Sunday, January 29, 2012

Bama comes up big with win over Pigs, 72-66


After a 4 game losing streak, there was a lot of speculation about possible changes in the lineup.  I was a little surprised it was JaMychal Green who lost his starting spot for this game rather than Tony Mitchell, but Nick Jacobs came in and played and excellent game. Green played 27 minutes and had an excellent second half after struggling in the first half.


This was an interesting matchup from a style of play perspective.  Both teams like to press, but oddly we seem to prefer a slower placed game, whereas Arkansas wants to get up the court quickly on offense and get a shot up before you can get set on defense.  I actually expected a game played to their pace to work in our favor, as our offense is atrocious in the half court against the zone.  

Things did not look good early on.  We were sloppy against their press with multiple turnovers.  We played a zone to try to slow down their offense, but they were effective in shooting over it.  Arkansas built a 5 point lead.  

Once again, Andrew Steele was the calming factor.  We made some adjustments and Releford and Steele did a great job of beating the press and getting us some open looks.  We were able to take a 5 point lead into the half.
Arkansas made some adjustments and were able to retake the lead about halfway through the second half.  While they still pressed a good bit, they figured out that they were not going to force Releford and Steele into many turnovers.  They started taking fewer gambles and sitting back in the zone.  Once again, we couldn't shoot them out of it, going an abysmal 2 for 15 from three point range.  We were able to get the win thanks to Steele and Releford's penetrating the zone, and Green's post play in the 2nd half.  Releford had 18 points and Steele a career high 11.  Good things happen when we put the ball on the floor and drive, as opposed to trying to pass and reverse the ball around the perimeter looking for an open shot or entry pass to the low post.  When Releford and Steele weren't scoring from the field, their drive and dish game was getting us to the line.  We made 20 of 25 from the charity stripe.  

Robert Horry was in the house.  Unlike Big Shot Bob, this team does not have a knack for closing out a win.  We had chances to put the Hogs away but failed to do so.  Tony Mitchell played a little better than he has been, but he did a number of things that drove me crazy.  In the first half, against a full court press after an Arkansas made basket, he nonchalantly stood in one spot, despite being free to run the baseline, holding the ball with one hand and nearly got a 5 second count.  At one point in the 2nd half he let a pass hit him in the face, nearly turning it over and getting us out of the flow of our offense, primarily because he was too busy trying to come up with cute and creative ways to wear his headband.  Later, we had a 7 point lead with 2 minutes left, a chance to put the game away, but Arkansas makes a 3 then Tony turns it over right under our own basket giving them a quick 5-0 run to cut it to 2.  At the other end, he was fouled going for a dunk and immediately got into the Arkansas player's grill.  The ref quickly intervened and thankfully did not give him what would have been a very costly technical foul.  To his credit, he made both free throws in the clutch.  Nevertheless, if Coach Grant can't get Tony Mitchell to buy in and play hard focused basketball for 40 minutes, this team will never meet it's full potential.  We need Tony, and I hope he realizes that he needs us too.

Charles Hankerson got a lot of playing time with Trevor Lacey being taken out about midway through the second half.  Coach Grant said it was not injury related, but the trainers were clearly looking at his back.  I like Hankerson, nobody plays harder than him and he brings a lot of positive energy to the team.  He's got some size to get some rebounds and was a good shooter in High School.  However, his shot is not very fluid and it's too much of a line drive.  He's not really quick enough to be a great on ball defender on the perimeter.  His handles are certainly not good enough to help at the point.  I know Bobbyjack thinks he could be the savior of the season, but he really doesn't do any one thing that either Lacey, Randolph, or Steele doesn't do better.  


The football hardware was on display before the game.  I suppose a good number of the "sellout" crowd, must have bought tickets for the sole purpose of getting their picture taken with a trophy and left without even watching the game.  That was the most pathetic "sellout"  crowd I have ever seen.  I would guess there was no more than 11,000 actually there.  The student section was a complete joke.  I am normally an advocate of the students, they tend to be the most vocal and passionate fans, and I've been saying for years we should get them closer to the court.  I also understand that it was a 12:30 Saturday start, but if they can drag their hungover asses into Bryant-Denny for an 11:30 am kickoff, there is no reason they can't bring a few thousand to Coleman for an early afternoon game.  If they can't, then we should sell those tickets to the public.  Folks, we are still a top 40 RPI team with only one "bad" loss, and it was on the road.  We are still in very good shape to make the NCAA tournament.  If we can put together a winning streak, we can still finish in the top 4 of the SEC and get the first round bye in New Orleans.  

I am impressed with what Mike Anderson is doing at Arkansas in his first year.  They have won all their home games, even though they have been horrible on the road, after losing their best player.  This is a team that could be in the tournament conversation if they continue to improve, and we will have our hands full in Fayetteville.  I look forward to this rivalry returning to the level it was under Wimp/Nolan in the coming years.  At this point, I just hope we can hold up our end of the bargain.

Up next, Any Kennedy's Ole Miss rebels come to Tuscaloosa for a 7pm tipoff next Saturday.  This is a good time for a week off.  The team clearly needs to work on a number of things, but it's always easier to improve when you are coming off of a confidence building win.  If we can get this win, we'll be back to .500 in conference play.  It's another huge game, hopefully our fans will be smart enough to realize that and give these guys some support.  




Friday, January 27, 2012

Know your enemy- Arkansas Razorbacks

The Hogs come in on a modest 2 game winning streak. They had to hold on for dear life to beat Michigan and Auburn in their last 2 outings. They needed the Michigan game as they didn't have a quality non-conference win up to then.

The good news is they haven't won a SEC road game yet (0-2).. or any road game for that matter.

Season stats

Led by BJ Young and Mardracus Wade, the Hogs come in averaging 74.6 a game. They are also the Hogs best 3 point shooters. No one stands out rebounding the ball, but they have done OK with a -2.3 rebound margin. They have 10 players that are freshman or sophomores... very young team.

Note that they did lose Marshawn Powell for the season with a torn ACL and they lost Rotnei Clarke to Butler, yet are still scoring as much as they are.

The numbers:
- .436 FG
- .349 3pt FG
- .684 FT
- +4.8 turnover margin

Prediction: As strange as this sounds, playing Arkansas might be a temporary cure for our offensive woes. They like to uptempo which we'll probably try to match. We have the athletes to do this and this could result in more baskets for Mitchell, Lacey, and Releford... and Hankerson if Grant would put him in the game. Both teams suck in the half court o so I expect a game in the 70s. Home court advantage says Bama wins by 7.

Game time is 1:30PM EST (12:30 CST) on ESPN3 and I'm guessing the SECN. I won't see a minute of this game so I'll have to rely on others for a recap. Hopefully I'm snowboarding, but chances are I won't.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Cock Blocked. Bama loses to hapless South Carolina 56-54

There's still a lot of basketball to be played, but this loss was inexcusable.  I know it's difficult to win on the road in the league, but playing in front of a high school sized crowd this should not have been a difficult road environment.  This team seems to lack some intangibles at this point when it comes to finding a way to win close games.

Three things caused us to lose this game: 1. Turnovers, 2. Rebounding 3. Poor shooting.  We've come to expect #3 most nights, but you can't turn the ball over and completely fail to block out and expect to beat anybody on the road.

