Friday, January 31, 2014

Barn Blasts Bama, 74-55



This game was originally to be played on Wednesday night, but was postponed to Thursday due to hazardous road conditions.  As a result, the only way to see this game was to watch it on ESPN3 with auburn's announcers or attend in person, so I reluctantly made the trip down Highway 280.

I saw exactly what I expected, 2 bad basketball teams with the much more motivated team winning easily at home.  They jumped on us 12-0, we battled back and had it down to 5 early in the 2nd half, then auburn answered with a 3, Shannon Hale missed a dunk,  we had a few turnovers, the crowd got into it and they never looked back.

auburn only has 2 halfway decent players and they combined for 55 points.  It was auburn's first SEC win since they beat us last year.  auburn came up with nearly every loose ball.  Releford got into early foul trouble so he was on the bench much of the first half.  We were out-rebounded again and shot only 14 of 20 from the free throw line.  Retin didn't start but was able to play and had a solid game.  I thought Algie played well, he drove in and finished about 3 times in a row, but then we never came back to him.  Same with Nick Jacobs, when he finally started posting up on the left block where he needs to be, he scored on a couple of possessions in a row, then we stopped looking for him and took him out of the game.

I realize many of you probably weren't able to see the game and might have been hoping for a more comprehensive recap, but I apologize.  The losses are starting to take their toll, and I just don't feel like rehashing this one any more than necessary.  I'll be happy to answer any specific questions anyone might have.

The weather did not hinder attendance, as the small auburn arena was mostly full.  It only holds about 9,000 and there were around 8,500 or so there.  I would guess around 500 Bama fans in attendance, most of which were behind the basket to my right.  My only complaint is that the side display on the shot clock at the goal in front of us was not working.  Their crowd was loud as expected, but we didn't have any problems with anybody.

Up next, the Tennessee Vols come to Tuscaloosa for an 8pm tipoff Saturday night that will be televised on ESPN2.  It's a "white out" at Coleman, so wear white to symbolize the way we surrender at every road game this season, and hopefully we will show more fight at home.

Still mad about the Barn blowout- some stats

Credit QUARTERBACK on 1/18 from Tiderinsider.com (he posted it). I knew things were not good, but this made me ill:

Note- I did not go back to update this copy/paste since 1/18, but feel free to do so yourself.

6-31 vs RPI Top 50 (at Bama) (0-5 this year, 0-6 last year)
21-15 vs RPI 51-100
35-13 vs RPI 101-200
29-1 vs RPI 201+
91-60 overall
27-46 vs T100 teams. Throw out the extreme trash (201+) and he is 62-59.


Further breakdown on the T50:
3-18 vs T25
**3-13 vs 26-50
3-15 vs T20
1-11 vs T50 on the road (@UT in ’10-’11 is only win)
18 straight T50 losses including 10 straight T20


I'll double check this later, but I think we have been ranked in ANY top 25 poll a total 5 weeks (preseason #19 in 2011 and 4 weeks after) in Grant's tenure. Dropped out for good week of December 19th. Think about that... it's been over 2 years since we have been ranked.

SEC record by years:
2009-10: 6-10
2010-11: 12-4
2011-12: 9-7
2012-13: 12-6
2013-14: 3-4

That actually looks good and I'm throwing out 2009-10 so the conference record looks even better on paper (36-21). Then you dig a bit deeper...

- 2010/11 wins vs teams better than .500 conference record (3-3). If you add UTK (8-8) then we are 4-3.
- 2011/12 wins vs teams better than .500 conference record (1-3). Add .500 teams Ole Miss and M$U we get to 3-5.
- 2012/13 wins vs teams better than .500 conference record (4-5). Add .500 teams LSU and UGA we are 7-6.

Long story short... we normally beat teams we are supposed to beat, but rarely win the ones we shouldn't. This is unacceptable IMO.

/rant off

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Tide Hosts Top 50 SG

Not only did Alabama score a nice win on Saturday against LSU, it also hosted 4 star 2015 SG Haanif Cheatham. Cheatham is a 6-5, 185 lb guard from Fort Lauderdale Pembroke Pines Charter. It's still early in his recruitment, but Cheatham has already received offers from the likes of Miami, Georgia and Vanderbilt and his stock continues to rise.

Cheatham is killing it so far this season with averages of 25.5 ppg, 9.2 rpg, and 5.4 apg. I've embedded a video below. His game reminds me of Mikhail Torrance.

Here are some quotes from Cheatham about his visit (Source: 247 Sports): “The visit went great. The Alabama staff was very great with how they treated me. I loved the campus. They showed me everything I wanted to see. We went to the dorms where the players stay and went through the athletic department and I got to watch practice.” 

Coach Grant just told me everything about how I would fit in the style of play that they play. Also the effect I would have on the court as a freshman. They like me as a combo guard who brings up the ball against pressure. Also a slasher/scorer when it is needed. I like it. It is the style of play I want to play when I get to college.” 

Cooper and Levi were my hosts. They were telling me how great the school life at Alabama is. How the coaches respect the players as a person, but also as a player.” 

His thoughts on the game: “It was a great atmosphere. The fans were unbelievable. They were into it from tip and they showed support to the team. The team played very hard and competed for the win.” 
 
Another reason why it's important for the fans to show up. Recruits do notice.

According to Cheatham, his mother was also impressed with the campus and the coaches. Cheatham's decision is well into the future, but it looks like Alabama made quite the impression.

With Levi, Coop and Key seniors next year and Retin a RS junior who could decide to try his hand at playing professionally in Europe once he graduates, guard will be a definite need for the 2015 class. Hopefully a guard of Cheatham's caliber remains on the radar.


Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Know Your Enemy- @ Auburn Tigers and the battle to .500

UPDATE- GAME IS POSTPONED to Thursday at 8:30PM EST. No TV that I know of. Looking at the weather it should clear up enough for the game to happen.

Winner gets to .500... loser sinks further back. A must win for both. Okay, not really, but it's for state bragging rights (or something).

Official Barn preview.

Before I go on... this one could be delayed by weather (I'm actually thinking it will be) which would be AUsome since the Barn can't celebrate that disgusting football win I erased from my memory in November at halftime.

Note- the Barn have lost 16 straight games in conference (including their brief appearance in the SECT)... the last win... against us in what might've been the worst college basketball game of all-time. They are 0-6 in conference, but note 4 of their losses have been by less than 8 points.

