Friday, March 29, 2013

Reviewing the 2012-13 Season - Msmilie's Take


Well, here we are at the end of yet another Alabama basketball season so I wanted to take the time to review the season from my own point of view. I’m sure the others will chime in with their own thoughts in the days ahead. 
First, let me get this out of the way. My support of Coach Grant has been well-documented throughout the season so I would prefer it if those who don’t share that support could help avoid the slap fights we’ve had in the comments section of other posts by simply sitting this one out. At this point we all know where the other stands on the subject. So please read the post, agree or disagree with my position on the state of the program, and let’s move forward toward next season. Thank you.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Season in review- Grading the Centers/Forwards

Centers: D+
We all knew this was a gaping hole in the lineup, but who knew our season would take a tumble when Carl Engstrom went down for the season. This made us play Gueye probably more than he needed to and put added pressure on Jacobs playing PT Center. I did see some improvement from Gueye defensively... and even a tad on the offensive side (looks like Jacobs worked with him on the sky hook), but let's be honest and say I don't think he sees the court more than 5 minutes a game anywhere else in the SEC.

Jacobs is AUful on the defensive side and he was 3rd on the team in rebounds. Let me repeat that... 3RD ON AN UNDERSIZED TEAM IN REBOUNDS at a tad over 4 a game (Cooper and Randolph pulled 4.5 and 4.2). That is inexcusable for a guy his size.... yes I know he had some back issues, but by default he should've been pulling 6 a game. I should cut him some slack as he probably should be put in the Forwards group, but oh well.

Forwards: C
Technically Jacobs should be included here, but like I said... tough. I'm including Rodney Cooper and Devonta Pollard here since Coop played more as a SF than guard IMO. Cooper was enigmatic... he'd look great one day and AUful the next. The one thing he did every game was play good defense. He was our leading rebounder and in many instances was called upon to guard the opponent's top scorer. Overall, I think he was better than average.

Pollard... while he came on a little bit in the final month he looked lost out there for most of the season. He couldn't shoot, defend, or dribble more than 5 feet. I'm not sure if he was overwhelmed this season or was a product of bad coaching. Regardless, he was a major disappointment considering we knew he had to make some sort of an impact this season for us.

Long story short, our deficiencies here was our downfall. Grant needs to address this in the offseason quickly as I'm not getting the warm and fuzzies with what we have right now. I know we are a guard oriented team, but we need AT THE VERY LEAST an illusion of an inside game and a dedicated board cleaner.

Turtles top Tide, 58-57


I blame this loss completely on my girlfriend.  She missed 2 home games this year, this game and the Tulane game.  Clearly, we can't win at Coleman without her.

In many ways this game was a microcosm of our season.  Inexcusable mistakes, followed by stretches of good enough play to get our hopes up, but never quite enough to get over the hump before finally ending in disappointment. 

Overall, I thought the physical effort from our team was outstanding, with the exception of a couple of lazy passes, everyone played hard from tip to finish.  There was no lack of hustle, but for some reason there seemed to be a glaring lack of mental focus.  The two obvious examples are Rodney Cooper running the baseline against the Maryland press on an in-bound following a charge call, and Moose's lane violation when he decided to leave his block after Levi was given the ball to shoot a free throw.  As some of you know, I officiate high school basketball.  I might see one middle school or 9th grade player per year, at most, make the mistake of running the baseline on a throw-in.  Of course you see a few lane violations, but very few of that particular variety.  You almost never see either of those at the varsity high school level.  To have those two mistakes, in a Division 1 game...in the SAME game by the SAME team, is completely inexcusable. 

Beyond that, we also made very poor decisions with the ball.  I was shocked to look at the box score and see we only had 14 turnovers.  It seemed like twice as many, I guess because so many of them were unforced and/or at very bad times.  Our entry passes into the post were horrible.  When we weren't telegraphing, we were attempting bounce passes at Nick Jacobs and Moussa Gueye's feet. 

We could not match up with them man to man early in the game.  It's easy to see how they were able to get some of their impressive wins.  Alex Len is an outstanding ball player in the post, and he opens things up for the rest of their team.  They jumped out to an early 10-5 lead on us in the first couple of minutes, , but we were able to get back into the game after switching to a zone defense that caused them a lot of problems.  Neither of our centers were able to do much with Len when he got the ball in the low post, but the zone allowed us to either deny him the ball or force him away from the basket.

After going on a run to briefly take the lead, Maryland came back to recapture the lead with about 8 minutes to go in the first half and would not relingquish it for the rest of the game.  I thought we stuck with Moose for too long in the first half after he picked up his 2nd foul.  He was playing tentative on defense and Maryland took it to him 2 or 3 possessions in a row. 

After falling behind by 10 in the second half, I thought we did a good job of continuing to battle back every time it looked like the Terps might be able to blow it open.  Unfortunately, it seemed like every time we got some momentum and cut the lead to 4 or 6, we would make a boneheaded mistake (see discussion above) and the deficit would increase back to 6 or 8. 

We seemed to have the same game plan focusing on the dribble drive that was successful against Stanford.  The problem is that Len is much taller and a much better defender than Powell.  Our guards and forwards were either getting rejected or having to attempt very difficult acrobatic shots around the rim. 

When Len finally picked up his 4th foul and had to go to the bench, I thought we had a great opportunity to seize control of the game.  We were on the verge of doing so, having cut the lead to 1, when Maryland went on a 9-2 run by making 3 straight three pointers.  With Len out of the game, we probably could have extended our defense more on the perimeter, but statistically the guys who made those shots were not great shooters and had not been shooting the ball well that night up to that point.  Give Maryland credit for making the plays they needed to down the stretch in a tough environment.

Our guys continued to battle, Cooper answered with an and 1 at the other end and we forced some turnovers to give ourselves a chance to win.  We had the ball, down 1 with 19 seconds left, and used our last timeout to draw up a play.  Maryland did a nice job defensively switching on every screen and not allowing Releford to advantage of the high ball screen as designed.  He passed to Cooper, who made a move to the basket, but was rejected, leaving us with only 3 seconds to play.  Incidentally, with 3 seconds remaining in the first half, coming out of a timeout, Retin could not get the ball in bounds and burned another of our timeouts.  Given the low liklihood of scoring in that situation, I would rather put the ball up for grabs than waste a timeout on that possession.  It would have been nice to have one more T.O. to use with 3 seconds left in the game after Cooper got blocked.  Nevertheless, I thought the team and Coach Grant showed good composure, and Lacey used a head fake to get a very good look from about 16 feet that just wouldn't fall.

