out of the game." I don't believe you should call the game any differently for one player than any other based on their attitude, but a lot of officials do. Now, let me be clear, I am in no way saying Tony is a "turd." He was our best offensive player last night, and most nights for that matter, he plays hard, and he kept us in the game. I am saying that his reactions to adverse calls could be interpreted that way by the officials, and thus detrimental to him getting the benefit of the doubt in some situations.

Speaking of the officials, I thought they did a pretty good job overall. In a close game, you will always have a few bad calls against each side that stick out in your mind, but we benefited from as many of them as Georgetown did. We got away with one of the most blatant goaltendings I have ever seen early in the 1st half. They screwed up a couple of out of bounds calls initially, but credit the officials for taking the time to get together and get those calls right.

We knew keeping JaMychal out of foul trouble would be key, but he picked up his 4th foul with 7:30 left. Nick Jacobs continues to play well, but this was not an ideal situation to rely upon a true freshman. He got beat badly playing man to man defense, and I think he tried to do a little too much on offense. I still think he can develop into an Erwin Dudley type. He is better in the post with his back to the basket and has decent left handed baby hook shot. We put Green back in with over 5 minutes to play and he managed to stay in the game and bailed us out on a couple of possessions with great, tough baskets in the post. It is interesting to note that neither Ben Eblen nor Carl Engstrom got into the game. I'm guessing this is the rotation Grant envisions going forward, but we shall see.

It appeared that all hope was lost when Georgetown took a 9 point lead with about 2:30 to go. This Alabama team would not give up though, and went on a 10-0 to take the lead with 12 seconds to play on a couple of Trevor Releford free throws. Despite pretty good defense, they hit a long 3 over Trevor Lacey with 1.8 seconds remaining to win the game. I know there is not much you can do in 1.8 seconds and inbounding under your own basket, but I did not like our last shot. I would have liked to have seen a longer pass, perhaps to Green, which admittedly would be more difficult to execute, but if we could catch it perhaps we could have gotten a higher percentage shot.

It's always disappointing to lose, but this may not be a bad thing for this team. The freshman got some real big game atmosphere experience that will help down the road. We showed the ability to fight back and overcome late deficits. Some of the pressure of the home winning streak and high ranking will be alleviated. Now, we can get back to playing ball without worrying about the big bullseye on our back.




It was great to see the first non-conference sellout crowd since 2003. Former players Rod Grizzard, Charvez Davis, Doc Martin, and Terrance Meade were all in attendance. Trent Richardson made an appearance in the student section. The student section was packed, and many were even turned away. Five star forward Devonta Pollard was visiting. He is considering both Georgetown and Alabama, along with his home state team of mi$$i$$ippi $tate. He was sitting close to me, but I was too into the game to give a fair report to his reactions. As you can see, he did seem to enjoy the concessions.





Up next, our first true road game, as we go to Dayton to take on Coach Grant's alma mater, the Dayton Flyers. It will be a sold out, hostile environment on Wednesday, Dec. 7 at 6pm Central. I am not aware of any television coverage, and unfortunately I do not think I will be able to make the trip. Thank God for Chris Stewart and Bryan Passink.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

$tate ticket$ on $ale for $tarkville game.

Click on the title or go here to order tickets for our Saturday, Jan. 14th game against m$u. It's a short drive to $tarkville from West Alabama, and the game is at 3 pm on a Saturday, so it should be an easy trip. This will be our first true road test, and I'm sure the team would appreciate having a lot of Tide fans there for support, in what will be a very hostile environment. There will be at least 6 of us in my group in Sec. 236. RTR!