Thursday, March 01, 2012

U-G-L-Y You Ain't Got No Alibi, You're Ugly!

"Auful Alabama Autlasts Api" might have been a more politically correct header, but I'd already used something very similar in this older post after we beat api on the plains.  (No, the header does not reference anyone in the photo.)  But a win is a win, a conference win is a conference win, and a win over api beats a loss to our cross state rivals any day of the week; so I'll take it and be grateful. 
(Photo from al.com)
It seems only appropriate that we give Auburn their due after this game.  Coach Tony Barbee knew he had an uphill battle on his hands and he had his players poised to take a win from Alabama in Coleman Coliseum.  He knew what the Tide's strengths and weaknesses were and he apparently drilled his team in how to control them.  The Tide's few fast break points came after steals.  Auburn's plethora of post players were constantly blocking and altering Bama's shots after their drives to the basket.  Coach Barbee also refused to lose a war of attrition and rotated fresh players onto the floor.  Alabama won an ugly, hard fought game that was made difficult by the play of the Auburn team and the preparation of their coaches.  Kudos and respect to the Auburn Tigers (who will henceforth be referred to by their more appropriate name of "api"). 

Alabama's cold shooting and defensive lapses allowed api to jump to a quick 8 point lead.  The Tide clawed its way back to a ten point first half lead, only to see it evaporate due again to defensive lapses and poor offensive movement that failed to produce good shots at the basket.  api had a chance to tie the game at the half but one of their big men (I'm sure DJC will remember his name) blew an uncontested dunk with about 3 seconds left on the clock. 

Alabama actually won this game at the free throw line, hitting 24 of their 32 attempts.  When was the last time Alabama got into a bonus free throw situation before last night, even at home?  The zebras and api put them there both halves last night.  api missed 7 of their first 8 free throws (shooting at even 50 percent would have given them a meaningful half time lead) and hit their last four.  The partisan crowd booed several of api's clean blocks and steals, but from my vantage point the officials called almost all of those plays correctly.  There were a couple of phantom calls on each team, one of which seemed to be an effort to keep things from getting out of hand and another looked to me like a "make-up call" for a previous blown assignment.  Bama was allowed to get away with a lot of bumps, pushes and slaps away from the basket, and api was allowed to set illegal-moving screens all night.  Since Alabama cannot win if it is not allowed to play defense, I'd say the officials did us a favor with the way they called the game.

I still don't know why Coach Barbee did not play zone defense all night.  Bama was miserable outside the arc and hit only 3 of its 11 attempts.  The api zone stifled Bama's dribble drive offense all night until Andrew Steele made three crucial plays during the last four minutes.  The majority of Bama's other attempts to drive to the basket were swatted or simply refused by the api post players. 

It was nice to see JaMychal Green earn a double-double in his last home game.  He showed his customary frustration when he picked up his third foul.  He appeared to complain to the official that the apite had hooked his arm and not the other way around.  To his credit, Green quickly stopped complaining and went back to play defense.  To his credit, Coach Grant pulled Green almost as quickly to be sure his star forward had a chance to cool down before hurting himself and his team.  Green's late put-back of a missed shot and free throws allowed him to pass Trevor Lacey as the Tide's leading scorer on the night.  Fellow freshmen Levi Randolph, Rodney Cooper and Nick Jacobs also contributed important points and rebounds and defended well all night. 

One thing that continues to puzzle me is Coach Grant's insistence that the team take the air out of the ball if they have a lead at the end of each half.  This team does not move well on offense even when it is trying to score.  Telling them to stand around for 20 seconds only seems to make matters even worse.  If no one can hit a three point shot then the post players cannot take their defenders away from the basket and the dribble drive by Releford or Lacey (or last night at the end of the game it looked like they were going to try to use Eblen!) will get swatted away.  This team looks like it has a better chance of killing the clock if they are allowed to run what passes for their regular offense, because their delay game does not seem effective at generating points 

Here is your obligatory Box Score.  DJC does not drive nearly as far as I do to get to the games.  I had hoped he would have given our fans a report before I got this one posted.  Now you all will just have to wait for him to correct all my mistakes.  You too, MSmilie!

Now it's time to try to grab a rare win at the Tad Pad.  Roll Tide!

1 comment:

Nick said...

Eblen got a TON of playing time last night and you know what? He had a pretty solid game. Obviously he's completely useless on offense. The other team won't even cover him at the 3 point line, but he played some awesome defense last night.

I thought Grant's substitution patterns were odd. No Hankerson in the entire second half and Eblen would be out there when we had guys like Cooper and Randolph on the bench.

I thought the refs were pretty terrible and called Green and especially Steele on a couple of tick-tack calls but they made a few bad calls on the Barn too.

Overall, though, we need to shoot better than this if we want to beat good teams. I have no idea why every team doesn't play a 2-3 against us the whole game. When we get into man and are able to get transition buckets is when we tend to win.