Individually, I thought Levi and Cooper had excellent games.  Releford had a very strong second half, and Nick Jacobs played well considering what he was up against.  Levi was even briefly matched up on Len when we went with our smaller lineup, using Levi to front him and deny him the ball.  That worked for a couple of possessions until they figured out they could just throw over the top and Pollard wouldn't be able to do much from the other side.  Retin seemed to regress after playing very well the last few games.  He was out of control and made some very poor decisions with the ball leading to turnovers.  Gueye was horrible, as his height was obviously not an advantage against Len, thus the reason he only played 12 minutes. 

The crowd was fantastic.  I would guess there was close to 10,000 there, and they were very loud and into the game, even when Maryland had a 10 point lead.  My only complaint was it was not our most knowledgeable crowd, a lot of people booed the officials after our boneheaded throw-in violation not realizing what had occurred, and I had to tell some people sitting a few rows behind me to stop yelling while we were attempting free throws.  Still, having to tell people sitting near the court NOT to make noise was a refreshing change.  We've discussed the problems with the Tide Totals and seating configuration here a lot, but another issue is ticket prices.  To most people, it's not worth $20+ per game to sit way up in the corners of Coleman for an SEC game, but I think if we reduced prices for some of those "cheap seats," to the $10-$12 range, we could bring in some fairly nice crowds. 

Up next, the off season.  Even though this was a disappointing season in many ways, I am always a little sad when I realize I won't see a Bama basketball game for 7-8 months.  I am going to decompress a bit, and hopefully by the end of the week I will make one last post analyzing the season and the state of the program before I retire to the wilderness of crappy baseball for the summer. 

Monday, March 25, 2013

Battle to NYC- Maryland preview

Winner goes to NEW YORK CITY. Forget Atlanta, I'd rather be in NY (if the championship means close to the same). Regardless, This should be a great matchup (and if we win I think the toughest one left).

Here's the preview from the Maryland side of the fence. Terps come in 24-12 (8-10 in the ACC) beating Niagara and Denver along the way.

To be brutally honest, I've seen Maryland play 2 times this year and didn't come away impressed either time. Then again I can say I've seen us play 32 times and came away impressed 2 times, but anyways...

I know containing Dez Wells should be job #1 for us. I think that will be a job for Cooper and Randolph as both have the height and quickness to keep him at bay. Alex Len is going to bang inside against our monster Moussa Gueye. He will give Gueye fits since he can score and rebound. Logan Aronhalt is by far their best 3 point shooter at 44%.

Season stats

Defensively, Maryland is 10th nationally in defensive FG percentage. This game might be 1st to 50 wins.

Game time is 7:30PM EST on Tuesday on ESPN.

Tubby Smith fired from Minnesota, Coach Grant Possible Replacement

The Minnesota Star Tribune is reporting that Anthony Grant and Shaka Smart will be at the top of the list for possible replacements to Tubby Smith.  With the UCLA job also coming open, I would think the Bruins will get first pick of available coaches.  I could see Smart going to UCLA, and Coach Grant becoming Minnesota's top target, if this report is true, due to the relationship between their athletic director and Coach Grant.  

He turned down Illinois last season, and Minnesota is not as good of a job as Illinois, but obviously the climate and his perceived job security here are a bit different now.  With the team we have coming back next year, I would hate to start with a new system and new coach.  I don't think Grant will leave unless they offer substantially more money, but this is worth keeping an eye on.  

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Tide Trims Tree, 66-54

Stanford never had a chance.  They are a tree.  This is what we do to trees:

Any Questions?

Having spent some time in the Bay area, I developed an affinity for the Cal Golden Bears, and naturally a corresponding disdain for Stanford, so this win was especially enjoyable.  It was arguably the most complete game we have played all year.

Stanford had no answers for the Tide's tenacious defense.  They scored 3 points in the first 5 minutes of the game and never got their inside game going.  Bama's offense was very solid throughout.  We avoided the long scoring droughts that have plagued us most of the year and managed to maintain the 10 point lead throughout.  Stanford would cut it to 4 or 5, but we were always able to answer and extend the lead back to double digits.  We did a much better job of adjusting to Stanford's changing defenses, whereas we've struggled in the past when teams would switch from a man to a zone out of a timeout.

The game plan was clearly to attack the basket with the dribble drive, and it worked very well.  While Stanford has some skilled big men, they aren't particularly strong.  We were able to get position on them and get them in foul trouble.  Powell picking up his 4th foul early in the second half was big and took them out of what they wanted to offensively.  I doubt their game plan coming in was to take half of their shots from 3 point range.

Coach Grant seemed to get aggravated with our guards, particularly Lacey and at times Releford early in the 2nd half, for not immediately pressing after made baskets.  He was very vocal in stating that he wanted immediate pressure on the ball and did not appreciate them taking their first couple of steps back down the court after made baskets.  When we executed the press as designed, it was very effective in producing turnovers and disrupting Stanford's offensive flow.

Driving to the basket and drawing fouls also allowed us to score some points from the free throw line, going 22 for 26.  When Stanford tried to switch to a zone, Levi knocked down a couple of 3s to get them out of it.  They couldn't focus their defense on any one guy, as we had 4 different players score in double figures.  Retin Obasohan was the player of the game with 14 points, and he stepped up big time in the second half after Lacey was called for his 4th foul.  I am really excited about Retin coming back next year.  He continues to improve, and shows an incredible amount of athletic ability.  His speed and quickness is obvious, but his jumping ability is particularly impressive to me.  He gets up and in a hurry, as evidenced by his 6 rebounds and his one authoritative blocked shot.  That's a trait  you don't find in many "undersized" point guards.    He's also shown the ability to throw down some alley oops.

If you were watching on TV, you may have seen me sitting right behind the scorer's table, getting onto the officials during a review of a Moussa Gueye foul in the first half.  I'm all for instant replay and getting the calls right, but sometimes I think the officials spend too much time looking at these replays.  In that instance, if Gueye's foul were intentional, it should be obvious after the first or second viewing.  They correctly ruled it was not a flagrant foul, but I think if after reviewing a play for 30 seconds or so, if it were flagrant, it would be fairly obvious by that point.  These long reviews disrupt the flow of the game.    On a somewhat related point, I also think officials spend too much time trying to get the clock down to the right tenth of a second late in games.  I've seen a lot of teams with no timeouts, essentially get a free timeout while the officials spend 3 minutes deciding if there is 2.4 or 2.5 seconds remaining.  That unfairly punishes the team that efficiently managed their timeouts throughout the game in my opinion, but I digress.