We scored the first 5 points of the game but then went into a drought which allowed South Carolina to take the lead.  We were obviously the more talented team, but we did not take care of the basketball in the first half.  South Carolina's matchup zone gave us some problems.  Early in the game, we did a good job of rotating the ball to the wings and feeding the post.  USC did a good job of switching to the trap at the right times to catch us off guard.  The rest of the night we were indecisive, stagnant, and our guards routinely missed wide open cutters.

For the most part, we played good defense in the man to man.  It's frustrating that we gave up so many offensive rebounds though.  Green had 3 blocks in one possession, and after that USC seemed content to jack up 3s.  They weren't making them, but we weren't rebounding them either.  Green and Mitchell both ended up in foul trouble, and then Green sprained his ankle in the 2nd half.

Nick Jacobs got the start over Levi Randolph.  Jacobs played a great game, and I thought Levi was our best player on the court at times coming in off of the bench.  He played good defense, was one of the few getting some rebounds, and made a couple of outside shots.  I would have taken Tony Mitchell out of the starting lineup rather than Levi.

Tony played better than he has in the last couple of games, but still, too many turnovers, he was lazy at times, and committed dumb and obvious fouls at the worst possible moments (and then of course bitched at the officials unnecessarily).  At this point, I'm ready to see Grant pull him out of the starting lineup.  It's a gamble, it will either light a fire under him or he will completely shut down, but it's worth the risk because this isn't cutting it.

Despite playing like shit as a team, and JaMychal being hurt and in foul trouble, we were able to stay in the game mostly because South Carolina for some reason decided shooting 30+ three pointers would be a good idea. Neither team could put together a run and the game stayed close down to the end.  As great as Levi played, he made a couple of mistakes that killed us down the stretch.  He took a contested NBA range 3 with around 2 minutes left in a tie game.  We had the ball in a tie game with just under a minute left, and turned it over without even getting a shot off.  That possession was a microcosm for our night offensively.  As a side note, I do not understand why we did not try to go for a 2 for 1 there.  You see the 2 for 1 strategy all the time in the NBA but college teams never utilize it.

Anyway, for once we had fouls to give at the end of the game, and wisely used them to force USC to inbound the ball.  The Gamecock guard simply beat Levi off the dribble.  Green tried to rotate over but was not much help.  I don't understand why JaMychal was in the game on defense in that situation.  It was obvious that he was not able to move very quickly with his injured ankle.  A few moments earlier, he drew a double-team and found an open Levi for a big basket, but I'm not sure what Coach Grant thought he could accomplish on defense at that point.

This is the kind of bad loss that can keep you out of the tournament, and if we don't turn this around quickly, we will find ourselves on the bubble again, at best.

Up next, Mike Anderson's Arkansas Razorbacks come to Coleman Coliseum for a 12:30pm tipoff Saturday.  Arkansas likes to run a fast paced game, and they will present another difficult challenge.  This year has been a major disappointment to date, as we have fallen woefully short of expectations.  Nevertheless, I still think we can get it together and bounce back.  We have the talent to do it.  Coach Grant and the team needs our support now more than ever.  Let's get behind them and help them end this 4 game losing streak.

Know your enemy- @ South Carolina Gamecocks

This is a really bad 'cock team we are playing in Columbia. A team that is 0-4 n conference with all of those losses being double digit ones. A team that has lost to perennial powerhouses Elon and Tennessee St. The Gamecocks are easily the worst team inthe SEC... and quite possibly the worst SEC team I've seen the past 5 years. Looking at their schedule they could potentially go 0-16... but I suspect they'll win one vs UGA (another putrid team) and maybe UTK. Darrin Horn is stealing money right now.

Write up from the Gamecock official site. Also, a link to our friends at garnettandblackattack.com.

Malik Cooke and Bruce Ellington lead the team i scoring at 12.2 and 10.9 a game... with Ellington mostly coming off the bench. Surprisingly, SC Lite have a few decent 3 point threats in Ellington, Anthony Gill, RJ Slawson, and Eric Smith... but I guess being down big time late in games might have padded some of that. Damontre Harris is their 'big guy' bringing down 6.4/5.3 a game.

I was reading the presser... SC Lite is in their 104th year of hoops, and like their football program it's been the Rutgers of the south. They have tried to be better, but Dave Odom only could vault them to back to back NIT Championships... which while I sort of mock it is something Alabama has never won (lost 2 title games).

Gamecock season stats
Important #s:
- 63.3 PPG
- .425 FG
- .340 3pt FG
- +1.2 rebound margin
- 5.1 blocks

Prediction: Unless we come out unmotivated, tired, constipated, sick, or shorthanded this game should not be close. Green should dominate inside and Mitchell has his best chance to get back on track. Also, I expect Releford to chip in 15 points as the Tide cruises in Columbia by 12.

Game time is 8PM EST (7PM CST) on the SECN. Also available on espn3.com (or whatever they're calling it now).

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Number one gets it done, Bama falls 77-71

Our view for the game.  Those red and white ants down there are actually basketball players.  We didn't take many pictures due to being so far away from the court.  

We actually jumped out to a 5-1 lead despite picking up 4 fouls in the first 2 minutes, 2 of which were on Tony Mitchell.  Jacobs replaced Mitchell and played very well in the post, especially on the offensive end.  He ended up playing 28 minutes and had 9 points.  UK went on a first half run to take an 8 point lead with around 13 minutes left in the first half.  Thankfully, they could not make their free throws in the first half and we were able to fight and stay in the game.  We trailed by only 5 at halftime.  

Moral victories are for losers, but there were a lot of positives from this game.  I liked our game plan and was surprised by how well we were able to execute.  I was afraid we would get dominated in the post, but instead we went right at them and had a lot of success.  JaMychal Green had a great game with 22 points in addition to what Nick Jacobs was able to accomplish.  If we could have got any production out of Tony Mitchell we might have pulled the upset, he fouled out with only 6 points.  In fairness, he drew a very difficult matchup, but he is in a funk right now.  I think once again he got frustrated with the officials, despite the fact that his fouls were actually good calls for the most part.  

Releford did a nice job of driving the lane and making some circus shots, as well as knocking down a couple of treys and putting us in a good position to score.  It was a great effort from our point guard in a very difficult environment.  

It seemed like every time we would cut the lead to 4 or so Kentucky would make a big three point shot.  Conversely, every time UK  would go up 7 or 8 and the fans would get loud, and I started to worry that we were on the verge of being blown out, somebody would step up and answer with a big basket.  We showed a lot of poise against one of the nation's elite teams on the road.  

Not only did we play well inside, but we actually made 5 of 7 from three point range.  We were selective about shooting from out there, and most of our shots were wide open, thanks to them double teaming in the post.  Coming into the game, 3 point defense appeared to be UK's only weakness.  I was afraid we would try to exploit that by relying too heavily on the outside shot.  Great job by Coach Grant and staff for not falling into that trap, as we all know outside shooting is not the identity of this team.  

Defensively, we mostly played them straight up but allowed them to shoot some open outside shots.  We couldn't press much due to their quickness and athletic ability.  We played about as good as could be expected on defense, Kentucky is a damned good team and they will make some shots.  

While UK's poor free throw shooting kept us in the game in the first half, it was their work at the line that eventually won it for them down the stretch.  They shot 40 free throws in the game, and made 27 of them.  They were only 4 of 11 at halftime.  

We still had a chance to win in the final minutes of the game.  In fact, we were only down 2 with less than a minute remaining, but UK couldn't miss from the charity stripe.  A couple of key possessions, at one point we were down 4 and Green missed the front end of a one and one.  UK made 2 free throws at the other end for a 4 point swing.  Also, down 4 we got a steal and had numbers, but could not convert on the layup with a couple of minute remaining.  Andrew Steele picked up a foul at the other end, when we had played good defense and forced UK into a difficult shot.  

