Friday, October 20, 2017

Annual Tide Pride BBQ Practice

My apologies for not posting this sooner, but the day job has kept me busy this week.  I attended the BBQ/Open Practice for Tide Pride Members Tuesday.

-Unlike in previous years, Coach Johnson was mic'd up.  It was interesting to hear the team's terminology for certain things.  CAJ was constantly coaching, stopping plays for "teachable moments" and really gave thorough instructions throughout.

-Athletic Director Greg Byrne attended and introduced the Coach and staff.

-The team looked fresh despite having already practiced for two hours in the back gym. 

-I was a little disappointed that there was no scrimmaging.  It was a more structured practice with an emphasis on the offense. 

-Floor spacing was a major point of emphasis.  Coach spent a lot of time working with the guards and small forwards on reading the defense and making the right decision.  I think he knows that with Sexton and Petty's speed, they will get some penetration which will cause some defensive rotations leading to mismatches on the weak side. 

-Davis shot the ball well making a few 3s.  Hopefully he will be a bit more consistent this year.  I think having Herb Jones, who has tremendous upside as an all-around player, pushing him for playing time will be a positive. 

-Giddens and Hall will give us the best inside presence we've had in years.  Coach did have to implore Giddens to use his size and be more physical in the paint a couple of times. 

-Alex Reese has improved even since the Canada trip.  He's getting stronger, and I could see him getting some minutes as a stretch 4 depending on matchups.

-They did a lot of work on transition situations where Coach would simulate a "make or miss" by the opponent and everyone would sprint to the other end to try to score quickly.

-Sexton stole the show in the late game situation drill.  They practiced a tie game scenario coming out of a timeout with 20 seconds left.  Coach had to stop him a few times because he was starting the play too soon, which would have left time on the clock.  After Coach made him wait till about 8 seconds to start the play, he went to his left between the wing and the corner, elevated with a man in his face and calmly drained a 3 that barely even touched the net.  Next on defense, while the guard was running down the clock waiting to start the play, Collin began clapping his hands and starting the "DE-FENSE" chant. 

-Enjoy Sexton and Petty this year, because I expect both will be in the NBA in 2018.

-Riley Norris did not practice as he is recovering from a groin injury.

-Coach spoke and answered questions at the conclusion, some things that stood out to me:

-"We need you to be here and be loud, and if you can't use your tickets, find someone who can.  A lot of places we play in the SEC sell out every game, and it's loud, and we need that here.  Because we have a 15,000 seat arena, when we only have 6,000 or so here, it looks and feels kind of empty."

-We're going to try to run and press more.  We have a lot of different combinations we can use.  We can play Hall and Giddens at the same time and have a really big lineup, and we have a lot of smaller quick guys we can use and go small.  We have a lot of length and should be a good defensive team.

-"St. Louis is an 8 hour drive.  Pair up and drive 4 hrs each.  Plan your vacation now like some of our fans do to travel for other sports around here.  I want there to be the largest Bama fan contingent ever at the SEC tournament in St. Louis."  (Personal editorial here on this one...I REALLY disagree with the SEC putting the tournament in St. Louis.  We are the SOUTHEASTERN Conference, so why are we playing it in a Midwestern city?  It's not convenient to anybody not in Kentucky, Arkansas, or Missouri, and it's not easy to get to from here.  There's no longer direct flights from BHM so by the time you connect, etc you only save one or two hours over driving.  All of that being said, if we make it to Saturday I'll be there.  I think going to Arizona, NYC, and Maryland earns me a hall pass out of the weekday games in that armpit of a city.)

Of course it's still early, but after watching this practice and seeing the games in Canada, my impressions are that this is a good team right now.  I think our top 25 ranking is legit, and we have the potential to be a great team.  The keys to the season will be continuing to develop chemistry between the newcomers and veterans, and taking care of the basketball.  We have a lot of decent ball handlers, expect to see Sexton, Petty, Dazon, and Jr all run point at different times, but we don't have a "true point guard."  If we limit turnovers and play good defense, we can compete with any team in the country.  For once, I'm not really worried about our ability to score.



Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Alabama Picked to Finish Fourth in SEC Media Poll

SEC Media Days was held in Nashville today. Avery Johnson traveled with Braxton Key and Dazon Ingram to take part in the event. The media released their preseason poll, and All-Conference teams. Alabama was picked to finish fourth, and Collin Sexton was selected to the preseason All-Conference second team.

The complete poll.

1. Kentucky
2. Florida
3. Texas A&M
4. Alabama
5. Missouri
6. Arkansas
7. Vanderbilt
8. Georgia
9. Auburn
10. Ole Miss
11. South Carolina
12. Mississippi State
13. Tennessee
14. LSU

Quick thoughts: I don't think Kentucky is the runaway favorite they've been in recent years. I understand that it's the safe choice for the media to choose the Wildcats, but the rest of the league, at least for this season, appears to have taken a step closer to the Wildcats. Missouri is intriguing, but I'm a little more skeptical of the Tigers than the media appears to be. No doubt they should be improved, but so is the league. Ole Miss and Mississippi State are probably better this season than 10th and 12th. Auburn is also probably picked too low relative to their talent, but I get it in the wake of the Chuck Person mess.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Top 100 Guard Jared Butler Commits to Alabama

This post is going up late so I'm sure most of you know by now that Jared Butler - a top 100 guard in the class of 2018 - committed to Alabama earlier tonight. This is another recruiting win for the staff. They identified Butler early before his stock rose over the last year. Cultivating that relationship early along with Avery's NBA experience (something that has been mentioned by every recruit that has committed to Alabama during Avery's tenure) ultimately helped Alabama secure Butler's commitment.


  

We will have to see how the roster shakes out at the conclusion of this season, but it's likely that Butler will be able to earn minutes immediately as a freshman. That no doubt also played a role in his decision to commit.

We're just over three weeks from the start of the season. Roll Tide! Buckle Up!

Sunday, October 15, 2017

2017-18 Schedule Preview: December

The schedule really picks up in December. Assuming our guys can hold their own in November, the team will have a chance to solidify their non-conference resume with five opponents that could be in the NCAA Tournament come March.

Before we get into that, some news and notes from this past weekend. In addition to the visits I referenced in the previous post (Diante Wood and James Wiseman), Malcolm Dandridge (a 6'8, 200 lb center in the class of 2019) was also on campus. Dandridge and Wiseman both attend East High School in Memphis, and both appear to be top targets for the coaching staff in the 2019 class.

Also of note: Jared Butler (a 6'2, 180 lb point guard in the class of 2018) tweeted that he will announce his college choice tomorrow (Monday, October 16). Alabama is in his final three schools along with Virginia and Baylor. For what it's worth the crystal ball predictions at 247 Sports have Alabama as the favorite to earn his commitment. We will see tomorrow.




Sunday, December 3 - UCF - One of several high profile non-conference games in Coleman this season. UCF had a great season in Johnny Dawkins first season as head coach, finishing 24-12 and reaching the NIT semifinals. Expectations for the Knights should be high entering this season with last season's top scorer B.J. Taylor (17.4 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 3.5 apg, 1.1 spg) returning alongside 7'6 big man Tacko Fall (10.9 ppg, 9.5 rpg, 2.6 bpg). In all, UCF returns roughly 60% of its scoring from last season. Dawkins also added a transfer heavy class, with a total of four D-1 transfers eligible to play for the Knights this season.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Bama Hoops News & Notes

Avery Johnson spoke to the media for the first time in preparation for the 17-18 season. Topics covered included the Kobie Baker situation, Riley Norris has a hip injury (Avery says he's week to week in his recovery), one-and-dones, the returning players, the freshman class, the pro day, Tide tipoff, recruiting and the homecoming weekend (several recruits will be on campus for visits - more on that later).





Big recruiting news regarding the 2018 class. Alabama has offered 5-star guard Anfernee Simons. A former Louisville commit, Simons is a 6'3 combo guard from Bradenton, FL. An electric scorer, Simons has become highly sought after in the wake of his decommitment. Florida is considered the favorite as of now. Hit the link for video.

James Wiseman, a top 3 prospect in the class of 2019, will be on campus this weekend for an unofficial visit. Wiseman is a 6'11 forward that can play with his back to the basket, driving to the basket, facing the basket. He can do it all. He will be one of the elite players in what is shaping up to be a very strong 2019 class.




2018 3-star guard Diante Wood will be on campus this weekend for an official visit. Wood's final four schools are Bama, Auburn, South Florida and Colorado State.


