Thursday, November 15, 2018

Game Preview: Ball State [Charleston Classic]

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This isn't the game we were hoping for, but it's the game we've got. And it looms large in Alabama's season, even in early November. Watching the game today, I was reminded of a line of dialogue from the 1995 comedy film, Friday. In the scene, Chris Tucker's character "Smokey" witnesses a one-sided fight and says to the loser at the conclusion, "You got knocked the f**k out, man!". That, more or less, captures what happened to Alabama today.

It was not an encouraging performance by Alabama on day one in Charleston against a veteran Northeastern team. The Huskies carved through Alabama's defense efficiently and without mercy. I can't even say Northeastern appeared to enjoy it as everything seemed to come so easy for them. It was one of the more disappointing defensive performances that I've seen from an Alabama team in quite a while. The gameplan, the effort, the inability to make adjustments in the game, it all played a part in Alabama's first loss of the season. For a more in-depth look at what went wrong, check out DJC's recap below.

The tournament moves on. Alabama will next play Ball State (KenPom: 99) from the Mid-American Conference. The Cardinals enter this game 1-2, but their two losses were to ranked opponents at Purdue in a non-bracketed game, and today vs Virginia Tech. Game time is 12:30 P.M. CT. The game will be televised on ESPNU.

Huskies Hush the Tide, Northeastern 68 Alabama 52

First and foremost, condolences to Coach Pelphrey and his family as he was unable to make today's game due to his mother-in-law's passing.  I think we missed Coach Pelphrey today more than most people realize.  I've noticed he's been more vocal in-game coaching from the bench in the first two games than he generally was last season.

Regardless, this was a pathetic effort all the way around.  It reminded me a lot of the Georgia game from last year.  Northeastern was in control from the tip, and we never really showed any fight.

The Huskies started the game with an alley-oop out of their half-court set, and promptly took an 8-0 lead before we called a timeout.  I don't recall us ever getting any closer than a 5 point deficit, and Northeastern led by 11 at the break.  Petty made a couple of 3s early in the second half, but Northeastern answered and led by  10-12 for most of the game before finally stretching it out to 17 at one point. 

I was very disappointed in our defensive effort.  We had poor communication and way too many blown assignments.  On at least 3 different occasions they ran a simple pick and roll at the top of the key with their forwards clearing out to the corners to open the lane to the basket, and both of our defenders stayed with the ball and the help-side rotation never came down low, resulting in wide-open layups. 

I don't want to take anything away from Northeastern.  They are picked to win their conference, and are obviously a well coached, fundamentally sound team.  They had great ball movement which led to wide open 3s, where they made 9 of 17.  They made good decisions with the basketball and were not bothered by our press.

Meanwhile, we kept jacking up contested 3s that were not going in.  We were 3 of 19 from downtown, and two of those were the aforementioned from JP.  We should have made an effort to attack the basket.  I thought JP played a decent game, he ended up with 17 points and 5 rebounds, and did at least make some effort to drive to the hoop.  In what should have been a good matchup for Donta Hall, he was a complete non-factor, in part due to the game plan, but frankly the whole team looked disinterested for most of the game.

This is not necessarily a season breaking loss as Northeastern should at least finish in the top 100 NET if not better, but it's a big loss in that it deprives us of some real resume building opportunities on a neutral court.  For me, the bigger concern is that we continue to have a few games per year where we have this type of effort.  Even the best teams will have bad nights shooting the ball, but good teams don't give up and throw in the towel on defense.  The lack of adjustments is also concerning, at some point you have to stop jacking 3s when they aren't falling.

Up next, we play Ball State tomorrow on the same court at either 12 or 12:30 Central time.  The game will be televised on either ESPN2 or ESPNU. 



Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Game Preview: Northeastern [Charleston Classic]


Who's ready for daytime basketball! I'll let you behind the curtain, just a little bit. With the exception of March basketball, my favorite part of the college basketball season is in November when all of the holiday tournaments take place. Chief reason for this is daytime basketball. I think my love for it stems from when I was a kid and my father would let me take a day or two off from school prior to Thanksgiving to watch the Maui Invitational or one of the other tournaments. As an adult, it's taking a long lunch or taking a full day off from work to enjoy a day of hoops, surrounded by an assortment of finger foods and cold beverages. Come to think of it, that's probably what I love most about March basketball too. Anyway, daytime basketball is great regardless of the month.

Alabama will travel to Charleston for the aptly named Charleston Classic. Including Alabama, the tournament features five teams that made the NCAA tournament last season, Bama's previous opponent (Appalachian State), and two teams - Northeastern and Ball State - that are expected to contend for their league titles.

The first opponent for Alabama will be Northeastern (KenPom: 79). The Huskies are the preseason favorite in the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA). They enter this game 1-1. Game time is 1 P.M. CT. The game will be televised on ESPNU. This will be a big weekend for our guys from a resume standpoint. To insure they put themselves in the best possible spot for resume opportunities, they need to win this game. And this game itself won't be a slouch from a resume standpoint. If Northeastern goes on to have the season many expect them to, a win on Thursday could rate as high as a quad 2 win come March.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Tears for the Mountaineers: Alabama 81 Appalachian State 73

After struggling for much of the game, Alabama pulled ahead late to improve to 2-0 in the young season. 

Kira Lewis is way ahead of schedule at this point.  The youngest player in college basketball got off to a hot start by making some early 3s, and he's been very efficient running the point in the first two games.  He ended up with 21 points and only one turnover while shooting 50% from the field in 31 minutes of play.  He's already locked down the starting point guard position and he will only get better. 

I still do not like the substitution patterns, at all.  In general, I felt like we subbed too frequently and did not allow any unit on the floor to build any cohesiveness.  Beyond that, some of that combinations we use are completely inexplicable.  At one point we had AJ, Dazon, Alex, T-Mack and Galin in the game.  AJ had a terrible game, firing up a couple of air-balls and only playing for 6 minutes.  T-Mack has yet to show he can be an effective scorer this year.  Dazon was obviously still not 100% coming off of his injury.  Alex is most effective with another scorer on the floor who can open up the defense so he can exploit a bad match-up.  I'm not sure where we expect to get rebounding or defense, much less scoring, out of this group.  I'm not criticizing any of those players, they all bring positive skills to the floor, but they don't compliment each other in a way that makes sense to play them as a group.  This lineup blew the early lead and allowed App State to gain some confidence from beyond the arc, which would keep them in the game well into the second half. 

Tevin Mack was called for a technical foul for hanging onto the rim after a dunk, and was taken out of the game and did not return.  If the benching was due to the technical, I strongly disagree with that decision as I thought it was a bad call.  In fact, Donta appeared to hang on the rim longer after an earlier dunk and no technical was called. 

The team did show some maturity in how they handled the adversity of a 6 point deficit in the second half.  Herb really stepped up on defense and forced a few turnovers, and generally shut down the perimeter game that had been keeping the Mountaineers afloat.  Herb's offense is a bit of a concern, he still doesn't seem to have much of a jump shot and he had a difficult time finishing around the basket.  At one point he was only 1 of 6 from the free throw line, and he ended up 6 of 16.  Nevertheless, you have to love his hustle, and the fact that he does not let a bad shooting game impact the rest of his game.  We do not win that game without Herb Jones' defense.

We were able to come back and take a 10 point lead, primarily by doing what we should have been doing the whole game, and that's attacking the basket and crashing the offensive glass.  We were a much bigger and stronger team, but I felt like we did not assert ourselves physically until the final ten minutes of the game.  I know that analytics generally suggests that perimeter-oriented teams will be more successful, and while we have a few guys who are capable of knocking down the three, I still think the identity of this team should be centered on our size and depth inside. 

We ended up with 4 guys in double-figures.  In addition to Kira's 21, JP added 13, Hall 12, and Herb managed to get 10.  We were 26 of 43 from the line, but JP and Dazon both converted when we needed them in the final minutes to keep the game in hand.  We were fortunate that App State was somehow even worse than us from the free throw line, they went 14 of 25. 

