Sunday, September 24, 2017

2017-18 Roster Preview: Guards

We're seven weeks from the beginning of one of the most anticipated Alabama basketball seasons in recent memory. While the level of expectations differ among the fanbase, the core expectation is that this team will be the first to represent the university in the NCAA Tournament since 2012. Those expectations will create pressure for this team and coaches. Fortunately, the team has the benefit of a talented and experienced group of returning players as well as a top 10 recruiting class. Let's meet that roster, starting with the guards.

Collin Sexton - 6'3 - 190 lbs - Freshman: Collin enters his freshman season at Alabama as a top 10 recruit out of high school. The basketball part for Collin should be easy. He's a fierce competitor, capable of playing on or off the ball, can score in bunches, but is also blessed with the quickness and athleticism that will allow him to be a fantastic defender if he buys in on that end of the floor. The biggest hurdle for Collin this season could prove to be managing the hype and expectations that have followed him to Alabama. Should he make a smooth transition, he's capable of putting together an SEC Freshman of the Year type of season.

Avery Johnson Jr. - 5'11 - 190 lbs - Junior: Avery played in all 34 games last season, and was 6th on the team in minutes per game (19.3). His averages for the season were 6.9 ppg, 1.7 rpg and 1.4 apg. He played a key role in the team's win at South Carolina, scoring 23 points, 6 rebounds and 3 assists. Looking ahead to this season, Avery must improve his shooting (33% FG, 31% 3-pt last season) as well as his assist-to-turnover ratio (1.4 apg/1.1 topg).

Friday, September 22, 2017

Bama Hoops News and Notes

It's seven weeks from the official start of the 2017-18 season, but recruiting never ends. The staff is currently on the road paying visits to recruits in the 2018, 19 and 20 classes. I've been doing my best to keep up with it all, but the day job comes first. Here is what I can tell you. Click the links for video.

First things first: The SEC Network is premiering an SEC Storied documentary about C.M. Newton on Tuesday, September 26th called Courage Matters: The C.M. Newton Story. That should be good. Tune in.

Alabama has offered Malcolm Dandridge, a 4-star center in the class of 2019. Dandridge (6-8, 200) is currently ranked in 247 Sports top 100 (78) for the class of 2019. He currently attends Memphis power, East High School. That's the same school that another Bama target, James Wiseman, currently attends.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Alabama Schedules Exhibition Game With Alabama-Huntsville

The final piece of the 2017-18 schedule has been added. This evening, Alabama announced that the University of Alabama-Huntsville will come to Tuscaloosa for an exhibition game on November 6th. It's another strong addition to the schedule. The Chargers have been one of the best programs in Division II in recent years. Last season, they finished with a 26-8 record, a conference tournament championship, and were a 1 seed in the D-II tournament before falling in the Sweet Sixteen. It's a good addition to the schedule. If you're going to play an exhibition against a D-II or NAIA school, you might as well play a good one.

In other news: Jeff Goodman at ESPN announced via Twitter that Alabama will hold a pro day on October 10th. For those that don't know, a pro day is an event in which NBA scouts can visit the school and observe players take part in different workouts. Alabama has several current players on the roster with legitimate pro aspirations so this makes sense.

In other other news: the staff is currently out on the road visiting recruits for the 18 and 19 classes. The 2019 class in particular looks like the next big class for the evolution of the Alabama program under Avery. Here's a rundown of who they have visited over the past week. If I leave anyone out, please let me know in the comments section.

Thursday, September 07, 2017

Tide Tipoff Event Date and Time Announced

The date and time for the third annual Tide Tipoff event, featuring both the men's and women's teams, has been announced. The event will take place on Tuesday, October 24th at Coleman. Doors open at 6 P.M. CT, with the court activities beginning at 7 P.M. Be sure to get there early as the seating will be general admission.

The game time for Alabama's home game vs Oklahoma in the Big 12/SEC Challenge will be 1:15 P.M. CT on Saturday, January 27th. ESPN will handle the television duties, but I implore any and all Bama fans in the area to head out to Coleman to support our guys in what could be a very important non-conference matchup. I expect Oklahoma to bounce back after a really difficult season a year ago when the Sooners finished with an 11-20 record.

A few quick recruiting notes: Robert Woodard II, a top 100 recruit in the class of 2018, took an unofficial visit to Alabama earlier this week.