Sunday, October 08, 2017

2017-18 Schedule Preview: November

Despite the uncertainty hanging over college basketball as a result of the FBI investigation into the sport's connection with apparel companies, the fact remains that we will be watching games five weeks from now. Between a tough slate of non-conference games and the expectation that the SEC conference will take a step forward this year as a basketball conference, Alabama should have one of the tougher schedules in the country.

Monday, November 6 - Alabama-Huntsville - The 17-18 season tips off with an exhibition game against the D-II Chargers. UAH is a national power at the D-II level. Last season the team finished with a record of 26-8, won their conference tournament title, and were a 1 seed in the national tournament, reaching the south regional of the tournament. The Chargers could be looking at a rebuilding year of sorts this season after 61% of their scoring finished their college careers.

Friday, November 10 - vs Memphis [Annapolis, MD] - The season officially kicks off vs Tubby Smith and the Memphis Tigers. The Tigers finished last season with a 19-13 record, and did not receive a postseason invitation. On paper it looks like a rebuilding season for Memphis after seeing 78% of their scoring from last season depart. I wouldn't count out Tubby Smith, though. He's one of the more underappreciated coaches in the sport.

Tuesday, November 14 - Lipscomb - The home opener will take place against a sneaky good mid-major in Lipscomb. The Bison should be one of the top teams in the Atlantic Sun this season. Lipscomb finished 20-13 last season with no postseason invite. Lipscomb returns 79% of its scoring from last season, including Garrison Mathews (20.4 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 2.3 apg).

Saturday, September 30, 2017

2017-18 Roster Preview: Forwards/Centers

While the last week has been  alarming with the news of a college basketball recruiting scandal that reared its ugly head in Tuscaloosa, the college basketball season is still expected to tip off in six weeks. That means the show must go on with my roster preview.

DJC did a great job in the previous post in breaking down what we know so far about the FBI investigation into the Adidas/recruiting violations. If you haven't read it yet, I implore you to do so. It's particularly important in light of the resignation of former Alabama staffer, Kobie Baker.

The team held its first practice yesterday, and Collin Sexton - who is presumably the player mentioned in the Kobie Baker episode - did practice. What his status will be going forward isn't set in stone yet, but it is encouraging that none of the evidence presented so far shows that Collin or his family accepted any improper benefits.

For what it's worth: this weekend has been huge from a basketball recruiting standpoint. Trendon Watford (2019/5-star), Kira Lewis (2019/4-star), Robert Woodard (2018/4-star), Austin Crowley (2019/4-star) and Javian Fleming (2018/3-star) are all on campus today.

Okay, let's get to the roster preview.

Donta Hall - 6'9 - 232 lbs - Junior: Donta played in all 34 games last season, finishing 5th in minutes per game (19.7). His averages for the season were 6.0 ppg, 5.5 rpg, and 1.4 bpg. His field goal percentage was superb (65.8%), but he only attempted 3.5 shots per game. Down the stretch, Donta began to show signs of development on the offensive end so it will be interesting to see if he has a bigger role on offense this season. I wrote a more extensive preview about Donta at the Southeast Hoops website, which you can read here.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Kobie Baker Ousted in FBI probe

Unless you've been living under a rock this week, you already know that the FBI has announced federal charges  against 10 individuals, including 4 assistant coaches, as the result of a massive undercover investigation into various fraud schemes between Adidas, shady sports agents/financial advisers, and college coaches.  My apologies for the delay in reporting about this, but  I wanted to take some time to read through the complaints and various reports and give it some thought before posting.

You can read the various complaints at the links below:
U.S. v. Person and Michel
U.S. v. Gatto, et al.
U.S. v Evans, et al

Let's take a look at what we know now, how it affects us, how it effects other schools that have been identified as referenced in the complaint, and what it may hold for the future of college basketball.

Let me preface this by saying that I hate all of this, but am surprised by none of it.  In my ideal world all the payments would be transparent and in the open and the only thing we would care about is winning on the court.  I take no joy in the likelihood of multiple teams receiving crippling sanctions, whether we are involved or not.  Much more after the jump:

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Pitino out at Louisville due to fraud investigation

Surprised it took this long... link

This ties into other coaches at USC, Auburn, OK St, and Arizona implicated in a FBI investigation for fraud.

Bruce Pearl may be next... he's already on the bad side of the NCAA.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

2017-18 Roster Preview: Guards

We're seven weeks from the beginning of one of the most anticipated Alabama basketball seasons in recent memory. While the level of expectations differ among the fanbase, the core expectation is that this team will be the first to represent the university in the NCAA Tournament since 2012. Those expectations will create pressure for this team and coaches. Fortunately, the team has the benefit of a talented and experienced group of returning players as well as a top 10 recruiting class. Let's meet that roster, starting with the guards.

Collin Sexton - 6'3 - 190 lbs - Freshman: Collin enters his freshman season at Alabama as a top 10 recruit out of high school. The basketball part for Collin should be easy. He's a fierce competitor, capable of playing on or off the ball, can score in bunches, but is also blessed with the quickness and athleticism that will allow him to be a fantastic defender if he buys in on that end of the floor. The biggest hurdle for Collin this season could prove to be managing the hype and expectations that have followed him to Alabama. Should he make a smooth transition, he's capable of putting together an SEC Freshman of the Year type of season.

Avery Johnson Jr. - 5'11 - 190 lbs - Junior: Avery played in all 34 games last season, and was 6th on the team in minutes per game (19.3). His averages for the season were 6.9 ppg, 1.7 rpg and 1.4 apg. He played a key role in the team's win at South Carolina, scoring 23 points, 6 rebounds and 3 assists. Looking ahead to this season, Avery must improve his shooting (33% FG, 31% 3-pt last season) as well as his assist-to-turnover ratio (1.4 apg/1.1 topg).

Friday, September 22, 2017

Bama Hoops News and Notes

It's seven weeks from the official start of the 2017-18 season, but recruiting never ends. The staff is currently on the road paying visits to recruits in the 2018, 19 and 20 classes. I've been doing my best to keep up with it all, but the day job comes first. Here is what I can tell you. Click the links for video.

First things first: The SEC Network is premiering an SEC Storied documentary about C.M. Newton on Tuesday, September 26th called Courage Matters: The C.M. Newton Story. That should be good. Tune in.




Alabama has offered Malcolm Dandridge, a 4-star center in the class of 2019. Dandridge (6-8, 200) is currently ranked in 247 Sports top 100 (78) for the class of 2019. He currently attends Memphis power, East High School. That's the same school that another Bama target, James Wiseman, currently attends.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Alabama Schedules Exhibition Game With Alabama-Huntsville

The final piece of the 2017-18 schedule has been added. This evening, Alabama announced that the University of Alabama-Huntsville will come to Tuscaloosa for an exhibition game on November 6th. It's another strong addition to the schedule. The Chargers have been one of the best programs in Division II in recent years. Last season, they finished with a 26-8 record, a conference tournament championship, and were a 1 seed in the D-II tournament before falling in the Sweet Sixteen. It's a good addition to the schedule. If you're going to play an exhibition against a D-II or NAIA school, you might as well play a good one.

In other news: Jeff Goodman at ESPN announced via Twitter that Alabama will hold a pro day on October 10th. For those that don't know, a pro day is an event in which NBA scouts can visit the school and observe players take part in different workouts. Alabama has several current players on the roster with legitimate pro aspirations so this makes sense.

In other other news: the staff is currently out on the road visiting recruits for the 18 and 19 classes. The 2019 class in particular looks like the next big class for the evolution of the Alabama program under Avery. Here's a rundown of who they have visited over the past week. If I leave anyone out, please let me know in the comments section.

Thursday, September 07, 2017

Tide Tipoff Event Date and Time Announced



The date and time for the third annual Tide Tipoff event, featuring both the men's and women's teams, has been announced. The event will take place on Tuesday, October 24th at Coleman. Doors open at 6 P.M. CT, with the court activities beginning at 7 P.M. Be sure to get there early as the seating will be general admission.

The game time for Alabama's home game vs Oklahoma in the Big 12/SEC Challenge will be 1:15 P.M. CT on Saturday, January 27th. ESPN will handle the television duties, but I implore any and all Bama fans in the area to head out to Coleman to support our guys in what could be a very important non-conference matchup. I expect Oklahoma to bounce back after a really difficult season a year ago when the Sooners finished with an 11-20 record.




A few quick recruiting notes: Robert Woodard II, a top 100 recruit in the class of 2018, took an unofficial visit to Alabama earlier this week.




Sunday, September 03, 2017

Recruiting News; Game Times Announced; Dogs and Cats Living Together!

A few things to report today. Let's start with game times. The university has announced tip times for three games.