The crowd was much better than for the Northeastern game, I would estimate close to 7,000 people were there, and they were more into the game than any other crowd we've had this year.  I wish there was some way we could get these types of smaller but more passionate crowds for the pre conference games.  I really believe it might have made a difference against Mercer or Tulane.  Every time Stanford would cut into our lead, the crowd would get into the game and the team seemed to respond.

Up next, we face the Maryland Terrapins in the Great Eight of the NIT Tuesday night at 6:30 p.m. at Coleman Coliseum with a trip to New York on the line.  Maryland is a big time program with 2 wins over Duke this season, so it won't be an easy task.  General Admission tickets are on sale now for only $9 each, and they have a limited number of "complimentary youth" tickets, so it should be an inexpensive fun game to take the whole family to for those of you so inclined.  If you can't make it to Tuscaloosa, it will be televised on ESPN.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Road to the NIT Championship continues- Stanford

Your reigning, DEFENDING NIT champs ARE HERE (tomorrow at 11AM CST). Stanford is looking to do something only 2 other programs have done in history... win BACK TO BACK NIT CHAMPIONSHIPS! You remember the great Dave "Mr. NIT" Odom leading the Gamecocks to 2 in a row recently right? Probably not. Anyways.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

New Athletic Director, Bill Battle

First and foremost, all of our thoughts and prayers are with Mal Moore.  He stepped down from his A.D. position due to health reasons.  I have heard that he needs a lung transplant, but I cannot confirm if that is actually the case or speculation based on the fact that he is being treated at Duke University Hospital, which is best known for that procedure.  In any event, it's clearly a serious situation and we all wish him the best.

While I have been critical of Coach Moore at times over the years for not supporting the basketball program as much as I would like (I still think we should have built a new arena instead of renovating Coleman, and I thought he waited a year too long to fire Coach Gottfriend), overall he has done a pretty good job.  He did spend some money to bring in Coach Grant, of course Bryant Denny Stadium and the Coach Saban hires speak for themselves, and we currently have fantastic gymnastics, softball, and golf programs.  The few times I had the pleasure of meeting and speaking with him, he was always friendly and down to earth, and his love for the University of Alabama was evident.  He will be missed as athletic director.

It was announced today that President Judy Bonner is recommending Bill Battle for the job.  I am willing to give him a chance, but he would not have been my first, second, or third choice.  First the positives, like Mal Moore, he played for Bear Bryant, which will endear him to the big $$ folks.  As much as I would love to have a basketball guy in that position, it's football that brings in the cash around here, and honestly I can't think of a qualified bball guy off the top of my head anyway, although I'm sure there is someone out there.  Anyway, while he does have the Coach Bryant connection, I'm not sure that will be enough to be as effective of a fundraiser as Coach Moore was.  While he was a good player for us, he wasn't around for as long as Coach Moore to become synonymous with the program.  In fact, when I hear "Bill Battle" I think Tennessee before Bama.

An important aspect of the job is being able to run a business.  Battle's business ventures have been very successful, so that is a good sign.  On the other hand, his business, the collegiate licensing group out of Atlanta, has been directly responsible for some bad press we have received lately when they decided to sue a small local business using the "A" logo on some cupcakes.  The fight over Daniel Moore prints was also related to the actions of Bill Battle's company, although it's debatable whether that was worthwhile or not.  Moreso than those minor issues, I worry about his lack of experience in University or athletics administration.  Other than his company which handles licensing issues, which is completely different, he has none, unless you include his head coaching career at Tennessee years ago.

If we were going to hire a former player with no University administration experience, I would have tried to hire Ozzie Newsome.  Who knows if he would come, it would obviously be a step down from his position with the Baltimore Ravens, but it would at least be worth the call.  He has the same football connections as Battle, but only better in that he was a hall of fame player still synonymous with Alabama football  and he never coached for a rival.  Plus, he's proven very proficient at running an NFL franchise, which I think is more analogous to running a college athletic department given the money and various moving parts involved, as opposed to running a private licensing corporation.

If we were going to hire a Tennessee person, I think Dave Hart should have been considered.  I'm not completely sold on him due to the fact that I think he somewhat screwed up their latest football coaching search, but he walked into a financial mess up there and I'm sure he would love to come back.  He was very well thought of within the administration here, and had been running the day to day operations for some time before he left.  He knows all the players in the game and understands how things are done, and would be a safe hire.  I also liked that he always seem to show a dedication to all sports, and was especially basketball friendly.  Along those same lines, I think Shane Lyons should have been given consideration.  He's been handling the day to day operations since Hart left, and by all accounts is doing a pretty good job, and is someone all the coaches already know and are familiar with.  My concern with both of them, would be how effective would they be at getting the fat cats to open up their wallets.

My hope is that Battle will continue to show the commitment to ALL sports, and not just focus on football with everything else being an after thought.  Of course, I want him to focus on basketball because that's most important to me, but I want ALL of our teams to be successful because they represent my University.  As much as I care about basketball, I have a friend who is just as enthusiastic about Alabama baseball.  I don't really follow college baseball, but I want them to do well and readily recognize that sport needs some attention from A.D. in the worst way right now.  I'm sure there are fellow alums out there who feel the same way about volleyball, soccer, tennis, rowing, etc.   I hope he realizes that we have to keep moving forward and be proactive to maintain our facilities and keep our coaches happy in those sports that we are dominating right now (football, gymnastics, softball, golf).  If you stop trying to improve, you will be passed.

In conclusion, Bill Battle wasn't my first choice, but there are reasons to believe he can do a good job.  I certainly wish him the best of luck, and I know we all hope he is successful.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Bama Beats Northeastern 62-43

Sorry for the delay in getting this recap up, but believe it or not I do have a day job that occasionally requires some actual work.



As you can see, I had a different vantage point than normal.  I couldn't get my regular tickets as they were all general admission, so I had floor seats behind the scorer's table.

Northeastern is not a great team to start with, and they were missing their leading scorer so they really did not have much of a chance.  Still, some crazy things always happen in the NIT, largely in part because some teams are much more motivated than others.

Given the disappointment around the program about playing in Tuscaloosa as opposed to in the big dance, I was generally pleased with the team's effort.  We played great defense early in the game, forcing a number of turnovers and getting some second chance opportunities on offense to take a 17-3 lead.  Once again, the lack of a killer instinct was evident as we went though a scoring drought that allowed the Huskies to cut the lead to 5 at halftime, and down to 1 early in the second half.  Nick Jacobs picked up 2 quick fouls, and ended up with 3 by halftime, which really hurt our offense in the first half, as Northeastern is a rare team with less size and athleticism than us in the post.  We were sloppy with the ball and missed some assignments on defense to allow the Huskies to go on their run.