KT Harrell and Chris Denson lead the team at 19.1 and 18.8 a game. KT is shooting 42% from beyond the arc. Tahj Shamsid-Deen runs the offense and drops 9 a game. Asauhn Dixon-Tatum is their big man averaging 6.4 boards to go with his 6PPG. He's not much of an offensive threat, but alters shots coming in with 31 blocks.

Season stats

Some numbers:
- 73.2 PPG
- +1.1 rebound margin
- 45% FG

I have no idea how this one goes, but it probably will be ugly. The game was to be played at 8PM tomorrow. Haven't seen a makeup date yet.

Justin Coleman Scouting report


Last night I went to watch Justin Coleman and the 3 time 5A defending champion Wenonah Dragons take on the currently 2nd ranked and defending 6A state champion Mountain Brook Spartans.  Mt. Brook won 77-68, they were just too big, had too much depth, and were too well coached for Wenonah to overcome.

Of course, what I was more interested in was the play of Justin Coleman.  Although he did not have his best game; I saw a lot of things that I like.  He sees the floor extremely well, makes great decisions, and is an excellent passer.  He reminds me a bit of Ronald Steele in this area, yes, he is that good.  He communicates very well with his teammates, especially on defense.  He seems to have a great attitude, and really doesn't do anything to draw attention to himself.  The only time I saw him get somewhat upset with his teammates was in the 3rd quarter when he was wide open on the wing with an open passing lane and they never saw him before turning it over.

Mt. Brook goes about 15 deep and they constantly substitute and press throughout the game.  Justin was often able to beat the traps with his quickness alone, but as mentioned above, he could find his open teammates when he had to as well.  One minor nit-pick, he has a high dribble on his hesitation move, that could result in turnovers against quicker athletes at the next level.  I questioned why their coach pulled him out of the game for 3-4 minutes in the 4th quarter.  In fairness, Wenonah has played tough, up-tempo games both Thursday and Saturday, and with their lack of depth fatigue may have been an issue.

Justin has a very quick release and excellent form on his shot, but he was simply off last night.  His first shot was an airball from the corner.  He tried several mid-range pull up Js that missed badly from the elbow.  I noticed he had a finger taped up on his non-shooting hand, and even though it's his off hand that could still effect his shot, in addition to the aforementioned possible fatigue issues.

The only thing that concerns me about him is his defense.  He moves his feet and does a great job of staying in front of his man and communicating with his teammates, but if someone decides to post him up he doesn't have the size or strength to do much about it.

Monday, January 27, 2014

State of the RPI: Not Dark Yet Edition

My old lady settles in every week to watch CBS' "How I Met Your Mother". It's a show she's watched since its inception. She mentioned recently that she had lost interest in the show, but that she had to see it through to the end just to see how it played out. As a Bama basketball fan, I can sympathize.

Alabama basketball is like that television show that you're excited to watch at the beginning, but then perhaps the story starts to fall short of your expectations and you think about not watching anymore, yet you're drawn to the characters so you tune in one more week, only to be hooked again once the story takes a dramatic turn.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Tide Tops Tigers, 82-80

After blowing a 19 point second half lead, Bama somehow found a way to get our first win of the season when giving up more than 65 points.

I thought we played about as well as we could reasonably expect in the first half.  Finally, we played a more up tempo offense which allowed us to get shots up before LSU could get their defense in position.  By attacking the basket, we were able to send Johnny O'Bryant to the bench with foul trouble.  Hale and Cooper really stepped up to prevent LSU from focusing all of their defensive efforts on Releford.  We led by 13 at the half and stretched it to 19 early in the second half.

Then, Johnny Jones made an adjustment and started to press.  With Retin still out due to his hip injury, Relly was our only ball handler on the floor.  I thought we should have put Algie Key in at some point to help with the press.  We couldn't get the ball across half court, and LSU was able to come back thanks to our turnovers.  Johnny O'Bryant had a big second half after returning to the game because we couldn't guard him one on one in the man to man.  I thought we should have been in the zone more when he was in the game in the second half, or at the very least double-teamed him when he got the ball in the post.  It was frustrating that we seemingly made no effort to draw his 4th foul.  I yelled at Coach Grant to put Nick Jacobs in the game around the 8 minute mark to get him to try to post him up and maybe draw that 4th foul.  He did actually put Jacobs in the game, but we made no effort to get him the ball or to attack Bryant.

It was great to see Cooper prove me wrong about his inability to shoot.  His 19 points, including 4 of 5 from 3 point range down the stretch, was a key to regaining control of the game late.  Relly and Shannon Hale also had great games, with 21 and 17 points respectively.

We did just about everything wrong the last few possessions of the game, but luckily it didn't come back to bite us.  With a 4 point lead, Algie Key came into the game and fouled their 3-point shooter with 6 seconds left.  That's literally about the only way they have a chance to win at that point.  We had a smaller lineup, and were clearly conceding a 2 point basket if LSU wanted to attack the rim.  I'm sure the coaching staff emphasized to Algie not to give up a good look from the perimeter, but they should have also emphasized the importance of not fouling a 3 point shooter.  This is becoming a bad habit, I think that's the 3rd time in the last 3 games we've sent somebody to the line with 3 shots.  After he made all 3, we don't even bother to set a screen for Releford, our best 3 point shooter, on the in-bounds play.  Instead, it goes to Cooper, who makes only 1 of 2.  Thankfully, LSU was out of timeouts, so they had to rush the ball up the court and take a contested jumpshot off the dribble.  When Coop missed the free throw, given the way this season has been going, I just knew the Tigers were going to make a 3 at the buzzer.

It was a great crowd, I would estimate close to 11,000.  The student section wasn't quite as full as it was for the Florida game, but more of the other seats were filled.  LSU brought close to 1,000 fans and they were more concentrated and loud in supporting their team.  I do think our crowd has a positive effect on the game in the final minutes.

Up next, we go to the ugliest village on the plains to play arguably the worst team in the history of SEC basketball, our arch-rival auburn tigers.  A win would give auburn the longest losing streak in conference history, they haven't won a game since they beat us down there last year.  It will no doubt be the most hostile environment we've played in so far this year, but hopefully we can get that first victory away from Coleman.  Tip-off is set for 7 pm Wednesday night and it will be televised on SEC network.  For my own sanity and personal safety, I have decided against making that trip this year.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Know Your Enemy- LSU

Looking to start a new home winning streak after yet another close but no cigar showing against a top tier team... LSU comes to town in a game I really worry about matchups as they have 9 players 6'6" and taller.