Sunday, September 03, 2017

Recruiting News; Game Times Announced; Dogs and Cats Living Together!

A few things to report today. Let's start with game times. The university has announced tip times for three games.

The season opener against Memphis in Annapolis, Maryland as part of the Veterans Classic will tip at 5:30 P.M. CT. The game will be televised on the CBS Sports Network. That is on Friday, November 10.

The home game vs UCF on Sunday, December 3 will be a 1 P.M. CT tip. ESPNU will televise, but that's a great game on a Sunday afternoon for fans to bring their families, friends, special lady friends, sugar daddies, hell bring an enemy or two if you like. A quality opponent, an easy tip time. No reason Coleman shouldn't be packed for that game.

Finally, the Vulcan Classic match-up vs Texas in Birmingham on Friday December 22 will tip at 8 P.M. CT. ESPN2 will handle the television duties, but this should also be a manageable game for people to make. 8 P.M. on a Friday night. If you live in or relatively close to Birmingham, you won't even have to take the day off to make that 8 P.M. tip. A great opportunity for fans to see a name brand opponent, and the court will be littered with great athletes for both teams. That should be a very fun game.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

We have a Schedule!

The SEC released it's full schedule, so combined with the non-conference schedule that's been out for a few weeks now, we know the full slate.

v. Memphis (Annapolis, MD) Nov. 10 (Fri)
v. Lipscomb Nov. 14 (Tues)
v. Alabama A&M Nov. 17 (Fri)
v. UT Arlington Nov. 21 (Tues)
v. BYU (Barclays Classic, Brooklyn, NY) Nov. 24 (Frid)
v. Minnesota (Barclays Classic, Brooklyn, NY) Nov. 25 (Sat)
v. La Tech Nov. 29 (Wed)
v. UCF Dec. 3 (Sun)
v. Rhode Island Dec. 6 (Wed)
@Arizona Dec.9 (Sat)
v. Mercer Dec.19 (Huntsville, AL) (Tues)
v. Texas Dec. 22 (Birmingham, AL) (Fri)
v. Texas A&M Dec. 30 (Sat)
@Vandy Jan.2 (Tues)
@Georgia Jan.6 (Sat)
@LSU Jan.13 (Sat)
v. auburn Jan. 17 (wed)
v. miss $tate Jan. 20 (Sat)
@ Ole Miss Jan. 23 (Tues)
v. Oklahoma Jan. 27 (Sat)
v. Mizzou Jan. 31 (Wed)
@Florida Feb.3 (Sat)
@miss $tate Feb.6 (Tues)
v. Tennessee Feb.10 (Sat)
v. LSU Feb. 13 (Tues)
@Kentucky Feb.17 (Sat)
@auburn Feb. 21 (Wed)
v. Arkansas Feb.24 (Sat)
v. Florida Feb. 27 (Tues)
@Texas A&M Mar. 3 (Sat)
SEC Tournament (St. Louis, MO) Mar. 7-11
NCAA Tournament  TBA

A few thoughts, we've discussed how tough the non-conference schedule is, but there's only one true road game, albeit very possibly against the top ranked team in the country.  Three straight road games to start the conference play, but all very winnable, though we know what a house of horrors Memorial gym can be.  No Monday or Thursday starts in conference play this year, so we won't have the short Thursday Saturday turnaround.  The final stretch is pretty salty, @uk, @au, Ark, Fla, @aTm

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Recruiting Update: 2018 3-star Guard Schedules Visit

Diante Wood, a 6'4, 175 lb guard from Anniston, Alabama has scheduled an official visit to Alabama the weekend of October 13-15. That's the weekend of the football game vs Arkansas. Wood is currently rated as a 3-star guard in the class of 2018 by 247 Sports.