Overall, a good effort, but we just didn't make the plays when we had to.  With Syracuse losing to Notre Dame, Kentucky will be the top ranked team when the polls come out.  Hopefully hanging with the nation's top team on the road will give us some confidence going into this stretch of very winnable games.  

If you have never been to Rupp Arena, put that on your list.  It is as great of an atmosphere for college basketball as you will find.  Their fans are knowledgeable (well, except for the guy who asked me how many fouls it takes to get into the bonus) and very passionate about their team. The arena itself is not very nice.  It's huge, but cramped and takes forever to get out of after the game.  Their fans are very hospitable, many wishing us luck before the game and complimenting our team after the game.  As one person said to me as we were leaving, "Alabama came in here and played Kentucky as tough as anybody I've seen.  You guys have a good team."  UK doesn't lose at home under coach Cal.  We came as close as anybody has to changing that.

Up next, we travel to Columbia, SC for a 7pm Central tipoff Wednesday night.  I will be watching on the SEC network.  It's a winnable game but going on the road is never easy.  If we want to be a top 3 or 4 team in the conference, these are the games we must win.  Not to mention, we need to snap the 3 game losing streak.   

Quick random thoughts about the Kentucky game and more

What I saw yesterday @ Kentucky regarding our offense is what I want to see more of... a guard oriented offense. Releford driving, Lacey shooting (Releford does have a nice shot too... if he doesn't lose confidence in it during a game), and pushing the tempo. Listen, we flat out suck in the half court when the offense doesn't go through Green and we do have the players to run so why don't we do that more? Yes, I'm aware Green had a monster game, but I would argue that the team as a whole benefits pushing the ball.

A few years ago I was questioning/begging/pleading for Mikhail Torrance to see more time on the court which fell upon deaf ears under xCMG for some unknown reason until Ron Steele left the team. If the long time readers remember I was right about MT getting more PT... as he proved his last 2yrs he was the best we had on the court. My new 'project'... Charles Hankerson. Someone explain to me why he doesn't see more PT? Don't tell me it's defensive issues as I've seen him do a pretty decent job in that department. Hankerson is a guy who could be the 2nd legitimate shooting threat (behind Lacey), but he's riding the pine next to Engstrom and Eblen. He's being wasted by CAG... and should see more PT than 2 of the freshman. We'll revisit this later on in the season.

So far, I don't think there is a dominating team in CBB. Sure the Syracuse Orangemen (yes, I know of the name change, but like St John's I refuse to accept it) were undefeated until yesterday, but I hardly find them to be AWESOME. Ditto for UNC (blown out by FSU), Ohio St, Baylor, Missouri, Kansas, Duke, or Michigan St. Even Kentucky looks to have some sizeable holes that can be exposed (by us yesterday). The quest for a national title is probably open to 30 teams. It's why I prefer college hoops to college football.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Know your enemy- @ Kentucky Wildcats

After being dominated by Vanderbilt, we have a quick turnaround to Lexington (the only saving grace of that state) to play the #2 team in the country. A team that is 4-0 in conference with 3 double digit wins. A team whose only loss came on a last second shot to Indiana. A team that pasted Arkansas by 23 on Tuesday. Yes, this should be interesting.

Team stats
Write up from the UK site. I like the headline- "Two Winningest teams in SEC Square Off"
Also, a preview of the game from a really good Wildcat blog.

Most basketball fans know what Kentucky is so this time I'm break down our team.

The good:
- the team plays great defense
- we have 10 guys that can play

The bad:
- the half court offense makes us wish for the days of the high post
- can't hit a 3 to save our lives
- not very good on the boards
- we still don't have a set rotation of players

Now that I got that off my chest...

The Wildcat numbers:
- .488 FG
- .363 3pt FG
- .718 FT
- 79.6 PPG (59.1 PPG D)
- +7.9 rebound margin

Prediction: Pain and lots of it. If we can keep up with Vanderbilt on our own gym (and it was pathetic how many seats were empty for that one) there's no way we remotely challenge the Cats on their home turf. Look for Anthony Davis to dominate inside, Doron Lamb to kill us from 3, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist out-wows Tony Mitchell, the 'forgotten one' Terrance Jones rebounding like crazy, and for us to get our tails handed to us early and often. Wildcats by 19.

Game time is noon (11AM CST) on CBS.

Yes, I'm really frustrated at what this team is... upside is after this game the schedule eases up. Sadly, since it's raining right now I can't destroy a nice fairway 'playing golf'.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Commodores Curse Continues Crimson Tide Can't Come Back In Coleman Coliseum


Photo From Greenwich Times
MSmilie has already give you a recap from the eye of a real student of the game.  From a simple fan's perspective this game resembled the "mauling" Brent Musburger described toward the end of the BCS Championship Game.  Vandy mugged Alabama, literally and figuratively.

First give Vanderbilt credit.  They are a talented, well coached, veteran team with plenty of size.  Green and Mitchell seemed to get frustrated when their jump shots were blocked.  Green was even more frustrated when his dunk efforts were shoved back into his face.  Still the Crimson Tide looked like they had a chance when they forced 5 steals in the first 6 or 7 minutes of the game.  But the outside shots would not fall and the zebras were not friendly to the home team.  Here's a link to one ugly Box Score.

Even with all those troubles Bama stayed with Vandy until the fouls and injuries started adding up.  The Tide was whistled for 14 fouls in the first half, Vandy only 5.  (I hope these numbers are close.  I'm tired and it's been a long day.)  Bama was 0 for 1 from the foul line in the first half.  I think Vandy hit 9.  For the game the Commodores took 29 shots from the foul line to Bama's 10 and most of the Tide's attempts came long after the outcome had been decided.

Many of the whistles against Alabama appeared to be the result of their sluggish effort and playing defense with their hands instead of their feet, but some of the calls (and no calls) looked just awful from my 31st row, mid court seat.  Green almost had his eye put out.  No whistle.  Steele was elbowed to the floor and unable to return to the game.  No call.  I'm still not sure what happened to Jacobs, but he had to be helped back to the locker room.  Releford looked like he was hobbled before play started, but Vandy and the officials did not have anything to do with that.  Among the worst calls of the night were the Lacey layup that was waived off for an offensive foul called when the Vandy player was set inside the arc (or so it seemed to me), the shooting foul called on the next possession when Randolph did not even seem to touch the Vandy player who was still dribbling 10 or 12 feet from the basket, and a horrible foul called on Green when he was mugged trying to grab an offensive rebound.  I believe this was the call that provoked Coach Grant to incur the first technical I think I've seen him draw at a home game.  Green lay on the floor at  mid court for 15 or 20 seconds during the second half and none of the three officials noticed him to stop play.  Three minutes later play was stopped for an injured Commodore who then was allowed to stay on the court when play resumed. 

Perhaps the officials decisions will look less horrendous when I watch my recording of the game.  I will post an apology tomorrow or Saturday if that is the case. 

With Steele in the locker room, Green and Mitchell (Mitchell went scoreless for the only time I can recall ever having happened), Jacobs playing on a bad ankle, and Releford having a bad game, Hankerson, Gueye and the freshmen were not able to take up the slack.  The absence of any sort of consistent outside shot killed the Tide tonight; that and Vandy's smothering defense.

