The one good thing I noticed at yesterday's blowout by API of the Alabama home team was that the student section was almost completely filled for the first time since the LSU game when Nick Saban was introduced. It's a good thing the students showed up because the coach and several members of the team did not.
Because the coach has not cared all season, just enough of Alabama's players didn't care yesterday whether we got blown out by API at home for it to happen. And that's just fine with me now, because as of this point I don't give a darn about this coach either. If the coach had cared, all our players would have given full effort and would know how to play the game.
Ron Steele remains excused from any criticism. He has done whatever he could, whether healthy or ill, to help his team. His talent, heart and commitment will remain beyond question. But two of the most important cogs on this team failed to show up yet again yesterday afternoon. Unfortunately for our program that says more about our coach and the status of our program than it does about the two young men in question.
I am beyond disappointment at this point. I am even beyond disgust. I am not quite to contempt, but I will not withhold that reaction for more than one more season. Everything that went wrong yesterday lies clearly at the feet of the same coach who did such an excellent job last year. Then again, last year he had a healthy Ron Steele who plays well in spite of his coach's shortcomings, so perhaps it is Ron Steele who did an excellent job last season.
But for the two above-mentioned players, the team has given consistent and improved effort ever since the first blowout at API. (They put up a freaking curtain to keep their lack of attendance from being so noticeable, for heavens sake!) The problem is that they simply do not know how to play defense.
No one has taught them the fundamentals of the game of basketball and they especially have not been taught the mechanics, philosophy or importance of defense. While I'm on mechanics, we need to scrap that High-post offense and go to one where the players are taught to run toward the passes they receive because all our defenders to that and beat us to them.
CMG has not taught these kids how to play basketball. He has not emphasized to them how important consistent effort is. He has not developed a team concept within these players. He has not exerted control (ala the bench) when they have refused to play fundamentally sound and with full effort. He has not taken full advantage of his opportunities to develop the younger players to have them ready when the veterans were unable to participate. (Why was Torrence on the bench all season before he hurt his hand? Why did it take forever to get Tubbs on the court? Where is Coleman? He at least could have let an elbow or two fly yesterday when the zebras were letting API maul our players in the first half.)
I could type for hours about what is wrong with this team and our program right now, and I probably don't know nearly as much of most of our other real basketball fans. I shudder to think what our former players and fans who actually have coached the game might be able to add to my paltry observations. But here is the point.
If CMG does not care enough about our team, our program and our players to have them ready, both in terms of having instilled the necessary skills into them and emotionally ready to play two of our biggest rivals AT HOME, then I am not going to participate either.
I will buy my tickets for next year but I will not drive to or watch a single game unless CMG makes some kind of staff changes. If he does not hire someone who can and will teach these kids how to play basketball, then I will not attend the games and I will boycott all the programs sponsors. (I'm really going to miss that Mayfield Ice cream!)
I have talked to no fewer than a dozen real Bama Basketball fans and every one of them has at least as dismal an assessment of this team and our coach's performance as I do. Not many of them are willing to vote with their feet like I am. But I have given 35 years of love and support to this program and I will not participate any further in its being run into the ground.
I would encourage every Bama Basketball fan to send a letter to Mal Moore with copies to Wendell Hudson and to CMG. Tell them what you really think and how you really feel. Let them know this type of mediocrity will not be accepted.
As I said in my open letter to CMG a few weeks ago, we all know where the Bama Basketball buck stops. He is accountable and responsible for everything that goes well and that goes wrong with our program. I believe he needs to look in the mirror and ask himself what he has done wrong with this team and with these players. I also think Mal Moore and Wendell Hudson need to insist that he do that if he does not come up with the idea on his own.
I still agree with all the favorable things I said about CMG in my open letter a few weeks ago. He gets credit for all those things and they are very valuable to our program, players and university. But if he teaches our kids to accept mediocrity and to sleep walk through life, he will be doing them a disservice. Among other things, he was hired to teach our kids how to play fundamentally sound, winning basketball. It is obvious he is not capable of doing that. As coach Bryant used to say, he needs to hire the people who know how to do what he does not know. That's called sound management and effective leadership. Then he needs to let them do their jobs and be accountable for the results.
The results this year were unacceptable. If our team is equally fundamentally flawed and under motivated next year, then the head coach needs to be fired. For this season, the head coach needs to replace the assistants who did not do their job with some who will next season.
I will be back when our program is.