The season opener against Memphis in Annapolis, Maryland as part of the Veterans Classic will tip at 5:30 P.M. CT. The game will be televised on the CBS Sports Network. That is on Friday, November 10.

The home game vs UCF on Sunday, December 3 will be a 1 P.M. CT tip. ESPNU will televise, but that's a great game on a Sunday afternoon for fans to bring their families, friends, special lady friends, sugar daddies, hell bring an enemy or two if you like. A quality opponent, an easy tip time. No reason Coleman shouldn't be packed for that game.

Finally, the Vulcan Classic match-up vs Texas in Birmingham on Friday December 22 will tip at 8 P.M. CT. ESPN2 will handle the television duties, but this should also be a manageable game for people to make. 8 P.M. on a Friday night. If you live in or relatively close to Birmingham, you won't even have to take the day off to make that 8 P.M. tip. A great opportunity for fans to see a name brand opponent, and the court will be littered with great athletes for both teams. That should be a very fun game.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

We have a Schedule!

The SEC released it's full schedule, so combined with the non-conference schedule that's been out for a few weeks now, we know the full slate.

v. Memphis (Annapolis, MD) Nov. 10 (Fri)
v. Lipscomb Nov. 14 (Tues)
v. Alabama A&M Nov. 17 (Fri)
v. UT Arlington Nov. 21 (Tues)
v. BYU (Barclays Classic, Brooklyn, NY) Nov. 24 (Frid)
v. Minnesota (Barclays Classic, Brooklyn, NY) Nov. 25 (Sat)
v. La Tech Nov. 29 (Wed)
v. UCF Dec. 3 (Sun)
v. Rhode Island Dec. 6 (Wed)
@Arizona Dec.9 (Sat)
v. Mercer Dec.19 (Huntsville, AL) (Tues)
v. Texas Dec. 22 (Birmingham, AL) (Fri)
v. Texas A&M Dec. 30 (Sat)
@Vandy Jan.2 (Tues)
@Georgia Jan.6 (Sat)
@LSU Jan.13 (Sat)
v. auburn Jan. 17 (wed)
v. miss $tate Jan. 20 (Sat)
@ Ole Miss Jan. 23 (Tues)
v. Oklahoma Jan. 27 (Sat)
v. Mizzou Jan. 31 (Wed)
@Florida Feb.3 (Sat)
@miss $tate Feb.6 (Tues)
v. Tennessee Feb.10 (Sat)
v. LSU Feb. 13 (Tues)
@Kentucky Feb.17 (Sat)
@auburn Feb. 21 (Wed)
v. Arkansas Feb.24 (Sat)
v. Florida Feb. 27 (Tues)
@Texas A&M Mar. 3 (Sat)
SEC Tournament (St. Louis, MO) Mar. 7-11
NCAA Tournament  TBA

A few thoughts, we've discussed how tough the non-conference schedule is, but there's only one true road game, albeit very possibly against the top ranked team in the country.  Three straight road games to start the conference play, but all very winnable, though we know what a house of horrors Memorial gym can be.  No Monday or Thursday starts in conference play this year, so we won't have the short Thursday Saturday turnaround.  The final stretch is pretty salty, @uk, @au, Ark, Fla, @aTm


Sunday, August 20, 2017

Recruiting Update: 2018 3-star Guard Schedules Visit

Diante Wood, a 6'4, 175 lb guard from Anniston, Alabama has scheduled an official visit to Alabama the weekend of October 13-15. That's the weekend of the football game vs Arkansas. Wood is currently rated as a 3-star guard in the class of 2018 by 247 Sports.




Wood's head coach at Sacred Heart Catholic School - Ralpheal Graves - was quoted in a recent Bama Online article that Diante is in contact with the Bama staff every day, and that he has a very close relationship with Antoine Pettway. If Bama emerges as Wood's leader, don't be surprised if he commits to Alabama after his official visit in October. Here's some recent  video of Diante.



Sunday, August 13, 2017

Recruiting Update: Alabama in Final 6 for 4-star 2018 Guard

This news was announced last week, but I decided to wait until after the games in Canada to write about it. Jared Butler is a 4-star, top 100 guard in the class of 2018. Last week he announced via Twitter the final six schools he is considering. Alabama made the cut, along with Texas, USC, Virginia, Wichita State and Baylor. Butler is from Reserve, Louisiana. He was quoted in a July article posted by Evan Daniels at Scout that he was going to take an official visit to Alabama. He has previously made an unofficial visit to Tuscaloosa, which I detailed here. Butler was a member of MEBO Team Hood this spring and summer. MEBO is based in Mississippi, and features another 2018 Alabama target, Robert Woodard. You can see Butler and Woodard (12) playing together in the video posted below.




Elsewhere, Alabama made the "final 9" list for 3-star Mississippi recruit, Javian Fleming. Among the other eight schools that made the cut are Georgetown, Texas A&M, Ole Miss and Tennessee. My belief is Alabama is the favorite for Fleming. For what it's worth, the early predictions for Fleming at 247 Sports also list Alabama as the favorite. Still a long way to go with Javian's recruitment, but that's encouraging. Hit the break for a highlight video of Jared and Javian.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Bama Grinds Out 81-71 Victory vs Ottawa

In the final game of their Canadian tour, our guys overcame another slow start and poor shooting night to knock off the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees, 81-71. Several players - Dazon Ingram, Herb Jones and Collin Sexton - sat out for precautionary reasons.

Ottawa got off to a hot start, leading by as much as 7 points in the 1st quarter. Alabama put together a strong 2nd quarter, outscoring the Gee-Gees by 11, and a 6-point halftime lead. From there the game was a close affair until Alabama was able to put together a run in the 4th quarter to lead by as many as 13, which ultimately helped Alabama close the game out.

Six guys finished in double figures - Avery Jr with 15, Braxton with 12, John Petty with 11, Riley with 13, Donta with 11, and Ar'Mond with 10. After being out-rebounded by 10 in their previous game, Alabama was +11 on the boards. On the flip side, defense continues to be a work in progress, Alabama only forced nine turnovers, and Ottawa attempted 79 shots. Fortunately, the Gee-Gees only made 38% of their field goals. On offense, Alabama only had 11 assists vs 14 turnovers. Once again, the free throw line was a struggle as the team finished at just 60%.

While John Petty and Collin Sexton have received a lot of attention so far this season, I was encouraged by the play of the veterans tonight. The young guys are great, but how far this team will go will be determined by the veterans. Braxton, Donta, Riley, Avery Jr. and Ar'Mond all had good games tonight. Of note: Braxton is in noticeably better shape as a sophomore, and Ar'Mond looks much more comfortable on the floor than he did last season. Regarding the young guys: John Petty and Collin look the part so far. Petty in particular raised his profile with the casual fans by his performance in Canada. Yeah, he can shoot the heck out of the ball, but he impressed me tonight with his passing ability (4 assists tonight).

Alabama finishes the Canadian tour at 2-1. Though they will come home with some bumps and bruises, they appear to be relatively healthy as we look forward to November. These teams in Canada were quality competition, and I think this was a good experience for this Alabama team. 13 weeks until Memphis. Stay buckled. 

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Carleton Cruises over Crimson, 84-71.

I watched this on the live facebook stream, and was on a conference call through much of the first half, so wasn't able to pay as close attention as I would like.  We got off to another slow start, but Carleton was a much more talented and athletic team than McGill.  Coming off a loss to Towson, they were motivated, and I wonder if they overlooked their first opponent a bit in anticipation for playing us.  Likewise, I think the 40 point win in the first game gave our guys a false sense of confidence.

Bottom line, if we don't take care of the basketball and play better defense, this team will not live up to its expectations.  With about 3 minutes to go Sexton went down with an injury and the feed would not show him.  My thoughts immediately went to "this would be the most Alabama basketball thing ever for this to be a serious injury."  A friend of mine who was at the game said it look like he got the wind knocked out of him and banged up his knee a bit.  He said they checked him out in the locker room and he came back out on the bench and looked fine, and he thought he could have returned if it was close.  I hope that's right.

Hopefully someone who was able to watch this one more closely throughout can give a more detailed recap.  I've got to run but thought I would throw something up quickly.

Up next, the University of Ottawa Gee Gees tomorrow night at 5:30 Central.  I probably won't be able watch this one.

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Bama Thrills Against McGill, 96-57


The Tide rolled to an easy victory in the first exhibition game of the 2017-18 season over the Redmen of McGill University in Montreal Canada.  The starting lineup was 1. Sexton 2. Petty, 3. Key, 4. Riley, 5. Hall.  Dazon Ingram did not play as expected.