As disappointed as I was with the way the game was called, the Vandy veterans were able to adjust to Bama's defense and the officiating.  Bama was not.  The Commodores came to Coleman Coliseum and showed the young Tide how college basketball is supposed to be played.  Legendary NFL coach Tom Landry used to say that his teams always learned much more from a loss than they did from a win.  I hope our youngsters learn quite a few things from this "wood shedding."  Heaven knows they need to.

Congratulations to the Vanderbilt Commodores.  You have an excellent team, a classy program, and a chance to make a deep run into the Big Dance when March rolls around.  I sure hope you do.  Otherwise we'll likely see an even worse mauling in Lexington this Saturday.

Good night.  I really need some sleep after all of that.

Roll Tide!

Vandy Dores Slam Bama to the Floor, 69-59

The game was not as close as the final score indicated.  We got our ass kicked from start to finish.  I apologize for the lack of quantity and quality of the pics, but due to the early tipoff my girlfriend was not able to go home and get her camera.  She took a few with my cell phone, and did a good job with what she had to work with.
Speaking of doing a good job with their tools, Kevin Stallings outcoached coach Grant tonight.  There is no shame in that, I firmly believe that Stallings is the best X's and O's coach in the league.  He finally has some decent post players to compliment their always solid outside shooting.  There is a reason they were preseason top 10.  This is a very good Vandy team when he can get them to play on both ends of the floor, as they did tonight.  They had some bad early season losses, but they are now healthy and will contend for the SEC title.
This was a huge game for a number of reasons.  First and foremost, coming off the loss to $tate with Kentucky looming, we needed it to avoid another 3 game losing streak and a 2-3 conference record.  But perhaps even more importantly, I wanted to see how we would respond following Coach Grant's remarks after the loss in $tarkville.  In case you missed it, (and I apologize for not reporting it here), Coach Grant publicly called out players on the team without specifically naming them.  I am paraphrasing, but he said we have some guys who are being selfish and not playing team basketball, and we need to get back to playing as a team.  It's also interesting that he chose Trevor Lacey rather than one of the veterans to address the media.   The fact that we came out flat and play uninspired basketball for much of the game is very concerning.
The Real Coach Stallings was present, presenting Barrett Jones with a sportsmanship award at halftime
We actually took an early 13-7 lead, mainly by forcing turnovers and getting into transition.  Once Vandy was able to get control of the tempo, they dominated the game.  Our defense kept it reasonably close, but they were able to burn us for a few open looks with their halfcourt offense.  Vandy is very precise with their screens and cuts.  They took a 7 point lead into the half, and we opened the second half by putting Jacobs in the game for Randolph and playing a zone.  Vandy made us pay by knocking down a few 3's and they pretty much maintained around a 20 point lead until we made a meaningless run in the final 4 minutes.
I have a lot of respect for the officiating profession.  Calling basketball games is a lot more difficult than most realize.  I have been doing it for years, and I can tell you very few will ever make it to the level of being invited to call major college basketball games.  As I stated above, Vandy badly outplayed us, so the officials did not cost us the game.  Nevertheless, the Dores were VERY physical in the post, a lot of contact, holds and pushes went uncalled.  Furthermore, we were playing at home.  We only shot one free throw in the first half, and it's not like we are a team that relies on the outside jump shot.  We should get to the line more.  I understand we are going to foul with our aggressiveness on defense, but at least give us the calls on both ends.  We barely got into the bonus in the 2nd half, and that was well after the game was decided.  We essentially played 2 straight games without getting into the bonus.   I can live with it on the road, but not at home.  It seemed like EVERY single 50/50 type block-charge call went against us.  If anything, it should be the other way around at home.  At the high school level, coaches have the right to scratch an official with no questions asked and that official cannot be assigned to their games.  I have no idea if that is the case in the SEC or not, but it should be.  I don't recall the exact numbers, but Coach Grant's record in games officiated by Knoxville, TN resident and University of Tennessee graduate Mike Stuart is awful.  I'm not suggesting that Mike Stuart is consciously, intentionally screwing us, but it sure seems that we get the short end of the stick most nights he calls.
A few minutes before Coach Grant picked up a technical foul, I mentioned that I hoped he would do so since we were getting beat badly and the players seemed to be getting frustrated and losing their focus, in part due to the calls not going their way.  I thought it would be a good way to show the players he had their back and maybe inject some energy into the team.  We had cut the lead to 13, and Green picked up a foul, and reacted in an animated matter.  I'm not sure Grant was really that upset with that particular call (it looked to me like it was probably a foul, but he had let Vandy get away with much worse), if he was just stepping in to prevent Green from getting the T, or if he was upset with the inconsistency of how the game was being called.  Unfortunately, they made both free throws then knocked down another 3 to make it a 5 point play.
Speaking of the officiating, had Vandy not been allowed to get away with such vicious illegal screens, one must wonder if we would not have suffered the injuries.  Andrew Steele left the game looking very woozy, and I sure hope he doesn't have a concussion.  He was clearly exhibiting concussion type symptoms.  Nick Jacobs got tangled up with a 'Dore and appeared to twist his ankle.  He returned, but was not able to run the floor.  Gueye played in his place and did a decent job.  I like Gueye's athletic ability, but he's still favoring a knee.  Still, he looked a lot better than he did in his few brief minutes earlier in the season. 
The injuries hurt us more than most realize.  I've posted before about Steele's leadership ability which was clearly missing when he had to come out of the game.  When we were down 20 with 8 minutes remaining he was practically begging the coaches to get back into the game.  With Andrew and Nick out, the substitution patterns became even more jacked up than normal, and the resulting unusual lineups were not good for team chemistry.  
Tony Mitchell did not score, and 5 of his 8 missed shots were from downtown.  JaMychal Green scored only 6 points and did not get to the line once.  We were completely dominated on the glass.  We've got to get more out of our so called veteran leaders in these types of games.  I am not saying this is who Coach Grant was referring to following the $tate loss, but it certainly seems reasonable to speculate such at this point.
If you are looking for a positive from this game, we didn't give up and actually clawed back to make the final score respectable.  Levi Randolph had a good game and Hankerson reemerged and gave us some productive minutes.  Otherwise, this game was unmitigated disaster.
In a sense, we got what we deserved as a fan base.  In arguably the biggest game of this season, the crowd was pathetic.  The student section was barely over half full.  What the hell else is there to do in Tuscaloosa for a student at 6pm on a Thursday night?  The rest of the arena was not much better.  I doubt we had 10,000 in the house.  I was even chastised by some douchebag behind me for loudly telling Mike Stuart that he sucks.  Overall, just a bad performance by our team, coaches, and fans.
Up next, we face SEC leading and #2 ranked Kentucky in Rupp Arena at noon eastern, 11 central Saturday.  UK's only apparent weakness is giving up the outside shot, and that's not exactly our forte.  I give us a less than 1% chance of winning this game.  The bad news, we are about to be 2-3.  The good news, as our young team improves, the worst part of the schedule will be behind us and we will be in position to close strong in conference.  I will try to post a recap of the Bloodbath in the bluegrass after I return home Sunday.  

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Quick Vandy Preview

Stats
Write up from Vanderbilt.

Vanderbilt comes in 13-4 and 3-0 in conference play. John Jenkins, Jeffery Taylor and Brad Tinsley all average double digit scoring and are hitting over 45% from 3 point range. We're going to have to step up outside to defend them.

Numbers:
- 74.9 PPG
- .471 FG
- .396 3pt FG
- .683 FT
- +2.8 rebound margin

Prediction: as DJC and others have written on here... this game is huge for us. We need this game. I think we pull it out... by 6.

