Monday, October 21, 2019

Alabama Defeats Jacksonville State In Closed Scrimmage

The Alabama men's basketball team saw its first game action of the Nate Oats era on Sunday as it hosted Jacksonville State for a closed scrimmage. Alabama won the scrimmage by a final score of 90-81. Being a scrimmage, you take the stats with a grain of salt. Perhaps the most glaring stat to me was both teams combined for 79 combined free throw attempts. Good thing the scrimmage was closed because a game with that many free throw attempts is darn near unwatchable for me. Alabama forced 19 turnovers and limited Jacksonville State to 41.3% shooting (33.3% from 3). Unfortunately, Alabama's shooting numbers weren't great either: 39.2% (25% from 3). The difference in the final score was Alabama got to the free throw line more and made a few more, though neither team made free throws at a high rate (67.4% for Bama; 69.4% for Jax State). It's going to be a process, folks.

Jahvon and Beetle did not play in the scrimmage. Kira played 39 minutes and finished with 21 pts, 7 rebs, 4 asts and 1 stl. Other notable stat lines included Herb (17 pts, 4 rebs, 3 stls, 1 ast and 1 blk), JP (17 pts, 3 rebs, 3 stls) and Javian Davis (8 pts, 10 rebs and a stl).


Thursday, October 17, 2019

Alabama Picked Sixth In SEC Preseason Media Poll

SEC Media Day for men's basketball was held on Wednesday. Nate Oats, Kira Lewis Jr. and Herb Jones made the short trip to Birmingham for the event. The preseason media poll was also released. Alabama was picked to finish sixth. Kira was named to the All-SEC second team. The full predicted order of finish:

1. Kentucky
2. Florida
3. LSU
4. Auburn
5. Tennessee
6. Alabama
7. Mississippi State
8. Ole Miss
9. Georgia
10. South Carolina
11. Arkansas
12. Texas A&M
13. Missouri
14. Vanderbilt

Monday, October 14, 2019

2019-20 Schedule Preview: December

After a challenging slate of games in November, the December schedule, at least on paper, appears to ease up a little. The team will only play one game outside the state of Alabama in December.

Friday, December 6 - Stephen F. Austin - 7:00 P.M. CT - TV: SECN+: This is the return game in a home-and-home series. The Lumberjacks will be trying to bounce back from an uncharacteristically poor season in 18-19 when they finished 14-16 overall and 7-11 in conference play. That might be easier said than done after losing three of their top five scorers last season and welcoming in nine newcomers. One thing in their favor is the return of Kevon Harris (17.8 pts, 6.5 rebs, 2 asts, 1 stl, 52.1 FG%, 37.9% from 3), expected to be one of the top players in the Southland Conference.

Saturday, December 14 - at Penn State - 1:00 P.M. CT - TV: Big Ten Network: Yet another return game in a home-and-home series. Penn State is one of the toughest jobs in the country, which may explain why head coach Pat Chambers is entering year nine at the school despite no NCAA Tournament appearances. If Chambers and his team are going to get over the hump, this year might be their best chance. The biggest reason for optimism is that Lamar Stevens (19.9 pts, 7.7 rebs, 2.1 asts), a first-team All-Big Ten selection, returned for his senior season. Stevens will need some help; returning players such as Myles Dread (8.3 pts, 2.8 rebs, 1.3 asts, 35.6%  from 3) and Mike Watkins (7.8 pts, 7.4 rebs, 1.5 blks) will need to step up their production as well. While the Lions finished the 18-19 season with a 14-18 record, they did win seven of their final ten games and finished top 50 at KenPom. Will that momentum carry over into this season?

Thursday, October 10, 2019

2019-20 Schedule Preview: November

We are now four weeks from the start of the college basketball season and the first season of the Nate Oats era. Alabama returns an intriguing mix of experience and talent, but it's also a program that has failed to live up to the talent on its rosters in recent seasons. As a result, preseason predictions for this team have been all over the place. I've seen some pick Alabama to finish top four in the league, while others pick them closer to the bottom. If the truth is usually found in the middle, the most realistic expectation for year one of the Oats era is that this is a middle-of-the-pack team.

Once again, the SEC will be a challenge to navigate. You really have to hand it to the league and the schools for the work they've put forth to improve basketball in the conference. In addition, the Bama non-conference schedule is once again expected to be one of the tougher schedules among SEC teams. With this Alabama team breaking in a new style of play under a new coaching staff against a tough schedule, it won't be a shock to see this team go through some growing pains. However, if Oats and his staff are the right guys for the job, and the players can adapt to his style of play and avoid further injuries, the team is talented enough to maybe - just maybe - return to the NCAA Tournament for the second time in three seasons.

Sunday, October 27 - Georgia Tech (Exhibition) - 12:00 P.M. CT - TV: None: Alabama will also have a closed scrimmage against Jacksonville State for the second straight season, but I'm just going to preview what's listed on the schedule. I'm happy that this is the exhibition game for Alabama this season. First and foremost, the proceeds go to charity so that's obviously a good thing. Secondly, Nate Oats is going to learn far more about his team facing an ACC team than he could if the opponent was a D2, 3, or an NAIA team. If Georgia Tech wasn't in the ACC, their preseason expectations would likely be higher. Their top three scorers (Jose Alvarado, James Banks III and Michael Devoe) return, and they added transfers in Jordan Usher (USC) and Bubba Parham (VMI). Parham could be an impact newcomer; in his final season at VMI, he led the Southern Conference in scoring at 21.4 per game (39.7% from 3). The Jackets will also be one of the oldest teams in the ACC with nine juniors and seniors on the roster. What's difficult to predict is how motivated will this team be now that the NCAA has banned them from the NCAA Tournament due to rules violations.