LSU official preview.

LSU comes in 12-5 (3-2 in conference play). Their biggest win to date was this week vs Missouri so they are not exactly world beaters.

Season stats

The Bengal Tigers have a 3 prong attack led by Johnny O'Bryant (Jr) at 14.4 a game with 7.5 boards. Jordan Mickey is 2nd in both scoring and rebounds (13.1/7.3). He's only a freshman folks. Andre Stringer is their shooter (seems like he's been there since the Chris Jackson days) hitting 40% from 3 and dropping 12 a game. Anthony Hickey runs the point. He is not shooting the ball well, but takes care of the ball (55/17 assist/turnover). Shavon Coleman is their other starter... he's either hot or cold on the offensive end. Let's hope he's cold today (and according to season trends he should be).

Keys for Alabama to win:
- legitimate 2nd scorer. Teams have decided to shut Releford down with double teams so Hale, Cooper, Jacobs, Randolph, anyone has to pick up the slack to open up Releford.
- rebounding... we are not going to win the battle, but have to keep it somewhat close
-  ugly up the game

Side notes:
- This season is pretty much over (already) so it would be nice to see what Jimmy Taylor and Shannon Hale can do with extended PT
- Cooper and Randolph got to stop being skeered of shooting when they are open
- Our half court offense is an abortion... time to play uptempo and see how that works for us. I actually like this today as a way to neutralize LSU's inside attack.

Game tips off at 8PM EST (7PM CST) on ESPN2.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Florida 68 Bama 62

Another missed opportunity, another close loss to another good team.

Retin was out with a hip flexor, so Algie Key got the start.  Coop also started over Levi.

Florida is a difficult team for us to defend.  If we played man to man, I have no doubt Billy Donovan would have exploited our bigs with Patrick Young in the post.  So, we opted to play zone most of the game, hoping the Gators would have trouble shooting on the road.  It was a strategy that made sense, but Florida moves the ball too well and will almost always be able to get an open look from the corner or wing.  They made enough of them to win.  I did think we should have switched to a man the first time Young came out of the game.  We got a stop when we went man to man later in the second half when Young was on the bench with foul trouble.

On one hand, it's frustrating to think about all of the missed shots near the basket in the 2nd half, but at the same time we were very fortunate to be in the game at halftime.  Our offense in the first half was atrocious, but somehow we managed to score on several possessions where we either nearly turned the ball over multiple times, or threw up contested shots at the end of the shot clock that clanked off the rim and went in.

Florida would use both defenders on Releford whenever we would set the high ball screens, and they were able to limit him to 14 points.  Shannon Hale had a nice game and was able to step up and help with the scoring to keep it close.  Unfortunately, Hale had an awful foul at the end of the first half leading to a 4 point play, which stretched the halftime lead from 3 to 7.

I'm proud of the players for continuing to battle.  As disappointing as this season has been, there were several points in this game when Florida got up by 8-12 points when it would have been very easy to fold and call it a night.  Instead they were able to scrap back each time and get the deficit down to 5 or 6, but as usual, couldn't make the big plays when they had to.

I thought Levi played well despite passing up a couple of open shots, he was generally more aggressive and scored 11 off the bench.  His free throws, and then the steal in the press in the final 2 minutes gave Bama one more opportunity to make a game of it.  I thought we should have tried to press earlier.  I know Florida has too many good athletes to press most of the game, but I would have liked to have seen the occasional full court press after a made free throw just to try to disturb their rhythm a bit.

  Nick Jacobs actually had a solid game and I thought he should have played a little more.  For some reason he seems to only show up against the likes of Patrick Young, Jarnell Stokes, and Nerlens Noel, guys who you would think would be an awful matchup for him.  Carl had a good game defensively with 5 rebounds and an awesome blocked shot on a dunk attempt that ignited the crowd.  Unfortunately Cooper continues to struggle, he was 3 of 12 including 1 of 5 from 3-point range.  He needs to be taking the ball to the basket more, because with his hard, line drive shot he's never going to be a consistent shooter.

The crowd was disappointing considering it was a nationally televised game against a top 10 SEC opponent.  Perhaps the early start time and the cold temperatures kept some folks away.  The student section was almost completely full, but even they did not sell out.  I would estimate there was around 10,000 there, with Florida bringing nearly 1,000 or so of their own fans.  The Florida support was impressive for a midweek road game.

Congratulations to the women's team for going on the road and upsetting a top 10 Kentucky team.  That is a huge win for first year coach Kristy Curry, and she certainly appears to have that program heading in the right direction.

Up next for the men, the LSU Tigers come to Coleman for a 7pm tipoff Saturday night that will be televised by ESPN2.  We will have our hands full trying to start a new home winning streak; LSU's front-court appears to be a very difficult matchup for us.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Quick Gators Stats pack

Day job has been rough this week so this is the best I can do...

Season stats
Basketball info for tonight (broadcast). It's on ESPN2 at 7PM EST.

Players to watch:
Casey Prather- dropping 17.3 PPG with a gaudy .636 FG.
Patric Young averaging 10.9PPG and 6.2 boards
Michael Frasier averaging 11.7 and shooting .463 from beyond the arc
Scottie Wilbekin dropping 12.7 and playing roughly 34 minutes a game.

Prediction- Auburn played them close so I say we do as well. In the end we know the story... stay in it til the end and then give up 4 straight offensive rebounds to seal it for the opponent. Gators by 7.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Goodbye, Cruel World!

I tried to leave a lengthy response yesterday. I don't know what happened.  This will have to do.

I have been trying to get to tomorrow's game. Even though I expect us to get our heads handed to us, I want to support the team. I also paid too much for these tickets not to use them. Unfortunately, I cannot get out of court in time to make a 6:00 tip off. If anybody in the Mobile area wants two good tickets, please let me know.

I will not be buying season tickets next year. As much as I love Bama Basketball, and have loved it for forty years, these tickets are a luxury item in my family's budget. If the program (however one cares to define it) is not going to put a quality product on the floor, then I cannot justify the expense.