Sorry for the short write up... the day job has been hectic.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Mi$$i$$ippi $tate brings the hate.

The tide suffers it's first SEC loss on the road to arch rival Mississippi $tate.  There were a lot of positives from this game, but it always hurts to lose a road game that you had a great chance to steal, especially to those assholes.

Another slow start put us behind the 8 ball early.  JaMychal Green made our first 2 shots, and then we went on a 6 minute scoring drought.  Once again, our perimeter shooting was nowhere to be found.  Andrew Steele made one 3, that was it for us from behind the arc.  Fortunately, $tate was not much better from behind the arc, at least until Dee Bost went off in the final 4 minutes of the game.  We were only down 8  after our early scoring drought despite turning the ball over on 4 straight trips.  Releford did not have one of his better games, particularly in the first half.  

Once again, Andrew Steele stepped up and showed great senior leadership on the road.  It is no coincidence that every time we went on one of our runs, Steele was on the floor.  With Eblen giving Releford a rest and Andrew in the game, we were able to come back and tie the game in the first half.  

We trailed by 6 at the half, thanks in large part to very poor clock management at the end of the first half.  Once again, we failed to use our "use it or lose it" timeout after getting a stop which should have given us the final shot.  I can sort of understand that, as we had a favorable matchup with Tony Mitchell against their man to man defense.  Coach Grant may have feared that $tansfield would switch to a zone or make some substitutions, but I think it's better to draw up a play and emphasize the importance of making sure you get the last shot.  Instead, Tony drove to the basket with 8 seconds remaining, missed a shot, and m$u cashed in at the other end.

Overall, we played much better in the 2nd half, as we took better care of the basketball and generally took higher percentage shots.  There was another point in the 2nd half where it looked like $tate might run us out of the game as they stretched the lead back out to nine points, but we answered with a run of our own and actually regained the lead in the final 5 minutes.   Green picked up his usual dumb fouls which limited our options somewhat.  Tony Mitchell was our leading rebounder, but did not do much else.  His defense, or lack thereof, was ultimately the difference in the game.  To put it bluntly, he was Arnett Moultrie's bitch.  Credit to Moultrie, who scored 25 of $tate's 56 points.  For much of the 2nd half, we were in a man to man defense with Mitchell attempting to guard him.  Green being in foul trouble was not an option.  I would have tried something different at some point, even if it meant putting a guard like Andrew or Levi on him.  Sure, he would have probably killed us in the post, but at least give it a shot for a possession or two because Mitchell was absolutely hopeless against him.  

Another key to the game was $tate's offensive rebounding.  With Moultrie and Sidney down there and Green playing with foul trouble, it's not that surprising that they got a ton of 2nd chance points.  

We were able to get some stops when $tansfield inexplicably took Moultrie out of the game for an extended period of time.  When he returned, we did better against them in the zone as we were able to deny him the ball for the most part.  Unfortunately, that led to Bost finally making an open 3, which got him into rhythm  and allowed him make 2 more crucial treys that ended up being the difference in the game.

As Alias mentioned before, Sidney seemed to get the benefit of the doubt on some physical plays with Green in the post.  A key no call in the game came with us down 1 late, when JaMychal appeared to be bumped pretty hard going up for a shot that he would miss.  $tate scored at the other end to push the lead to 3.  Our clock management at the end of the game was no better than it was to end the first half.  Down 3 with 7 seconds to play, we decided it would be a good idea to drive to the basket for a layup.  We scored with 3 seconds left, but there is not much you can down 1 with 3 seconds left and not having the ball.  We nearly got a 5 second violation, but $tate connected on a long run out and converted the "And one" at the other end to secure the 4 point victory.

I don't compliment them much, but I did like the fact that they bring their football recruits in and have them walk across the floor just before the start of the 2nd half.  Of course, I doubt any of them could be too impressed with an outfit whose fans go ape-shit over the presentation of a Music City Bowl Trophy, as was the case a few moments later.  So, it's all relative.  

I apologize for the lack of pictures (I took the one above with my phone before the game) but my girlfriend decided not to make this trip, in fact, she likely will not return to $tarkville due to numerous bad experiences with their fans.  Today was no different, as people sitting in front of us got in our faces and started talking trash as soon as the game was over, nearly leading to a physical altercation.  It was not surprising at all to me, despite the fact that we had not said one negative word about those hicks in the stands, the thugs on their team, their crook of a coach, or their cow pasture of a town/school all game.  EVERY time I have been over there, I have encountered at least one loud mouth piece of white trash who is looking to start something.

I disagree with Alias below regarding this being a great rivalry akin to what we have with Arkansas.  I respect Arkansas.  Arkansas has a rich history, tradition, and some of the nicest facilities in the SEC if not nation. While Fayetteville is a bitch to get to, it is actually a fun town and area once you get there.  I have always been treated well on my trips to Arkansas.    Mi$$i$$ippi $tate on the other hand is arguably the dirtiest program in the country, they are the little brother in the only state in the Union that is consistently even worse than ours,  located in the middle of nowhere, and in my experiences their fans mostly consist of obese, backwoods Mississippi white trash.  I have been to every venue in the SEC, and many across the country.  I've traveled all over the Western hemisphere watching Alabama basketball.  NOWHERE have I CONSISTENTLY ran into as many completely classless fans as those that reside at the dump.  Every fanbase has it's fair share of jerks, including ours, but at this point I have to conclude that jackwads in $tarkville are the rule rather than the exception.  I'm looking forward to beating their ass in Tuscaloosa.

Up next, the Vanderbilt Commodores come to Tuscaloosa for a 6pm tipoff Thursday (why can't we get a 7pm start for once?  it's always either 6 or 8, both of which suck in different ways).  Vandy is a very talented team that was picked to challenge for the conference title, and are still unbeaten in the league.  It's way too early in the season to start talking about "must wins," but with a weekend trip to Lexington looming, we've got to have this one to avoid a 3 game losing streak.  

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Bulldogs Burst Bama's Bubble 56-52

This was yet another fun contest to watch between these two arch rivals.  The game went back and forth with each team going on long runs to stretch and then to regain the lead.  New comer Arnett Moultrie and senior guard Dee Bost proved to be the biggest differences in the game, providing 42 of their team's 56 points.  The Tide turned the ball over way too many times in the first half, but played with much more discipline in the second and committed only one.  The score was not high, but the tension was for the full 40 minutes.  The disappearance of Bama's three point shots made a huge difference in the game, hitting only one of its nine three attempts.  The home court advantaged was another big difference in what turned out to be a very close contest.  The unfamiliar court probably contributed to the youthful Tide's three point woes too. 

"You can be a lot more aggressive at home than you can on the road in this league," said Wimp Sanderson while providing color commentary during Wednesday night's game against LSU.  We got away with it Wednesday.  M$U got away with it this afternoon.  I'm not complaining.  That's just the way things are in the SEC.  The result was that super transfer Moultrie scored a game high 25 points and grabbed 13 rebounds while being whistled for only one foul.  Still apparently out of shape, Renaldo Sidney was whistled for only 3 of the 15 fouls he committed (Moultrie probably committed about as many) during 28 minutes of play, contributing 8 points and 5 rebounds.  The home court advantage was never bigger than when Bama's Jamychael Green put up a jump shot to retake the lead with about 90 seconds to go from about 8 feet out that he missed after contact that was not whistled. 

