Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Avery Johnson Radio Interview

Avery appeared on Wimp and Barry Sanderson's radio show on Tide 102.9 in Tuscaloosa. Topics covered include Avery's humanitarian efforts in the aftermath of the flooding in Baton Rouge, Avery's thoughts on the 16-17 team, the status of Bola Olaniyan, recruiting, the end of last season and Gregg Popovich.


Monday, August 15, 2016

Alabama Adds Southern Illinois Grad Transfer

So you thought the roster was set for the 16-17 season? Well, think again! Bola Olaniyan, a 6'7, 230 lb grad transfer from Southern Illinois is headed to Tuscaloosa. Olaniyan will have one year of eligibility.

In his final season at Southern Illinois, Olaniyan averaged 7.8 ppg and 8.8 rpg (he was the 2nd leading rebounder in the Missouri Valley last season). With his addition, all 13 scholarships will be filled for the 16-17 season. When was the last time that happened?

For a team that has struggled rebounding the ball, the 2nd leading rebounder in the Missouri Valley is a welcome addition. Olaniyan will be an undersized post player in the SEC so it remains to be seen if he's as effective on the glass as he was in the Missouri Valley, but at the very least, he's going to bring quality depth to the team in practice and games. 

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Non-Conference Schedule Released!

The Alabama men's basketball team released the 2016-17 non-conference schedule today. The schedule release was part of an event called the "Summer Tip-Off Event", held at the Grand Bohemian Hotel in Birmingham. The event was streamed live on the official site, and I was fortunate enough to have the free time to watch. From where I sat, the event was a tremendous success. The dialog was fun, informative, and really embraced those within the university and outside it that desperately want to see Alabama basketball become something great. If the official site reposts the video, I recommend checking it out for those who were unable to catch the live broadcast or attend in person.

Here is the schedule:

November 3rd - Faulkner [Exhibition]
November 11th - Coastal Carolina
November 15th - Dayton
November 18th - Ball State
November 21st - Valparaiso [Las Vegas]
November 23rd - BYU/Saint Louis [Las Vegas]
November 29th - Charleston Southern
December 2nd - at Texas
December 11th - at Oregon
December 15th - USC Upstate
December 18th - Clemson [Birmingham]
December 21st - Arkansas State [Huntsville]
December 29th - Stetson

Avery Johnson said they wanted to put together a balanced schedule, and I think this fits the bill. You've got some marquee basketball programs (Dayton, BYU, Texas, Oregon and Clemson) mixed with some solid mid-majors (Coastal Carolina and Ball State were 21-win postseason teams last season, while Valparaiso won 30 games, played in the NIT championship game, and have one of the top 50 players in college basketball returning in Alec Peters). The surprise of the schedule is Alabama traveling to the Von Braun center in Huntsville to play Arkansas State. One of our readers commented in a previous post that he wasn't crazy about these off-campus home games, and I understand his complaint, but I also understand how tough it is to create an atmosphere in Coleman Coliseum when the students are on their holiday break. I think both the Birmingham and Huntsville games were scheduled with the holiday break in mind, and Avery took it further today, explaining that their interest in playing around the state has a great deal to do with recruiting.

What do you guys think of the non-conference schedule? Is there one game in particular you can't wait to see? What road games, if any, will you be trekking to see? Please share your thoughts in the comments section.

#BuckleUp

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Avery Johnson is a bad mutha- (shut your mouth!)

Avery Johnson has been winning over Tide fans since he was hired. One reason for this is the thought he's put into promoting the program. Whether it's bringing students back to games by improving the student section or taking the time to appear on local and national media every chance he gets, Avery has been indefatigable in raising the profile of Alabama basketball.

His latest move is intriguing. Instead of just a bland press release announcing the non-conference schedule, Avery Johnson, his assistants, and the players will take part in the "Alabama Basketball Summer Tip Off Event" on Wednesday (July 27). The event will take place at 4 PM, and will be streamed live at the official site.

According to the official site: "Alabama men's basketball radio play-by-play man Chris Stewart will host the event which will feature a sit down chat with coach Johnson as the pair will recap the 2015-16 season as well as preview the upcoming year. Following that, the schedule will be unveiled game-by-game, while Johnson and members of the Crimson Tide coaching staff will provide commentary about each opponent."