After 2 games, there's a lot to be excited about, and still a lot of room for improvement.  In my opinion the two biggest keys to the season will be getting some production out of T-Mack and the coaching staff figuring out a logical playing rotation.  They also need to do a better job with the overall game plan than we had in these first two games.

There was a decent crowd on hand considering the strange 6 p.m. on Sunday night tip-off time.  I would estimate close to 5,000 in attendance.  I showed up an hour early hoping to snag one of the promotional Veteran's Day hats they were giving away, but they were already out, despite there being well less than 1,000 people there at that point.  I only saw 3 or 4 people with them, and I had friends who arrived as early as 4:45 and did not get them.  Anyway, there was a nervous, quiet energy throughout the crowd for most of the game, but the technical foul on Mack's dunk seemed to wake the crowd, and it was a nice atmosphere for the final run.  Up next, the Tide will play away from the friendly confines of Coleman for the first time this season as they travel to Charleston, SC and will face the Northeastern Huskies in the first round of the Charleston Classic at 1 p.m. CST Thursday.  The game will be televised on ESPNU, and I'm sure many of us will be taking a long, late lunch.







Saturday, November 10, 2018

Game Preview: Appalachian State


Following a sloppy but successful opening night, Alabama will look to improve as a team while also improving its record to 2-0. Next up is a home game with Appalachian State (KenPom Rank: 182) on Sunday. Game time is 6 P.M. CT. The game will be televised on the SEC Network. The Mountaineers are a member of the Sun Belt conference. They enter this game 1-0 after a 125-62 demolition of D2 school, Mars Hill.

Daniel Giddens returned to the lineup for the Southern game. Dazon Ingram missed the game with an ankle injury, but it doesn't appear to be serious so I expect he will play on Sunday. No word yet if freshman Javian Davis-Fleming will make his debut after missing the first two games with a minor knee injury. As most of you have heard by now, Riley is listed as "week-to-week" after undergoing a medical procedure to address a heart condition. According to Avery, Riley had the procedure because his heart was beating at an accelerated rate. Riley is expected to make a full recovery, but who knows if he plays another game in an Alabama jersey. Honestly, I wouldn't blame Riley if he doesn't play again. Heart conditions are a scary deal and he's got his whole life ahead of him. 

My Two Cents: While a 20-point victory is always welcomed, I thought the opener was a mixed bag for Alabama from a performance standpoint. DJC went over some of the issues in his recap regarding the high number of turnovers, the officiating, etc. As always, if you haven't read DJC's recap, do that asap because he always does a great job of breaking down the game, the officiating, the crowd, etc.

Wednesday, November 07, 2018

Short-Handed, Sloppy Win over Southern 82-62

The University of Alabama's athletic dominance over schools from Baton Rouge, LA continued last night with a 20 point victory to defeat Southern on the hardwood.  With Dazon out with an ankle injury, we started Kira, Petty, Herb, Galin, and Hall.  Alabama had a significant size advantage at every position over Southern.

The Jaguars are not a very good or organized team.  Early in the game, they had two players go to the locker room due to a uniform violation as they were wearing white T-shirts under their yellow jerseys.  Later, they were accessed an administrative technical foul for putting a player into the game who was not recorded in the official score book.  These types of mistakes are inexcusable above the Junior Varsity High School level, much less for a division 1 college team.

In any event, this was a good game to get Kira some experience in the starting lineup, and he did not disappoint.  He's going to have his ups and downs against better competition, but he's playing better than I expected.  He generally makes good decisions with the basketball, and finished with 6 points, 7 assists, and 3 turnovers. 

I still do not like starting Galin and Hall.  That's 40% of our unit who cannot score outside of the lane.  I much prefer Alex starting over Galin.  That being said, Galin had a solid game against the smaller Jags, scoring 10 points and pulling down 4 rebounds. 

Dan Giddens returned but was the only big man who really struggled in this one.  Though he did get 6 rebounds, he also had 4 fouls and 3 turnovers in just 7 minutes.  In fairness to Dan, it was a poorly officiated game all the way around.  Hopefully the refs were just a little rusty, and this isn't indicative of the way games will be called this year.  I thought it was called way too tight, over 50 fouls making the game drag on well beyond the 2 hour mark.  On one of Dan's fouls, the Southern guard literally fell into him while he was standing still and set on a dribble drive.  AJ was later called for a flagrant foul on a blatant flop, but thankfully that was reversed on review. 

We had good scoring balance with 4 guys in double figures.  Hall led the way with 20, Petty had 17 making 5 of 8 from 3 point range, while Galin and Mack had 10 each.  Mack was only 3 of 12 from the field and 1 of 7 from downtown, hopefully he's just knocking off some rust and his shooting will improve. 

The team played great defense again, but turnovers continue to be a major issue.   Twenty turnovers against a team like Southern is more than a little concerning.  Tevin Mack had 5 of those, but it seems to be an issue up and down the lineup.  I'm hoping this will improve if and when the substitution patterns and playing rotations are set.

There wasn't much of a crowd there on election night.  I ended up giving away 3 tickets, and I would estimate no more than 4,000 were in attendance.  The student section was at least reasonably full up to the portals, and they probably made up close to half of the total crowd.  Traffic was once again horrendous in both directions to and from Birmingham.

Up next, Appalachian State comes to Coleman for the first game of the Charleston Classic Sunday evening.  Tip-off is set for 6pm on the SEC Network. 

Monday, November 05, 2018

Game Preview: Southern


The season officially tips off when Avery Johnson's alma mater comes to town. Coach was a star player at Southern - his name is on the basketball court - so I'm sure he's looking forward to this game. Alabama looked good in their lone exhibition game, a win over Montevallo, despite four players (Riley Norris, Daniel Giddens, Javian Davis-Fleming and Diante Wood) sitting out. Diante is likely out for the season, but there is no word yet (at the time of writing this post) on the status of the other guys. My guess is that Riley will give it a go assuming he's over the illness that kept him out last week, while Daniel and Javian will sit out as they nurse leg injuries. Game time is 7 P.M. CT. The game will be streamed on SEC Network+.

My Two Cents: It's great to have college basketball back. The sport is going through some adversity in light of the FBI investigation and the corruption trials, but I'm guessing most sports fans won't be thinking about that when they settle in to watch the Champions Classic on Tuesday night. Obviously I'll catch up with those games after checking out Alabama. Hopefully our guys will have a good crowd on hand in Coleman for the opener.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Tide not shallow against Montevallo, Alabama 82 Falcons 40

Following a very concerning stat line in a lopsided scrimmage loss to Jacksonville State, Alabama responded with a dominating win in the exhibition game against in-state division II foe Montevallo.

Riley Norris was out with a medical issue and will probably miss the next week or two.  Javian Davis Flemming missed the game with a sprained knee, and Dan Giddens was also out with a sprained ankle and was in a boot on the sideline. 

It's hard to tell much from a game like this, while Montevallo is traditionally a very competitive division 2 program, as MSmilie noted in his preview they are a bit of an unknown quantity this year, and frankly I think they probably aren't as good as they've been in the recent past.  Nevertheless, this was exactly the type of game Bama needed to restore some confidence with many fans who may have been overly concerned with the secret scrimmage results. 

The starting lineup was 1. Dazon, 2. Petty, 3. Herb, 4. Smith, 5. Hall.  We struggled a bit with turnovers and sloppy play the first few minutes of the game, allowing the Falcons to stay competitive into the first media timeout.  Petty made a couple of 3s early, but contributed in other ways for the remainder of the contest.  The real spark came about midway through the first half when Alex Reese and Kira Lewis entered the game.  Reese was a nightmare match-up for the Falcons forwards, and he made a couple of 3s, had some nice assists, and was able to convert some rebounds.  He's running the floor well and is looking to be a very well rounded stretch 4.  Kira is obviously still young and inexperienced, but is no question the most talented point guard on the roster.  He needs to add some muscle, as I could see more elite guards posting him up and pushing him around a bit, but his quickness allows him to play great defense on the perimeter and force some turnovers. 