Dee Boost is the current M$U player who seems like he's been there for about 12 years.  (They always seem to have a player like that.)  He poured in 17 points for the Bullies, including his last three shots outside of the arc.  They were State's only threes of the game and proved to be the difference in the game down the stretch. 

Bama demonstrated considerable resiliency coming back from about 10 or 12 down in the second half.  A loss is a loss, and a loss to M$U always is worse than any other loss.  Still the Tide demonstrated a good deal of maturity by making its run to have a chance to win the game.  Andrew Steele's presence seemed to contribute a great deal in that department once again.

Here's your standard Box Score.  I know DJC attended the game.  Hopefully his lovely better half accompanied him and will provide some pics.  Hopefully one of our other contributors can offer some more information on the game.  I will try to watch my recording early tomorrow and will log back in if I notice anything useful or informative. 

Kudos to the M$U Bulldogs.  Their team played hard, their crowd was interactive, and they found a way to defend their home court.  Hopefully we can return the favor when they visit Coleman Coliseum later this season.  This and the Arkansas game are my favorite rivalries in the conference.  (Kentucky and Vandy would be good too if we could beat them a little more often.)  State is a worthy rival and opponent.  Alabama gave them a really good shot today.  I just wasn't quite good enough.

Know your enemy- @ Mi$$ $tate Bulldog$

Here are their stats to date. Also, here is a writeup from their perspective. Side note- hailstate.com is about the last place I'd think of when searching for Mi$$ $t stats. Thank Buddha for google.

$tate comes in with an impressive non-conference showing... beating Texas A&M, Arizona, and West Virginia while taking Baylor to the final shot. They did lose at home to the mighty Akron Zips though. They did struggle to beat Tennessee at home in their last game... and were whooped up on by the fighting Mike Anderson's of Arkansas.

Dee Bost and Arnett Moultrie lead the team in scoring at 16.0 and 15.9 PPG, Festively plump Renardo Sidney chimes in at 10.3/4.9. Moultrie averages 10.8 boards and is a force inside. Rodney Hood and Jalen Steele are their best 3 point shooters at .435 and .365.

Defensively, $tate is stingy allowing only 64.8 PPG and steal roughly 7 per game.

The numbers:
- 74.8 PPG
- .472 FG
- .354 3pt FG
- +3.4 rebound margin (you'd think it would be more)
- .705 FT

Prediction: It's usually a tough place for us to win at, but either by hook or crook I think we get the job done. I like what I've been seeing out of the offense lately in the Trevors... both from the perimeter and in the lane. I also think Jacobs put up a nice showing (10pt/6boards) as Alabama led by DJC (hopefully he makes it out alive) exit Starkville and immediately head East on US 82 with a 4 point road victory.

Game time is 4PM EST (3PM CST) on the SECN or ESPN3.

Side note- I'll post it over there as well, but Matt Dover at rollbamaroll.com has been also doing a great job of covering Alabama hoops.

Side, side note- I've actually been pretty decent predicting final score margins this year.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Bama sends LSU back to the Bayou, 69-53


JaMychal Green was back in the starting lineup, but he still does not appear to be back to his old self.  He had a much better game than he did in Athens, but was still tentative around the basket at times and mishandled a couple of passes.  Nick Jacobs came off the bench and played well.  His defensive footwork in the post has really improved.

Early on the Tide defense was stifling as always, but the brick mason shooting returned which allowed LSU to keep the score relatively close despite being badly outplayed.  The last possession of the first half was a big key to the game, in my opinion.  Nick Jacobs made a great steal as LSU tried to work the ball into the post, which allowed Alabama to take the last shot.  Coach Grant opted not to use his "use it or lose it" timeout, I assume because he liked the chances of getting an open show with our smaller lineup on the court at the time.  Andrew Steele found Levi Randolph in the corner who knocked down a 3 pointer at the buzzer.  


In the 2nd half, some of those outside shots finally started to fall and we were able to pull away.  LSU stayed in a man to man defense most of the game, and our halfcourt offense actually looked pretty good for the most part.  We ran a lot of 3 out motion and some pick and rolls.   We were setting good off the ball screens and getting open looks from our cutters.  LSU did manage to cut the lead to 8 at one point, but Trevor Lacey made a couple of plays at both ends, and Releford knocked down a 3 to stretch it back out to 15.  

Releford had one of his better games, driving to the basket, making some outside shots, and getting everybody involved.  I thought Levi Randolph also had a great game, making the big shot at the end of the first half and playing great defense.  He did a lot of the little things that don't always show up on the stat sheet.  Tony Mitchell had his usual Sportscenter moment on an awesome one handed dunk off of a missed 3 pointer.  He seemed to come out of nowhere.  He would have had a couple more alley oops but his teammates overthrew the passes.  

I never really felt like this game was in doubt because LSU was having a difficult time sustaining any momentum on offense.  Our full court pressure, and even our on ball defense in the man to man seemed to have their backcourt frustrated all night.  

It was a solid crowd, with the student section getting packed well before tipoff.  The rest of the crowd was late arriving and early leaving, but there was close to 14,000 in the house.  The fans had a lot of fun at LSU's expense with regards to the BCS Championship.  The student section cheered loudly on LSU's first possession as they crossed midcourt.  A chant of "Just like Monday" broke out late in the game as the Tide ran down the clock, and the post game Rammer Jammer cheer featured, "We just beat the hell out of you, AGAIN!"


The marketing department finally booked a good halftime show.  This chick accurately  shoots a bow and arrow with her feet while standing on her hands, blindfolded .  It was second only to the girl who rides a unicycle and kicks bowls onto her head.  I have no idea how these people get these ideas, much less train and perfect their skill.  Anyway, it definitely made up for having to watch a bunch of 3 year olds stand in one spot and attempt to dribble a basketball at the last game. 

Up next, we travel to hell, I mean $tarkville, MS, to take on Rick $tansbury'$, Mi$$i$$ippi $tate Bulldogs.  Long time readers know how I feel about that program, so I won't rehash it.  I will say they are a talented team this year and it will be a very difficult game for us.  Tipoff is at 3pm Saturday.  Assuming I don't get killed or arrested over there, I will post something after I get back.  




Crimsons Crush Cajuns, Continue Conquest

Trevor Lacey was the spark plug for Bama's engine again tonight, generating momentum on both ends of the floor leading to Bama's 69-53 victory of conference rival LSU.  Trevor Releford led all scorers with 20 points, but Lacy matched Tony Mitchell's team leading 10 rebounds to go along with his six points and an assist.  Other players put up bigger numbers, but Lacey hit an important shot, drew a charge and made a steal that all helped Bama add back to the 8 point lead the Bayou Bengals had whittled down from an earlief 17 points.

JaMychael  Green still looked a bit out of synch with his teammates, severak times trying to feed his partners the ball when he probably should have been taking open shots.  Mitchell provided the hi-lite play of the night on a monster dunk put-back of a missed Lacey three pointer.  Hankerson is suffering some sort of knee injury and did not dress out. Gueye dressed but did not play.  Just about everyone else on the roster made an important contribution.  Even Eblen scored a basket and should have scored another.  That might be the first time this season he's had more points than fouls.

LSU did not look like a very good team and this win might not mean much, but a loss would have been tragic.  Bama now has to try to steal a win in $tarkville and then try to find a way to break the Vandy jinx in Coleman Coliseum next Thursday. 