Before I get into the meat of the game, I would like to discuss the rule differences in this league.  I know many of you probably don't care about this topic, but being an official I tend to focus on these things.  You will notice from the pics that the lane is wider.  I could not tell if the 3-point line was longer or the court is slightly narrower, but there was less room in the corners between the arc and the sideline.  This caused a handful of turnovers for our guys.  You'll note the 24 second clock, which reset to 14 on offensive rebounds.  They play 4 ten minute quarters, with a team entering the bonus on either the 3rd or 4th foul (it was confusing to figure out because the scoreboard was consistently wrong, and often-times the officials would be about to put the ball in play before being alerted that we were in the bonus).  Overall, I really like these rules.  You don't spend 13 minutes of a half shooting free throws if one team hacks away early.  The shorter shot clock and wider lane really opens up the court and increases the pace of play.  It's an exciting brand of basketball, and I hope the NCAA continues to trend in that direction.  The officials also used a couple of different signals.  The official closest to the table makes an X to signal substitutions to his partners; I also like this, as the standard hand raised could be for a number of issues.  Anything that increases communications with your partners will make the game go more smoothly, in my opinion.  Likewise, they use their fingers to form a "T" to indicate a timeout, rather than just the raised hand and pointing at a bench.  I don't like this one as much, as it can be easily confused with the "technical foul" sign.  They do not require the defensive team to occupy the low blocks on the first of two free throws, and the lead official signals such by raising both hands.  I suppose this prevents some bone-headed lane violations.  In any event, I thought the officials called a fair game and did not give McGill any "home cooking," but perhaps did throw some mercy calls their way in the second half.  They generally let the teams play and did a nice job of managing the game.

Now, onto the game itself.  It was obvious in pre-game warmups that McGill just wasn't going to be big enough or athletic enough to hang with us.  They are a scrappy, well coached team who won their division last year, but from talking to some locals it's my understanding they lost their two best players from that team.  Nevertheless, both teams opened in a man to man defense and the Redman ran some nice plays, set a couple of good screens to make open shots, and forced some early turnovers to take an 11-2 lead.  Alabama then proceeded to go on a 31-2 run that completely demoralized the McGill team and effectively ended the game in the second quarter.

Petty was bombing 3s from all over the court.  Sexton was also lighting it up and slashing to the basket.  Daniel Giddens had a fantastic game with several awesome dunks.  Of the two big men, I think Hall looked better in the scrimmage but Giddens definitely had the better game.  I think the up-tempo flow of the game favored Giddens as Hall still has issues with his footwork in transition at times.  The score stuck for a bit on 19-11 as we seemed to temporarily lose our momentum before resuming the onslaught.  While McGill did miss a few decent looks, the defense played very well from middle of the first quarter till almost halftime.  The Redmen went several minutes without a basket.

Meanwhile the offense showed its explosiveness.  McGill finally switched to a zone to try to slow us down, and Giddens immediately went back door for an oop.

Collin mainly ran the point but Petty got some time there too, along with Key in a point forward role, before AJ ran it much of the second half.

Ar'Mond Davis had a nice game off the bench and looked more comfortable than he did at any point last year.

I was hoping to score 100, but the team backed off a bit and played mostly the bench guys in the second half.  AJ, Law Dog, Alex Reese, Herb Jones, and Galin Smith all got some valuable work in while still moderately extending the lead.

The only negative in this game from my perspective was too many turnovers, but again, at least 4 of those I think were a result of the dimensions of the court.  We had a few unforced travels, but most of the turnovers were the result of guys trying to do too much, particular Collin driving in and trying to make the highlight pass.  I can live with that in this game, it's an exhibition and guys are trying to put on a show, but I hope we make better decisions when the chips are down.

The official box score only credits us with 5 assists and one block, but I'm pretty certain that isn't right.  I thought we moved the ball well offensively, and I recall at least 4 or 5 blocked shots.  It appeared McGill was using students at the scorer's table, so take the final stat sheet with a grain of salt.   Generally speaking, we moved the ball well on offense when we wanted to, and passes were more on-time and on-target than most of our games last season.  It's a shame we didn't send more staff, including Chris and Bryan on this trip, but by all accounts the McGill crew did a great job on the live stream.

Collin Sexton is an extremely gifted basketball player.  He's also more than a little eccentric.  In the pic at the top, you can see him warming up shooting by himself while all of his other teammates were on the other end.  He joined them for sprints just moments after that was taken.  At one point when we were on our run in the first half, he made a nice play on a put back "and one" and immediately stared down and clapped aggressively in the direction of the McGill student section.  I was sitting near these students, and a few moments later during a dead ball he comes walking toward us bowed up yelling, "who's talkin shit?  who wants to talk shit!?  Who got something to say now!?"  Keep in mind the score is 44-22 at this point.  When he was shooting free throws, the students started the "o-ver-ra-ted" chant, and after making the shots, Collin gave it right back to them, complete with the hand claps.  I love the fire and competitiveness, but to the extent there was beef between Collin and the students, frankly, it appeared to me that Collin started it.  Most of the McGill fans there admitted they were mainly there to see him play.  In fact, he was very animated in complaining about his fifth foul call (in fairness, I think the last 2 on him were mercy calls), despite the fact that McGill's coach was kind enough to tell the officials to allow him to stay in the game, since that's what everyone came to see.  Coach Johnson ended up taking him out a few minutes later.  For what it's worth, the team seems to respond well to him and respect him.  He's a vocal leader on both ends while the ball is in play, and it was good to see him joking around with Dazon on the bench at the end of the game.


This concludes the basketball portion of this post, but I'm going to spend a little more time than usual talking about the game experience here because it was such an unusual situation.  There are much more knowledgeable basketball writers on this blog, but I'm fortunate  my real life obligations provide with the flexibility to be able to attend more games than most.  So, I hope I can give a sense of the first hand experience to our readers, but for those of you who just want to read about the game itself, you can skip the rest.

Montreal is a wonderful city, and the people at McGill were very nice and hospitable, but the facility would be average at best for a 4A high school here.  Pictured above is the entrance.    They refer to the arena as the "Love Competition arena," but you'll note there are no outdoor signs indicating such.  A search of "Love Competition arena" in my GPS app was fruitless.  Thankfully, they print the address on the ticket in English.  Unfortunately, putting that address into the GPS also proves fruitless.  Finally, thanks to google translate, I translated the address from English (as it was printed on the ticket) to French and was able to locate it for my Uber driver.

Upon walking through that door, you do not enter a gymnasium.  There is a turnstile, a desk, and a guard sitting at the desk.  I showed him my ticket and said, "umm, I'm here for the basketball game?"  He replies as he motions me through, "okay, just show them your ticket upstairs."  I look around, and I see no stairs.  He explains, "go down the hall, pass the weight room and the pool, turn  left, go up stairs, turn right, and the arena is on your left."  Basically, they play in their student rec center.

Upon walking in, the first thing I notice is there is no air conditioning.  In fairness, it's a luxury probably not often needed during basketball season in Canada, but even though it was only 68F outside, it was brutally hot in there.  I was sweating like an Ole Miss athletic administrator at an NCAA infractions committee hearing within 5 minutes of taking my seat.  There is only seating on one side of the gym.  If you look closely at the pic at the very top, yes, those are those foam AC insulation tubes (kind of ironic actually) placed over the rails in the front row and secured with duct tape to provide padding.  They have one concession stand, with limited options, but the people working it were very friendly and the food was much higher quality and much more reasonably priced than what we serve at Coleman (which admittedly isn't saying much.)  I had a hot dog that was very good as far as stadium hot dogs go and a Molson Canadian for 9 Canadian dollars, which comes out to about 7 bucks.  You can barely get a water for that at our games.

The seats are temporary risers, the place was about 90% full but only the lower level was open, they had another section of risers folded up.  There were probably only about 400 or so there, with several dozen Alabama fans including a few prominent booster and former trustee types.

I spent some time sight seeing during the day since it was my first trip to Montreal.  I hope it's not my last; I really can't say enough good things about the city.  Even though the only French I speak is the type that Bobby doesn't allow on this blog, it wasn't a hindrance.  Almost everyone is bilingual and most of the signs are in both French and English.  The few places that aren't, google translate can help fill in the gaps.  The people were very helpful and friendly and nice.