I think this is a very cool way idea. Fortunately, I have some free time on Wednesday, and will be able to watch this live. To my knowledge, no other college basketball program has unveiled their schedule in this way (please correct me in the comments if I'm mistaken) so Avery is setting a precedent of sorts with this event. It's yet another smart move in Avery's attempts to raise the profile of the basketball program.

Speaking of the schedule, Texas released their non-conference schedule today. As reported earlier in the summer by CBS Sports Jon Rothstein, Alabama will travel to Austin to face the Longhorns in the first game of a home-and-home series. That game will be Friday, December 2nd. Game time is TBD. Along with the trip to Oregon that Bobby posted about below, that's two really tough road games for Alabama against what should be a top 10 team in Oregon, and a fringe top 25 team in Texas.

You! Yes, you! Buckle Up!

Oregon game to be played on campus

To my dismay, it looks like part 2 of the Oregon-Alabama series will be played in Eugene instead of Portland.
Sez so RIGHT HERE
No date has been decided yet, but I assume this one will be within the first 2 weeks of the season.

Anyone wanna fund my trip to cover this EXCLUSIVELY here? :)

Schedule News - Alabama Will Host Clemson In Birmingham

The Clemson men's basketball team released their non-conference schedule today. As a result, we now know when (and where) they will play Alabama. The game will take place at Legacy Arena in Birmingham on Sunday, December 18. This will be the return game of the home-and-home series between the two schools. For Alabama, it will be their second consecutive year playing a home game off-campus. Last season, they played Oregon in Legacy Arena.

I really like the idea of at least one off-campus game per year for Alabama. The game against Oregon last year was great, despite the team losing the game. The environment was really good. In fact, I think the crowd on hand was arguably the best home crowd Alabama had all season. And the fact that the opponents so far for these games in Birmingham have been strong opponents has not hurt the appeal of the event. Last season, Oregon was the eventual Pac 12 Champion and a 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Clemson could be a sleeper in the ACC next season thanks to the return of Jaron Blossomgame, a 1st team All-ACC selection last season, who went through the draft process, but elected to return for his senior season. And it would not surprise me if Texas is the opponent for the off-campus game next season, assuming the reports that both schools have agreed to a home-and-home series beginning this season are true. My schedule rarely allows me to return to the great state, but I am really hoping to get to Birmingham this season for that game. In interviews over the summer with the local media, Avery has suggested the location for the off-campus games could change occasionally. Huntsville was mentioned by Avery, but I imagine Mobile could also be a possibility in the years ahead.

In other news: The Alabama women's basketball team have released their non-conference schedule for 2016. The ladies will return to Coleman Coliseum for their home games after spending recent seasons in Foster Auditorium. I think this is great for the women's team; all Bama basketball teams should play on the same court. Kristy Curry enters her fourth season as head coach. It's been a challenge for Curry so far in rebuilding the program (a record of 42-51 in three seasons), but the hope is that the women's team can begin to take a necessary step forward this season. Season tickets are now on sale. I suspect we shall see some doubleheaders with the men's team in Coleman this season.

For God's sake, stay Buckled Up!

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Schedule News - Alabama will host Charleston Southern

Charleston Southern have released their 2016-17 non-conference schedule. For the third time in five seasons, the Buccaneers will travel to Tuscaloosa. The game will take place on Tuesday, November 29th (Time TBD). The 15-16 campaign for Charleston Southern was rather dismal, as they finished 9-21 (5-13 in Big South play). This isn't the type of strong RPI game (Charleston Southern's final RPI rank was 297) the SEC front office is looking for their league teams to schedule so the hope is 1] Alabama wins the game (always important) and 2] Charleston Southern is an improved team and finishes the 16-17 season with at least a top 200 RPI. 

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Retin Obasohan Signs Summer League Contract

Even though Retin Obasohan was not selected in the NBA draft, he has been signed by the Sacramento Kings as a free agent for their summer league team that will be playing games in Las Vegas next month (July 8-18). Former Bama player Levi Randolph will also be taking part, playing for the Memphis Grizzlies in the Vegas league, while also playing for the Philadelphia 76er team in the Utah league spate of games, which will take place July 4-7.