In general, we took much better care of the basketball after the initial 5 to 10 minutes.  I really liked the scoring balance, as different guys stepped up at different points in the game.  This will be a key this season without a go-to lottery pick to rely on like Collin Sexton.  Kira, Herb, Galin, Alex, and JP were all in double digits between 10 to 12 each.

Free throw shooting was atrocious in the first half, but much better in the second.  I was very pleased with the defense.  We stayed in a man to man for most of the game, with some press in the first half.  Montevallo had a couple of long scoring droughts.  I know part of that was the talent disparity, but given the size and athleticism of this team, I think they can be very good defensively.  We've got to get better at finishing around the basket though.  Tevin Mack was 2 of 8 from the field, and at least half of those misses were decent looks within 5 feet.  Mack looks the part, but he's going to have to show he can play to his potential to earn a spot in the starting rotation.  I don't mean to just pick on Mack though, the whole team struggled to convert what should have been easy baskets, and those can turn some Ws into Ls against better competition.

It will be interesting to see how the starting lineup and rotation plays out.  Here's my 2 cents, I did not like the starting lineup last night.  I think having both Galin and Hall in makes us a bit too slow and too light on shooters.  I also don't like Dazon at the point.  I think he's much more valuable as a slasher and defender from the 2 or 3 positions.  He turns it over too much at the point, but he does a lot of things well.  He's great at drawing contact, but needs to improve his free throw shooting.  I expect Kira will be the starting PG by SEC play at the latest, but until then, I would have him backing up AJ.  AJ takes care of the basketball and the offense seems to have a better flow right now when he's running it.  Personally, based on what I've seen thus far, my starting lineup would be 1. AJ 2. JP 3. Herb 4. Alex, and 5. Hall.  Kira, Dazon/Mack, and Galin first off the bench depending on matchups.  Riley can back up Alex when he gets healthy, and Giddens and Flemming can work in with Hall and Galin depending on who's healthy, who has the hot hand and who's not in foul trouble.

There wasn't much of a crowd, probably less than 2,000.  I feel like this game and the other preseason events have not been marketed as aggressively as they were the previous years.  I missed the first couple of minutes and then did not get home until after 10:30 p.m., thanks to the fine folks at ALDOT closing 2 of the 3 lanes on I-59 for a 15 mile or so stretch for construction, despite the actual work only taking place in a small one-tenth of a mile area.  I can only imagine what a nightmare this is going to be for an 8pm tip-off against a bigger name SEC opponent.   If anybody at ALDOT is reading this, please go shove one of those big orange and white barrels up your arse.

Up next, we'll be playing for keeps Tuesday night against Coach Johnson's alma mater when the Southern Jaguars from Baton Rouge come calling for a 7pm tip-off at Coleman Coliseum.  The game will be broadcast on SEC Network Plus.





Monday, October 29, 2018

Game Preview: Montevallo (Exhibition)


Wow. A game preview. That means we're preparing to watch an Alabama basketball game. That hasn't always been a pleasant experience over the years, but it's what college basketball diehards like me look forward to. Following what appears to have been a poor performance vs Jacksonville State in a scrimmage, I'm interested to see what the team looks like in this exhibition game. The game time is 7 P.M. CT. The game can be streamed via SEC Network+. Alabama enters the season unranked in the two major polls, and is currently ranked 51st in KenPom's preseason ratings.

My Two Cents: It's an exhibition game so you should expect the Alabama coaching staff to juggle player lineups and experiment on both ends of the court. You expect them to win of course, but it's not an indictment on the upcoming season if they lose. Auburn lost an exhibition game last season, and went on to win a share of the SEC title.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

2018-19 Schedule Preview: February/March

Saturday, February 2 - 7 P.M. CT - at Auburn (TV: TBD) - Recent trips to Auburn have not been pleasant for the Bama program. In the three trips to Auburn during Avery's tenure, Alabama has lost all three games by an average of fifteen points. Unfortunately, this trip won't be any easier. Auburn finished the 17-18 season with a record of 26-8 (13-5), and a final KenPom ranking of 23. After winning a share of the (gag) SEC regular season title last season, Auburn returns three of their top five scorers from that team; plus they return Austin Wiley and Danjel Purifoy after they were forced to miss last season due to a connection in the FBI corruption investigation (I'd make a joke, but let's face it - every school could be affected by this mess before it's all said and done). If Mustapha Heron had returned to Auburn instead of transferring it's probable that the Tigers would have been the preseason favorite in the league. Love him or hate him (I'll take the latter), as long as Bruce Pearl is in Auburn they're going to be a problem.

Wednesday, February 6 - 8 P.M. CT - Georgia (TV: SEC Network) - Georgia said goodbye to Mark Fox, and said hello to former Marquette and Indiana head coach Tom Crean. It's a further sign of how the league has committed itself to improving in basketball. Crean may not have returned Indiana to its elite roots, but he did win a couple of Big Ten titles, and also took Marquette to a Final Four. Assuming he can recruit, he should win his fair share of games in Athens. Georgia finished the 17-18 season with a record of 18-15 (7-11), and a final KenPom ranking of 65. Expectations are low for Georgia this season because no one knows how this team will form without Yante Maten on the roster. He was arguably the top player in the league last season, and the Bulldogs still finished 12th in the standings. Is there enough talent on this roster to compete in what looks like an incredibly strong year for the conference?

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Jacksonville State Blows Out Alabama In Secret Scrimmage

The secret is out. Alabama was pummeled by Jax State in a secret scrimmage today at Coleman Coliseum by the eye-opening score of 92-66. Twitter user @sabanfaux tweeted the box score on social media.




A few things that stood out to me: 1] Turnovers continue to be an issue. The team had 25 turnovers today 2] The team was dreadful from the field (21-55 overall, 3-18 from 3) 3] Tevin Mack and John Petty shot a combined 3-13 from the field for a combined 9 points. That's not going to get it done once the games start to count 4] Herbert Jones and Galin Smith appeared to be the only two guys that showed up to play. Herbert was 5-7 from the field, finishing with 18 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists and a steal. Galin was 6-7 from the field, finishing with 15 points and 4 rebounds 5] The veterans Dazon, Donta, Riley, Daniel Giddens and AJ Jr. were a combined 2-11 for a combined 6 points (not good) 6] Kira Lewis appeared to have a solid game, finishing with 10 points on 3-8 shooting, adding 2 rebounds, 2 assists and a steal. He also only turned it over once. Dazon turned it over five times. It seemed that Dazon was in line to start the season at point, but if he can't take better care of the ball, I say bite the bullet and let Kira jump in the deep end and see how he swims.

I think it's important not to take the results of this scrimmage too seriously. It's a scrimmage, and with no media or fans present, it's impossible to know exactly how the scrimmage was set up in terms of player groupings, defensive and offensive gameplans, etc. But it is discouraging to see the team shooting poorly, and key guys like Tevin, JP and the vets having virtually no impact from a stats standpoint.

Alabama plays an exhibition on Tuesday night against Montevallo. I'm now much more interested to see that game.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Season Ticket Opportunity

I've got an extra pair of season tickets in Section B, Row 8, behind the visitor's bench and a parking pass that I will sell to a blog reader at my cost of $900.  ($610 for tickets +$240 Tide Pride +$50 for parking pass).

 These are my personal tickets, and you'll also get first dibs on buying them in future years as long as my friend continues to sell me his extra pair that I actually use. 

Email me at jcarruth@whatleykallas.com if interested.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Bama Basketball BBQ Annual Recap

I attended the annual BBQ and open practice for Tide Pride and Tuscaloosa Tip-Off Club members last night.  There's not a whole lot to report that is new or different from my observations from the Tide Tip-off scrimmage last week.

This year they switched from Full Moon BBQ to Hoos-Q, which was a slight improvement in my opinion.  The team was already practicing when fans were allowed in to get the food at 4:30 p.m., so we only got to see the last 30 minutes or so of the practice.  They did more offensive and defensive zone work than in the previous scrimmage, and also worked a fair amount on the 2-2-1 press.  They ran some rebounding to transition drills, and concluded the practice with a special situation of a tie game, side-out, with 10 seconds remaining coming out of a timeout. 

