Thursday, May 24, 2018

SEC vs Big 12 Challenge Matchups Announced

The Tide will travel to Waco, TX to take on the Baylor Bears on Saturday, January 26.  They were a sweet 16 team in 2017, and lost to Mississippi $tate in the second round of the NIT this past season.  It should be a chance to pick up a decent quality win on the road.

Here are the rest of the matchups: 

  • Arkansas at Texas Tech
  • Florida at TCU
  • Texas at Georgia
  • Kansas at Kentucky
  • Iowa State at Ole Miss
  • South Carolina at Oklahoma State
  • West Virginia at Tennessee
  • Kansas State at Texas A&M
  • Vanderbilt at Oklahoma

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Offseason Post #4

Continuing my creatively named offseason posts.

The men's basketball team had their postseason banquet last week. You can click the link for more details.

1] The biggest news coming out of the banquet was that Riley Norris will return for a fifth season after he was granted a medical hardship waiver. Obviously great news for Riley and his family. His senior season was never able to get off the ground due to a hip injury. Riley's experience and his overall play will be an important factor for next seasons' team. I think I speak for everyone when I say that I'm happy to have Riley back next season.

2] Braxton Key will not be back, of course, but he has found a landing spot. He will sit a year, and then suit up for Tony Bennett and Virginia. I think this is a good spot for Braxton. Say what you want to about Virginia's struggles in March, but Bennett is an outstanding coach that has turned Virginia into a real national power. And Virginia ain't a bad place to get an education. Best of luck to Braxton in the future.

3] Offers for the 2019 and 2020 classes continue. In the last week the Bama coaching staff has offered Diante Smith, a 6'6, 190 lb forward from Fort Walton Beach, Florida. Smith is currently rated a 4-star prospect by 247 in the 2019 class. Also offered in the 2019 class is Greg Gantt, a 6'7, 195 lb forward from Fayetteville, NC. Gantt is currently rated a 4-star prospect by 247. The staff also offered Austin Harvell, a 6'6, 215 lb guard from Athens, Alabama. Harvell is in the 2020 class. I like all of these guys, but Harvell might be my favorite. It's tough to believe watching his highlights that he's got two more years of high school left. Keep an eye on this guy.

4] There's some schedule news. It appears that the return trip to Rhode Island has been pushed back to the 19-20 season, according to a tweet by everyone's favorite automaton, Jon Rothstein. No idea which school pushed the decision to move the game back a year. At this point, who knows if the game ever takes place.

The return game with UCF will take place next season, and we have a date. Alabama will travel to Orlando to face the Golden Knights on November 29th. No game time yet, but for those of you looking for a post-Thanksgiving trip, there you go. Perhaps UCF will award themselves another national championship if they win the game......

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Offseason Post #3

The offseason rolls on with all the speed of a glacier, but the news never really stops in college basketball. The Alabama coaching staff are currently attending certified events evaluating players, extending offers, etc. Let's review what's happened in recruiting over the past week.

1] Before we turn to the future, let's focus on the past. Former Alabama guard Justin Coleman transferred from Alabama two seasons ago, landing at Samford. Now a graduate, Justin decided to spend his final year outside his home state of Alabama. His landing spot: Arizona. That's right, when Arizona visits Alabama later this year on December 9th, Coleman will have the opportunity to face his former school. To my knowledge there were no hard feelings when Justin left, but I would guess that will be a special game for him, be it in Tuscaloosa or Birmingham.

2] Ar'Mond Davis has found a landing spot after transferring from Alabama. He will spend his final year of eligibility at UC Santa Barbara. I think this is a good move for Ar'Mond. Santa Barbara is a good basketball program, and my understanding is the campus is gorgeous. I hope Ar'Mond's college career ends on a high note.

3] In the last post I mentioned Alabama had offered Dmitry Ryuny, a 6'7, 190 lb forward currently enrolled at Birmingham's Central Park Christian. In that post I was unsure if he was a 2018 or 2019 recruit. I can now confirm that he is a 2018 recruit. This is interesting to me because the roster is currently full from a scholarship standpoint. The fact that the staff would offer Ryuny suggests they anticipate another departure. There's also the possibility that Avery Jr. will not be on scholarship this season, which would open up a spot for Ryuny. There are no favorites to land Ryuny's signature at this time, but he did take an unofficial visit to Tuscaloosa this past week.

4] While Ryuny would be a late pickup for the 2018 class, the staff is focusing most of their attention on what is shaping up to be an all-important 2019 class. In-state prospects Trendon Watford, Kira Lewis and Jaykwon Walton are the top targets in the class, but the staff have started expanding their offers outside the state. Let's take a look at the players that were offered this past week.

Jaylin Williams is a 6'6, 190 lb forward from Nahunta, Georgia. 247 ranks him as a top 100 recruit (83). Other notable schools recruiting him are Georgia, Auburn, Florida and Xavier. Georgia is the early favorite.

