Sunday, April 14, 2013

Grading the 2012-13 Alabama Basketball season

I decided to take a few weeks to write this as it's better to reflect with time. Having said that, THE TIME IS NOW!

I'm going to break this down in 2 groups: Non-Conference and Conference

Things looked good early... started off 6-0 (winning the 2K Sports Classic), lost on a buzzer beater @ Cincinnati, and everyone was feeling good about the shorthanded team. We head home for what we think is an easy thumping of Dayton... didn't work out as planned. Surprising loss, but wrote it off to the hangover in Cincy.

We knew going to VCU was going to be tough, but no one thought we'd get run out of the building. We did. Next up, @ Texas Tech. We dominate most of the game, but somehow let them get within a basket late before holding them off. I have to admit this game (a win no less) is where I started wondering if this team was NCAAT quality.

Get back home to supposedly beat up on 2 weak opponents in Mercer and Tulane... lost them both. I'm still trying to figure out how that happened. What started promising at 6-1 is now 7-5. As we all know by now our NCAAT hopes were pretty much over by the end of December unless we crushed the SEC schedule.

1st half of the season grade: D
It is inexcusable to lose 3 home games against far inferior opponents.

We open up at Missouri and most expect to be dominated... we play them tough before wilting late in the 2nd half (which turns out to be our MO the rest of the season). After that, we run off 4 in a row including a thrashing of Mi$$i$$ippi $tate in $tarkville and a win over the defending national champs Kentucky.

The next 4 games probably brought out the gambit of emotions for any diehard fan... the controversial loss @ UTK (choked the lead away late, didn't get the call when Lacey was fouled with the last shot), surviving Arkansas, winning @ Vandy for the 1st time since GHWB was POTUS, and then the terrible loss @ the Barn where basketball was set back 50 years. We come off that loss to win our next 4 (against mostly weak competition, but have a hard time putting them away).

Our last 5 games defined what we were... with a good chance to get into the NCAAT by going 4-1 we choke @ LSU, get revenge vs Auburn, and come up short @ UF and Ole Miss. We almost went 1-4 if not for a 2/3rd court shot by Trevor Releford to beat UGA.

2nd half of the season grade: B-
Going 12-6 would normally be awesome, but when you look closer at the schedule we went 1-3 vs the top 5 teams and 4-5 vs the top 8 in the conference.

Overall season grade: C 
It is pretty inexcusable to be down to 8 scholarship players (at its worst) in year 4. I have read that Engstrom might've been the difference in the season. Let's be honest here... while I like Carl, losing him for the season should NOT have been catastrophic.

When I look at the program overall under Anthony Grant I don't feel we are destined for great (or even better than mediocre) things. 1st year was a feeling out process in which I thought we made stride. 2nd year was better than anyone expected (despite going 0fer in St Thomas... which myself and DJC were there to witness). Last season despite making the NCAAT was a letdown IMO as we were a preseason top 20 team (that once we fell out we didn't return), and this past season was again a disappointment.

For the most part I have been really good about keeping my personal opinions off the board and simply 'report' on events, but this season I couldn't hold back anymore. I don't think we are trending positive as a program. We are not in the abyss of the Hobbs years or the last 2 of Gottfried, but I don't get the warm and fuzzies going into next season...  I feel a plateau.

Saying that, Grant is here at least another 2 seasons as his recent extension (if I read it correctly) has a $1.5 million buyout until the end of the 2014-15 season (then it drops to $500K or so).

So what does Grant need next season to keep the seat from getting hot? I say one of the following:
- End the season ranked in the top 25
- Win the SEC outright
- Win the SEC Tournament
- If none of the above then a surprise run to the Sweet 16 as a lower seed


RAY said...

"Saying that, Grant is here at least another 2 seasons as his recent extension (if I read it correctly) has a $1.5 million buyout until the end of the 2014-15 season (then it drops to $500K or so)."

if i could only find an employer like the university of Alabama.

crimsontider said...

Grant won't get another year, if he misses the NCAAT next year, if he gets in he's back, regardless of how he does it, or what seed he gets, but I will give you my opinion on what he SHOULD have to do anyway. 25 wins top 6 seed in the NCAAT, 1 or 2 wins in the NCAAT. Anything else, and he should be fired plain and simple.

crimsontider said...

Something that concerns me is Grant's demeanor. Something has seemingly changed with his persona on the court and I can't quite figure out what. He's got that Shula/Gottfried look in his eyes.

Msmilie said...

Where in the coaching handbook does it say to be a good coach, you have to jump around like an idiot yelling and stammering?

Boeheim shows virtually no emotion during a game and the cat has won more than 900 games in his career. You're really putting too much into Grant's demeanor. You either can X and O, motivate your players and draw up competent game plans or you can't. Demeanor has jack to do with it.

I don't think it's fair to compare Shula to Gottfried. Shula at least left the football program in good shape when Saban was hired (more than a few Shula players played a part in that 2009 title) while Gottfried left the basketball program in pretty bad shape.