I have read Msmilie's posts in the thread below. I always respect and appreciate what he shares here. Nevertheless, when I weigh the probability of seeing MY team play competitive, winning basketball against the cost of the tickets and the time, money and time lost from work associated with driving up from Mobile, I simply cannot justify this expense anymore.

Nothing in this post should be read as intended to demean the program, coaches or players. I have nothing but respect for all of them. I'm simply am not going to incur the expense of watching them in person the way I have off and on for the past 40 years.

If that makes me a b@st@rd, so be it.

Monday, January 20, 2014

State of the RPI - Don't Let the Bastards Get You Down Edition

I'm going to start this week's post with a view from a soapbox. As one of a rapidly diminishing number of Bama basketball fans who still support Coach Grant and his staff, I understand and accept that I'm going to be, shall we say, questioned for that support. Let's face it, the team stinks right now so obviously those of you who read this blog would be justified to question my logic.

Standing your ground, particularly when your opinion is unpopular, carries with it a certain price. As a leftie who grew up in a very strongly opinionated family of righties, I'm used to this. The internet, in its infinite wisdom, has provided a place, in the form of blogs and message boards, where every opinion, no matter how popular or unpopular, can find a home. And instead of clashing with picket signs or fists in the street, we now go at each other online from the comfort of our homes in the hopes the great moderators will allow us the luxury of verbally firebombing each other ('preciate that, Bobby). We humans love conflict in all of its guises, and the internet is the perfect battleground.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Misery in Missouri, Bama loses 68-47



The road woes continue as we are still searching for our first win outside of Tuscaloosa following an embarrassing 21 point beat down by Mizzou.  After falling behind 7-0, we went on a 12-2 run to briefly take the lead and played them close throughout the first half, trailing by only 1 going into the second half.

Carl Engstrom had about as bad of a start as humanly possible and was pulled after only 3 minutes. Our centers bring nothing to the table.  The good version of Nick Jacobs' appearances are getting fewer and farther between.  Carl can't catch the ball and lacks physical strength.  Jimmie Taylor has the most upside but pretty much all he can do right now is block shots. I've been calling for Jimmie to get more playing time so he can develop, and he played 30 minutes and got 8 rebounds and blocked a couple of shots, but there was a stretch in the second half where he was really struggling and I would have considered giving a fresh Carl another chance, at least for a few possessions.  

Frank Haith doesn't always get the most out of his talent, and he's certainly had his share of head scratching losses, but he had a great game plan for us.  Defensively, they double teamed Releford, collapsed the lane whenever he drove to the basket, and generally put an emphasis on stopping him, to the point they sometimes left the aforementioned bigs wide open under the basket.  We couldn't get them the ball, and even if we did, we all know more often than not they would not be able to actually catch it and score before the defense recovers.  Again, we were tentative on offense.  Levi looks terrified to shoot. 


Shannon Hale played well, especially in the first half, but nobody stepped up in the 2nd half and Mizzou was able to run away with the game.   While Mizzou played great defense on Releford, holding him to 10 points and 1 of 6 from 3 point range, he also had a number of unforced mental errors.  Retin tried to step up, but while he's a great athlete, he gets out of control at times and is too inconsistent.   He did a nice job of getting to the line and making free throws, but he was a brick mason from outside and had way too many turnovers.

I was impressed with Mizzou's guards.  They handled our press very well and made good decisions with the ball, finding the mismatches especially against our man to man defense.    As the game slipped away, I didn't feel like we tried to make any adjustments.  It was obvious we couldn't score, but kept running the same sets and plays with the same lineups.  

From what I gather on social media, the team did not arrive in Columbia until after 8 p.m. Friday night.  They were in a shoot around at 9:45 pm.  It seems to me that it would have made sense to get there earlier and give the guys a chance to get settled in.


Mizzou Arena is a great facility that holds about 15,000.  I would estimate around 10,000 seats were filled.  Oddly enough, most of the empty seats were in the student section.  To the extent that we have a Kansas City or St. Louis alumni base, they did not turn out.  I would estimate no more than 20 Bama fans there, including the 15 or so friends and family of Trevor Releford.   The Mizzou fans were knowledgeable, attentive, and respectful for the most part.  The loudest cheers of the game came at halftime when a few members of the 2013 World Series Losers were introduced the crowd.  I booed, but managed to resist the temptation to start a "Let's Go Red Sox" chant.  For those of you who don't know, I'm a Chicago Cubs fan, as if being an Alabama basketball fan isn't frustrating enough.

The arena itself is one of the top 3 or 4 nicest in the SEC.  I didn't venture to the upper level, but I really liked the set-up and architecture.  It has a midwestern field house style, and an open layout that allows you to see the court from the concourse behind the baskets.  The concourses are wide and clean with plenty of concessions and restrooms.  The glass windows near the ceiling allow for some natural light to come in without causing a distraction on the court.  The scoreboard could use an upgrade, while it gives all of the needed information the quality and size of the replay screens is  lacking, but that's really my only complaint about the place.  

Off topic, but the only people who had a worse weekend than our basketball team are the local meteorologists.  The weather forecast called for sunny skies and temperatures in the 40s Saturday.  While the sun did make a brief appearance following the light morning snow flurries, the long walk back to the car featured 30 mph winds and a mix of snow, sleet, and rain.  

Up next, we return to the friendly confines of Coleman Coliseum to protect our longest active SEC home winning streak against the highly ranked Florida Gators.  It's 90s night, so put on those Crimson parachute pants and get there early for the 6 pm tipoff Thursday night, because Bama Basketball is 2legit2quit.  

Friday, January 17, 2014

Know Your Enemy- @ Missouri Tigers

Here's an opportunity to beat a team we shouldn't beat... and keep that ember of a chance we got at the NCAAT alive. DJC will love the fact that his Cardinals are signing autographs before tip-off at 1PM CST (on ESPN2 BTW).

Missouri comes in at 1-2 in conference play... losing to Vanderbilt in their last game 78-75. Looking at the schedule we have 3 common opponents: UCLA, UGA, and Vanderbilt. We're 1-2 with a win over Vandy while Missouri is 1-2 with a win over UCLA. UGA pwns both of us. Damn.