Fortunately, we responded with a 22-0 run of our own.  Levi exploited a mismatch by beating his man on the baseline for a couple of dunks.  Levi had a very good game overall.  Retin Obasohan had a nice game as well, and he even showed off his vertical on an alley-oop from Trevor Lacey.  While I still don't think this tournament can be as beneficial to us as it was two years ago, I do think the experience can help guys like Devonta Pollard (who had a nice game and made some plays that don't really show up on the stat line) and Retin Obasohan, who I think has the potential to be really good for us next year.

After the 22-0 run we cruised to victory, ultimately winning by 19 despite shooting only 4 of 19 from 3 point range.  It was good to see the walkons get into the game in the final minute.

Sitting close to the bench, I can occasionally hear things being said by the coaching staff or players, but sitting just a little bit closer last night I could hear almost all of the instructions Coach Grant was yelling out during the game.  Of course, some of the terminology is specific to our system and not readily understandable, but what really struck me was how much instruction Moussa Gueye requires on offense.  As far as I can tell, Moussa does not do anything on offense without Coach Grant's instruction.  Every single possession it was "other side Moose",  "Moussa, Post!"  "Moussa, C'mon" (this meant go set a high ball screen.)  "Roll Moose"  (Of course this would follow the ball screen.).  When he got called for 3 seconds, Coach Grant did not even get onto him for it, he just turned around and given the expression on his face, I think Coach believed it was his fault for not instructing him to get out of the lane.

The crowd was almost non-existent, I would say less than 3,000 there.  That is the norm for NIT games these days, the exception was Robert Morris who's gym only holds about 3,000.  I think it's unfair to compare these crowds to the NIT run 2 years ago.  Two years ago we generally felt (rightly or wrongly) that we should have been in the NCAA tournament, and we were "post season starved" in that we hadn't been the last few years.  Generally speaking, the lower seeds tend to be teams that are "happy to be here" while the higher seeds are disappointed in not making the big dance.  I would not be surprised to see the NIT revisit the policy of awarding home court to the higher seed in the coming years.    The small gathering that showed up was into the game, and gave Coach Grant a round of applause as he took the court pregame.  He acknowledged by looking over with a wink and a nod and mouthing "I appreciate it."  I think he realizes there is some negativity among the fan base right now and truly appreciates those who are still supporting his efforts to get things going back in the right direction.

Up next, the tree cut down the Lumberjacks so we will play the Stanford Cardinal at 11 am Saturday morning in Tuscaloosa.  I watched the 2nd half of the Stanford game, and while they could give us some matchup problems this is a team we should beat.  At least it's an early game giving us the rest of the day to watch the NCAA tournament.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

NIT- Northeastern Huskies come to town

The reigning, defending CAA regular season champs comes to Coleman Coliseum in a match up of EPIC proportions! They went 14-4 in conference (20-12 overall), but lost to James Madison in the finals of the tournament as a #1 seed. Interestingly enough was there were only 7 teams eligible for the CAA tourney as UNC Wilmington and Towson had APR issues and Old Dominion and Georgia St were not allowed to play because they were leaving the league.

Looking at their OOC schedule they played (and lost) to Charlotte (in Alaska), LaSalle, and UMass. None of those teams strike fear in me.

Season stats

Joel Smith and Jonathan Lee lead the team at 16.1 and 13.8 PPG. Quincy Ford also averages double figures at 12.4. Northeastern is a better than average 3 point shooting squad... which could keep them in the game with us. Joel Smith hit at a 43% clip. Reggie Spencer (Tuscaloosa native) is their leading rebounder (6.1) with Quincy Ford chipping in 5.8 as well. I was looking at the roster and man... they recruit from all over the place.

8 players usually get to see the court for more than a cup of coffee so we shouldn't be the only ones to deal with fatigue. We could actually press them off a made FG early and see if we can build up a sizable lead (and coast from there).

Tipoff is 9PM EST on ESPN2. If I missed anything/typos please excuse as I started this at 7AM and rushed off to my day job.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Final Four prediction (NCAA not NIT)

Midwest
Louisville (1). I think they have a great draw with only 1 real landmine... the St Louis Billikens. I don't see another team in the bracket that can beat them (yes, I see Duke and Michigan St in the bottom half).

West
Arizona (6). I see the region as wide open since I don't trust Gonzaga past the 2nd... uh 3rd round matchup with Pitt. Zona/New Mexico should be a great 2nd... uh 3rd round match while I see the 1st... uh 2nd round winner of the Ole Miss/Wisconsin game in the round of 16. I can't put my finger on it, but I don't have faith in Ohio St either.

South
Georgetown (2). Only because I think Kansas gets tripped up in the round of 16 by the VCU/Michigan winner. UCLA/UF would be a great 2nd.. uh 3rd round matchup if UCLA was coming in healthy. Jordan Adams is doneski which pretty much ends any chance of UCLA going too far in the tourney. Heck, they could lose to a struggling Fighting Tubby Smith's of Minnesota in the 1st... uh 2nd round (I hate how they re-termed the rounds). Yes, I omitted UF... when they are on they are tough, but they've dropped too many eggs lately to consider.

East
Miami (2). It took me a while to believe, but now I do. Regular season and tourney ACC champs? How many times has that happened in the ACC for teams not named Duke or North Carolina? I'm sold on this group of upperclassmen and I think they have the experience and drive to dump Indiana in the Elite 8. Butler or Marquette might give them hell in the Sweet Sixteen, but they'll survive. As for the top half of that bracket... Indiana has the most talent, but seemed to slip up more than they should have. Going 0-2 vs Wisconsin (who has beaten them 12 straight) doesn't make me a believer in them. I could see Syracuse knocking them out in the 2nd week.

Final Four
Louisville over Arizona
Georgetown over Miami

Championship
Louisville over Georgetown

If you follow this and win I expect 10% of your winning. If your bracket ends up in the dumpster because of this, it's YOUR OWN DAMN FAULT!

I hope to attend at the very least one Saturday session of the Final Four. We shall see how much tickets are going for them.

Not In Tournament brackets set

Bracket

We got the #1 seed so will play all games in Tuscaloosa until we get to the final four in New York.  We open up with the Northeastern Huskies tomorrow night at 8pm on ESPN2.  I think we got a pretty good draw, although Maryland or Denver could give us a tough game in the "Great Eight."  Assuming we don't crap the bed against a bad Northeastern team, we would face either Stanford or Stephen F. Austin in the "bittersweet 16."