Last year when they did that same situational work, the plays were more ISO types with Collin, and trying to get him to be patient enough to wait till under 4 seconds to make his first move so we get the last shot.  This year, there was much more off the ball picks and movement, with 3 or 4 guys touching the ball.

I will note that Riley Norris had a much better practice than he did in the scrimmage last week.  He made a couple of 3s, including one from the corner at the buzzer in the aforementioned end-of-game drill.  Petty also shot the ball well and looked to drive in more. 

Coach Pelfrey took a much more active role in coaching during the practice as opposed to the practices I saw last year when it seemed like Coach Johnson was doing the lion's share of the instructing. 

Coach Johnson spoke briefly at the end and answered a few questions.  The whole thing seemed a bit rushed as he mentioned he had to catch a plane.  We later learned he was going to Texas to recruit Drew Timme.  I thought it was funny he mentioned our loss to the "eventual world champion Villanova in the tournament."  The Golden State Warriors might have an issue with that.

He discussed a couple of rule changes that I was not previously aware of.  A defender who "hook and holds" in the post can now be called for a flagrant foul after review.  The same is also true on a closing-out defender who under cuts a 3-point shooter.  I understand they are trying to protect the players' safety, but I don't like either of these rules.  It's easy to get arms tanlged in the post or accidentally bump a shooter, and I think a flagrant is too punitive.  Dazon in particular is bad about bumping the 3-point shooters, and this could lead to 5 point plays and a loss of a possession.

The team will face the Jacksonville State Gamecocks in a scrimmage on Saturday at Coleman Coliseum.  It's closed to the public, but if I can somehow find out what time it starts I might try to show up until they kick me out.




Sunday, October 21, 2018

2018-19 Schedule Preview: January

Saturday, January 5 - 11:00 A.M. or Noon CT - Kentucky (TV: ESPN) - Alabama opens conference play with a big one. The Wildcats had a down season by their standards a year ago. Kentucky finished the 17-18 season with a record of 26-11 (10-8), and a final KenPom ranking of 17. The Wildcats did win yet another SEC Tournament title and advanced to the Sweet 16. But for a fanbase that demands final fours and national titles, the season didn't quite measure up. This season is expected to be more along the lines of what we've come to expect from Kentucky. They will likely be ranked 1st or 2nd in the country when the first polls are released. As usual, the Wildcats lost a number of players to the NBA draft (three of their top six scorers departed). But they also return three key players from last season (PJ Washington, Quade Green and Nick Richards), add the 2nd-ranked class in 2018, and also added arguably the top transfer in the country, Reid Travis (averaged 19.5 ppg and 8.7 rpg last season at Stanford). Kentucky is loaded....again.

Tuesday, January 8 - 8:00 P.M. CT - at LSU (TV: SEC Network) - The Tigers are one of the more intriguing teams on paper in the conference. Will Wade's first season in Baton Rouge was considered a success. LSU finished the 17-18 season with a record of 18-15 (8-10), and a final KenPom ranking of 66 despite being picked to finish 14th in the league in the preseason. The Tigers advanced to the second round of the NIT. Will Wade signed a top five recruiting class for 2018. LSU also returns star guard Tremont Waters. In my opinion Waters was the second-best freshman in the league last season, just behind Collin Sexton. Combine Waters and a top five class, and expectations are high in Baton Rouge.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

2018 Tide Tip Off




Last night Alabama Basketball hosted its annual "Tide Tip-off" event.  It seemed less marketed than in years past but featured a lot more actual basketball this year.  The last two years was mostly about dunk, shooting, and dancing contests, whereas this year the women's team opened with a 15 minute scrimmage followed by the men's team scrimmaging for two halves.  The white team started AJ, Petty, Herb, Alex Reese, and Dan Giddens with Javian Davis-Flemming coming off the bench.  The crimson team started Dazon, Riley, Tevin Mack, Galin Smith, and Donta Hall with Kira Lewis coming in off the bench.  The White team won 66-52 in front of about 3,500 in attendance.   Here are my takeaways, for what little they are worth:

- The women's  starting 5 can probably play with almost anybody in the country, but beyond the top 5 or 6, yikes.

-Depth should not be a problem for the men's team.  This is the best combination of size, depth, and experience that we've had in a long time.

-Kira Lewis is a bit under-sized, as one would expect for a 17 year old playing in the SEC.  He's also fearless.  He scored 17 points, mostly in the open court, and showed plenty of raw talent.  It's going to be fun to watch him get stronger and improve over the course of the season.

-Javian Davis Flemming has great size and will give us some muscle in the post.  He showed a few decent moves, and appears capable of setting a good screen without picking up a foul.

-Tevin Mack looks the part, and I think he can be as good as he wants to be.  He has a nice shot, and made a few jumpers, and also has good quickness and the ability to get to the rim.  His shot selection was poor at times, but he's probably going to have nights when he's hot and that won't matter.

-Alex Reese and Galin Smith both appeared to be in better physical condition than they were last year, and they should be a bit quicker and more effective.

-Herb Jones looked great on both ends of the floor.  He even ran the point some.  He can lock down 4 positions, and his offensive instincts appear to be improved.  He will be the best all-around player on the floor most nights. If his outside shot improves at all he could have a real chance at being a first round NBA draft pick.

-Petty handled the ball well and made some plays inside the arc.  He will still be the primary three point threat, but I think he's trying to get away from relying exclusively on the jump shot.

-Donta Hall showed off  his ridiculous leaping ability with a few monster dunks.

-Giddens seems more fluid and made some great plays around the basket on both ends of the floor.  We've seen flashes from him in the past, but if he's improved to be more consistent we will be difficult to handle in the post.

-I've been critical of AJ getting so much playing time in the past, but he could be a key part of this team at PG.  He's not going to fill up a stat sheet, but he brings great leadership to the position and the team seemed to have better chemistry with him running point.  He gets the guys in position to make plays.

-I'm not convinced Riley Norris is 100% healthy yet.  He air-balled a 3 and generally looked out-matched most of the night.

-Coach Johnson was mic'ed up, and mentioned that we would like to play fast and more in the middle of the floor.  He said last year we had a tendency to get too wide and bring the extra defender (in reference to the sideline) into play.  He explained a few plays and said we will look to get our bigs the ball at the elbow to open up the defense and with proper off-ball movement we should have some options.

-The team as a whole needs to do a better job of finishing.  Several times we made great moves to get a good look only to miss a layup.

-It was a little sloppy.  There were too many fouls, turnovers, and missed free throws, but that's to be expected for an early season scrimmage.

Overall, I was very pleased, keeping in mind the standard disclaimer that you can't really tell a whole lot by these types of scrimmages.  I plan to attend the Tide Pride BBQ practice next week and will report back.

It's great to be watching Alabama basketball again!





Sunday, October 14, 2018

2018-19 Schedule Preview: December

Tuesday, December 4 - 7 P.M. CT - Georgia State (TV: SEC Network+) - Alabama's second opponent from the Sun Belt conference, Georgia State is expected to be the preseason favorite in the league. They return four of their top five scorers from last season (all seniors), including 2018 Sun Belt Player of the Year D'Marcus Simonds (21.2 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 4.4 apg) and former Alabama player, Devin Mitchell (12.0 ppg, 44.7% from 3). The Panthers finished the 17-18 season with a record of 24-11 (12-6), and a final KenPom ranking of 101. They made the NCAA Tournament for the second time in four seasons. Head Coach Ron Hunter has thrived at Georgia State, compiling a 140-85 record in seven seasons and five postseason trips (two NCAA tournaments).

Sunday, December 9 - 12:00 P.M. CT - Arizona (TV: ESPN) - This is a big one. It's not often that Alabama plays host to a top ten program in the sport (Kentucky being an exception, of course), but that's the opportunity they've been given after traveling to Tuscon a year ago. Arizona finished the 17-18 season with a record of 27-8 (14-4), and a final KenPom ranking of 28. The Wildcats won the Pac 12 regular season and conference tournament titles and advanced to the NCAA Tournament. The top five scorers from last season all departed so Arizona could be in rebuild mode this season. The roster has a total of ten freshmen and sophomores on it, but more than enough talent to remain a presence in the Pac 12 standings.