Missouri is 13-3, but only 3-3 in their last 6. Jordan Clarkson and Jabari Brown lead the offense at 18.8 and 18.4 PPG. Clarkson also leads in assists. Brown is their best 3pt shooter (.422)

On the boards Earnest Ross and Johnathan Williams pull 6.5 and 7.0 a game. Ross also drops 14 per (you might remember him from his cup of coffee at Auburn).

Offensively they score 75 a game while giving up only 66.4. They don't force a lot of turnovers (roughly 10 a game), but don't turn the ball over much either.

Season stats

This is a game we could win if (big if) we get some production inside. Hopefully we can build on the beatdown of $tate and leave Columbia with a W. This is a winnable game (and I think I've been posting here long enough to NOT have a homer tag).

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Halfway through the season stats

Random stuff

- The combined record of the teams that beat us: 98-36 (Drexel, USF, and UGA are bad losses)
- The combined record of the teams that we beat: 71-61 (M$U is the only win of note)

- Trevor Releford leads the team in FG%, assists, FT%, and 3PT% (.525, 2.9, .931, and .411). Normally you have an inside guy leading the team in FG% (technically Big Carl Engstrom does, but with only 24 shots I can't count him).
- Releford is 4th nationally in FT%
- Rodney Cooper leads the team in boards per game (4.5).
- Amazingly we are shooting .462 from the field and .341 from beyond the arc. You take Releford from those stats and they drop to .445 and .303

Bama Beats Bulldogs, 80-61

For one night at least, the complaint department is closed.  The Tide played its most solid all around game in an easy victory over our rivals to the west.

While Releford had an amazing game, it was good to see some other guys step up and help him out.  Shannon Hale banked in a couple of midrange jump shots in the first half, and Cooper made a 3 to stretch the lead to 10 for the first time with about 5 minutes remaining the first period.  We maintained control from that point on, leading by 12 at the half and stretching it to 23 at one point in the second half.

We out-rebounded them 33-28 and only gave up 6 offensive rebounds.  We actually got 4 shots in one possession at one point in the second half, which is something we haven't seen much of this year.  While the offense was still slow developing in the halfcourt at times, for the most part we were able to get good looks.  We had 4 guys in double digits, Releford, Hale, Cooper, and Obasohan.

The only negative is we still didn't get much from our bigs.  We couldn't stop Ware, who scored 18 on us, while Jimmie Taylor fouled out in 9 minutes and Carl had 2 points, 3 rebounds, and 4 fouls in 12 minutes.  There was some confusion on Taylor's first foul.  The official reported the State player's number, which we didn't have on the court, and then they changed it to Levi.  Levi immediately looked over and told Coach "I wasn't even near anyone."  A few moments later, Taylor picked up a foul which led to the first media timeout.  I was a little disappointed that both Levi and Coach Grant, at that point, alerted the officials to correct the book.  Even though both fouls were on Jimmie, at that point, it would be better to have both Levi and Jimmie with one each than have Jimmie already in foul trouble with 2.

 At least Nick Jacobs had a decent game offensively, scoring 8 points in 16 minutes.  Fortunately $tate's tatted up, meth-head looking white guy couldn't do much more than talk trash and dribble the ball off of his foot.

In fairness, $tate looked awful defensively most of the night.  They repeatedly lost the man running the baseline in their zone, they didn't communicate at all on screens, and they were often caught out of position.  Releford torched them for 28 points including 6 for 9 from downtown, and it was good to see Hale and Coop also make some outside shots.

Releford picked up a Technical at one point, but I did not see or hear what he said or did, but thankfully it didn't hurt us, and if anything I think it may have given us a spark.  We've had trouble putting games away this year, so I was glad we never let up and allowed them to get back into the game.

Dakota Slaughter and Isiah Wilson even got into the game, and Dakota knocked down a 3 on the final possession to get us to 80.

This is what a Mississippi State team looks like when they don't have $tansbury slinging cash around, and it couldn't happen to a nicer bunch.  It's always fun to beat that bunch, even when both programs are somewhat down.

The crowd was rather sparse.  Cecil Hurt tweeted during the game that it was probably the smallest crowd for a Bama-$tate game in 25 years.  I would estimate only about 5,000 or so were in the house.  The student turnout was disappointing, they placed 3,000 shakers in the seats in the student section that ended up only being about half full.  In the past, State has brought a large, obnoxious contingent, but they only had about 50 or so of their trashy fans scattered throughout, and they had little choice but to remain mostly silent during the game.  Justin Coleman sat in front of us for much of the game.  He was there with his family and some of his Wenonah teammates.  He appeared to be into the game and having a good time.

Up next, we head to the midwest to take on the Mizzou Tigers in Columbia, MO Saturday at 1 p.m.  This would easily be our biggest win of the year so far if we can somehow pull it off.   The game will be televised on ESPN2.  I apologize in advance for the delay in posting the recap, but we will likely be on the road all day Sunday driving back.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

(Quick) Know Your Enemy- M$U Bulldog$

Got a lot of things going on and didn't have much time to research. Somehow we are a 12 point favorite. I don't see it and if i were a betting man I'd throw $100 on $tate +12.

M$U preview

$tate is 11-4 (1-1 in the SEC). They did lead @ Kentucky at the half only to get throttled in the 2nd half to lose by 22.

Common opponent- USF. They beat the Bulls while we lost to them.

Craig Sword leads the team with 14.7 PPG. He's shooting 53% from the field.
Gavin Ware is 2nd in scoring and leads with 9 boards a game.
Colin Borchert is their 'best' 3pt shooter (with more than 25 attempts) at 31%

$tate as a team is shooting 29% from 3. That's HORRIBLE!

Stats

Despite the records (11-4 at 7-8), I believe we are the better team since $tate has played a cupcake schedule. We probably win, but I doubt it's by more than 8. Maybe the team will be fahred up to play their hated rival.

Game time is 8PM EST (7PM CST) on SEC-TV and watchESPN.com




Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Bama to play in CBE Hall of Fame Classic next year

We may as well start looking ahead to next season.  According to this Maryland source the Tide, Terrapins, Arizona State, and Iowa State will play a tournament in Kansas City on November 24 and 25.  Right now, we are probably the worst of the 4 teams.  This is a good field, as Hoiberg is doing a great job with the Cyclones, and Maryland is almost always a respectable ACC opponent.  I was kind of hoping for a better location for our pre-conference tournament though.  Nothing against Kansas City, but we were just there a couple of years ago and I can't see taking the week off from work (these games are on Monday-Tuesday) to go back.

