Sunday, December 22, 2013

Xavier 77 Bama 74. Season over.

Same stuff, different day, another close game that we let slip away.  Our substitution patterns made no sense to me.  Shannon Hale scores 14 points in 13 minutes then sits on the bench the whole second half.  I understand his defense is not ideal, but we really could have used his shooting against the zone.  This is just another example of how we put way too much emphasis on defense to the detriment of our ability to score.  

Our interior defense and rebounding was pathetic.  Xavier is not known for their post play, but their front court killed us.  We played decent defense on the perimeter, holding them to 5 of 15 from 3 point range, but we got killed on the offensive boards.  Nick Jacobs is obviously still bothered by his shoulder, and Carl isn't physical enough to actually block anybody out.  I wish we would have gave Jimmie Taylor more of a chance in the 2nd half.  

What bothered me most about this game is the fact that nobody, not the players, coaches, or the fans in the stands seemed to appreciate what was on the line.  To have any realistic chance of getting into the NCAA tournament discussion, we had to win this game and hope to pull off an upset in LA to turn things around.  I did not see that sense of urgency from our guys. Conversely, you can see in their eyes that they are scared of losing these games now.  This team has no confidence that they can win a close game.  Even when we were up 10, I never thought we were going to win the game.

Xavier is a good defensive team, and it is difficult to score on them in the half court.  I don't understand why we did not press or run some 1-3-1 half court trap that we've been successful with this season to try to force some turnover and get into transition and create a more uptempo game.  We were forced to play somewhat conservatively due to foul trouble, Nick and Releford played much of the 2nd half with 4 fouls and Carl fouled out.  

Free throws hurt us once again.  As noted above, we foul a lot, and Xavier made their free throws, despite being one of the worst free throw shooting teams in the country coming into the game.  On the other hand, we only made 20 of 30 and once again choked at the line late.  

I think it's time to reconsider our goals for the season.  This team isn't anywhere close to being an NCAA tournament team.  We are now playing for a winning record and an NIT bid.  That's not going to be an easy task; we are looking at a 6-7 record going into league play. Looking at the SEC schedule, I see at least 5 sure losses.  Assuming we don't steal any against Mizzou, Florida, or Kentucky, we would need to go 10-3 against the rest of the conference. 

There was another heated exchange on the sideline between Coach Grant and Coach Brannen.  I am starting to believe that those two are not seeing eye to eye.  It's also interesting to note that Trevor Lacey was in attendance for this game, and was seen hanging out with several current players in the parking lot about 4 hours before tipoff.  

Despite the dirt cheap tickets, it being a holiday weekend with no students around and severe weather looming kept most fans away.  I would estimate around 3,500 in the house, including about 200 or so Xavier fans.  The atmosphere was dead and lame for most of the night.  I know it's somewhat hypocritical of me to complain about the fans who actually show up, but we had the most annoying people imaginable sitting near us.  First, there was the lady who screamed the whole game, when Xavier had the ball it was "No No No" on every pass, dribble, shot, etc, and when we had the ball it was "Yes Yes Yes, there it is!" (even if it was a contested, off balance jump shot at the end of the shot clock.)  Then we had the people who inexplicably believed Carl Engstrom to be the second coming of Michael Jordan.  They screamed at coach to put him in every time he came out, and cheered wildly for every little thing he did.  Their basketball knowledge was lacking, to say the least.  Finally there was a group of about a dozen or so teenagers who were cheering obnoxiously for Xavier, I'm not sure if they were related to some of Xavier's players or if they were local auburn kids taking advantage of the $1 tickets.  

I am going to continue going to games to support the players.  They are working hard, and I appreciate their contributions to our University.  That being said, I don't blame anyone who chooses to spend their time and money on other things at this point.  Furthermore, these recaps are likely going to get much shorter, and maybe even non-existent in the near future.  Frankly, writing basically the same thing about loss after loss is getting depressing.

Up next, we go across the country to historic Pauley Pavilion in Los Angeles to take on the UCLA Bruins.  Tip off is set for 7 p.m. PST (9pm Central) and will be televised on ESPN2.  Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.  


bobbyjack said...

I hear you DJC... it is really hard to muster up the strength for a preview on my end.

finebammer said...

tweeted by:

Cecil Hurt ‏@CecilHurt21h
Kenyan Drake just asked me where Shannon Hale was in the second half.

good one.

crimsontider said...

The highest paid coach in Alabama history is also the first coach in Alabama history to lose 6 or more games before Christmas. Hmm…. As for the arguments between the highest paid coach in Alabama history, and John Brannen. I have no idea what is sparking those, but I would bet my mortgage that Brannen is on the right there. The highest paid coach in Alabama history has never been one to accept help from his assistants. Your last paragraph is proof of what I have been saying for about a year now. The highest paid coach in Alabama history has alienated the fan base. This is rock bottom. This is worse than Hobbs or Gottfried's last 2 years. And honestly more losses might be a good thing for the program right now. I would rather miss they NIT, and have a coaching change, than make it, and keep the status quo. I don't think I can take another year of this abomination. Might as well get all of these losses out of the way now, and start over in March. This program needs a spark, and starting over is the only way. Also Auburn has beaten two ACC teams this week. We have already been passed in this state by UAB. Is Auburn about to pass us as well?

crimsontider said...

On Trevor Lacey: I have heard some interesting stuff about his status at NC State. I'll leave it at that.

DJC said...

I think it's obvious to most everybody that Coach Grant isn't the right fit here and unfortunately things are not going to work out, but I'm going to disagree with your assertion that this is rock bottom. Here is what "rock bottom" looks like:

We rarely get blown out, we play great defense, and the team always plays hard. That's a big improvement over the ends of the Hobbs and Gottfried eras, when we were losing by 40 and 50+ points to auburn and $tate on the road.

crimsontider said...

