Please forgive the belated update. An overnight stay without Internet access and a visit to a friend who lost his mother kept me from posting anything until after Bobby Jack had delivered his comments, all of which seemed to be directly on point.
Anthony Grant said a few weeks ago that he expected to run a dribble-drive half-court offense. That is exactly where they started Saturday, without success. We must have turned the ball over at least three of the first five trips down the court. One was a mishandled pass (I believe to Knox) and the other two were reach ins by the defense. I was shielded from the defensive moves so I cannot say whether the steals were legitimate or our players were being hacked. I do know that the officials did not call a single foul underneath the Alabama basket for the first 13 minutes of the game. The defensive plays could have been clean, but I really don't think Cornell was that much quicker that the Tide.
To say our offense sputtered when the dribble drive proved ineffective would be a gross understatement. Coach Grant did eventually try some adaptations of that approach. The readers will be pleased to know that none of them involved the UCLA High Post Offense and that some of them were effective.
We had no answer for Foote, Big Red's seven foot center. We did not even have a large body to lean against him to keep him from backing into the lane once he received the entry pass. When all else failed, the officials allowed Foote to clear out his path to the hoop with his off arm. There will be games where that play will be allowed. Unless something changes, Bama will not have an answer for it.
Number 20 for Cornell was a swing type player who appeared to be about 6'5" who turned out to be their three point expert. I don't think he missed a single open shot. They set screens to get him open and the big men kicked the ball back down to him when the guards collapsed to offer help.
I had heard that Bama had two plays to inbound the ball. I don't think I saw either of them Saturday. I recall at least three occasions where we had to lob the ball to or beyond the half court line to inbound it underneath our own basket. One other time they burned a time out because no one could get open.
Bama did alternate its approach to generate some offense. When Cornell came out in a tight man defense in the second half, Bama cleared out from underneath the basket and allowed Torrence to drive in for easy layups. A switch to a zone put a stop to that. They also tried to set some screens for threes. I am not a good enough student of the game to know what is wrong, but our screens do not work. I don't know whether the problem lies in where we set them, how long our player stays set, or how closely the moving player approaches, but they seldom seemed to create an open look.
Cornell's point guards were allowed to penetrate too closely to our basket without anyone offering help to the man guarding the point. That generated open looks and open passes underneath the basket. These last three points make me tend to believe that old habits really are hard to break.
On the positive side, Green did have some nice moves against the seven footer underneath the basket. Hillman showed spots of his upside when Bama turned on the pressure. The pressure generated at least two steals for turnover goals. Mitchell had a good game. I think he had one steal (I don't see on in the box score), he had a nice offensive rebound for a put back, and scored effectively from the field. Alabama wins this game but for the two missed dunks and three missed layups in the second half. The effort was good. Unfortunately the team does not yet appear to grasp what Coach Grant is trying to do offensively (gee, no surprises there!) and looks like it has not worked together for very long. The upside potential might be better than any of our regular contributors predicted. Then again, it might not. So long as they continue to demonstrate the type of effort I saw yesterday, I will be happy to make the round trip from Mobile to Coleman Coliseum as often as work and family obligations will allow.