Tuesday, December 18 - TBA - Liberty - Huntsville, AL (TV: TBA) - The team returns to Huntsville for the third annual Rocket City Classic. Liberty, formerly a member of the Big South conference, is now a member of the Atlantic Sun conference. The Flames finished the 17-18 season with a record of 22-15 (9-9), and a final KenPom ranking of 184. Liberty returns four of their top five scorers from last season so they have an opportunity to make an early impression in their new conference.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Offseason Post #10

Just a few things to post about.

1) Alabama will scrimmage against Jacksonville State on October 27th. These scrimmages are closed to the media and public, but the results typically leak out.

2) Top 50 prospect Drew Timme is in Tuscaloosa this weekend for an official visit. The 6'10, 235 lb center from Richardson, Texas has become a top priority for the Alabama coaching staff.

3) Another priority recruit for the Bama staff is DJ Jeffries, a 6'7, 218 lb forward from Olive Branch, Mississippi. Like Timme, Jeffries is a top 50 prospect. If comments from Jeffrie's father are any indication, Alabama is in his final three schools. The three schools mentioned are Memphis, Mississippi State and Alabama. A decision could come as early as next week.





Sunday, October 07, 2018

2018-19 Schedule Preview: November

In just over four weeks, the 2018-19 college basketball season will begin. Alabama will be looking for consecutive trips to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in thirteen years. It won't be easy. Once again, Avery Johnson and his staff have put together a challenging non-league slate. In addition to that, the SEC could be primed for an even better season than a year ago when the league sent a record eight teams to the NCAA Tournament.

Tuesday, October 30 - 7 P.M. CT - Montevallo (TV: SEC Network+) - As a result of the NCAA moving up the start date of the season by a few days, we'll be treated to exhibition basketball in October. Montevallo finished the 17-18 season with a record of 15-15 (Conf: 10-10). With only four players from that team returning, head coach Danny Young will be breaking in a lot of newcomers.

Tuesday, November 6 - 7 P.M. CT - Southern (TV: SEC Network+) - The official start of the season will come in Coleman against Avery Johnson's alma mater. The Jaguars finished the 17-18 season with a record of 15-18 (10-8), and a final KenPom ranking of 326. In the offseason the school made a coaching change, hiring Sean Woods. In a previous stint in the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) at Mississippi Valley State, Woods won 61% of his conference games and led MVSU to a SWAC title and an NCAA tournament appearance. Southern returns two of their top five scorers from last season.

Sunday, November 11 - 6 P.M. CT - Appalachian State (TV: SEC Network) - This will be a "non-bracketed" game as part of the Charleston Classic. The Mountaineers, from the Sun Belt conference, finished the 17-18 season with a record of 15-18 (9-9), and a final KenPom ranking of 208. The expectation for Appalachian State should be for an improved 18-19 season. The Mountaineers return four of their top five scorers, including leading scorer Ronshad Shabazz (18.5 ppg). The team will also have two D1 transfer players eligible after sitting out a year.

Saturday, October 06, 2018

Allegations Surface That Collin Sexton And Family Received Improper Benefits

I am continuing the season previews this weekend. But before we get to the fun stuff I wanted to post something about the recent allegations regarding payments provided to Collin Sexton and his family by a former runner named Christian Dawkins. These allegations surfaced this past week during the federal trial that is currently taking place in the wake of the FBI investigation into college basketball corruption.

In short:




So far nothing has surfaced that shows the Alabama coaching staff knew of this arrangement, assuming it took place to begin with. Obviously, if something were to surface that proved the coaching staff knew of these alleged cash payments, well things would get mighty interesting. All we can do is wait this out and see what develops.

For what it's worth: Alabama was just one of many programs that were mentioned in the trial this week. It could get a lot worse before it  gets better. For those of us who have grown up as fans of college basketball, when the smoke clears on this investigation and trial, the sport as we've known it may be irrevocably changed.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

2018-19 Roster Preview: Forwards/Centers



Donta Hall - 6'9 - 230 lbs - Senior - Donta was the most improved player on the roster last season. He had previously been a solid, if raw, player his first two seasons, but his improvement in his junior season provided Alabama its first consistent front court presence since JaMychal Green. If Donta continues that improvement this season, there's a chance he could be a draft pick next June. His numbers from last season: 10.6 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 2.0 bpg, 72.6% FG, 23.7 minutes per game.

Riley Norris - 6'7 - 212 lbs - Senior - After an injury-shortened season in 17-18, Riley was awarded a fifth year of eligibility. It's good to have him back. His experience will be welcomed, and he should be a valuable role player. Assuming he's in good health, Riley's an underrated defender; and while he's not a consistent three-point threat (33% in his four seasons), opposing teams will have to respect his ability to knock down the shot when he's on the floor. Perhaps his greatest asset will be providing more toughness for a team that was, in my opinion, a little soft at times last season.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Diante Wood Out Four Months Following Ankle Surgery; Dazon Ingram Is "Day-to-day"

Tuesday was the first official day of practice for the Alabama men's basketball team. Avery Johnson briefly addressed the media. Freshman Diante Wood will be out four months following ankle surgery. As a result Diante may redshirt this season. Avery also mentioned that Dazon is "day-to-day" with a sprained ankle.

Not great news for the first day of practice. Hopefully the team can avoid the litany of injuries that were an issue last season.



Sunday, September 23, 2018

2018-19 Roster Preview: Guards



It's hard to believe, but we're six weeks away from a new basketball season. While last season had its share of ups and downs, the team did ultimately achieve its goal of returning the program to the NCAA Tournament. That was a big step forward for the program under Avery Johnson. The next step is to build on that success by becoming the type of program that can consistently compete in the tournament.

While Collin Sexton left school for the NBA, and Braxton Key transferred, Avery Johnson does return a talented and experienced roster (three seniors, three juniors, and four sophomores that all played meaningful minutes a season ago) that should be good enough to keep this Alabama program in contention for an NCAA bid. Let's meet the roster, starting with the guards.

Friday, September 07, 2018

Alabama Schedules Exhibition Game With Montevallo

Alabama quietly added an exhibition game with Montevallo to its schedule. And no, I don't constantly look at the Alabama schedule page....who does that?

Anyway, the game is scheduled for Tuesday, October 30th. That's a week prior to the season opener versus Southern. No game time has been announced yet. We are 60 days from the opening day of the season (53 if you count the exhibition). Tua is fun and all that, but I'm ready for basketball.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Alabama Will Play In The 2019 Battle for Atlantis Tournament

It's being reported that Alabama will travel to the Bahamas next season (2019-20) to take part in the Battle for Atlantis, one of the best early-season events in college basketball. The event will take place at the Imperial Arena in Nassau. Other teams reportedly in the event are Gonzaga, Seton Hall, Michigan, North Carolina, Oregon, Iowa State and Southern Miss. That sound you heard was a cry of joy from Bobby.



Tuesday, August 28, 2018

WAAAAY too early schedule prediction... and commentary

Nov. 6 SOUTHERN- Should be a MAULING- W
Nov. 11 APPALACHIAN STATE- another MAULING- W
Nov. 15 vs. Northeastern ESPNU Charleston, S.C. 1 p.m.- They're not even purple Vandy- W
Nov. 16 vs. Virginia Tech/Ball State Charleston, S.C.- last time VA Tech beat us Dubose was the coach- W

Friday, August 24, 2018

The Schedule Is Now Complete: The SEC Releases Basketball Schedule

Alabama's 2018-19 schedule is now complete with the unveiling of the SEC schedule on Friday. Alabama will open SEC play on Saturday, January 5th when the Kentucky Wildcats come to Coleman.




This could be the best overall group of teams we've seen in the league in many years. Someone has to finish at the bottom of course, but I don't think there will be many nights off in the league this season, home or away. From an objective standpoint, it should be a fun season. From a fan standpoint, expect a lot of nervous pacing and shoddy fingernails.