I went for a run in the morning and kept stopping to take pictures...the architecture, particularly some of the older churches, was very impressive.  I toured the Notre-Dame Basilica which I highly recommend, it's well worth the $6 price of admission.  The city is also very clean.  I noticed numerous workers out very early meticulously making sure there was no trash, cigarette butts, etc on the streets.   Being a baseball fan, I couldn't pass on the free "history of baseball in Montreal" exhibit that's currently on display at city hall.  It was neat to see one of my childhood favorites, Andre Dawson's gold glove award.  In the afternoon I hiked up nearby Mt. Royal which is an easy hike and offers breathtaking views of the city and skyline.  Oh, and the food was phenomenal.


Up next, we go to Ottawa to play the Carleton University Ravens tomorrow night at 6 p.m. central.  This will be a much tougher test, as they are the dominant team in the league and have knocked off several NCAA teams over the years, including a 20 point win over Wichita last year.  Unfortunately, there is no television or streaming for this game, and day job obligations forced me back into the States today.  I do have a friend who will be attending, and I'm going to try to convince him to broadcast on periscope.  If he agrees to do so, I will post the details here.

Monday, August 07, 2017

Alabama Rolls McGill, 96-57


In the first game of their Canadian tour, Alabama overcame a sluggish start to beat McGill by a final of 96-57. Freshman John Petty had an explosive first game in an Alabama uniform, scoring 22 points on 8-10 (6-8 from 3) shooting. Petty also added 5 rebounds. Ar'Mond Davis added 14 points (4-6 from the field, 2-4 from 3, 4-5 from the free throw line), while Collin Sexton and Daniel Giddens scored 13 points in their debuts. Dazon Ingram sat out the game due to a minor foot injury. He will likely not suit up for the remaining games in Canada, but is expected at full strength by the time we reach November.

Criticisms: 1] Too many turnovers. The final box score showed 28 turnovers for Alabama. Sloppiness is to be expected in a game played in August, but the 2nd half in particular, the team was really sloppy with the ball. 2] Braxton Key and John Petty led the team in rebounding with 5 each. I would like to see our big guys (Donta, Daniel and Galin) more active on the glass, particularly against this level of competition. 3] Free throw shooting was up and down. The team finished with a 60% rate (14-23).  Turnovers and free throw shooting were two of the biggest weaknesses for Avery's first two teams. That needs to improve in year three.

DJC was in Montreal. Expect a much more in-depth recap from him in the coming days.

Alabama will now travel to Ottawa for their final two games. Our guys play Carleton University on Wednesday night. Game time is 6 PM C.T. There is no stream currently available for that game.  

Sunday, August 06, 2017

Links

The official site has links to the games in Canada this week at the schedule page here. If you don't want to connect via that page, here are those links for the McGill game, and the Ottawa game. The Carleton game - the second of the three games - currently does not have a stream planned. This is unfortunate as Carleton is likely the toughest of the three teams that Alabama will play this week.

There is also a blog documenting the Canada trip here. Our own DJC is also in Montreal to watch the McGill game so expect a recap of that game in the near future. Enjoy the games this week, folks. Buckle up!  

Friday, August 04, 2017

Avery Johnson gets 2 year extension

I'm normally not fond of these extensions before results, but in this case I'm fine with it as it does a couple things:

1) Shows a commitment to Avery Johnson and his vision
2) Shows the fans the athletic department is committed to being competitive

I know this goes on a lot... heck it happened with our last coach, but I think even Stevie Wonder can see why in this case an extension is a good idea. We have potentially a top 25 team on our hands in year 3 and it only looks like even better things for hoops is on the horizon.

I'm going to go ahead and reserve a hotel for the Final Four.. or crash on MS's couch and make the 60 minute drive back and forth!

Thursday, August 03, 2017

Practice!? We're talkin about PRACTICE!


Credit to Allen Iverson, it never gets old.

My apologies for the delay in posting this report, but the day job obligations make it difficult to contribute here in a timely manner.

The freshmen not only lived up to the hype, but far exceeded my expectation.  John Petty in his current form would have been the best player on last year's team.  Collin Sexton is even better.  We have shooters, we have depth, and we will have the best post game we've had since JaMychal Green graduated.

The event opened with Coach Johnson thanking the fans and bringing out the team.  He explained they had already been practicing for about an hour and a half in the back gym, and reminded everybody that what we were about to see was far from a finished product.  He said this was the 7th of 10 practices allowed for the Canada trip, and the team will leave this Friday.

  I think it was telling that Sexton walked out first.  He's clearly establishing himself as the leader of this team, and his body language and demeanor exudes a certain arrogance and swag that is difficult to define.  He is obviously super-competitive and will no doubt rub some people the wrong way in the heat of the battle, but he's exactly what this team and program have needed.

They began by splitting into crimson and white teams and running skeleton half court "bail out" plays off the pick and roll, with different players initiating the play at the point.   Coach Johnson seems to have confidence in Sexton, Petty, Key, and AJ all handling the ball.  These sets usually involved 3 or 4 passes and ended with an open 3 or an entry pass to the low post for a dunk.

At one point Sexton drove in and attempted a behind the back pass to a big that was intercepted by Giddens (I think, can't remember for sure).  Anyway, Coach didn't get onto Collin for the unnecessary turnover.  Instead, he said, "in that situation, know where your defender is, and here's what you do" as he faked the same pass that Sexton made for the turnover and layed it in.

They ran a number of full court, fast break drills with either 3 or 4 players and 3-4 passes per trip.  Coach mentioned after the practice that he thinks we will be much improved with our decision making and passing ability, and you could see those skills verified in these drills.  They also worked on using the rim to finish on the opposite side in transition.

They also worked on the full court press and press-break, running what coach termed a "45 into a 42" which was an initial showing of a full court man to man, switching into a 2-2-1 full court trap.  Coach said we have more speed and depth (which is a huge understatement) and we will press more.  I suspect with the lack of a true point guard, we will also see more presses from our opposition.  AJ got a steal from Riley, but otherwise we generally did a good job of breaking the press.

They ran some half court plays simulating coming out of a timeout against a 2-3 zone with varying degrees of success.

There was a brief scrimmage that was incredibly fun to watch.  Petty and Sexton took turns making about 5 threes in a row.  They both had some amazing passes.  Davis, Riley, and Herb all shot well from the perimeter.

While I mostly tried to focus on the new guys, the one player who stood out to me other than Petty and Sexton was Donta Hall.  He seems to have really improved his offensive game. He's developed a bit of a baby hook shot and used an up and under move on a couple of occasions as well.  I think he's benefited from having Giddens there to push him.  Giddens is at least as good now as Hall was last year.  Both were effective in defending the rim.  Newcomer Galin Smith is a little undersized at the 4, but he plays physical around the basket and can finish with authority.

This practice did not have the emphasis on rebounding that I saw at the open practice I went to last year, and that is one area that concerns me a bit.  I do think we will miss Bola on the boards.  I'd like to see Galin beef up a bit and grow into that type of role.

Alex Reese has talent but seems to be adjusting to the speed of the college game.  I can see him growing into a stretch 4 type, but right now he's just a bit slow and not physical.  He did generally make good decisions and passes though.

Herb Jones can be a solid all around player for us.  He's not overly flashy, but has a nice shot, can handle the ball, and plays solid defense.  He probably needs to add a bit of muscle if he's going to play the 3 or the 4.

I hate to keep harping on Sexton and Petty, but wow, those guys are good.  Petty has such a pretty shot, great handles, and seems to have a really high basketball IQ.  There simply aren't enough superlatives to describe Sexton.  He wins the sprints by 30 feet.  He's lightning quick.  He gets great elevation on his jump shot and has a super-quick trigger.  It's like he goes from being closely guarded in the dribble to releasing a perfect shot over the top of his defender in less than half a second.  He makes everything look easy.

Dazon Ingram did not practice due to an injury, and will likely not play much, if at all, in Canada.

The only negative I saw was free throw shooting.  It's not that we don't practice it, Coach would randomly select someone to shoot at various points during the practice, and towards the end he had everyone line up along the baseline and take turns shooting one each.  The goal was to make 7 in a row within 2 minutes else they would run sprints.  After 3 or 4 attempts at this, and never reaching more than 4 in a row, he gave up and moved on to something else.  Even Sexton, who was a 92% free throw shooter in high school, missed 3 in a row at one point.  On the bright side, Hall and Giddens combined to go 7 of 8.

There was a great turnout of close to 3,000 people there.  The night concluded with Coach Johnson taking some questions, but nobody really asked anything particularly interesting.  Coach did note that we beat Vandy last year who made the tournament with a worse record, and we've got one of the most difficult schedules in the country in hopes of building a resume that will get us in.

I know we have an extremely challenging schedule, and I know it was just one practice, but frankly, I'll be very disappointed if we are anywhere near the bubble this year.  If these guys play to their potential and develop chemistry, we will be at least a 5 seed.