Monday, January 13, 2014

State of the RPI: Hit the One in the Middle Edition

At this point, Bama's resume resembles Rocky Balboa at the end of virtually every fight he fought: bruised, battered, bloody, but still standing out of some stubborn pride. And pride may be all the Alabama basketball team is playing for now following a loss to Georgia on Saturday that drops them below .500 and drops their RPI to 115 (per ESPN). With 16 games left, Bama could still salvage something from this season, but, based on what we've seen to date, is that really likely?

Sunday, January 12, 2014

UGAly loss to Dogs, 66-58



The Tide remains winless away from Tuscaloosa after a bad loss at Georgia.  It was pretty much the same thing we've seen all year, no half court offense, no rebounding, no free throw shooting results in close loss.  At the time of this writing, the folks at rolltide.com are apparently still in denial, as they list this game as a win.  

I was surprised Georgia played as much man to man defense as they did.  I suppose coach Fox figured we have seen so much zone, and since we actually had a little bit of success against Vandy's zone, he would give us a different look.  It proved to be a good move, as for much of the game we seemed content to settle for jump shots from the perimeter instead of attacking the basket.

I think we get too conservative on defense away from home.  We didn't press until about midway through the 2nd half.  We ran a lot of the half-court trap which was mostly effective, but UGA did a nice job of moving the ball and finding Kenny Gaines open on the perimeter.  He and Charles Mann torched us for 22 points each.

Shannon Hale kept us in the game in the first half.  He ended up with 14 points, but he was the only one making shots and playing aggressively on offense in the first half.  Releford did not even score until the final minute of the first half.   We trailed 34-23 at halftime, and the Dogs would stretch the lead to 13 before we started to chip away.  Releford started driving to the basket and was much more productive in the second half, finishing with 17 points before fouling out.  We cut the lead to 3 but couldn't get any closer, despite Georgia making only 4 FGs in the second half.

I did not like the way the game was officiated.  It seemed like Bruce Benedict would call every foul on the defense when the offensive player created the slightest amount of contact. Georgia seemed to realize this much sooner than we did, and took advantage by getting to the line against our press, while we settled for jump shots for much of the game before finally starting to drive the lane in the final 8 minutes or so.

Cooper played fairly well in the second half.  I thought he played well defensively and his aggressiveness on offense helped us get back into the game.  Unfortunately, he couldn't get the shots to fall when we needed them late.  Cooper, Hale, and Relly all had good looks from the perimeter in the final 3 minutes that could have changed the outcome of the game.

Once again, we were out-rebounded.  Our bigs brought absolutely nothing to the table.  Carl played for 12 minutes and didn't score but had a couple of turnovers.  I don't understand how someone who played HANDball his entirely life can have such awful hands.  The slow and seemingly disinterested version of Nick Jacobs showed up again, and managed to get one whole rebound in 11 minutes of playing time.  Jimmie Taylor blocked a couple of shots but didn't get any rebounds or points.  At this point, even though all 3 are bad right now, I would give Jimmie Taylor the bulk of the playing time.  While he's not any better, he at least has more upside, and it's time to start playing for next year.

Retin had one of his worst games of the season, fouling out with only 4 points.  This team just can't seem to get all on the same page, and you never know what you are going to get from any individual player from game to game.

I've criticized the UGA fans in the past for being almost auburn-ish in their "football only" mentality, but I'll give credit to the Dog fans for coming out and supporting their team coming off their upset win at Mizzou.  Stegeman Coliseum only seats about 10,000, but I would guess there was around 7,500 there.  It was a good atmosphere as they give students some good seats along the sideline as well as behind one of the goals.  One thing I really liked is that they show live updates from other basketball games (and the NFL football games) on the TV screen during timeouts.  It was nice to see several hundred Bama fans in the house, though obviously we didn't have much to cheer about for most of the game.  It was a pleasure watching the game with our fearless leader (Bobbyjack) and his son.

Up next, the hated mi$$i$$ippi $tate bulldogs will visit Coleman Coliseum for a 7pm tipoff Wednesday night.  The game will be televised on the SEC network.  This isn't the $tate program of old, but they are coming off a win over rival Ole Miss.  This is a must win for our NIT bid aspirations.


Saturday, January 11, 2014

Know your enemy- @ UGA Bulldogs

2 UNDEFEATED teams (in conference) meet at historic Stegman Coliseum. UGA comes off an emotional win at Missouri while we come off a solid win at home vs Vanderbilt.

UGA writeup

It's 7-7 @ 7-6 with Vegas saying we are a 2 point favorite. I figured UGA would be a 1 to 2 pt favorite, but Vegas usually knows what they are doing, right?

UGA's only bad loss was at home to GA Tech although they pulled an 0fer in the Charleston Classic.

Season stats

Charles Mann is leading the team with 13.4 PPG and 35 assists. From the outside watch Kenny Gaines (50 3Pters taken) but note he's been a brick master at 24%. Nemanja Djurisic is actually one to watch outside as he's hitting 56% from there. He's a 6'9" F that comes off the bench and plays starter minutes. Donte' Williams leads the team in boards at 5.2 while Brandon Morris drops 9.6 PPG.

UGA is a relatively young team... 3 sophomores getting a lot of PT.

Things to watch:
- Battle on the boards- UGA has a +4 average coming into the game
- Who covers Djursic?
- Who supports Releford today?
- Which Nick Jacobs shows up?

As DJC said earlier, the blog will be well represented at the game as I'll be making the trip to Athens. I hope to see a couple hundred more Bama fans there. If you are in the metro Atlanta area, come support the team as tickets are just $15 behind the basket. I usually buy tickets through the UGA website.

Game time is 4PM EST (3PM CST) on SEC TV and ESPN3.com (watchespn).

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Crimson Crushes Commodores, 68-63

In the latest edition of the "draw the starting lineup out of a hat" game, we went with Relly, Retin, Levi, Hale, and Carl.  Although I generally don't like having both Relly and Retin in the starting lineup, this group played well together.  It's a smaller unit, so I'm not sure we'll see it against teams with big front lines that are more oriented towards post play.