H'ville made it to the game and DJC was in his customary seats behind the Bama bench accompanied by his lovely girlfriend.  Hopefully he will provide some real insight into the game along with some of her personal pics.  Until then, hopefully this Box Score  will help readers who did not see the game get a better feel for how things went. 

On a personal note, I've always liked and respected LSU's football program but have disliked their basketball program ever since Dale Brown coached there.  Tonight's win might not have been as personally satisfying as Monday night's football victory for the national championship, but I would have felt more devastated if we'd lost this one than if we'd lost the football game.  It's always great to beat LSU on the hardwood.  This game was the icing on Monday night's cake.

Roll Tide!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Know your enemy- LSU Tigers

First, a writeup from their official site. Next, their season stats.

Maybe their basketball team can cross mid-court more than once... heh. BTW- congrats to our football team for winning the BCS title.

LSU comes in at a surprising 11-4 with big non-conference wins over Marquette, @ Houston, and @ Rutgers... not to mention their beatdown of Ole Miss last week (which probably officially put Andy Kennedy on the hot seat). Justin Hamilton and Andre Stringer are averaging double digits with Ralston Turner and Stringer being their best 3 point threats. Hamilton has a monster game vs Ole Miss (23/16) and will be a force inside for Green/Jacobs/Engstrom to handle. Storm Warren... in what seems to be his 13th yr, struggled early in the year, but had a nice game vs Ole Miss (I think everyone had a good game vs the Fighting Kennedys).

LSU has a lot of size which could pose us problems... if our 2 big men can't stay out of foul trouble.

The numbers:
- .408 FG
- .345 3pt FG
- .711 FT
- +3.3 rebound margin
- 68.7 PPG (59.8 D)

Prediction: I am hoping our game at UGA gave Lacey the confidence to be our perimeter guy. I am also hopeful to see Hankerson get more PT... and as I told DJC during the UGA game I was miffed why he didn't play the 2nd half after his very solid first half contributions on both ends. In the end I don't think LSU has an answer to Releford who seems to want to drive more (great sign) and that'll open up others for easier shots. Alabama by 14.

Game time is 9PM EST (8PM CST) on CSS or ESPN3

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Day at the beach against teams from the state of Peach. 74-59.


Our view for the game.

I have been saying all year that Trevor Lacey could emerge as our consistent scoring threat.  He had a breakout game in the first half against the dogs.  UGA opened up in a 2-3 zone, and stubbornly stayed in it for most of the first half.  We made them pay dearly by draining 6 threes and killing them on the glass.  Lacey was 3 for 4 from 3 point range and ended up with 19 points to lead the Tide in scoring.


Our defense was great as usual.  The press gave UGA all kinds of problems, and they could not get open looks against our man to man in the halfcourt.  Engstrom even did a great job in the 1-3-1 first half forcing a couple of turnovers from the corner trap.  


We held a 38-26 lead at halftime, and my only concern was that about half of our shots came from behind the arc.  I feared it wasn't reasonable to expect our outside shooting success to continue, and we would rely on it too much in the 2nd half.  Thankfully, that was not the case.  We did not make another 3, but we only shot 5 in the 2nd half.


UGA was able to make a 2nd half run.  They made some adjustments at halftime and started aggressively attacking the basket.  We got into foul trouble, and were in the bonus before the 10 minute mark.  Tony Mitchell, who dominated the boards, had to come out of the game with 3 fouls, and JaMychal Green was not having one of his better days.  UGA cut the lead to 4, and had all of the momentum and the home crowd into the game.

In my mind the key possession of the game came after UGA cut the lead to 4.  The fans were on their feet and making noise.  UGA was playing a tight man to man defense, and bringing a lot of ball pressure.  Lacey showed a lot of poise by not rushing a shot or making a bad decision.  We executed with patience in the half court, and the result was Andrew Steele getting an and one on the assist from Green.  Georgia never seriously threatened again and started forcing quick outside shots.  We were perfect from the line, which helped prevent them from getting back into the game.  

I do not believe JaMychal is completely healthy.  He had 9 of our 17 turnovers, mostly from dropping passes, mishandling the ball, and travelling.  He did have some nice passes within the halfcourt set, but he looked tired toward the end of the game.  I thought Charles Hankerson played well the few minutes he was in the game, knocking down a trey and forcing a turnover.  Andrew Steele had another great game, his leadership on the floor may have been what we were missing in our earlier road struggles.  He has a calming effect on the team, makes great decisions, and is a stopper on defense.  

Georgia is not a very good team, but this was a great win on the road to start SEC play.  With the win, it gives us the unofficial Georgia State Championship,with 2 easy wins in the same week over the state's biggest schools.  It wasn't a very big crowd, probably around 7,000 or so, and there were not nearly as many Bama fans present as in Atlanta earlier in the week.  I would estimate only a couple of hundred Tide fans, which is understandable given the football game in New Orleans tomorrow night.  It was great to see Bobbyjack again, and thanks to my girlfriend for not only taking the pictures but helping with the driving duties.  I never would have made it to this game without her, after a late night at work the night before.

Up next, the LSU Tigers come to Coleman Coliseum for our customary 8pm tipoff Wednesday night.  LSU is coming off of a 20 point win over Ole Miss, and hopefully will be highly motivated to avenge their football loss from two nights earlier.  Let's pack the house and make it rough on the Bayou Bengals.

Bama Bludgeons Bulldogs


(Photo From AL.COM)
Our freshmen were better than their freshman, or so goes the story of this game.  Nick Jacobs started but had to leave after about four minutes with early foul trouble.  Levi Randolph did not score many points but did an excellent job of denying Georgia freshman sensation Caldwell-Pope the ball and keeping his scoring under control - for a while.   Quite during most of the first half, Caldwell-Pope eventually came to life and lead all scorers with 22 points.  Alabama countered with Trevor Lacy, its own super freshman who scored 17 of his 19 points in the first half including shooting three out of four from outside the arc.  Also pivotal was returning junior Andrew Steele who came off the bench to add 9 points, 3 rebounds, four assists, two steals, and an immeasurable chunk of intangibles that helped keep the ball in play on Bama's end and his teammates focused. 

Georgia did not look like a very good team, but they still pecked away at the 15 point lead the Tide amassed in the first half, eventually trimming it to four before Alabama regained control of the game.  JaMychael Green came off the bench to replace Jacobs, suggesting he still might not be 100% recovered from his shoulder injury.  Georgia played a zone almost all game, intent on keeping Alabama from scoring underneath the basket.  Green had a hard time getting into his offensive flow and almost got rattled by some of the fouls called against him (as well as those not called against the players guarding him).  Green's frustration led him to commit 9 of Alabama's 17 turnovers.  He still had the presence of mind to dish the ball to his teammates when he was not sure he was open (including one ill-fated pass when he should have taken the open 12 foot jump shot Georgia's defense finally saw fit to give him), so he was credited with 5 of the team's 16 assists. 

The early game plan obviously was to give a green light to the shooters in an effort to bust up the Georgia zone.  Releford, Mitchell and Hankerson all hit threes in the first half.  The Bulldog zone remained in spite of Bama's outside success, and Coach Grant obviously instructed his team to work the ball underneath the basket for the entire second half.  Mitchell and Green both were unselfish all night, tossing the ball back outside for the open three or hitting cutting teammates like Steele for open drives to the basket.  Releford, well he was Releford and found several open lanes to the hoop all by himself.

Georgia might not be very good yet, but this still was a road win in the conference and I am grateful for it.  Here is a box score with links to even more information.  Hopefully DJC will provide some more insightful information along with pictures taken by his lovely better half. 