Three of the first five games for Bama will be on the road (at LSU, at Missouri and at Tennessee) with Kentucky and A&M the home games in that span. That's a tough opening stretch, and how Alabama handles it could dictate the rest of the season. The trip to Baylor will be sandwiched into conference play so that will be yet another difficult game. On the back end of the schedule, Alabama will finish with three of the final five at home (Vandy, LSU and Auburn) with always tough road games at South Carolina and Arkansas.

74 days to go. Buckle up!

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

RIP RPI, Hello NET. NCAA announces new criteria for selecting post season tournament

Nothing but NET. I generally like this but, we'll have to see how it plays out.  Much like the RPI, it will heavily factor in wins, losses, strength of schedule, and give more weight to road and neutral site wins, but it adds some advanced analytic components.  It does NOT give any more weight to late season games. 

The new factors include margin of victory, and offensive and defensive efficiency.  Credit for margin of victory is capped at 10 to prevent teams from needlessly running up the score.  I have mixed feelings about this, as often times there's not a huge difference between an 8 point loss and a 2-3 point loss when teams get some garbage free throws at the end, etc.  It will also be interesting to see how the efficiency metrics are weighted.  Presumably, a team will perform better in those areas against a weaker schedule, so this may lessen the importance of top quadrant opponents somewhat. 

I would be interested to see how this system would have made the final selections different in the past few years.  Hopefully the coaches were all made aware of these changes prior to finalize their schedules.


Sunday, August 19, 2018

Alabama Grants Jared Butler Unconditional Release

Alabama announced today that Jared Butler, a 4-star top 100 prospect in the class of 2018, has been granted an unconditional release. There was no comment from Alabama regarding Butler or the university's reasons for granting the release, but there were rumors floating around this summer regarding Butler's health that, if true, make this move by both parties an unsurprising one.

Since there was no official statement, I won't repeat the rumor out of respect for Jared and his family. For what it's worth, Butler did not participate in preseason workouts with the team this summer. In light of this news, the decision by Kira Lewis to reclassify to 2018 makes more sense. I'm sad to see Jared leave. He was a very good high school player that I believe, if healthy, will be a very good college player. Best of luck to Jared in the future.

That future will be at Baylor. In an amusing twist, ten minutes after Alabama announced Butler's release, Baylor announced that Butler has committed to the Bears for this upcoming season. If Butler is medically cleared to play at Baylor this season, the game in Waco on January 26 will have some drama.

Some bad news on the recruiting front: CJ Walker, a top 50 prospect in the class of 2019, had been a top target for the Alabama staff. Unfortunately, Walker released his final five schools on Sunday and Alabama didn't make the cut. 

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Coleman Coliseum Renovations part of $600 Million Facilities upgrade

The University unveiled plans for the "Crimson Standard" initiative today, which will include upgrades to Bryant-Denny Stadium, Coleman Coliseum, the Mal Moore building, as well as the softball and golf facilities.  Obviously we will be focusing on the Coleman part of this.  Here is a video, skip to :38 second mark for the Coleman renditions:



Here are some more pictures and info from the Crimson Tide Foundation.

Finally here's an article from TideSports.com and a timeline.  Follow me after the break for my thoughts


Saturday, August 11, 2018

Kira Lewis Reclassifies To 2018; Commits To Alabama

Big recruiting news on Friday as in-state prospect Kira Lewis (6'3, 160 lbs, Hazel Green, AL) reclassified to 2018, and committed to Alabama. The addition of Lewis improves Alabama's 2018 class to 24th in the 247 team rankings.




Alabama fans on social media (and elsewhere) are obviously excited about this news. Lewis was considered a top target - maybe THE top target - for the staff in 2019. Now, not only does he commit, but Alabama gets him a year early. His arrival will also serve a very real need at point guard with the departure of Collin Sexton.

Lewis will enroll immediately so he should be available when the season tips off on November 6th. Garrett Tucker of Hoopseen wrote a quick story about Lewis in the aftermath of his commitment. Click the link to check it out. 

Here are some recent highlights of Kira at the Adidas Gauntlet Finals in Los Angeles.


Sunday, August 05, 2018

Colton Houston Breaks Down The Non-Conference Schedule

Colton Houston, the director of basketball operations at Alabama, recently appeared on Wimp and Barry Sanderson's radio show, Inside the Locker Room, on Tide 102.9 to discuss the non-conference schedule as well as other topics. It's an interesting conversation.


Friday, August 03, 2018

Top 100 Prospect Jaylen Forbes Commits To Alabama

Avery Johnson picked up a second commitment in the class of 2019 on Thursday when Top 100 prospect Jaylen Forbes committed to the program. Forbes is a 6'5 guard from Florence, Mississippi. 247 rates him as a 4-star prospect and the 2nd ranked player in the state. There's a long way to go with this recruiting class, but you have to be encouraged as a fan so far with two top 100 prospects already on board.




I like what I've seen of Forbes so far. You have to take highlight videos with a grain of salt, but if he shoots the ball as well as he does in the video below, he'll have a chance to play early and often. He's got the length that Avery seems to prefer in his guards, and looks the part physically. 





Friday, July 27, 2018

2018-19 Non-Conference Schedule Released!

A few hours after my last post, the 2018-19 non-conference schedule was released. Ah, my timing, as always, is impeccable.




First glance: I'm not sure this is a top 25 ranked non-conference schedule like last season, but it's a sturdy schedule that, along with what looks like a tough SEC, should put Alabama in position to build another quality resume for tournament consideration in March. Some marquee names (Arizona and Baylor, along with Purdue and Wichita State in the Charleston Classic), some up-and-coming programs (UCF, Penn State and Virginia Tech in the Charleston Classic), and some really good mid-major programs that could all be tournament teams in 18-19 (Murray State, Georgia State, Stephen F. Austin as well as Northeastern and Davidson in the Charleston Classic).

Here's something interesting to note: Former Alabama players Justin Coleman (Arizona) and Devin Mitchell (Georgia State) will return to Coleman Coliseum this season for what I'm sure will be meaningful games for them.

An exhibition game will be scheduled prior to the start of the season, but an opponent has yet to be named.

Here is each opponent with their final KenPom ranking from last season:

Southern (326)
Appalachian State (208)
Northeastern (96)
Virginia Tech (33)/Ball State (173)
Purdue (5)/Wichita State (21)/Davidson (43)
Murray State (62)
at UCF (111)
Georgia State (101)
Arizona (28)
Liberty (184)
Penn State (19)
at Stephen F. Austin (112)
at Baylor (34)

What are your early predictions? I'll go with an early prediction of 10-3. We're 102 days away from the start of the season. Buckle up!

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Offseason Post #9

Number 9, Number 9, Number 9, Number 9, Number 9....

It's time for another exciting offseason post full of news and notes that you have likely already read or heard about. Thank you to those that continue to visit the site anyway. We don't love you, but we really do like you a lot.

Let's get the bad news out of the way first. Diante Smith, the 4-star G/F that was the first commitment of the 2019 class has decommitted from Alabama three weeks after he committed on July 4.




No reason was given for why Diante made this decision, and I'm not going to speculate. I wish Diante well moving forward. Meanwhile, the recruiting wheel continues to spin. More about that in a moment.

We received more news regarding the non-conference schedule on Wednesday when Jon Rothstein tweeted that Alabama will begin a home-and-home with mid-major power, Stephen F. Austin. The first game will be played this season in Nacogdoches, TX on December 30.




SFA won 28 games last season, won the Southland Title, and made it to the NCAA Tournament. They return their top three scorers so they are expected to be good again. This is a unique home-and-home that Avery has scheduled (you typically don't see power conference teams schedule home-and-homes with mid-majors), and it's a road game, particularly in the midst of the holiday season, that will be a difficult one for the team. The good news is that, assuming SFA is as good or better than they were a year ago, this is a great opportunity for a quad one or two win, and not a resume crusher should the team fail to leave Nacogdoches with a win.