We pressed a lot more which caused problems for a team missing their starting point guard.  We also substituted 4 at a time on several occasions during the game.  You rarely see those kinds of mass subs at the college level, but for a team with a short bench that is trying to press and play uptempo, I don't necessarily have a problem with it.  It's a good way to keep fresh legs in the game, but you also run the risk of messing up the chemistry and flow of the game.  That's exactly what happened in the second half when we took Releford and Hale out of the game and things went stagnant.

We were able to build a 10 point lead by halftime that we stretched to 16 in the first few minutes of the second half.  The team played very well the first 28 minutes or so of the game.  As I mentioned above, the defense created offensive and transition opportunities, but I also thought our half-court offense was actually respectable when needed.  While the ball movement and reluctance to take open shots is still a concern, we are at least mixing in some high post sets and guys like Carl are making good passes, while Shannon Hale and a few others are doing a better jobs of finding the soft spots along the baselines and making good cuts.  I was really pleased with the way Shannon Hale played, he seems to be developing nicely.  He made a few big turnovers late in the game, and still gets lost or beat on defense occasionally, but his versatility on offense is a huge asset that we desperately need right now.

Once again, the lack of a killer instinct and inability to close out a game nearly cost us.  With a 16 point lead, the team seemed to relax after the mass substitution around the 12 minute mark, and Vandy was able to get a couple of open 3s to cut the lead down to 10.  Speaking of Vandy's offense, we had no answer for Odom.  He had 20 points and 10 rebounds shooting 5 for 7 from 3 point range.  Despite his defensive limitations, I sort of wish we would have at least tried putting Shannon Hale on him.  He was just too big for Levi to handle, and our bigs can't keep up with him on the perimeter.

The officials actually called fouls on Vandy, at least in the first half, which was a pleasant surprise.  It seems like every time we play Vandy we have to beat their 88% perimeter shooting AND the officials.  For the most part, Tony Greene's crew did a good job, although Pat Adams came out of his area to make at least 3 calls against us.

I told my girlfriend after the 8 minute media timeout in the 2nd half that the next 3-4 minutes of the game would be huge.  Our 16 point lead had been cut to 10, and the team didn't seem to have the same energy and focus that built the lead in the first place.  I felt it was a turning point, either we would establish control of the game, or we would be in for a battle.  Immediately thereafter, Vandy scored on a possession where they got 5 shots at the goal.  It looked like our late game rebounding issues would haunt us in another close one.    We were forced to call a timeout just before the under 4 media break because Vandy had sliced our lead down to 5.

I've been hard on Nick Jacobs, and while he still didn't have a great game by any stretch, he did make some huge shots in the final 3-4 minutes to help us cling to the lead.  It seemed like for the last couple of minutes the lead went between 3 and 5 points, but we managed to not give them the ball with a chance to tie.  A key possession came just under the 2 minute mark after Vandy had cut the lead down to 3 and seemed to have momentum.  Shannon Hale lost the ball on the baseline and recovered it, but was trapped.  I may or may not have actually called the timeout from the 2nd row.  I yelled "TIMEOUT TIMEOUT" and the official immediately blew his whistle, but our bench did not react at first.  We could all hear the official clearly ask coach Grant, "You called timeout, right?"  Everyone on the front row turned around and looked in my direction, and presumably Coach Grant said yes because we were granted a 30 second timeout.  In retrospect, if he really didn't call it, he should have said "no" because then it would have been an inadvertent  whistle, and we would have retained the ball since we possessed it at the point of interruption.  Regardless, the play we ran out of that timeout didn't necessarily "work," but Retin bailed us out with a huge contested 3 as the shot clock ran down.  That doubled our lead going into the final 1:30 and Vandy was never able to recover.

In conclusion, there were a lot of positives in this game.  Most notably some guys stepping up offensively and giving Releford some help.  We had 4 players in double digits, including Shannon Hale, Levi, and Retin.  Unfortunately, we continue to struggle on the boards and our post play is lacking, and we blew a big lead when we needed to put the game away.  We are now back to .500 and 1-0 and tied for first place in the SEC!

Considering the team's performance to date, the extremely cold temperatures outside, and the late tipoff, I thought the crowd of around 5,000 or so was decent.  We had a very good student turnout with classes starting back today, the student section was pretty full with the exceptions of the corners.

Up next, we travel to Athens, GA to take on the Georgia Bulldogs Saturday at 4 p.m. EST.  The game will be televised on SEC TV.  Georgia has the lowest RPI of any SEC team, so this is a must win game.  We also need to get our first win away from Tuscaloosa to build confidence for the remaining SEC road games.  The blog will be well represented, with both Bobbyjack and I there to represent.


Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Know Your Enemy- Vanderbilt 'Lionel Richie' Commodores

Hopefully this game ends up easy like Sunday morning, but I suspect it will turn out to be a nail-biter all-night long. We need to win this one to keep the all-time series lead (66-65 right now according to Vanderbilt).

Monday, January 06, 2014

State of the RPI - Back to Work Edition

The holidays are officially over. Many Americans headed back to work and school this morning with sleepy eyes, coffee breaths and the hopes that St. Nick will get his ass back soon because this 5-day work week is for the birds. But I digress.

One good thing about the end of the holidays is that the college basketball season now heads into overdrive with conference play beginning around the country. And with football coming to a close, it also reminds people that, yes, college basketball is an actual sport, not a figment of their imagination as they drive by the arenas or flip the channels. As a result, attendance at games typically improves and there is wall-to-wall basketball on the tube.

The non-conference schedule did not go well for Alabama. While they did play and lose to five teams currently ranked in the RPI top 50 (per ESPN), the inability to win any of those games has put the team back at square one going into conference play. Alabama has been one of the top three programs in the conference the last three seasons. Only Kentucky and Florida have more conference wins in that span. Bama will need a similar conference outing this season if they are to turn around a season currently sitting at 6-7.

The SEC schedule will start with a program in Vanderbilt that has been a thorn in the side of Bama in recent years. Anthony Grant teams are just 1-3 against the Commodores, with the first win coming last season. Vandy is still in rebuilding mode, but are good enough to come into Coleman and beat a Bama team that continues to struggle offensively and is not quite as strong defensively as past years.

The first three games of conference play will indicate if this Bama team has what it takes to turn around this season. All three are winnable, but Alabama is far from a position in which it can take any team lightly. Doing so could just as easily result in a 1-2 start instead of the very real 3-0 possibility. As I said last week, the next four games (including Robert Morris) would be crucial for this Alabama team's chances at a turnaround.