There are some good names, strong teams in this tourney.  Kentucky will have to play their first game on the road, in Robert Morris's 3,000 seat gym, because Rupp Arena is an NCAA tournament sight.  Talk about adding insult to injury to the Big Blue nation.

Two years ago when we made the run to the championship game, there was a lot of excitement about the team and this tournament, in part because we had a young team in Coach Grant's 2nd year and also a lot of people felt we deserved an NCAA bid.  Those games were some of the best atmospheres we've had in Coleman in a long time.

The mood definitely feels different this time around.  Frankly, I don't know how much the extra practice will help this team, and we are all disappointed that we didn't achieve a bid to the big dance.  Nevertheless, this team has a chance to make history and win our first NIT championship.  I'm not all that excited about it, but I will be there tomorrow night regardless.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Florida Flusters Bama, 61-51



It took us over 3 minutes to get on the board, but thankfully we played good defense and Florida missed some open shots so we were still tied in the game.  It was an ugly, low scoring game, just what we wanted. We kept a hand in the face of their 3 point shooters and double teamed in the post throughout the first half to limit the cold shooting Gators and take a 3 point lead into the half.

The start of the second half was one of the key moments in the game.  While we stretched our lead out to 10 thanks to some turnovers and hot shooting, we were also called for 7 fouls in the first 5 minutes of the second half, including the 4th on Rodney Cooper.  (I thought the officiating was inconsistent, and Doug Shows in particular had a number of questionable calls.)  This left us too small at the 4 spot and necessitated a switch from the man to man defense that had been very effective to a zone.  We had an awful time trying to rebound out of the zone.  While Nick Jacobs had a good game offensively and kept us in the game, he did absolutely nothing to slow down the Gator's bigs on the other end of the court, which was disappointing after he had a great defensive game Friday against Tennessee.  Being in the bonus, Florida seemed to find their shooting stroke from the free throw line and that carried over to the field.  Shots that were not falling in the first half were suddenly finding the bottom of the net.

The Gators are a very talented team, and we seemed to get tight when they started making their run.  We had a couple of good shots, including a missed layup by Retin, that could have at least temporarily stopped the momentum.  Instead, this game was almost just like the one in Gainesville, we build a nice lead, go on a long scoring drought, can't get a single call from the officials, and lose by 10.

Another key play came with a little over 2 minutes remaining, we were down 6 and had just came up with a big stop, Levi had the rebound and we could have cut it to 4 or 3 that possession.  Instead, Levi was tackled from behind, lost the ball, no foul was called, Florida got an easy dunk to go up 8 and that pretty much ended any hopes of a comeback.

On the positive side, Trevor Lacey had a nice game, he went 3 for 6 from 3 point range including a couple of very difficult shots at the end of the shot clock.

This game was not nearly as well attended as the Tennessee game.  We had slightly more fans there than Florida, but all of the neutral observers were also pulling for the Tide, so we definitely had an advantage there.  The remaining Kentucky fans were pulling for us because they don't like Florida, and both the Vandy and Ole Miss fans were rooting for the Tide because they didn't want to play the Gators.

Up next, Selection Sunday this afternoon.  Jerry Palm still has us as his second team out, so technically you can make the argument that we are still on the bubble, but I don't think we have much chance of getting in, and frankly, I don't think we deserve to be in.  The NIT selection show is at 8pm tonight on ESPNU.  I expect us to be a 1 or 2 seed.


Anthony Grant can do something no coach in Bama history has done

Assuming we don't con the selection committee and sneak in as a surprise last 4 team, he has the chance to win 2 tournaments in NYC in a single season. That would be epic. Think about that... in the HISTORY of ALABAMA basketball. ONE HUNDRED YEARS' WORTH!!

Yeah, I'm not getting the warm and fuzzies about the tremendous chance and opportunity either. I'll wait 'til after the season for more commentary.

Reminder, the NCAA Tournament selection show starts at 6PM EST, the NIT one starts at 9PM.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Still fighting- SECT vs Florida

Here's the preview from the last time we played them. Bottom line is we got to contain their bigs to have a chance. Either that or Releford, Lacey, and Cooper hit 50% combined from 3. Nick Jacobs had a decent game the last time we played and we will need his production again, but more importantly we need him, Gueye, and Pollard to rebound.

I am hoping the Gators are on cruise control for this one. I think they are pretty much a 3 seed regardless of this tournament (at least that's what I'm hoping) so there's not much to be gained by beating us. Also, Donovan owes Grant a solid... doesn't he want his pupil to taste moderate success for the 2nd year in a row? Donovan should be more concerned resting his stars for the NCAAT instead of exerting them in a tournament that means little to them.

If we win it's still 50-50 on if that is enough to get us to Dayton, but I think if we win today we'll win the WHOLE DANG THING! That would probably put us as a 10 seed which I'd prefer over a 8/9. Root for us (obviously) and root for Vanderbilt later on. Also, root for UNC and VCU today if we shock the world.

Game time is 1PM EST on ESPN. Let's hope DJC pulls us through.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Tide Topples Tangerines in Tournament, 58-48



A great win today to keep the season alive, and a lot of players stepped up.  The biggest positive from today was that we answered their runs late in the game and managed to maintain the lead.  It was starting to have a similar feel to the game in Knoxville, and I was afraid we were going to blow it again.

I thought our game plan should have involved going after Stokes and trying to get him in foul trouble.  We didn't do much of that, and when we did, the refs didn't make the calls.  Early in the game he hurt us on the inside, but credit to Moussa and even Nick Jacobs for making adjustments and keeping him under control for most of the game, and especially in the 2nd half.

UT took an early 5 point lead but jacked up some bad outside shots which allowed us to get back into the game.  Releford had another outstanding game.  His 3 pointer at the buzzer at the end of the first half to stretch the lead to 4 was huge.

Retin continues to play very well and gave us another spark.  The PA announcers at Bridgestone arena had a very difficult time with his name.  I think he pronounced it about 6 different ways over the course of the game, none of which were anywhere close to correct.  

We were able to stretch the lead to 9 in the second half, and UT made several runs to get back within 4 or 5, but we always had an answer.  

Levi Randolph had a great game.  The UT fans sitting behind us, for some reason, were talking smack all game about how he "couldn't shoot."  He made most of his free throws and ended up with 15 points, not bad for a guy who can't shoot.