Up next, it's off to Montreal to take on the McGill University Redmen.  My understanding is that all 3 of these Canadian teams are very good, with the Carleton team in Ottawa that we play second being the best.  I'll be making the trip north for the McGill game and will post a report when I can.  For those of you remaining in the states, it will be streamed live on rolltide.com.  Buckle Up!

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Updated roster- Number changes

Hall took over the 0 jersey and Schaffer gives up 2 for 24.. to give to Sexton for his assumed 1 year here).

Linky to roster.

I believe we might have some Bamahoops representation in Canada.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Open Practice to the Public Scheduled for Aug. 2

The men's basketball team will host a free open practice for fans on August 2nd from 6-7 p.m. CT. Avery will be mic'd up during the practice, and will take questions from the fans afterward. Fans are allowed to sit anywhere in the arena. According to the official site, "further details and promotions surrounding the event will be announced at a later time."

My hope is DJC will attend this event and provide an eye-witness account; however, any readers who do attend the practice, please share your thoughts here.

Regarding the games in Canada: The University of Ottawa confirmed via their twitter account that the game vs Alabama on August 10th will be live streamed via OUA.tv at 6:30 ET.




No idea about the other two games vs McGill University and Carleton University. I will update this post if they are being streamed.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Non-conference schedule released!

Merry Christmas everybody! The non-conference schedule has been released!




As I've previously said, I think this is one of the tougher non-conference schedules we've seen in many years. It covers the bases that you want for a non-conference schedule: a good mix of home, road and neutral site games vs quality opposition. My only criticism is that I would have pursued a different opponent for the Huntsville game. You and I know how good Bob Hofmann and Mercer can be, but I'm not sure it's a great draw for the casual fan. I was hoping we might see a mid-major with a little more name recognition, such as a Murray State, Middle Tennessee, etc. Then again, the Huntsville crowd for the game against Arkansas State last season was one of the better crowds we saw all season so it's possible the good folks of Huntsville will turn out regardless of the opponent.

The December slate is absolutely insane. Our guys kick off the month against a quality mid-major in Louisiana Tech, back-to-back home games vs UCF and Rhode Island (both potential NCAA tournament teams), a road trip to Arizona, the Huntsville game against an always tough and well-coached Mercer team, and the game in Birmingham vs Texas (and potential #1 pick Mo Bamba). That schedule will put hair on your chest.

I will write up a preview of each opponent as we get closer to the start of the season. Buckle Up!

Sunday, July 09, 2017

Summer SEC Predictions

It's early July. Not exactly the most exciting time for fall sports fans. Football is 8 weeks away, basketball recruiting gets back into full swing this week, and the Alabama team will be taking its Canadian trip next month. But for the hardcore college basketball fan, November seems very far away. To cope, we fans compile way-too-early predictions for the coming season. In an effort to combat an uneventful Sunday evening, I thought I'd post my early SEC predictions for next season. I'm hoping to start a dialogue with this post so I encourage all readers to share your predictions in the comments below.

1. Florida - An experienced team that made an Elite Eight run last season is my favorite to win the league title this season. A collection of proven veterans, up-and-comers, and potential impact transfers certainly help the Gators look the part.

2. Kentucky - Maybe Cal's most inexperienced team of his career, but, as always, ultra talented. Question marks abound, but I've got too much respect for the program that Cal has built in Lexington to pick them much lower than this.

3. Alabama - Avery has put in the work to raise the profile of the program, engage the students and alumni, and create expectations even among the most casual Alabama basketball fan. Top 10 recruiting classes will do that. In my opinion, Avery's tenure from this point forward will be graded based on this season. It's now or never for a team with Top 25 potential. 

4. Texas A&M - I will likely go back and forth with my prediction of A&M until November; Do I pick them 4th or higher? Tons of experience and talent return for the Aggies, including a guy who was a likely lottery pick in this past NBA draft if he had chose that path. The point guard issue has also been addressed for a team that won 16 games last season despite having no true point guard on the roster.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Schedule News: Alabama will Host UT-Arlington

More news regarding the non-conference schedule. The University of Texas-Arlington released their non-conference schedule today. Among the games on the schedule is a trip to Tuscaloosa on November 21st. Arlington finished last season with a 27-9 record, and advanced to the quarterfinals of the NIT. They return one of the top players in college basketball - senior forward Kevin Hervey. Last season, Hervey averaged 17.1 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 2.1 apg and 1.2 spg. He's a legit player.

This game appears to be part of the Barclays Classic. Three days before their game at Alabama, Arlington will travel to Provo to play BYU, also in the Barclays Classic. Per the Arlington schedule, Western Carolina and Alabama A&M are also taking part in the event. I would assume one of those two teams will be the other team Alabama hosts in Tuscaloosa for this event.

The addition of Arlington stresses yet again how difficult this schedule is going to be. So far I don't see a night off for this team. If this team is ready for the challenge, it's going to be a very fun schedule of games to watch as a fan.

Several games of the non-conference schedule have dates. Here's what it looks like so far:

November 10 - vs Memphis   [Veterans Classic at Annapolis, MD]
November 21 - UT-Arlington
November 24 - BYU   [Barclays Classic]
November 25 - Minnesota   [Barclays Classic]
November 29 - Louisiana Tech
December 3 - UCF
December 9 - at Arizona
January 27 - Oklahoma

Other opponents on the schedule that are confirmed are Texas [in Birmingham], a home game with Rhode Island, and a return trip to Huntsville vs an opponent to be determined. I expect Avery and the team will hold another event to unveil the schedule as they did last year. Expect that to happen prior to the team's departure for its trip to Canada (August 4).

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Schedule News: Alabama Will Host Louisiana Tech/Bama Returning to Huntsville

This is unofficial, but it appears that Avery Johnson may have added yet another formidable opponent to the non-conference schedule for the 2017-18 season. The Twitter account @TheD1Docket tweeted earlier today that Alabama will host Louisiana Tech on November 29th.

The Bulldogs from Ruston, Louisiana have been one of the better mid-major programs over the last five years. Despite the NCAA Tournament remaining an elusive goal (Tech has not been to the tournament since 1991, with only five total appearances), Louisiana Tech has averaged 25.8 wins per season over the last five seasons. Last season, the Bulldogs finished second in conference USA, with an overall record of 23-10 (14-4 in conference play), but were somehow not invited to participate in a postseason tournament. At the moment, I do not know what expectations will be for the Bulldogs in 17-18, but if recent history is any indication, it's just one more solid opponent on a very tough non-conference schedule.

ESPN 97.7 The Zone in Huntsville tweeted earlier today that Alabama will return to the Von Braun Center in Huntsville for a December 19th game. No idea on Alabama's opponent yet, but the event will be a doubleheader with the University of Alabama-Huntsville playing in the first game. My guess is Alabama's opponent will be a solid mid-major opponent, as was the case last season when they played Arkansas State from the Sun Belt. Once again, the game will take place during the Christmas break when attracting large crowds on campus can be difficult. The game last season in Huntsville was a success, and I'm happy to see Alabama returning.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Khavon Moore Visits Alabama

Khavon Moore has emerged in recent weeks as the top 2018 target for Avery Johnson and his staff. Moore, a 6'8, 187 lb forward from Macon, Georgia, is a top 30 national recruit, and the 3rd ranked recruit in the always talent-rich state of Georgia. Moore brings a skill set to the table very similar to Braxton Key, in that he can play different spots on the floor, with the ball-handling skills of a guard. New assistant coach Yasir Rosemond appears to be leading the recruitment of Moore. Other schools that have offered Moore include Auburn, Florida, Florida State, LSU, Oklahoma, Uconn, Georgia, Georgia Tech, and many others.



Sunday, June 11, 2017

Arizona Game Details; More Recruiting News

My masterplan to inundate this blog with offseason updates every few days is proceeding nicely, but this news will be a few days late due to my being on vacation. I had a wonderful time by the way.

Let's start with the game date for the team's trip to Tuscon to play Arizona. The Wildcats released their non-conference schedule on Friday. The game at Arizona will take place on Saturday, December 9. No game time yet.

Recruiting is in full swing. Avery and staff hosted more recruits this past week. There may have been more, but I know of two recruits who were in Tuscaloosa earlier this week. Grant Sherfield (6'2, 180 lbs) is a 4 star shooting guard from Arlington, TX in the 2019 class. He currently holds offers from Kansas, Baylor, UCLA, Cal, LSU, Mississippi State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas and TCU. He's currently ranked nationally in the top 30 by 247 for the 2019 class. Coaxing Sherfield to Tuscaloosa may be a stretch, but the fact that Avery was able to get him on campus for a visit is great.