There are only a handful of roster spots that will be filled by free agents taking part in the summer league, but it remains an opportunity for guys like Retin and Levi to make an impression for NBA coaches and scouts. The summer league doesn't always produce great team basketball games, but if you're a hoops head like me, you take what you can get in July. I'll be watching.

As far as next season goes, the latest on the non-conference schedule, according to Coach Avery, is that they hope to release it next week following the July 4th holiday. They're working to schedule the opening game of the season, and that will complete the non-conference portion of the schedule. The league schedule probably won't be announced until August. We'll post and discuss the schedule immediately upon its release.

I hope all of our readers are having a great summer so far. Stay buckled up. November will be here before you know it. Roll Tide.

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Schedule News: Bama Hoops in Las Vegas?

The SB Nation site, Blogging The Bracket, has an updated list of the 2016-17 college basketball tournaments and neutral-site events that take place early in the season. Skimming it tonight, I noticed that Alabama was included in the "Men Who Speak Up Main Event" at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Dates are November 21st and 23rd.

Like many of these recent "tournaments", there are four host schools who make up the "Heavyweight" bracket in Las Vegas, and the visiting teams who make up their own separate bracket in Las Vegas, the "Middleweight" bracket. The host schools play a game or two on their campus, and then,regardless of the results in the campus games, play each other in the bracket in Las Vegas. The visiting teams are currently TBD, but the four host schools are listed. In addition to Alabama, BYU, Minnesota and Valparaiso are the other host schools. BYU and Valparaiso advanced to the NIT Final Four last season (Valparaiso was defeated by George Washington in the championship game), while Minnesota struggled through an 8-win season in Richard Pitino's third season at the school.

There has been no official announcement by the schools or the website for the event so take all of this with a grain of salt, but it certainly seems in line with the way Avery has scheduled so far in his tenure, and SB Nation has been very accurate with this list in the last few seasons they've been doing it. If this does pan out, it would certainly be a fun trip for Bama Hoops fans who have the pocket change and an affinity for Sin City. Based on comments Avery made today at the SEC spring meetings, they are locking down one more opponent, and hope to have that done within the next week. If his statements are accurate, we may see a non-conference schedule as early as next week.

UPDATE 06/09/2016:  I'm reading around the internet that Minnesota may have backed out of this event, forcing the organizers to find a new team to fill out the bracket. At the moment, that team is TBD. That could be what Avery has been referring to in recent comments about the schedule when he says they have one team left to complete the schedule. Honestly, I'm not sad about this news (assuming it's legit). Minnesota is a dumpster fire on and off the court at the moment. Should they continue to struggle, their presence in this event won't exactly do much for Alabama's RPI (not to mention BYU and Valparaiso who are counting on their non-conference schedules to help them build at-large resumes despite playing in conferences that are considered mid-major).

UPDATE 06/18/2016: The field for the  "Men Who Speak Up Main Event" has been filled according to Jon Rothstein on Twitter. St. Louis has replaced Minnesota. The Billikens (a billiken is a good luck figure that was imagined by art teacher Florence Pretz in a dream. No word yet on how many mushrooms were consumed by Florence prior to falling asleep.) had a forgetful 15-16 campaign, finishing 11-21 (5-13 in conference play). Travis Ford was hired in the offseason, replacing Jim Crews.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Way Too Early SEC Predictions

Now that the deadline for the NBA Draft has passed and we know the players that are returning to their respective programs, I thought it would be a good time to make early predictions for next season. I encourage all of our readers to chime in with your predictions as well. Anything that encourages discussion is always welcomed here.

In my opinion, when I look at the teams next season on paper, I don't see a serious contender to Kentucky. The Wildcats are going through a golden age under Calipari while the conference as a whole isn't. In the last five years, there have been three separate seasons in which the league has only sent three schools to the tournament. The other two seasons in that span: four and five teams. The league schools have made nice coaching hires, and recruiting has improved, but the overall success as a result of these developments has been slow. These days, it's hard to consider the SEC as a power basketball conference with a straight face. It's vital that the league can somehow get three or four additional teams with Kentucky in the NCAA Tournament in an effort to begin altering perception of the league in basketball.

Here are my way too early predictions for next season.