Vandy could serve as Bama's first RPI 100 win if the Tide can hold serve at home, though, with the Dores sitting at 99 in the RPI, that probably won't last. However, for a Bama team whose best win is Texas Tech (RPI: 122), they need every win they can get going forward. Alabama will be on the road Saturday at Georgia (RPI: 240). Conference road wins are always tough, but that's a must win for Bama due to Georgia's RPI.

 As conference play begins, we also begin to see the RPI's for each conference start to shape itself. The SEC is still in decent shape, though the number of top 50 teams has now dropped to three (Florida, Kentucky and Missouri) with Arkansas (56) lurking. Tennessee and LSU sit in the 60s. Tennessee is trying to overcome a bit of a disappointing start, while LSU was in good shape before a home loss to a Rhode Island team that came into that game with an RPI in the 200s. The general consensus is that the SEC still looks pretty strong for five or six teams in the NCAA tournament come March.

The rest of the SEC pans out like this: Ole Miss (88), South Carolina (94), Vandy (99), Alabama (109), Mississippi State (167), Auburn (170), Texas A&M (197), Georgia (240).

Seats are warm in Tuscaloosa, Auburn, College Station and Athens. We know about Bama's struggles already. A&M probably had the worst non-conference loss for the league when they lost by 20 at home to North Texas. For a program that had March success under Billy Gillespie and Mark Turgeon, Kennedy's tenure up to this point has not been viewed positively. Georgia is in a similar boat to Alabama: they haven't lost to anyone particularly bad, but they haven't beaten anyone particularly good either. Barring a turnaround in conference play, this could be the final season in Athens for Mark Fox. Auburn has actually been solid. They do have a home loss to Northwestern State (that's in Louisiana, folks) in which they allowed 111 points, but their other two losses are to RPI top 5 teams, Iowa State and Illinois. They also have a solid home win over Clemson.

Sunday, January 05, 2014

Crimson Caps Colonials, 64-56

Another game, another starting lineup.  I actually liked this one on paper, Relly, Levi, Hale, Coop, and Jimmie.  It didn't work out very well; it took us about 5 minutes to score as Robert Morris built an early 9-0 lead.  The first 17 minutes or so was about as ugly as I have ever seen us play.  Thankfully we were able to tighten up on defense and only trail 23-20 at the half.

We played much better in the second half.  Our guards tried to push the ball as much as possible to attack the rim before Robert Morris could set up their defense.  The press was very effective and we were able to take control of the game by getting steals and fast break layups.

I saw one of the worst calls I've ever seen in a basketball game go in our favor, and I'm surprised the Robert Morris coach was not more upset about it.  In the midst of our run, we were in a full court man to man as Robert Morris had a spot throw from their own baseline.  One of the Colonials guards flashed back towards the corner trying to get open, and Retin literally just shoved him out of bounds.  The guy ended up somewhere between the cheerleaders and the dance team, and we got the 5 second violation.

In addition to the offense that we were able to create from turnovers, we also executed a few high post plays against their zone to get some good looks in the second half.  Cooper and Carl both did a good job of handling the ball and making good decisions in those sets.  We had a huge size advantage of Robert Morris, otherwise that probably would not have been as effective.

Carl had a great game with 8 points and 5 rebounds in 25 minutes.  I was very disappointed in Nick Jacobs, with the Colonials lack of size, this is a game he should have dominated.  Instead he had 4 points and only 2 rebounds in 18 minutes, including 2 air balls from within 4 feet of the basket.  One of those air balls in the first half he was wide open on the low block and would have had an easy dunk.  I'm still trying to figure out how he not only missed, but missed everything.

Releford had another great game and took over when we desperately needed him to.  It was nice to see Retin bounce back after having a couple of bad games, and Shannon Hale continues to develop, making the most of his start with 7 points and 5 boards in 21 minutes.

We've lost a number of close games due to our inability to rebound, but we did a great job as a team on the glass in this game.  Robert Morris got very few second chance opportunities.  Free throw shooting still wasn't great, we were only 52.4%, but we generally made the ones we had to late in the game.

A few of the students have made their way back, but it was still a very sparse crowd.  I would estimate no more than 2,500 or so.  The team had to create their own energy, as the crowd wasn't really into the game, with the exception of a few minutes in the 2nd half when we made our run to take control of the game.

So, that concludes the non-conference portion of the schedule.  At 6-7, it certainly wasn't what we were hoping for.   Up next, we start SEC play with Vanderbilt in Tuscaloosa for an 8 p.m. tipoff Tuesday night.

Friday, January 03, 2014

Know Your Enemy- Robert Morris Colonials

Before I start this preview I went to the RM athletic site. Splashed on the front page is stuff about their hockey teams. HOCKEY TEAMS?!?! Maybe someday Alabama will have a hockey team above club level. Now that WOULD BE AWESOME!

Robert Morris is AUful. I mean as AUful as our football team's D against the HUNH. They are 5-9 with losses to powerhouses like Eastern Michigan, Cleveland St, Buffalo, Delaware, Youngstown St, Toledo, and Oakland (MI). The strange thing is this team is somewhat intact from the one that beat Kentucky in the NIT last season.

Season stats

Karvel Anderson leads the way at 17.4 PPG with Lucky Jones dropping 14.4. They were also the 2 leading scorers last season. Both shoot the 3 ball well. Jones also leads the team in boards. Anthony Meyers-Pate leads the team in assists at 66 (or almost 5/game). His 3:1 assist to turnover ratio is quite impressive, but he's horrible offensively at .323/.200.

Not much to be said about them so I suspect we win this one comfortably heading into the SEC schedule.

Tip-off is 5:30PM EST 1/4 (4:30PM CST) on CSS and WatchESPN.com.

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

State of the RPI - Auld Lang Syne Edition

Happy New Year, Bama fans. Hopefully headaches are at a minimum today.

Speaking of headaches, 5-7. Ouch. This Alabama team could use a cup of kindness after playing a schedule currently ranked in the top 10. When the schedule was released, it was obvious that Alabama would have their work cut out for them. With that said, I doubt Anthony Grant and his staff expected to be 5-7 at this point. As a result, Alabama will once again have to post double digit win totals in conference play to even be in the postseason conversation come March.