One of Bama's top targets for 2018 was also in Tuscaloosa this past weekend. Javian Fleming (6'9, 230 lbs), a 3 star center from Canton, MS has seen his stock rise in recent months. Current suitors include Texas A&M, Ole Miss, Iowa State, Cincinnati, Auburn, LSU and Mississippi State, along with some quality mid-major programs such as Middle Tennessee, Florida Gulf Coast, Louisiana Tech and UAB. I've long thought that Alabama was the favorite for Fleming because of his close relationship with Antoine Pettway, but we shall see how it plays out.




I'm doing what I can to stay up with these recruiting visits, but I'm just a working stiff at the end of the day; time is not on my side. If I leave out a recruit that has visited, please let me know in the comments so I can make sure to write a post.

152 days until the season opener.

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Date of UCF Game Announced; Recruiting News

We know the date of Alabama's home game with UCF. Sunday, December 3rd. I have not seen a time listed yet, but I would imagine, being a Sunday game, it will be a late afternoon/early evening tip.

Avery and his staff also received a couple of recruiting visits this week. The first was from 2018 recruit, Jared Butler (Reserve, LA; SG, 6'2, 180 lbs). Butler is currently unranked by 247 sports (a composite rating would have him as a 3 star), but has already received offers from the likes of Wichita State, Texas, Houston and Umass.




Also visiting this week is 2019 recruit, Austin Crowley (West Point, MS; PG, 6'4, 160 lbs). Crowley is also currently unranked by 247 Sports (a composite rating would also have him as a 3 star), but holds offers from Ole Miss and Mississippi State. The 2019 class looks like it's going to be the next big class for the Alabama coaching staff.





 

Thursday, June 01, 2017

League Opponents Announced

In a surprising move this morning, the SEC released the list of league opponents for each conference member for the 17-18 season. How the games will be scheduled is unknown, but this was a pleasant surprise nonetheless. Typically, we've had to wait until August before we know who plays who in league play. Hopefully, this is the standard practice going forward.

For Alabama, with an insanely tough non-conference schedule to look forward to, the league schedule isn't going to be much easier. Obviously, Alabama will play home-and-homes against Auburn, LSU and Mississippi State as they do every season. Auburn and State could be improved teams next season, even darkhorse NCAA tournament bid contenders. Alabama's other home-and-home series in league play will be vs Florida ('nuff said) and Texas A&M (expected to have a bounce-back season). Alabama will also travel to Lexington to face UK. This Bama team may be as good as all of us believe they will be, but they are going to have to earn it with this schedule. This is the toughest schedule I can remember an Alabama team preparing for in many years.

Other league games break down like this:

Home Games: Arkansas, Missouri, South Carolina, Tennessee
Road Games: Georgia, Ole Miss, Vanderbilt

The SEC is gearing up for what could be the best season the league has had in many years. The general consensus is that, if things break right, the SEC could send as many as seven teams to the NCAA tournament next season. While conference play is always a grind due to the familiarity between the programs, this season will be even more difficult because so many programs have made improvements in the last 2-3 seasons. "Buckle Up" is no longer just a catchphrase, it's now good advice for Bama hoops fans.  

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Home and home with Arizona? Almost there

UPDATE- looks like the weekend of Dec 9-10 in Tucson.

Saw a blurb on the innernet from Cecil Hurt (I don't do the twitter, but I suspect it is there) about a 2 game series vs the Wildcats starting this season.

1st game in Tucson... and I suspect the return trip will be in Birmingham (which it should be until we start drawing good crowds for OOC games).

Sounds like a road trip to Tucson for me...

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Matchups set for Barclay's Classic

Looks like we get Minnesota in Brooklyn. Remember when Richard Pitino was on the 'short list' of guys to replace the great Anthony Grant? Pepperidge Farm remembers!

We get BYU first, but I don't think Shawn Bradley is walking through that door.

Avery Johnson has pulled together a solid OOC schedule so far. It's not a killer schedule, but it will test the team early and prepare us for the easier SEC slate.

Doubtful I'll make this trip... I like NYC in the summer and early winter.

Linkage

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Schedule News: Bama/Central Florida Schedule Home-and Home Series

The non-conference schedule for next season continues to come together. Jon Rothstein tweeted that Alabama and Central Florida (known more commonly as UCF) will begin a home-and-home series next season, with the first game in Tuscaloosa and a return trip to Orlando in the 18-19 season. UCF is coached by former Duke player/assistant coach and Stanford head coach Johnny Dawkins. The Knights finished 24-12 last season, making it to the NIT semifinals before losing to eventual champion TCU.

UCF is expected to contend in the American Athletic Conference (AAC) this season. The Knights return three starters from last season's team, including leading scorer B.J. Taylor (17.4 ppg, 4 rpg, 3.5 apg, 1.1 spg) and 7'6 big man Tacko Fall (10.9 ppg, 9.5 rpg, 2.6 bpg). The expectation in Orlando is that UCF will contend for an NCAA bid this season. This is yet another tough addition to the non-conference schedule.

To review, the non-conference schedule looks like this so far:

Canadian trip in August
vs Memphis [Veterans Classic in Annapolis, MD] - This game will likely be the season opener on November 10.
Barclays Classic [Two host games in Tuscaloosa, likely against mid-major competition; two games in Barclays vs Umass, BYU or Minnesota]
UCF [Tuscaloosa]
Rhode Island [Tuscaloosa]
vs Texas [Birmingham]
Oklahoma [Tuscaloosa]

That's a solid non-conference schedule, and could be a top 50 SOS if the teams pan out, specifically teams like Texas and Oklahoma that are looking to bounce back from disappointing 16-17 seasons. You get three very good home games in Tuscaloosa, another compelling match-up in Birmingham and some fun neutral court games. I also expect that the team will return to Huntsville this season after a successful trip there last season. I'll keep an eye out for other games being added to the schedule, but it's coming together quickly, and we could have an official release as soon as sometime in June.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

SEC/Big 12 Challenge Field Announced

The match-ups for the 5th annual 2018 SEC/Big 12 Challenge have been announced. Alabama will host the Oklahoma Sooners. The games will take place on Saturday, January 27, and will be televised on ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU. It will be Alabama's first appearance in the event since the 13-14 season, which was the first season the event took place. Oklahoma holds a 5-2 advantage in the series history between the two schools. The Big 12 holds an overall advantage of 25-15 in the challenge.

For Alabama, this is another good home game to add to the non-conference schedule. The Sooners finished a dismal 11-20 a year ago, but Lon Kruger is a top 20 coach and I expect the Sooners to be a much better team in 17-18. If Alabama is off to a great start, this should be an easy sellout in late January.

The other match-ups:

Texas A&M at Kansas
Kentucky at West Virginia
Baylor at Florida
TCU at Vanderbilt
Oklahoma State at Arkansas
Ole Miss at Texas
Tennessee at Iowa State
Georgia at Kansas State
Texas Tech at South Carolina

The logic used in pairing the match-ups seems dubious. West Virginia and Vanderbilt receive a home game for the second straight season, while Baylor has to travel for the second straight season. Also, there should never be a rematch in these types of events (okay, I'll forgive consecutive Kentucky/Kansas matchups), but that's what we get with Arkansas/Oklahoma State. Also conspicuous is the absence of Missouri and Mississippi State. This will be the third straight season Missouri has been left out, and the fourth for Mississippi State. In recent years that wouldn't be a bad thing for the league, but Missouri could be one of the more improved teams in the league next season thanks to a top 10 recruiting class, while Mississippi State is expected to be better in Ben Howland's third season.

That said, the match-ups look really fun on paper. Morgantown should be lit when the Cats come to town; Baylor at Florida is a really meaty game; and if A&M has the type of bounce-back season I expect, that should be a great game in Lawrence. The SEC is as deep as it's been in a decade, if not longer. If they're going to win this event outright for the first time in five tries, this is the year.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Braxton Key is coming back


This isn't a surprise, but is great news. If the freshmen live up to their potential and the coaching staff can get everyone playing well together, the potential is there for a special season in 2017-18 that could restore the program to national relevance.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

5 Star 2018 Recruit Will Visit Alabama

Here's some recruiting news that I thought was interesting. Shun Williams (@OntheRadarHoops) of On the Radar Hoops tweeted earlier this week that 5 star 2018 recruit Khavon Moore (Macon, GA) will visit Alabama in June. Moore (6'8, 187 lbs, SF) is ranked 10th nationally by 247 Sports, and ranked number one in the state of Georgia.