Drew Timme is a 6'9, 210 lb forward from Richardson, Texas. 247 has him ranked just outside the top 100 (108). Other notable schools recruiting him are Gonzaga, Baylor, Georgia Tech, and Creighton.

Ismael Massoud is a 6'8, 190 lb forward from Bronx, New York. He's ranked in the top 125 at 247 (124). The other notable schools recruiting him are Georgia Tech, Florida State, Rutgers, and Xavier.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Offseason Post #2

I will admit, I'm enjoying the offseason a little bit. I miss college basketball, but it's nice not to feel responsible to write new content every few days like it is during the season. The grind is real, folks. Anyway, let's focus on a few offseason developments.

1] Obviously, the big news this week was Braxton Key's decision to transfer.

I can't say this comes as a surprise. Transfers have become normal in college sports, and Braxton was at the top of my own list of Bama guys that I thought may transfer. It was a tough season for Braxton. He suffered a knee injury, missed ten games, was rushed back into action (my opinion), and never seemed to find a comfort zone. I think he struggled with his health, his role on the team, and his confidence in dealing with both. I can only speculate but my guess is he looked at the roster for next season and there remained a concern for him about where he would fit in. I do hate to see him go. At full health, Braxton is a very good player, versatile on both ends. The school that lands him will be very fortunate, assuming he can get back to full health. I hope nothing but the best for him.

2] Prior to Braxton's announcement, the team was one over the scholarship limit. The question now is will there be another guy(s) leaving? If recruiting is any indication, the coaching staff may be expecting further changes. Earlier this week the name Dmitry Rivny started popping up on social media.

I'll be honest: I had never heard of Rivny prior to this week. He's Russian. He's only been in the United States for six months. There's also some confusion what class he's in, 2018 or 2019. The tweet I included lists him as 2018, but what little I could find online about him via articles at Bama Mix Tape and HoopSeen suggests he's part of the 2019 class. He's listed as a 6'8 small forward, athletic, with the ability to shoot the deep ball. My guess is the tweet was wrong, and Rivny is part of the 2019 class, which is the next big class for the Bama coaching staff.

3] Recruiting never stops, and the Alabama coaching staff are already looking well into the future. This past week, they offered Keshawn Murphy, a 6'7 forward from Birmingham in the 2021 class. Yes, 2021. In that HoopSeen article I linked above, the author writes "Murphy used this event as a coming out party. Many are not aware of his talent and potential right now, but that will change in a matter of time. There will be plenty of high-major programs involved when it’s all said and done. In fact, excluding the 2019 big three of Trendon Watford, Kira Lewis, and Jaykwon Walton, Murphy may be the best long-term prospect in the state of Alabama. He’s that good and he’s only going to get better.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Braxton Key is transferring

He had a good freshman year, but I don't think he ever fully recovered from his knee injury last season.  I wish him the best of luck wherever he lands. 

Monday, April 16, 2018

Grading the season and NBA draft boards

I've been meaning to write a summary of the season in my eyes, but the day job has gotten in the way. I'll reflect now and divide the season into 4 quadrants

Quadrant 1- OoC play
Grade C+

Biggest win was over Rhode Island in what was a very ugly game. The OU win was great at the time... then we saw what OU was and it no longer had the power it did. The worst loss was an inexplicable loss at the hands of U C(an't) F(inish). The beatdown Texas gave to us in Birmingham should be mentioned, but I mostly wiped that memory out. In between was a good showing at Zona and 3 on 5 show vs Minnesota (which turned out to be not such a good loss). Overall I was a bit disappointed in this part of the season

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Annual Season Wrap and State of the Program Manifesto

First, a couple of recent news items.

1) Collin Sexton held a press conference and declared for the NBA Draft.
2) Greg Byrne confirmed that we have hired a firm to evaluate options of renovating Coleman Coliseum or building a new facility.  While nothing has been decided yet, he indicates they are leaning toward a large scale renovation. (I'll have much more on this later)
3) Riley Norris announced he will take advantage of his medical redshirt and return for another season.

Make yourself comfortable and join me after the jump...

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Offseason Post # 1

The offseason is here for Bama hoops. We will be posting our season reviews in the days (or weeks) to come, but there has been some early offseason news to share so let's get to it.

1] Collin Sexton was named Associated Press Honorable Mention All-American this week. It's the latest honor for the Alabama freshman, who was selected Co-Freshman of the Year in the SEC, plus was voted to the Second Team All-SEC team. He is expected to enter the 2018 NBA Draft, but no official announcement has been made yet.

2] Alabama has offered Jaykwon Walton, a 6'5, 175 lb guard in the class of 2019. Walton attends Carver in Montgomery. Some notable programs that have offered Jaykwon so far are Georgia, Mississippi State, A&M, Creighton and Xavier. 247 Sports ranks Walton as the 4th best player in what is shaping up to be a stellar 2019 class in Alabama.

