Friday, November 29, 2013

Does Drexel Loss Put Alabama Basketball Program At A Crossroads?

It's not a question I ask lightly. I've been a fan of the Anthony Grant hire since day one, but following yet another non-conference loss that could have dire repercussions for the team come March, I think it's now a fair question to ask.

DJC attended the game so I'm sure he will write a full recap. However, the majority of the readers who visit this site no doubt watched the game. Alabama's inability to ice the game in regulation will obviously be the hottest topic, but I would prefer to concentrate on the 1st half of this game as I think that's where the game was lost. There was a concern from DJC in his Duke recap and BJ's preview that Alabama might come out flat today. That fear was justified as Alabama played with no sense of urgency in the 1st half and found themselves trailing by 11 at the half to a pretty good basketball team that, unlike Bama, played with a real sense of urgency. Alabama came out in the second half with some renewed energy and played much better, overcoming the deficit and putting themselves in a position to win. It didn't happen of course, but it does make one wonder if the team had played for 40 minutes the way they did in the second half, would we actually be celebrating a double digit win? I think we would have.

Players are expected to play with focus and energy, but I do think the coaching staff must play some part in making their guys understand the urgency of a game and injecting some energy into them out of the gate. I thought the bench was lifeless in the 1st half and really contributed to the stale play on the floor. Drexel didn't exactly overwhelm Alabama to start the game. With a better effort from our guys, no doubt the game would have been much closer at the half, and Alabama may have even took the lead into the second half. The mantra of this team in the summer was learning how to finish games and getting back to the NCAA tournament. This loss today has sucked some of the momentum out of the season. With a tough schedule in front of them, can this team regain some momentum? Last year, this team went into conference play already behind the 8 ball in regards to March. There are opportunities remaining to overcome this loss today, but only if this team embraces the urgency that you must play with if you are to take part in the greatest sporting event on the planet.

For Anthony Grant, this latest setback is only going to increase the percentage of the fanbase who are of the opinion that Grant is not the guy to lead this program. Continuing to lose games such as today makes it harder to argue in his favor. There's been a consistency to this non-conference struggles. In 2010-11, the team went 0-3 in a November tournament, losing to Seton Hall, Iowa and St. Peter's. None of these three teams could have been considered a good loss that season. Alabama went on to have a great season, but missed the NCAA tournament primarily due to those losses. Last season, Alabama lost three home games to Dayton, Tulane and Mercer in December. Those three losses crushed Bama's RPI and contributed to them once again missing the tournament. The one season that these types of losses didn't happen was in 2011-12 when the program made its only tournament appearance under Grant. These types of losses have killed momentum and have made it even tougher to get the rather apathetic Bama fanbase to buy in and pledge their full support.

After this latest setback, it's put up or shut up time for Anthony Grant and his staff. They've got a veteran group that, frankly, has not played like one through the first six games. It's time for this team to get together and figure it out. Either they're going to continue this trend of mediocrity or they're going to say enough is enough and decide to kick some ass while taking names.

11 comments:

crimsontider said...

Great article M. I think the answer to your question is yes. This program is in serious trouble right now. Through five years not only has Grant not taken the program to the next level, but he has failed to change the culture, or generate interest for the program. I don't think I have ever been more pissed off with CAG then I was today when immediately after the final buzzer sounded on his teams most devastating loss of the early season, he walked to shake hands with a smile on his face. A coach who never shows any emotion, should not be smiling, while his players are crushed, and his team just suffered a terrible loss. That smirk was very disrespectful to the program, the fan base, and most importantly his players, most of which played their hearts out for 55 minutes, while Grant and staff were busy mismanaging the end of the game. If Grant is not coaching for his job, then what is he coaching for?

bobbyjack said...

I think it's too early to say we are at a crossroads for the season, but I am disappointed we went 0fer in NYC. No one here expected to beat Duke, but we did sort of expect to finish 3rd.
As much criticism as I throw at Grant, I'm not going to get on to him for his smirk after the Drexel game. I suspect it was more of a 'damn, not again' response more than him not caring.
If this team wants to succeed we HAVE to have both Releford and Jacobs put up points. Jacobs did his part in NYC... Releford did not. When Releford goes off, Jacobs seems to drift off... got to keep them both happy as those 2 are our only LEGITIMATE scorers on the team. I know Obasohan has looked good early, but I'm not sold on him as of yet as his outside shot is not very good.
I said this team is maybe a NIT one before the season began... and I've seen nothing to make me change my mind about that. We still got a long way to go so things can easily change. We shall see.

crimsontider said...

In order to make the NCAAT you have to beat someone with a pulse. We are 0-3 in that category so far this season. This team will enter conference play with a 7-6 record at BEST. This team is not an NCAAT team, and even if we were to slip in that would not solve the problems with this program, it would just hide them. But even making the NCAAT in year 5 is a pipe dream. We are a 500 team, and will be an NIT bubble team. Dark times for our beloved program.

crimsontider said...

Surprisingly Grant was not the dumbest coach coaching Alabama this week.

Msmilie said...

Finally cut off the tap. This has been as disappointing a weekend of Bama sports as I can remember. The basketball game on Friday took so much out of me that I couldn't even get that outraged over what happened in football. Eerily similar in that both games were well in hand but neither Bama team could put the game away. Frustrating.



Bama's opponents this week are North Florida and a road game at South Florida. South Florida lost at home tonight to a rebuilding Detroit program. Assuming our guys can take care of North Florida, that South Florida road game will be a winnable one. I'm hoping we can get back to celebrating some wins.

crimsontider said...

Can't imagine the meltdown if we lose to either UNF or USF.

finebammer said...

CT, i'd be careful w/ comments like that. earn you some death threats buddy. our updyke faction is very sensitive right now. just ask Cade.

finebammer said...

and by the way, agreed.

Msmilie said...

Embarrassing the way those "fans" acted sending the kid death threats. Makes us all look bad. There were so many other things in that game that resulted in the loss.

crimsontider said...

Absolutely absurd. Same with the tragic shooting in Hoover. I love our coach, and our football program, and am damn proud to be an Alabama fan even in defeat, most of these fringe fans have nothing but UA football, and it's embarrassing. We have great fans, and that lunatic fraction of the fan base ruins it for everyone.

finebammer said...

anonymity breeds cruelty.