Okay, so it's not much of a banner line, but I am tired and have a bad cold. Maybe I'll do better next time.
These were the best seats I've ever had at a basketball game. We were just left of mid-court sitting five rows behind Chris Stewart and Tom Roberts. I haven't had seats like this since my friends and I used to sit right behind the basket as students.
Unfortunately, I don't think Mrs. Alias will ever attend another game with me. That crowd was duller than a wet firecracker. Somebody had to let the officials know we had our eyes on them. There were not very many real Bama Basketball fans in that crowd and there certainly was no Marks Madness presence. I did my duty as a fan. Now I will have to pay my penance as a husband. Oh well!
Perhaps the most obvious thing I can say is that this team simply is not the same without Ronald Steele. Hollinger is more than capable, but he is not Ron Steele.
Perhaps the best thing I can say about this game is that this team can win without Ron Steele.
If Bama played defense like Southern Miss and with the same intensity, they would be unstoppable. Hollinger had hands in his face and on his belly all night. He and the other guards were pushed, shoved and grabbed up and down the court all night. The team committed way too many turnovers, but I don't think the guards were responsible for many of them. Hollinger will not often be defended more tightly or physically than he was tonight, and he still found a way to get the ball underneath the basket where CMG repeatedly told the team he wanted to go.
Gee and Hendrix both have a bad habit of putting the ball on the floor too close to the basket. That leads to way too many turnovers. Hopefully with more playing time they will develop the sort of presence and feel Davidson now has. They don't have it yet. They still were very productive offensively and should continue to improve. Given all the hacking and slapping the officials allowed both teams to commit tonight, the big men got a good deal of experience against physical defense.
Tubbs still had his shot. I think he was 2 of 3 outside. That was excellent news. I think Gee was 2 for 4 or 5 outside the arc, but I easily could be mistaken. I keep waiting for the officials statistics to be posted and will defer to them when they are available.
Torrence looked a bit out of sync tonight. He has looked much sharper in other games. Both Torrence and Hollinger forgot to play defense with their feet from time to time. Tubbs did not. The more I see of all these kids the more I want to see more Tubbs.
The key to this game was Davidson. USM simply did not have an answer for him. He was quicker, moved better with the ball, and shot the short jumper better than any of the USM inside players. He fouled out one defender and hung 3 or 4 fouls on each of the other two guys who tried to guard him. He was more effective down low than Hendrix or Gee because he has an 8-12 foot shot that was dropping tonight and defending that forced his opponents to give up moves toward the basket by JD. When JD took the ball to the hoop tonight, Bama won.
Bama defended credibly against a good shooting team. I really liked Riley's defense, especially in the second half. Some of the younger players have trouble getting back out to guard the three after offering double team help near the basket, but they are doing better all the time. Davidson and Hendrix generally were allowed some body bumps while they swatted away almost everything under the basket.
All things considered, it was a good win in a beautiful arena before a large, neutral crowd. The young kids keep getting better. We need to see more Tubbs. If Steele ever gets well, we will be very good. We are pretty good without him, but Steele is the difference between a good Bama team and one that goes to the Final Four.
I continue to believe this team will be fun to watch all year.