To win this game getting as little as we did out of Trevor Lacey and Rodney Cooper is remarkable.  Lacey in particular must do a better job of handling the basketball.  His turnovers could have killed us.

I thought Coach Grant did an excellent job of making the proper offense-defense substitutions.  I was surprised he left Gueye in with 2 fouls at the end of the first half, but thankfully it did not come back to bite us.

There was a good sized crowd for a weekday afternoon game, probably close 15,000 or so.  The split was probable 70/30 in favor of Tennessee among the non-Kentucky fans there, who made up close to half of the overall crowd.  We were in the Alabama section but were surrounded by obnoxious Tennessee fans.  The Kentucky fans were generally pulling for us which helped to even things out.

Up next, we get another shot at Florida tomorrow at noon.  If we want any chance of making the tournament, we must keep our undefeated on neutral courts and undefeated in Nashville record in tact.

NCAA Elimination game- SECT Final 8 vs Tennessee

If you want a preview of the Vols here is one from the last time we played them.

I know I've said it before in a few post headlines about Elimination games and such, BUT THIS TIME IT'S FOR REAL! Actually, if we win it MIGHT knock UTK out od the NCAAT (they are projected as the last ALB in), but we would still need to do some work to jump about 6 teams for a spot in the big dance. Truth be told we are in a bad position and probably need to win this tournament to make it.

I'm gonna take a different approach to this... keys to US winning the game:
- Releford continuing his hot shooting streak
- Jacobs dropping 10/7
- Some help from Lacey/Cooper/Randolph offensively. They have been erratic as of late
- Control the boards somewhat (read- not get outrebounded by 10+)
- Keep the game in the low 60s

I rarely play the role (as other posters here do a fine job of that), but I'M IN FULL HOMER MODE so I predict a Bammer win.

Game time is listed on the right. On ESPNU and watchespn.com. Sadly, I might not be able to watch, but I'll find a radio broadcast and live with it.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Predicting other tourney champs

Some rhyme and reason.

Big East- Georgetown (playing for  #1 seed should motivate them). Louisville is too, but I think they fall short
Big 12 (10)- Kansas
Big 10 (12)- Indiana
ACC- NC State. They could lose their 1st game as well. A feeling on that one.
MWC- San Diego St
PAC-12- UCLA
CUSA- Memphis
A-10- Temple

Top 4 seeds (in order): Indiana, Georgetown, Duke, Gonzaga

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

SEC Tournament Preview and Predictions

March is finally here. If you're a college basketball fan this time of the year is like Christmas, only better because you don't feel inclined to buy gifts for family, friends and co-workers that you aren't quite sure you like. I've been taking days off for the tournament since I was a boy. My father would be kind enough to let me skip school on the first Thursday and Friday of the NCAA Tournament, and I've been blowing off school, work, friendships and any other responsibility for the tournament ever since. Thanks, Dad.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Bama Beats Buzzer and Bulldogs, 61-58

The buzzer beater is the most exciting play in all of sports.  As many basketball games as I go to, I have seen my fair share of them, both for and against us over the years, but it's very rare to see one from half court.  I was sitting in the auburn student section when Reggie Sharp did the same thing to us at old Beard Eaves Memorial gym.  Releford's heroics yesterday more than made up for that miserable experience.

Of course, it should not have came down to that.  We had a 17 point lead in the first half, and led by 14 at halftime.  Releford had a great game, beyond just the miracle shot.  We made some 3s early and played great defense, holding UGA to 18 first half points.

We went through spells in the second half where we did not take good care of the basketball.  I thought we were out of control on our dribble drive many times, leading to turnovers and low percentage shots.  Georgia started to have some success in the post, and Caldwell-Pope finally found his touch, allowing the Bulldogs to consistently chip away over the course of the game.

I've complained about our lack of killer instinct all year, and it almost bit us again, but on the positive side we found a way to win, and that's all that matters.  I thought the guys did a good job of staying focused and not letting one mistake lead to more.  At one point Retin turned the ball over, but he hustled back on defense and got a blocked shot on what looked like an easy fast break layup for Georgia.  Nick Jacobs had 3 turnovers and gave up some easy baskets, but he was also 5 for 5 from the free throw line.  After the Bulldogs tied it in the final minute, Lacey telegraphed a pass that Releford would eventually turn over, but we all know how Trevor rectified that one.


The 100 year celebration at halftime was great.  They had a very nice video showing the program's highlights over the years, and  lots of former players and coaches came back, with the loudest applause being for Wimp Sanderson who broke out the plaid for the occasion.

The crowd was great, probably close to 12,000 or so there, and they were into the game and loud for the most part.  It was nice speaking to the blog reader, who's name I did not catch, before the game.  Although it was a little insulting that he mistook me for Bobbyjack (I'm clearly much better looking (g)), it's always good to know there are actually some people out there reading.

That concludes the regular season, our 3rd straight with 20 wins.  Up next, we go to Nashville for the SEC tournament as the 4 seed.  Unfortunately, nearly every bubble team won this weekend, so we will probably need to win the whole thing to go dancing, although I could see a scenario where beating Tennessee and Florida to make it to the Championship game could get us to Dayton.  Thankfully, Tennessee came through for us against Missouri, otherwise we would be playing Thursday.  As it is, our first game will be against Tennessee (unless they somehow lose to South Carolina or Mississippi State) Friday at 2:30.  That will be a tough game, as the Vols are playing as well as anybody in the league right now, not to mention they should have a good crowd in Nashville.  Looking ahead, if we get past UT, we would most likely play Florida (unless they lose to Georgia/LSU) on Friday.  It's a very tough draw.

Saturday, March 09, 2013

Senior (Andrew Steele) Day- vs UGA

The Dawgs have won their last 2 (UTK and Kentucky), but those were at home . Their only road wins in conference have come at lowly SC Lite and a bi-polar A&M squad (edit- they beat UTK as well). I feel good about our chances to end this 2 game losing streak. On top of that, UGA played Thursday so they are on short rest.

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Black Bears Burst Bama's Bubble, 87-83

I did not go to this game, and watched most of it without the audio, so my perspective may be a little different than normal.  I was going to post something last night, but decided to wait and let my anger and disappointment subside a little.

The game was not nearly as close as the final score indicated.  We scored 23 points in the last 3 minutes of the game to make it respectable, but we got our asses kicked for the other 35+ minutes.