Wood's head coach at Sacred Heart Catholic School - Ralpheal Graves - was quoted in a recent Bama Online article that Diante is in contact with the Bama staff every day, and that he has a very close relationship with Antoine Pettway. If Bama emerges as Wood's leader, don't be surprised if he commits to Alabama after his official visit in October. Here's some recent  video of Diante.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Recruiting Update: Alabama in Final 6 for 4-star 2018 Guard

This news was announced last week, but I decided to wait until after the games in Canada to write about it. Jared Butler is a 4-star, top 100 guard in the class of 2018. Last week he announced via Twitter the final six schools he is considering. Alabama made the cut, along with Texas, USC, Virginia, Wichita State and Baylor. Butler is from Reserve, Louisiana. He was quoted in a July article posted by Evan Daniels at Scout that he was going to take an official visit to Alabama. He has previously made an unofficial visit to Tuscaloosa, which I detailed here. Butler was a member of MEBO Team Hood this spring and summer. MEBO is based in Mississippi, and features another 2018 Alabama target, Robert Woodard. You can see Butler and Woodard (12) playing together in the video posted below.

Elsewhere, Alabama made the "final 9" list for 3-star Mississippi recruit, Javian Fleming. Among the other eight schools that made the cut are Georgetown, Texas A&M, Ole Miss and Tennessee. My belief is Alabama is the favorite for Fleming. For what it's worth, the early predictions for Fleming at 247 Sports also list Alabama as the favorite. Still a long way to go with Javian's recruitment, but that's encouraging. Hit the break for a highlight video of Jared and Javian.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Bama Grinds Out 81-71 Victory vs Ottawa

In the final game of their Canadian tour, our guys overcame another slow start and poor shooting night to knock off the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees, 81-71. Several players - Dazon Ingram, Herb Jones and Collin Sexton - sat out for precautionary reasons.

Ottawa got off to a hot start, leading by as much as 7 points in the 1st quarter. Alabama put together a strong 2nd quarter, outscoring the Gee-Gees by 11, and a 6-point halftime lead. From there the game was a close affair until Alabama was able to put together a run in the 4th quarter to lead by as many as 13, which ultimately helped Alabama close the game out.

Six guys finished in double figures - Avery Jr with 15, Braxton with 12, John Petty with 11, Riley with 13, Donta with 11, and Ar'Mond with 10. After being out-rebounded by 10 in their previous game, Alabama was +11 on the boards. On the flip side, defense continues to be a work in progress, Alabama only forced nine turnovers, and Ottawa attempted 79 shots. Fortunately, the Gee-Gees only made 38% of their field goals. On offense, Alabama only had 11 assists vs 14 turnovers. Once again, the free throw line was a struggle as the team finished at just 60%.

While John Petty and Collin Sexton have received a lot of attention so far this season, I was encouraged by the play of the veterans tonight. The young guys are great, but how far this team will go will be determined by the veterans. Braxton, Donta, Riley, Avery Jr. and Ar'Mond all had good games tonight. Of note: Braxton is in noticeably better shape as a sophomore, and Ar'Mond looks much more comfortable on the floor than he did last season. Regarding the young guys: John Petty and Collin look the part so far. Petty in particular raised his profile with the casual fans by his performance in Canada. Yeah, he can shoot the heck out of the ball, but he impressed me tonight with his passing ability (4 assists tonight).

Alabama finishes the Canadian tour at 2-1. Though they will come home with some bumps and bruises, they appear to be relatively healthy as we look forward to November. These teams in Canada were quality competition, and I think this was a good experience for this Alabama team. 13 weeks until Memphis. Stay buckled. 

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Carleton Cruises over Crimson, 84-71.

I watched this on the live facebook stream, and was on a conference call through much of the first half, so wasn't able to pay as close attention as I would like.  We got off to another slow start, but Carleton was a much more talented and athletic team than McGill.  Coming off a loss to Towson, they were motivated, and I wonder if they overlooked their first opponent a bit in anticipation for playing us.  Likewise, I think the 40 point win in the first game gave our guys a false sense of confidence.

Bottom line, if we don't take care of the basketball and play better defense, this team will not live up to its expectations.  With about 3 minutes to go Sexton went down with an injury and the feed would not show him.  My thoughts immediately went to "this would be the most Alabama basketball thing ever for this to be a serious injury."  A friend of mine who was at the game said it look like he got the wind knocked out of him and banged up his knee a bit.  He said they checked him out in the locker room and he came back out on the bench and looked fine, and he thought he could have returned if it was close.  I hope that's right.

Hopefully someone who was able to watch this one more closely throughout can give a more detailed recap.  I've got to run but thought I would throw something up quickly.

Up next, the University of Ottawa Gee Gees tomorrow night at 5:30 Central.  I probably won't be able watch this one.