Moore may be listed as a small forward, but to my eyes he's a point guard. Or "point forward", a hybrid position that has become more popular in recent years. In the video below you can see that Moore has great court vision. The "on-time, on-target" passes in the video below must excite Avery Johnson. But Moore also shows scoring ability in the video below and other videos I've watched of him. Avery is building a roster of players that can be called "positionless" due to their versatility. Moore certainly checks that box, and I'm excited that he's scheduled a visit for next month.



In other news: some details have been released regarding the team's trip to Canada in August. Two games will be played in Ottawa (August 9 and 10) against Carleton University and the University of Ottawa, with a third in Montreal (August 7) against McGill University.

This trip sounds awesome. In addition to seeing the team play three games in August, a trip to Ottawa and Montreal would be pretty sweet. Alas, I am economically challenged, and have little shot of making this trip (cue sad music now). If Bobby or DJC make the journey, you can expect full recaps here. 

Thursday, May 18, 2017

2018 Recruit D.J. Stewart Visits Alabama

This is a few days late, but 2018 recruit D.J. Stewart (Benoit, MS) made a trip to Tuscaloosa on Monday to visit with the Alabama coaches.




The trip went well, and 247 Sports currently lists Alabama as the favorite for Stewart. Stewart is a 6'6, 190 lb SF. He's currently unranked at 247, but expect that to change heading into his senior year of high school. You can read more about Stewart in our 2018 recruiting post below.

HoopSeen have updated their Alabama rankings for the class of 2018. You can see it here. Diante Wood is ranked number one, with Trey Jemison (both have been offered by Alabama) coming in 2nd. Myreon Jones is 3rd, but he's had a great summer so far and could continue to blossom as his senior year unfolds. 247 Sports already lists him as the top prospect in the state. Alabama has yet to offer Jones, but I expect that to change if his stock continues to rise.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Texas Transfer Tevin Mack Commits To Alabama

Well, that didn't take long. Texas transfer Tevin Mack has committed to Alabama following a visit. Mack will have to sit out the 17-18 season, but could have a big impact in 18-19 after averaging 14.8 ppg last season at Texas. It's another recruiting win for Avery and this coaching staff. Mack's commitment fills the scholarship limit for the 17-18 roster, assuming Braxton Key returns. If not, Avery has already said that the staff will look to recruit a grad transfer to fill the spot. Who's ready for November?

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Texas Transfer Visiting Alabama

Texas transfer Tevin Mack is currently on a visit to Alabama. Mack, a former 4-star, top 60 recruit from Columbia, South Carolina averaged 14.8 ppg and 4.8 rpg this past season at Texas, but was suspended from the team in January and did not return. If he commits to the Tide, he will sit out the 17-18 season, and have two years of eligibility remaining. For what it's worth, Mack was recruited by Georgia during Yasir Rosemond's tenure so there's an existing relationship.

TideSports.com published a great interview today between Cecil Hurt and Avery Johnson. Topics covered include Braxton Key, Bob Simon (though Avery's answer doesn't give any information as to why Simon was relieved, his comments about Rosemond suggest that recruiting had a lot to do with the decision), the trip to Canada in August (Avery confirms the tour will start on August 2nd) and the non-conference schedule. You can read the interview here.

An interesting comment from Avery regarding the roster this summer is that, in addition to trying to land a transfer to be eligible for the 18-19 season, the staff will also look into signing a graduate transfer should Braxton Key elect not to return to Alabama. The deadline to remove his name from the draft is May 24th.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Yasir Rosemond Joins Alabama Staff

Avery Johnson has hired Bob Simon's replacement. Yasir Rosemond, previously an assistant coach at Georgia, has joined the Alabama staff. Rosemond, a native of Atlanta, brings over a dozen years of coaching experience to the bench. Prior to Georgia, Rosemond was an assistant at Samford, Seattle University and Oregon, which is his alma mater.

I don't have an opinion on this hire. Honestly, this is the first time I've heard of Rosemond so it's impossible for me to have an informed opinion on this hire. He's got some experience, and I trust Avery to make the best possible hire so I support it. It's never a bad thing to have an assistant coach with Atlanta connections. I still hope that we will receive some kind of statement regarding Bob Simon's dismissal because I would like to know what happened. That said, it's good to have the staff in place before the summer workouts begin. Onwards and upwards. 

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Recruiting: The 2018 Class

Happy weekend, people. I promised a recruiting post. I'm writing a recruiting post. Full disclosure: I am a novice when it comes to recruiting. I don't follow it closely. Everything written here was researched in the last few days. For a deeper analysis of these players, I would recommend checking out the various recruiting websites such as 247Sport, Rivals, Scout, and there are many others.A good Twitter follow is "Alabama Roundball" (@BamaRoundball). This account does a great job of following Alabama basketball recruiting. The user also has a website (bamabasketball.wordpress.com). They did a good breakdown of some of the 2018 targets in a post from January that adds quite a bit to what I wrote here today. I encourage support of all sites that feed our Alabama basketball addiction so add that site to your favorites if you haven't already.

The 2018 class does not appear to be the powerhouse class that the 2017 class appears to be on paper, but how Avery and his staff fare in signing this class will be no less important. Assuming that the 2017 class proves to be the missing ingredient that can help push the Alabama program over the hump and back into SEC title and NCAA tournament contention, it will be the 18 class that will be significant in making sure that the program stays relevant. The staff have offers for at least 20 players in the class so far, and I'm not going to go into detail for each player because, frankly, some of those players will not seriously consider Alabama. If something changes, I'll do an update and include them in a future post. For now, I want to focus on the players that look like the best bets to schedule visits and seriously consider attending Alabama. Click the player names for links to highlight videos.

Robert Woodard - Columbus, MS - 6'6, 220 lbs - SF - I mentioned Woodard in a previous post, and he remains one of my favorite players that the staff are currently recruiting. 247 Sports currently ranks him in the national top 40, and ranks him as the top player in Mississippi. The first thing that stands out when watching Woodard is he's advanced from a physical standpoint. He could check into a college game right now and hold his own physically. Woodard will likely be an immediate contributor wherever he commits because he's very good on the defensive end. He's a solid ball handler, and a decent shooter. His length, strength and athleticism make it tough to keep him from getting to the rim. I wouldn't be surprised if his stock continues to rise through his senior season. The early favorite for his signature is Mississippi State. Other schools that have offered include Baylor, Iowa State, Florida State, Vanderbilt and Ole Miss.

Monday, May 01, 2017

Bama Hoops News and Notes - 05/01/2017

Okay, let's try this again. Mental note: the next time I get a wild hair to write a news and notes post I should probably wait a day just to make sure nothing else comes down the pipe.

Let's start with the obvious: Bob Simon, the associate head coach, has been "relieved" of his duties. And this is something that likely happened weeks ago, despite being announced today. Simon was not present at the postseason banquet, nor was he on the recruiting trail with the other coaches so this news might not be as surprising for those who have kept up with the team's activities. At this point, we can only speculate what led to the dismissal. University officials have said that a comment regarding the change will be made at a later date. Let's hope so. By all accounts Bob Simon is a good dude, and is well-respected in coaching circles; I would certainly be interested in Avery's reasons for the move in a new direction. Simon is the second assistant coach in Avery's two seasons to be dismissed. My guess is that Pelphrey will be promoted to associate head coach.

There are rumors going around that Braxton Key, despite not being invited to the NBA combine, is not likely to return to Alabama, preferring instead to pursue other professional opportunities. The rumor is that Braxton is happy at Alabama, but "personal issues" are pushing him to leave school earlier than anticipated. If any of this scuttlebutt is true, I hope the best for Braxton. I hesitated even to share this rumor, but I've seen enough people repeating it to believe there may be some smoke to it.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: it wouldn't be a Bama Hoops off-season without some kind of drama.

How about some good news?

The non-conference schedule continues to come together. Jon Rothstein, that robotic fount of college basketball information, reported tonight that the fourth host school in the Barclays Center Classic will be Minnesota, joining Alabama, BYU and Umass. Minnesota finished 24-10 this past season, making the NCAA Tournament, but falling in the first round to Middle Tennessee. Despite the early exit, it was a 16-game turnaround for Richard Pitino and the Gophers, after winning only 8 games in the 15-16 season. The Barclays Center Classic semifinal and final rounds will take place during the Friday and Saturday of the Thanksgiving weekend.

My early prediction for the matchups: Alabama vs BYU; Minnesota vs Umass.

Recruiting is in full effect. Several offers have been made today. Time permitting, I will try and compile a recruiting post this weekend detailing who currently holds offers for the 18 and 19 classes.