Here's how the non-conference schedule currently looks:

Nov. 11 - Appalachian State
Nov. 15-18 - Charleston Classic
Nov. 29 - at UCF
Dec. 9 - Arizona
Dec. 21 - Penn State
Dec. 30 - at Stephen F. Austin
Jan. 26 - at Baylor
TBD - Murray State (my guess is this will the Rocket City Classic game)

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Offseason Post # 8

I promised a recruiting post this weekend so here you go.

But first, I want to introduce you to Austin Pitts. Austin is a 5'6 guard in the 2018 class. He played at Opelika, and he's hoping for an opportunity to walk on at Alabama. He's got a great story that Scott Fields wrote about for the Opelika-Auburn news. You can read that story here. I'm invested in his story, and hope to see him in an Alabama uniform next season. Click Austin's name above for a link to a highlight video.

We don't do breaking news here at the ol' Alabama Basketball Blog so most of you reading this are likely aware by this point that Alabama received its second commitment of the 2019 class on Friday when top 100 prospect Juwan Gary announced his decision to come to Tuscaloosa. Gary is a 6'6, 200 lb G/F from Columbia, SC. He's currently ranked in the top 75 nationally by 247 with a 4-star rating.

I must admit, I was surprised earlier this week when the scuttlebutt about Gary coming to Alabama began to surface. He had been considered a South Carolina lean for quite a while, but it seems that the Alabama coaching staff made a positive impression when he visited Tuscaloosa in June. Click here for an interesting article from The State.com about Gary's surprising decision. 

One thing that stands out when watching Juwan's highlights is that he's a physical player. While his primary position will be the 2 or 3 in college, he's physical enough that I could even see him playing the 4 in smaller line-up situations. He appears to move very well without the basketball, and he can handle the ball well, which, due to how physical he plays, serves him well when he drives. I think he has a great chance to play early as a freshman.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Offseason Post # 7

Doing a late post tonight because of the deluge of Alabama basketball news that has rolled down the pike this week. There is some schedule news to report.

The bracket for the 2018 Charleston Classic was released today.




Alabama's first opponent in the event will be Northeastern. The Huskies finished 23-10 last season, won a share of the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) title, but lost to Charleston in the title game of the CAA tournament. Unfortunately, despite a strong season, the Huskies did not participate in a postseason tournament. They are expected to be in contention for the CAA title again this season.You can check out the bracket here. Other teams in the field are Virginia Tech, Purdue, Wichita State, Davidson, and Appalachian State.

Wednesday, July 04, 2018

Offseason Post # 6/Early SEC Predictions

Hello, everyone. I hope you're enjoying the holiday. It's raining here in Austin, TX today. This makes my dogs very happy. Anything that keeps the fireworks to a minimum tonight is appreciated.

I thought it would be fun to write a post with some early SEC predictions for the 18-19 season. There is still the possibility of some roster changes before we reach the end of the summer, but, for the most part, rosters are intact for next season. Once again the league looks like it will be formidable on the heels of a historic season in which the league sent a record eight teams to the NCAA Tournament. Unlike last season I believe the league this season will be a little more top heavy. As good as it was a season ago, it's important to remember that only two teams (Kentucky, Texas A&M) out of the eight advanced to the second weekend of the tournament.

Before I post those predictions, let's review a couple of noteworthy items around the program.

1] Avery Johnson has his first commitment for the 2019 class. Today, Diante Smith, a 6'6, 195 lb forward from Fort Walton Beach, FL, announced his commitment to Alabama on Twitter.




Smith is currently rated as a 3-star prospect at 247. His primary recruiter was Coach Rosemond. Last season, Smith averaged 17.5 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 2.6 apg, 1.3 bpg and 2.3 spg. His shooting averages were impressive - 56% FG and 41% 3PT.

2] Alabama's top target in the 2020 class could be 5-star guard Brandon Boston from Norcross, GA. Boston recently was in Tuscaloosa for an unofficial visit. Boston fits the profile of the types of guards Avery wants to recruit: tall, lengthy (Boston is 6'6) guards that can play multiple spots on the floor.

3] 4-star guard Kira Lewis was on campus on June 25th for an unofficial visit. Alabama is still considered the favorite for Lewis, but it should be noted that Lewis will play for the Hoop City Basketball Club AAU traveling team this summer. Trendon Watford will also be playing for that team. Why is this potentially significant for Bama basketball? Hoop City is based in Memphis. It was also formerly known by another name, M33M, named after Mike Miller, who is now an assistant coach at Memphis. I said it in the last post, and I'll say it again: what once looked like a powerhouse class for Alabama, with three of the top recruits in the state at the top of that class, now looks much less secure.

4] 4-star guard Jaykwon Walton is part of that 2019 in-state group of players that Avery is hoping to recruit to Alabama, but Georgia and new head coach Tom Crean appear to be making a push for Walton. Georgia recently picked up a crystal ball pick from 247 after Walton took an unofficial visit to Athens. As important as the 2019 class is to the future of the Alabama program under Avery, this recruiting period is going to be as tough as we've seen in many years. This is partly where a coaching staff earn their salaries. As if the games aren't nerve-wracking enough, am I right?

Hit the break for those SEC predictions I mentioned hours ago (and with this, Msmilie let slip how much procrastination occurs during the writing of a post)


Sunday, June 17, 2018

Offseason Post #5

We're 20 weeks, give or take, from the start of the season, the July evaluation period is just around the corner, and information about the schedule continues to trickle out.

Let's start with the non-conference schedule news. It appears that Alabama will host Murray State next season.




Murray State were the Ohio Valley Conference (OVC) champions last season, winning their conference tournament and advancing to the NCAA Tournament where they lost to West Virginia in the first round. They finished the season 26-6. For as long as I can remember, that program has been steady. That's a good addition to the schedule.

Wednesday, June 06, 2018

SEC Announces Men's Basketball Opponents for the 18-19 Season

The SEC has revealed the opponents for each league team for next season. For Alabama, this means home-and-homes with their three permanent opponents - Auburn, LSU and Mississippi State - and their rotating home-and-home this season will be Texas A&M and Vanderbilt.

Alabama will host Florida, Georgia, Kentucky and Ole Miss, and will travel to Arkansas, Missouri, Tennessee and South Carolina. That's a pretty good slate of conference home games for the fans to check out this season. The permanent opponents - Auburn, LSU and Mississippi State - are all expected to be in contention for NCAA berths this season.

It's shaping up as another tough year in the league following a 2017-18 season that saw a record eight teams from the league make the NCAA Tournament. With many star players choosing to return to school next season, an influx of talented freshmen, and a coaching pool that recently added Tom Crean and Kermit Davis, the SEC could make a serious challenge for the best conference, from top to bottom, in college basketball next season. Who's ready for November?

Here's how the schedule shapes up so far:

Charleston Classic [Appalachian St, Ball St, Davidson, Northeastern, Purdue, Virginia Tech, Wichita State]
at UCF
at Rhode Island??? (it's been reported this game may not happen, at least not this season)
Arizona (wouldn't shock me if, assuming Alabama only plays one game in Birmingham this season, this is the Vulcan Classic game)
at Baylor [Big 12/SEC Challenge]

Conference Home Games: Auburn, Mississippi State, LSU, Texas A&M, Vanderbilt, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Ole Miss

Conference Road Games: Auburn, Mississippi State, LSU, Texas A&M, Vanderbilt, Arkansas, Missouri, South Carolina, Tennessee

Tuesday, June 05, 2018

C.M. Newton has passed away

Condolences to his friends and family.  C.M. Newton was one of the best minds in college basketball, and by all accounts a true gentleman and a class act.  I know his accomplishments are very much appreciated both here and in Kentucky.  He will be missed. 

Thursday, May 24, 2018

SEC vs Big 12 Challenge Matchups Announced

The Tide will travel to Waco, TX to take on the Baylor Bears on Saturday, January 26.  They were a sweet 16 team in 2017, and lost to Mississippi $tate in the second round of the NIT this past season.  It should be a chance to pick up a decent quality win on the road.