In the biggest game of the year, with our tournament hopes on the line, we came out flat.  We fell down 7-2, but came back to tie it at 7 before stinking up the gym for the rest of the half.  In fairness, it was also the biggest game of the year for Ole Miss, and they were playing at home, on senior night, so there was no reason for us to expect it to be easy.  It seemed like all the bounces were going the Rebel's way.  When they jacked up a contested 3 that hit the back rim, bounced straight up about 2 feet higher than the top of the backboard, and came straight back down through the hoop, I knew it probably was not going to be our night.

They stretched the lead to 16 in the first half, but we were able to get it back down to 12 at halftime.  We seemed to get a little bit of a spark after Retin stole the ball from Eminem, who then proceeded to body slam Retin in what should have resulted in a flagrant foul and an ejection.  Instead, it was merely called a personal foul, and of course we didn't score.  I would have sent in Dakota Slaughter, or Keon Blackledge, or any of the walkons into the game with direct instructions to punch that thug in the nose.  Fines, suspensions, whatever be damned, Marshall Henderson would have been taken out of the game one way or another following that incident.

 Ole Miss can score some points, and like I said, they got some incredibly lucky bounces, but this defense should never give up 87 points in a game. The offense did not help either by failing to take care of the basketball.  We were very careless on our dribble drive and made poor decisions and lazy passes all night.  Lacey had 5 turnovers himself.

At some point, we have to start winning big games like this.  I guess you could say the Kentucky win was big, and Georgia on the road to an extent, but we failed to finish at Baton Rouge, couldn't sustain a good effort in Gainesville, and frankly failed to show up in Oxford for the biggest game of the year.  Once again, I am declaring our at large tournament bid hopes dead.  

On the positive side, Lacey's shot seems to be coming back, Nick Jacobs had a great game scoring 18 points, and Retin continues to give us a spark and is playing well.  Releford is playing well and seems to be trying to take on more of a leadership role, but the team does not seem to respond to him.  Andrew Steele only played 8 minutes and didn't do much other than turn it over a couple of times.  I suspect he is still bothered by one or more of his numerous injuries.

Up next, we return home for the last regular season game of the year against the Georgia Bulldogs for a 3pm start Saturday.  I know everyone is disappointed right now, but it is senior day, and quite possibly the last time Andrew Steele plays a game in Coleman Coliseum.  That guy has been through a lot of adversity in his career, but always gave his best for Bama basketball, and I hope the fans will turn out to show our appreciation.  Not to mention, if we beat UGA, we are still in pretty good shape to get a top 4 seed and the crucial double bye in the SEC tournament.

I Did Not Bother To Watch The Game!

I didn't listen to it either!  Then again, I didn't need to. 

Let me confess at the outset that my life is unusually busy right now.  My time is regularly committed each week in big chunks that force me to be very deliberate about how I spend the rest of it.  Given the quality of the product on the court, I have been forced to relegate Bama Basketball to much the same priority it suffered during Coach Gottfried's last two season.  (As an aside, I am pleased to see that Mark appears to have righted the ship of his personal and professional careers.  I wish he had done it while he still was here.  I still am waiting for our apology from him, because he definitely did not give us his best for at least two years.) 

This team can be fun to watch at home - at times.  They have beaten some lousy teams on the road.  They've lost to some lousy teams on the road too.  (Does api immediately jump into your mind when you read that?)  But a game at Ole Miss' Tad Pad was not a pain I was going to inflict on myself. 

Granted, the kids evidently played like Tasmanian Devils for the last three minutes.  What did they do for the first 37 minutes?  I don't know.  Like I said, I didn't listen to the game.  I don't need the aggravation of another disappointing performance by a team that does not know what it's doing.

Please do not take this as a criticism of any of the players.  I lay the responsibility where it belongs, in Coach Grant's lap.  He is responsible for both teaching and motivating the players.  That works best when he has some on-the-court leadership.  If that does not exist, it is Coach Grant's responsibility. 

I admit again that I do not know much about basketball.  I'm merely a fan.  At this stage in my life I don't bother to watch anyone but Alabama so I don't know anything about other teams.  I've never played the game at an organized level and would not presume to coach it.  But even an ignorant fan can watch this team and KNOW that they are not well coached, at least not on the offensive end of the court.  Some players have improved through the season, but as a team they are fundamentally flawed.

No player on this team seems to know what to do when they have the ball in the half court.  They stand around apparently waiting for someone to tell them what to do.  If their fundamental training were even adequate, they would move automatically in given situations.  They would know how to set picks.  They would know how to dribble off a pick.  They would know how to set their feet and square their shoulders before taking a jump shot.  Their free throw shooting form, and hence their performance, would be much better. 

They can't throw the ball to Gueye in the paint because if he catches it (which is a real adventure) they have no reason to believe he will be doubled by a defender because the young man couldn't score consistently against my grandmother (who died ten years ago at age 103)! 

Nick Jacobs couldn't guard that same grand mother.  (Remember, she hasn't twitched a muscle for ten years.) 

I think any of us could go on for hours about things like this - the little things that have driven us all crazy all season.  The things that lead to ten minute scoring droughts in virtually every game.  The things that make us scream at our televisions.  The things that make 14 year old girls in Coleman Coliseum scream, "At least act like you care!"

A good coach should have noticed these tendencies in his players long before now and have had them practice drills that correct the fundamental flaws in their games.  How many of those close games would we have won if we had hit our free throws?  (For what it's worth, C.M. Newton's teams always had this problem too.)  A good coach would drill these fundamental skills into his players so they did what they were supposed to do to generate an open shot without thinking.  Instead, our players dribble in circles or stand around, apparently waiting for the other team to be lulled to sleep, before throwing up a hurried jump shot with a defender draped all over them.

No, I don't need to suffer that kind of aggravation during the last two hours before going to bed at night. 

I still believe in Coach Anthony Grant.  A good person learns from his mistakes.  So does a good coach.  I remain convinced that Anthony Grant is a good man and a good coach.  I hope he learns from the mistakes he made this year.  I certainly am not the person who can correct them.  That does not mean I have to force myself to suffer the results of them right now.

Thank you all who did watch or listen to the game.  I'm sure DJC drove over to watch it in person.  He remains the most loyal and devoted Bama Basketball fan I ever have met.  Hey, DJC, maybe it's time for you to make an honest woman of the sweet, lovely girlfriend of yours.  Bama Hoops certainly does not look like it's going to put up much competition unless Coach Grant changes the way he is doing some things, and that young lady is a real catch!  ;-)

Here's hoping things turn around next season.  I do intend to watch the game Saturday, but only because the Paris-Nice bicycle race will be broadcast on the Internet early in the morning and will not conflict with our game. 