Bama will attempt to best the Bayou Bengals in Coleman Coliseum Wednesday night with an 8:00 tip off.  (These late starting times are killing me with my 3 1/2 hour drive each way!)  I hope to see you all there.

Roll Tide!

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Know your enemy- @ UGA Bulldogs

Another winnable road game on the slate as OUR Crimson Tide travel to Athens to play the streaking Dawgs... winners of 5 in a row. They did lose at home to GA Tech... a team we demolished on Tuesday so this should be good for us.

Writeup from UGA.

Led by  Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Gerald Robinson, the Dawgs bring to the table an anemic offense (63.1 PPG) with subpar shooting (40.9%) and mediocre 3 pt range (33.7%). UGA as a team rotates 10, is a -.8 in rebound margin, and a 70% FT shooting squad.

Season stats

Prediction: Since I'll be there we should win comfortably... like vs OSU and GA Tech. I don't see UGA scoring more than 55... although we might only score in the 60s I say it's another nice road win and a sweep of the 2 GA basketball programs that matter. Bama by 12.

Game time is 7PM EST (6PM CST) on Fox Sports Net.

Friday, January 06, 2012

SEC Power Hoops Poll

SEC Power Hoops Poll Week of Jan 1st
We need to kick Auburn and South Carolina out of our basketball league.

Alabama season stats (to date), records of non-conference opponents, and more

Season Stats
Looking back at our stats before opening the conference schedule we see:

- 67.1 PPG
- +11.5 scoring margin
- .272 3pt FG
- 4.9 blocks
- +2.2 rebound margin

Nationally we are (as of Jan 1st- GA Tech game not included):
- #11 scoring D
- #5 3pt FG D
- #262 3pt FG percentage
- #225 fouls per game

So we know we are awesome on the defensive side and piss poor offensively. Our 2 biggest wins are over Purdue and Wichita St. Our worst loss is at Dayton.

The rest of our season stats

Record of non-conference opponents to date

Our wins

UNF: 8-8
Oakland: 8-10 (wins over UT and @ Houston)
Maryland:10-3 (win over Notre Dame in DC)
Wichita St: 11-3 (win over UNLV)
Purdue: 12-4 (wins over Temple and Miami)
Bama A&M: 2-9
VCU: 11-4
Detroit: 7-9 (win over St John's- not impressive though)
Oklahoma St: 8-6 (no wins of note)
Jacksonville: 2-12
Georgia Tech: 7-7 (win @ UGA, VCU)


Our losses
Georgetown: 13-1 (wins @ Louisville, @ Marquette. Memphis 2x. loss to Kansas)
Dayton: 11-4 (wins over Ole Miss, Wake Forest, and Minnesota, bad losses to Seton Hall and Buffalo)
Kansas St: 11-2 (win @ VA tech, losses to Kansas and WVU)

More
- According to realtimerpi.com we are #18. Much better than last year where I think we were hovering in the high 100s.
- In ESPN bracketology we are #8 in the South.

I actually spent a couple hours compiling all of this so enjoy... and if I goofed on a stat or record let me know and I'll triple check it.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Bama Wrecks Tech, 73-48

This was our view for the game.  Thanks again to Bobbyjack for taking care of the tickets.  This was one of our better games of the year as we completely dominated an inferior team on the road.  JaMychal Green did not get the start, but played very well coming off the bench to score 9 points.  More importantly, he played great defense without fouling, pulled down some rebounds, and set some nice screens which opened up our half court offense against Ga Tech's man to man defense.

Speaking of which, I have no idea why the yellow jackets insisted on staying in the man to man for practically all of the first half and most of the game.  It was obvious that they were not quick or athletic enough to guard us in space, and they had no answer for our post game.  Meanwhile, we had another poor shooting performance, going 3 of 12 from downtown, but it didn't matter because we were able to get good looks inside.

The big story of the night was the return of Andrew Steele.  Honestly, I was not expecting him to be able to help this team out much.  I figured he would just be another good defender in the back court, but not much help on offense, and we certainly have no shortage of those types of players right now.   He far exceeded my expectations.  While he may not be the shooting threat we need, He's strong and physical with the basketball and makes good decisions.  His leadership presence will help us on the court, and he's money in the bank when he gets to the free throw line.

The game was never really in doubt.  We gradually stretched the lead out to 40-22 by halftime, with Tony Mitchell having a few demoralizing dunks on the Jackets along the way.  Georgia Tech had all kinds of problems scoring against us.  They made some adjustments at halftime and were able to break the press for some easy baskets and get a few stops to close the gap to 10, but Coach Grant called timeout and got everybody refocused.  After the timeout, we forced a couple of quick turnovers and quickly stretched the lead back out to 15+ and it was smooth sailing from there. 

It was nice to be able to empty the bench and give some of our guys a break down the stretch.  It's always good to see walkon Keon Blackledge get into the game.  I was a little surprised that Moussa Gueye didn't get to play. 

It was a very small crowd, I would estimate around 5,000, at least half of which were Bama fans.  It was not much of a road environment, and the few Georgia Tech fans we encountered did not have any real expectations for their team.  It's hard to see in the pictures, but they actually covered the entire upper level of the arena with a big black curtain, much like auburn used to do at the old Beard Eaves Coliseum.  Phillips Arena is a very nice venue, and this game had a bit of an NBA feel to it.  It was different seeing NBA scores on the ribbon boards, and the Bulls-Hawks game was being shown on the TVs on the concourse.  Speaking of which, it was fun watching my Bulls come back from 19 down to win, much the the chagrin of the locals. 

I should probably mention that long time UAB coach Gene Bartow passed away last night.  Out of respect for the deceased, I will not make any further comments regarding Gene Bartow at this time.

Up next, we go for the Georgia State Championship as we travel to Athens for a 7pm Eastern/6 Central tipoff Saturday night with the Georgia Bulldogs.  This is another winnable road game, and we need it to get off to a good start in SEC play. 

Monday, January 02, 2012

Know your enemy- GA Tech Yellow Jackets

Writeup from Tech.
Notice the mistake there... we have played 2 common opponents not one.

Led by 1st year head coach Brian Gregory and the son of ex Michigan great Glen Rice (who happens to be also named Glen Rice) the Rambling Wreck are a wreck at 7-6. Their biggest win to date came in Athens, GA with their 2nd most impressive win being VCU who we beat as well earlier in the year.

Year to date

Glen Rice and Mfon Udolfa are the only ones averaging double digit scoring. Daniel Miller is their top rebounder... he'll give us problems inside.

Stats:
- 65.0 PPG (58.8 PPG against)
- .456 FG
- .293 3pt FG
- +7.1 rebound margin

Prediction- I predicted earlier in the year this would be a loss and while the stats tell me we should beat them (and they do suck), I can't get out of my mind the Dayton game. The difference here is there will be a Bama presence at Phillips Arena and a gathering of Tech fans. For that reason and that reason only I'm going to waver and say we win a truly ugly game that potentially sets back basketball 30 years. Alabama by 7.

Game time is another late one... 9PM EST (8PM CST). I'll be there in the club level along with DJC and I'm guessing about 4000 other fans.

Andrew Steele is back.

According to Cecil Hurt, Andrew Steele has been cleared to rejoin the team.  He missed the end of last season and all of this season with concussion issues.  It will be interesting to see how quickly he can get back up to speed and what his role will be on this team.  If nothing else, it should give us a little more depth in the back court, meaning less playing time for Ben Eblen.