Msmilie said...

Let me make sure I understand your vitriol today, CT. Say Bama wins 20-24 games, has a winning conference record for the fourth straight year, receives a 7-10 seed in the tournament next season, wins their first round game, but loses to a 2 seed in the next round, Grant should be fired?

This idea that Grant should have built Alabama into a Top 25 program in four years is absurd. Do you understand what it takes to build a program into a perennial top 25 program????? Here's a hint: It doesn't involve a magic wand. It takes hard work and more than a little bit of luck to make it happen.

Cats like CT post comments that make it seem as if the program is a train wreck under Grant. Grant's winning percentage through four years is equal, if not slightly better, than guys like Newton and Wimp's first four years, and those two are revered by Alabama basketball fans. If you want to argue that Grant needs to achieve a higher winning percentage than what has been the standard in Tuscaloosa, fine. You won't get any arguments from me. But don't act like the state of the program is in dire straits because that's simply not the case.

Building a program takes time. I agree with Bobby that a roster in a coach's fourth year shouldn't be as thin, but it wasn't because Grant wasn't trying to sign players. Everyone criticizes him for only signing one player in 2012, but it's not like the coaching staff didn't offer other players. There have admittedly been some misses in recruiting, but it's still a good collection of players currently on campus and coming in next season. Grant is building depth, and he's doing it with guys that will be around for 3-4 years, not one-and-done. Whether Grant is around in 3-4 years remains to be seen, but he's come in and tried to build this program in a positive way. People wonder why I get on a soap box for Anthony Grant. Why wouldn't you support someone like Anthony Grant who has tried to do things the right way? Are we so obsessed with having everything immediately these days that we no longer enjoy the peaks and valley of the journey itself?

RAY said...

"Grant's winning percentage through the first four years is equal, if not slightly better, thn guys like Newton and Wimp's first four years......"

Happy, is high time you recognized you are just as full of crap as CT, just on the other side.

on Jan. 26th, 1983, Wimp Sanderson took his team into the mouth of the beast, Pauley Pavilion and beat #1 ranked UCLA.

you want to talk about starting with nothing?? meet C. M. Newton. his first season he was 4-20. the man had NOTHING. year 4, tied for third in the conference. year 5, tied for 2nd. sounds comparable, right??

year 6, 22-4, 15-3 in the conference, 1st place.
ditto year 7. 1st place.
ditto year 8. 1st place.

you wanna bet me Grant finishes 1st in the SEC next three years in a row???

name your price. i've got it. i'll put it up.

Anthony Grant isn't half the coach either of these guys were. period. he goes to the number one team's house and beats them, you come to me.

he finishes 1st in the conference the next three years in a row, you can talk.

right now, you're just talkin' out grant's ass, period.

Edd Gee said...

Has anybody got any leads on who the next assistant coach will be?Or when one will be hired?

Msmilie said...

My point was Grant's winning percentage is similar to what Newton and Wimp did through their first four years. That is a fact. Deal with it.

I have nothing but respect for what C.M. and Wimp accomplished during their time at Alabama. Respect. You see, that's the difference between you and I. You don't even have respect for what Grant is trying to build, and that's where we have a serious problem. You've been dismissive of him from day one. At least the other naysayers who post here have been supportive of him at one time or another. The guy is busting his butt to build a good program, and all "fans" like you do is spit on it because he hasn't accomplished yet what you think he should have.

My problem with the anti-Grant crowd is not the wins and losses. That is always a debatable topic. There are always things that can get better. My problem with the anti-Grant crowd is that all of you seem to be openly hoping for his failure instead of pulling for him to succeed. To me, that is not what a fan should do. Even when I was not happy with the direction of the program under Gottfried, I still pulled for him to succeed because if he was successful, Alabama basketball was successful. What it comes down to at the end of the day is I want the Alabama basketball program to be successful. And if it can happen under the leadership of a guy who I believe is a good human being, even better.

Now be a good despicable s.o.b. loser and think of another way to spin your negative drivel, because your head might just explode if you ever had to engage in rational and intelligent discourse.

Msmilie said...

I haven't read or heard anything yet, Edd. FIU did hire a new coach today (Norfolk State's Anthony Evans) so it appears that Pujols, for now, will be in Tuscaloosa next season.

bobbyjack said...

A couple things here:
- basing job security on JUST NCAAT results here isn't realistic. Gottfried made it out of week 1 ONE time in his 11 yrs here, Hobbs never did, and Wimp never made it past the 2nd day of the 2nd week.
- What I posted is what I think HE NEEDS TO DO. Any of the above keeps him going for another year. He fails to finish in the top 25, win the SECT, win the SEC regular season outright, or advance to the 2nd week (notice this is a 1 of four option) then his seat should be on fire. To be honest his best bet is finishing in the top 25.
- I'll reiterate I don't think he's the guy for THIS job. The coaches that had success here (both record-wise and with the fan base) were out there promoting the program regularly. Grant has not done much on this front. That is a major flaw here at a football 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th only program.