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

NCAAT elimination game? @ Ole Miss

It's senior night in Oxford which probably makes the task even more daunting... TV is ESPNU at 9PM EST (I usually put this at the end of the post). Ole Miss is 15-1 at home (loss to Kentucky).

Bama Back on Bubble, Huge Game Tonight

I have said all along that the December losses reduced our margin of error to such that we would not be able to overcome losses at auburn, LSU, and Florida, but the bubble is incredibly weak this year, and apparently we are still alive.  Joe Lunardi of ESPN has us as the first team out of the tournament.  I could easily dismiss that as a ploy to garner ratings for tonight's game on ESPNU, but even Jerry Palm has us as the 4th team out right now.  I still don't think our resume is particularly impressive, but neither is anyone else's.

Tonight is a must win for both Bama and Ole Miss.  I'm sure Bobbyjack will give us a preview, and I'm too lazy to look up the stats, but in my view the keys to the game for us are:

1) Keep the bigs, especially Moussa, out of foul trouble.  Holloway is going to give us fits.
2)  Defend Henderson, but DON'T deny him the ball.  We want the ball in his hands, I will take my chances with him throwing up bad shots as opposed to their bigs banging on us inside.
3) The Trevors, Cooper, somebody, preferably multiple guys, need to have a good night shooting from downtown.

They've been imploding as of late, but they are still very tough at home.  It will take a great effort to get the win.

Sunday, March 03, 2013

Gators Gouge Gumps, 64-52



The game was actually closer than the score indicated.  I hate to lose, but overall I was pleased with how we played today.  We took an elite team to task on the road, but could not hold on to an 8 point lead in the final 10 minutes.

We came in prohibitive underdogs, and at one point in the first half it looked like we might get run out of the gym.  We were not making shots and after the Gators bricked a couple of early 3's they figured out our weakness in the post and started taking advantage.  They built a 19-8 lead, but the team didn't quit, turned it up on defense, forced some turnovers, and was able to claw back into the game, trailing by only 3 at halftime.

The start of the second half could not have been better for us.  Our zone defense had the Gators frustrated offensively.  We were crashing the boards and getting second chance opportunities, and generally "uglying up the game" to provide us with our best chance of winning.

Billy Donovan called a couple of timeouts and got his team motivated.  You have to give credit to Florida, they are the better team and proved it when they had to.  We went through another one of our scoring droughts, and you just can't afford to do that and expect to win these types of games.  I'm too lazy to look it up  but I think UF went on a 19-2 run.

Despite all of that, and despite the lopsided appearance of the final score, we still had a fighting chance in the last couple of minutes, but could not catch a break.  Down 6, Cooper made a great steal and had an open path to basket, but stepped on the sideline.  Then, we played great defense and Florida took a contested 3 with 1:05 left in the game and only 5 seconds remaining on the shot clock, and the ball wedged between the rim and backboard, of course they had the arrow,  giving them a fresh 35 and forcing us to foul.  That result was arguably even worse than if he had made the shot.

Lacey started the game on fire, making a couple of 3s to keep us in it early, but I thought he tried to do too much after that.  Retin has played well lately, and I would have liked to have seen him have a chance to get in the game down the stretch.  The Gator's game plan clearly was to shut down Releford, and he still had 12 points, but did not do much the last 10 minutes.  We really need Levi to get out  of his funk, he missed some wide open shots that could have changed the game.  I thought Nick Jacobs played as well as can be expected.  He's obviously a huge liability on defense, but he did put up 11 points and 5 rebounds.  Once again, things went south after Moussa picked up his 4th foul.  Speaking of Moussa, his running hook shot actually looked pretty good.  Maybe it was a fluke, but if it's not, I wouldn't mind him going to that move more often.

I don't like to bitch about the officiating, because I recognize that it's a very difficult game to call.  I also try to stay away from pointing to fouls/free throw discrepancy as a basis for such criticism, as I recognize that different skill levels and styles of play can lead to legitimate discrepancies, but I thought the amount of contact required to constitute a foul varied greatly depending on what end of the court we were on.  They were in the double bonus both halves and we never even got in the bonus, and they play a very similar style of defense to ours.  There was one particular charge call that went against Cooper which erased a potential 3 point opportunity for us at a key point in the game that from my vantage point appeared to be the wrong call.  I don't recall a single block/charge situation going our way.

With the loss, I think our chances of an at large bid are officially dead.  Let's try to hang on to a top 4 seed and win the SEC tournament.

The O'Dome seats about 12,000 and it was pretty much packed, with only a few scattered empty seats in the very upper level.  Contrary to how it looks on TV, it is not a nice facility at all.  In fact, it may be one of the worst in the SEC.  Most of the seats are of the temporary bleacher type variety and there is literally no concourse, you walk in through one of 4 gates at the corners and navigate a very narrow crowded walkway between the "1" and "2" levels of seating to get to your seats.

The Florida fans were, to use one of their favorite terms, "fantastic."  They weren't very knowledgeable, as an example one guy asked me, "who just called the timeout" when we had the ball, but they were enthusiastic in supporting their team, at least in the second half.  I think the early start caused them to take a while to get woke up and into the game.  Also, spring break starts this week for them, but their student section, albeit relatively small, was still packed.  There were a couple of hundred Alabama fans scattered throughout, including a few in their student section, but only 2 others in my section a few rows behind me.  The Gators have one of the dumbest and most annoying cheers in basketball, every time the ball goes out of bounds on the visiting team, the PA announcer goes, "Gator's basketball" and the crowd responds in unison, "Fantastic!"  Anyway, several Gator fans told me that we played them tougher there than anyone else this season.  My only negative experience was with the scalper who lied to me and told me that my seat was behind the UA bench.  I'm not sure if you can tell by the picture above, but it was actually behind the UF bench.  I did a 2 for 1 trade for it, since my 2 seats were way up in the corner, so I probably would have made the deal anyway, but I was a little disappointed to not be on the other end.    Florida is clearly the SEC's strongest team, so I will be rooting for them in the NCAA tournament later this month.

Up next, we go to the Tad Pad to take on the Ole Miss Rebels.  They've went from being an NCAA lock to likely on the outside looking in after a loss to a horrible Mississippi State team.  Tipoff is set for 8pm CST Tuesday on ESPNU.





Saturday, March 02, 2013

BATTLE FOR THE SEC IN GAINESVILLE- @ Florida

I remember a similar situation there about 2 years ago where we needed to have a good showing (not necessarily win) to enhance our NCAAT chances. What we did was lay an egg we couldn't recover from and thus ended up in the NIT. Barring a miracle I suspect history will repeat itself.