3] Matthew Moyer, a 6'8 freshman forward transferring from Syracuse, has Alabama listed as schools that have shown an interest in him. Moyer averaged 3.3 ppg and 3.5 rpg for the Orange this season. He started 20 games before an ankle injury limited him for the remainder of the season. The interest between the two parties isn't clear from the article I linked - Vanderbilt and Xavier seem to be the favorites based on the information contained in that article - but it's something to keep an eye on as we progress into the long spring and summer months.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Hey, you! Yes, you! Support the Women's Team in the WNIT!

Hello, folks. It's that time once again where I, a Texas resident, implore you to attend a game at Coleman Coliseum in....Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

While this site is called the Alabama Basketball Blog, we typically only cover the men's team here. Speaking for myself, it's not due to a lack of interest in women's basketball. It's time. Or a lack of time that can be devoted to the women's team. I hate that because Kristy Curry has done a great job with a program that was in a smoking crater when she arrived, and her efforts deserve more recognition. In her fifth season, she has taken the program to its third straight postseason appearance, and she's got a great recruiting class coming in next season, headlined by ESPN top 100 recruit, Gabriella Crawford. 

That's right, while the men's team has ended its season, Coach Curry and her team play on in the WNIT. The ladies have won the first two games in the 64-team tournament, and will be looking to make the quarterfinals of the WNIT for the second straight season when they host Georgia Tech on Thursday. Game time is 7 P.M. CT. There is no television so anyone in the area that can get out to Coleman and cheer these ladies on, please do. If you're a UA student, you will receive free admission to the game. I hope those of you in the area can make it to Coleman and cheer on this team.

A quick note on the men's side: Ar'Mond Davis will transfer for his final year of eligibility as a grad transfer. This has been the rumor for months so it doesn't come as a big surprise. I thought Ar'Mond looked good in the games he played in Canada (8.6 ppg, 3.6 rpg), but he suffered a knee injury, and either he was unable to return from that or he got lost in the numbers game as the team took shape. Best wishes to Ar'Mond as he prepares for the next step in his life.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

No Hope Against 'Nova, Villanova 81 Alabama 58

Alabama's season came to an end with a blow out loss to #1 seed Villanova in the second round of the NCAA tournament. 

We hung with them for a half, but they were just way too talented and they weren't missing their shots.  We probably could have defended the perimeter better in the second half, but it would not have mattered. 

The Wildcats got off to a slow start and allowed us to hang with them in the first half.  With the exception of Divencizo, their shots weren't falling and they had some foul trouble.  We also had to deal with foul trouble as both Collin and Herb picked up a couple early.    If we could shoot free throws, we could have been tied or leading at the break.  The end of the first half and beginning of the second was the key to the game.  We were really struggling to get open looks against their long, athletic defense, and psychologically I knew if the lead got to double-digits it would be practically insurmountable. 

We managed to scrap to within 2 in the final minute of the first half, but Divencizo made his Fifth 3 of the half, with a hand in face,  at the buzzer to stretch the lead to 5.  Nova got the ball to start the second half, scored to push it to 7, then following a Braxton Key turnover, Herb picked up his 4th foul by hacking a 3 point shooter.  Bridges made all 3 free throws, the deficit was 10, and our best defender was relegated to the bench, and for all intents and purposes the season was over at that point. 

Collin Sexton played well with 17 points, but is taking some criticism in the media for ending the season on a technical foul for trash talking late in a blowout loss.  For starters, I don't think calling someone a "little bitch" should warrant a technical at the college level, especially in that situation.  Secondly, I don't have a problem with his actions here.  I appreciate the fact that he was still competing at that point and looking to get an edge anyway he could. 

We emptied the bench and Lawson got 3 assists, including an incredible behind the back, no-look pass to Dan Giddens for a dunk.  Otherwise it was all Villanova with Bridges and company bombing 3s and slamming dunks the whole second half. 

The arena was nearly packed, with about half the crowd rooting for Villanova, and the Duke and Rhode Island fans mostly watching with disinterest.  There were several local Pitt/Penn State/WVU fans sitting in our section who mostly started cheering for us.  Again, our small crowd was VERY positive and enthusiastic, especially in the first half.  All of the players and coaches waved to our section acknowledging us after the game, we gave them a standing ovation and the "Roll Tide" chant as they walked off the floor for the final time this season. 

Braxton Key's father was sitting in front of us, and after speaking with him, I'm much more optimistic about Braxton returning next year. 

Thanks to the City of Pittsburgh for being wonderful hosts.  The venue was perfect, and it's a beautiful, clean city, and the locals could not have been more welcoming.  Even the police went out of their way to speak to the visiting fans.  I hope I have a reason to go back there soon. 

Up next, the offseason.  It's certainly been an up and down year, and even with the disappointing performance, making the tournament and winning a game is good progress for our squad.  There's certainly cause for both concern and optimism at this point.  I will have my annual end of season recap and state of the program manifesto posted sometime this week before I turn my attention to baseball season for the next few months.