Lol, I will give you that. Auburn 98 Alabama 40 was pretty bad, although not sure it was as bad as Auburn 49 Alabama 37.

finebammer said...

this game NEVER should have been played. some folks don't understand, when they take the field or court against us, it matters not the final score. they've already won.

i hate UAB and always will. Gene Bartow writing the NCAA about Wimp in '85 and accusing him of being a cheat like Coach Bryant gave me feelings about the man i'll keep to myself.

this i won't: fuck UAB.

crimsontider said...

"When they take the court against us, it matters not the final score. they've already won" Very true.

finebammer said...

you know, here's the deal, there's nothing wrong with the defense first philosophy if you WIN with it. Wimp preached defense. he said shooting comes and goes. defensive play is one thing YOU decide on.

recall the tourney game against Loyola Marymount. ('89?) they were averaging over 120 ppg. for the season that year. 'Bama held them to 62 and almost beat them. (Melvin Cheatum missed a bunny at the end that would have sent it to overtime)

point being, defense can win, but you have to score too. our '05 elite eight run doesn't happen if Antione Pettway ain't getting' in somebody's grill against SIU. saved gottfried's job playin' D.

the biggest problem for Grant is his players ain't on board with what he's trying to do.


crimsontider said...

Disagree with that. His players play hard. You can't win with just defense. Scoring and rebounding are the most important things in basketball, period. AG preaches defense way to much. It seems like we use the offensive end to catch our breath instead of attacking the rim which is why we blow so many leads. Grant has also failed to bring in a quality big man since he has been here (with the possible exception of Jimmy Taylor). That's coaching, not the players not buying in.

DJC said...

I always felt like Wimp over thought that game. I believe we had the athletes to beat them at their own game. I will always wonder what would have happened if we got into a track meet with them. I seem to recall us passing on some 2 on 1 and 3 on 2 fast break opportunities in favor of running a half court set to slow the game down.

DJC said...

I share your hatred of Bartow, but the man is dead. It's time to move on from the UAB hate. I would like to see us play them every year (Admittedly, their campus is about a mile from my house so perhaps my perspective is skewed.) As for that particular game, we really had no choice, the NIT scheduled it. And if we somehow make it to the NIT again this year, there is a real possibility of a rematch.

Msmilie said...

The four top schools in the state (Bama, Auburn, UAB and South Alabama) should do an event in rotating cities every year. Bama and Auburn already play in conference so each would rotate playing UAB or South Alabama. It could be in Birmingham one year, Mobile the next, maybe Huntsville and Montgomery. I think it would be a fun event and the games would be competitive. It also might generate some interest in basketball prior to January.

crimsontider said...

Playing more games in Birmingham, UAB or not, would be a good idea.

finebammer said...

the best way for Alabama b'ball to generate interest is win home games they schedule. we don't "need" to play anybody instate.

hire a real coach. back him. win home games. make deep runs in the tourney.

study history guys. before the 'Bama/auburn football game was renewed, auburn athletics was running on stolen coke machine money. that's not me saying that. that's auburn "historian" David Housel. everything you see in auburn now, we built.

how many more programs instate are we required to build??

and DJC, when UAbaybees stop hating us, i'll stop hating them.

fuck UAB.

at the very least, let's put together something for ourselves before we go prancing around helping others.

we don't "need" auburn, UAB, south alabama or any other instate program to have winning basketball in tuscaloosa.

finebammer said...

dude, didn't say they're not trying. just saying t some point you throw your hands up. ask trevor lacey.

and at this point, wasn't lacey right??

Msmilie said...

I didn't say Alabama needed them. I just think it would be a fun event for fans, the players and coaches. Schools in other states are doing similar events and it's been received well. I'm not interested in the ridiculous politics between the schools. Forget the politics for a moment and just schedule the games.

crimsontider said...

I think everybody agrees that the reason Lacey transferred was because he believed he could not be successful in Grant's system. He was obviously right. I do think that Lacey showing up at Coleman, and hanging out with his former teammates on the day NC State had a game is interesting. I would say his heart is still in Tuscaloosa, not in Raleigh. If there is a coaching change, it would not shock me to see Trevor come back to Alabama.

crimsontider said...

If we somehow make it to the NIT, I would decline the invite if I were Bill Battle. I am so sick of appearing in that useless tournament.

bobbyjack said...

They do this in Indiana and the Philly area (off the top of my head). Obviously both of those places live college hoops, but the notion that this could be bad for Bama is silly. Elevating college hoops in the state is a WIN for ALL SCHOOLS in the state. It makes us better... even if Auburn, UAB, and USA get better by residuals.

Basketball interest in the state of Alabama is about as high as college football is in the northeast. Got to do something to change that.

DJC said...

Let me rephrase, at the time we accepted the bid, we didn't know who our opponent would be. Should have figured it would be UAB, but still, you don't get to wait until they announce the bracket to decide if you want to go or not.

DJC said...

There is a significant, vocal minority of die hard UAB fans who hate us, with some justifiable reasons I might add. The vast majority of their fan base are also Alabama football fans. Also, comparing them to au football is not really a valid comparison. UAB does not play in the same conference as us, and auburn is not a satellite school within our own system. If we get to a point where we are competing with UAB (like we arguably are now) then it's because we've screwed up, not because we've helped them win anything.

crimsontider said...

"Alabama called a press conference before the team left for LA, and the only people to make it were me and three people shooting video"- Chris Walsh, BOL. Next time anyone wants to blame the fans for the lack of buzz around the program, think about this. Pathetic.