Friday, October 04, 2019

2019-20 Roster Preview: Forwards/Centers

With Donta Hall wrapping up his college career, Alabama lost last season's leading rebounder, shot blocker and second-leading scorer. Nate Oats prefers a quicker, perimeter-oriented type of basketball that spreads the floor, but all teams still require some size in the middle. But who will fill that role with Donta gone? Whoever fills it will need to be more than just a big body; he'll need to be able to run the floor, rebound and show some diversity on the offensive end.

While the team has a lot of talent at the guard and wing positions, there are question marks in the post. Rebounding was one of the primary weaknesses for Alabama the last two seasons, and it would appear to be a concern at first glance this season. With the depth at the guard position, none of the guys listed here have to be stars, just dependable role players. If someone emerges as a star, all the better to win basketball games, my dear. Let's take a quick look at those players. Once again, the heights/weights are those listed at the official site.

James Rojas - 6'8 - 215 lbs - Junior: It wouldn't be an Alabama basketball offseason without some bad news, and unfortunately that bad news (so far) was that Rojas - an incoming juco recruit - suffered a knee injury and will not play this season. The team has time to adjust to his absence, but losing a guy that was a juco All-American is less than ideal. For a team that's light on big bodies, losing a 6'8 inside/out player that seemed tailor-made for the type of basketball Nate Oats wants to play may come back to haunt the team as the season unfolds.

Wednesday, October 02, 2019

Alabama Hosting Georgia Tech In Charity Exhibition

This has been rumored for a few weeks, but the university made it official on Wednesday; Alabama will host Georgia Tech in a charity exhibition game at Coleman Coliseum. The game will take place on Sunday, October 27 at noon (CT). The proceeds will go to the American Red Cross Hurricane Dorian relief fund. The women's team will play an exhibition game vs Auburn University-Montgomery afterwards. Tickets will be $5.00. If you're in the area and want an early look at the teams, get out to Coleman because there will be no radio or television for this event.

The program will also continue the Tide Tipoff event for the fifth straight season. That will take place on Friday, October 18th. The event begins at 7, but doors will open at 6 for an autograph session with both teams.

We're close, folks. Roll Tide!

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

2019-20 Roster Preview: Guards


Well, here we are again; another college basketball season is looming. The university made a coaching change at the conclusion of last season, wrapping up Avery Johnson's tenure after four rather frustrating seasons. An efficient coaching search by AD Greg Byrne led to the hire of Nate Oats, formerly the head coach at Buffalo. Oats will be the third head coach hired by Alabama in the last ten years.

Nate Oats will be 45 years old when the season tips off. He began his coaching career in 1997 when he joined the staff at his alma mater, D-3 Maranatha Baptist in Wisconsin. In 2000 he joined the staff at D-3 Wisconsin-Whitewater. Following two seasons there, Oats landed his first head coaching gig at Romulus High School in Detroit. In eleven seasons he compiled an impressive 222-52 record, leading the team to the 2013 state championship. This success led to Bobby Hurley hiring him as an assistant at Buffalo. Following Hurley's decision to accept the Arizona State job two years later, Oats was promoted to head coach.

In his four seasons as head coach, he elevated the Buffalo program. He compiled a 96-43 record, two MAC regular season titles (2018, 2019) and three MAC tournament titles, which resulted in NCAA Tournament bids in three of his four seasons at the helm. Not too shabby. And not only did the program make the tournament, but it won round one games in both the 2018 and 19 tournaments. In addition, Oats was named the MAC Coach of the Year in 2018 and 2019. The program also finished higher in the final KenPom rankings each season of his tenure (138 in 2016; 122 in 2017; 67 in 2018; 22 in 2019).

Monday, September 16, 2019

Predicting the season- game by game

Penn- We can't lose at home to a bunch of nerds! W
FAU- Lane Kiffin isn't walking through that door! W
@ Rhode Island- you don't travel to nowhere RI and expect to come out the victor! L

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

SEC Schedule Released

The conference released its basketball schedule on Tuesday. The league office didn't do our guys any favors. In the first four games of league play, Alabama will travel to Florida and Kentucky as well as host Mississippi State and Auburn. All four teams are likely projected NCAA Tournament teams this season. Kentucky and Florida are expected to be favorites to win the league when the preseason polls are released. Click here for the full schedule. The season opener is 56 days away.

Saturday, September 07, 2019

James Rojas Out For Season With Knee Injury

It wouldn't be an Alabama basketball offseason without some bad news, and this one is a doozy. Juco All-American James Rojas, who just got to campus in August, has suffered a torn ACL and will miss the 19-20 season. Rojas was likely going to be a rotation player this season, and maybe more than that as he brought a high ceiling with him to Tuscaloosa. With the season sixty days away, I believe the team can adjust to this loss, but it sucks for James. He will have two seasons of eligibility when he returns next season.

While Nate Oats wants to play at a quick pace with much of the focus on the perimeter and scoring easy points in transition the loss of Rojas still hurts the interior depth for the team, which was already a question mark entering the season. Rebounding is a particular concern; an area where Rojas likely would have helped. Not to mention he's a guy that could run the floor and shoot. It's a tough loss.