Here are the rest of the matchups:

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

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Offseason Post #4

Continuing my creatively named offseason posts.

The men's basketball team had their postseason banquet last week. You can click the link for more details.

1] The biggest news coming out of the banquet was that Riley Norris will return for a fifth season after he was granted a medical hardship waiver. Obviously great news for Riley and his family. His senior season was never able to get off the ground due to a hip injury. Riley's experience and his overall play will be an important factor for next seasons' team. I think I speak for everyone when I say that I'm happy to have Riley back next season.

2] Braxton Key will not be back, of course, but he has found a landing spot. He will sit a year, and then suit up for Tony Bennett and Virginia. I think this is a good spot for Braxton. Say what you want to about Virginia's struggles in March, but Bennett is an outstanding coach that has turned Virginia into a real national power. And Virginia ain't a bad place to get an education. Best of luck to Braxton in the future.

3] Offers for the 2019 and 2020 classes continue. In the last week the Bama coaching staff has offered Diante Smith, a 6'6, 190 lb forward from Fort Walton Beach, Florida. Smith is currently rated a 4-star prospect by 247 in the 2019 class. Also offered in the 2019 class is Greg Gantt, a 6'7, 195 lb forward from Fayetteville, NC. Gantt is currently rated a 4-star prospect by 247. The staff also offered Austin Harvell, a 6'6, 215 lb guard from Athens, Alabama. Harvell is in the 2020 class. I like all of these guys, but Harvell might be my favorite. It's tough to believe watching his highlights that he's got two more years of high school left. Keep an eye on this guy.




4] There's some schedule news. It appears that the return trip to Rhode Island has been pushed back to the 19-20 season, according to a tweet by everyone's favorite automaton, Jon Rothstein. No idea which school pushed the decision to move the game back a year. At this point, who knows if the game ever takes place.

The return game with UCF will take place next season, and we have a date. Alabama will travel to Orlando to face the Golden Knights on November 29th. No game time yet, but for those of you looking for a post-Thanksgiving trip, there you go. Perhaps UCF will award themselves another national championship if they win the game......

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Offseason Post #3

The offseason rolls on with all the speed of a glacier, but the news never really stops in college basketball. The Alabama coaching staff are currently attending certified events evaluating players, extending offers, etc. Let's review what's happened in recruiting over the past week.

1] Before we turn to the future, let's focus on the past. Former Alabama guard Justin Coleman transferred from Alabama two seasons ago, landing at Samford. Now a graduate, Justin decided to spend his final year outside his home state of Alabama. His landing spot: Arizona. That's right, when Arizona visits Alabama later this year on December 9th, Coleman will have the opportunity to face his former school. To my knowledge there were no hard feelings when Justin left, but I would guess that will be a special game for him, be it in Tuscaloosa or Birmingham.




2] Ar'Mond Davis has found a landing spot after transferring from Alabama. He will spend his final year of eligibility at UC Santa Barbara. I think this is a good move for Ar'Mond. Santa Barbara is a good basketball program, and my understanding is the campus is gorgeous. I hope Ar'Mond's college career ends on a high note.

3] In the last post I mentioned Alabama had offered Dmitry Ryuny, a 6'7, 190 lb forward currently enrolled at Birmingham's Central Park Christian. In that post I was unsure if he was a 2018 or 2019 recruit. I can now confirm that he is a 2018 recruit. This is interesting to me because the roster is currently full from a scholarship standpoint. The fact that the staff would offer Ryuny suggests they anticipate another departure. There's also the possibility that Avery Jr. will not be on scholarship this season, which would open up a spot for Ryuny. There are no favorites to land Ryuny's signature at this time, but he did take an unofficial visit to Tuscaloosa this past week.




4] While Ryuny would be a late pickup for the 2018 class, the staff is focusing most of their attention on what is shaping up to be an all-important 2019 class. In-state prospects Trendon Watford, Kira Lewis and Jaykwon Walton are the top targets in the class, but the staff have started expanding their offers outside the state. Let's take a look at the players that were offered this past week.

Jaylin Williams is a 6'6, 190 lb forward from Nahunta, Georgia. 247 ranks him as a top 100 recruit (83). Other notable schools recruiting him are Georgia, Auburn, Florida and Xavier. Georgia is the early favorite.

Drew Timme is a 6'9, 210 lb forward from Richardson, Texas. 247 has him ranked just outside the top 100 (108). Other notable schools recruiting him are Gonzaga, Baylor, Georgia Tech, and Creighton.

Ismael Massoud is a 6'8, 190 lb forward from Bronx, New York. He's ranked in the top 125 at 247 (124). The other notable schools recruiting him are Georgia Tech, Florida State, Rutgers, and Xavier.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Offseason Post #2

I will admit, I'm enjoying the offseason a little bit. I miss college basketball, but it's nice not to feel responsible to write new content every few days like it is during the season. The grind is real, folks. Anyway, let's focus on a few offseason developments.

1] Obviously, the big news this week was Braxton Key's decision to transfer.







I can't say this comes as a surprise. Transfers have become normal in college sports, and Braxton was at the top of my own list of Bama guys that I thought may transfer. It was a tough season for Braxton. He suffered a knee injury, missed ten games, was rushed back into action (my opinion), and never seemed to find a comfort zone. I think he struggled with his health, his role on the team, and his confidence in dealing with both. I can only speculate but my guess is he looked at the roster for next season and there remained a concern for him about where he would fit in. I do hate to see him go. At full health, Braxton is a very good player, versatile on both ends. The school that lands him will be very fortunate, assuming he can get back to full health. I hope nothing but the best for him.

2] Prior to Braxton's announcement, the team was one over the scholarship limit. The question now is will there be another guy(s) leaving? If recruiting is any indication, the coaching staff may be expecting further changes. Earlier this week the name Dmitry Rivny started popping up on social media.




I'll be honest: I had never heard of Rivny prior to this week. He's Russian. He's only been in the United States for six months. There's also some confusion what class he's in, 2018 or 2019. The tweet I included lists him as 2018, but what little I could find online about him via articles at Bama Mix Tape and HoopSeen suggests he's part of the 2019 class. He's listed as a 6'8 small forward, athletic, with the ability to shoot the deep ball. My guess is the tweet was wrong, and Rivny is part of the 2019 class, which is the next big class for the Bama coaching staff.

3] Recruiting never stops, and the Alabama coaching staff are already looking well into the future. This past week, they offered Keshawn Murphy, a 6'7 forward from Birmingham in the 2021 class. Yes, 2021. In that HoopSeen article I linked above, the author writes "Murphy used this event as a coming out party. Many are not aware of his talent and potential right now, but that will change in a matter of time. There will be plenty of high-major programs involved when it’s all said and done. In fact, excluding the 2019 big three of Trendon Watford, Kira Lewis, and Jaykwon Walton, Murphy may be the best long-term prospect in the state of Alabama. He’s that good and he’s only going to get better.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Braxton Key is transferring

He had a good freshman year, but I don't think he ever fully recovered from his knee injury last season.  I wish him the best of luck wherever he lands. 

Monday, April 16, 2018

Grading the season and NBA draft boards

I've been meaning to write a summary of the season in my eyes, but the day job has gotten in the way. I'll reflect now and divide the season into 4 quadrants

Quadrant 1- OoC play
Grade C+

Biggest win was over Rhode Island in what was a very ugly game. The OU win was great at the time... then we saw what OU was and it no longer had the power it did. The worst loss was an inexplicable loss at the hands of U C(an't) F(inish). The beatdown Texas gave to us in Birmingham should be mentioned, but I mostly wiped that memory out. In between was a good showing at Zona and 3 on 5 show vs Minnesota (which turned out to be not such a good loss). Overall I was a bit disappointed in this part of the season

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Annual Season Wrap and State of the Program Manifesto

First, a couple of recent news items.

1) Collin Sexton held a press conference and declared for the NBA Draft.
2) Greg Byrne confirmed that we have hired a firm to evaluate options of renovating Coleman Coliseum or building a new facility.  While nothing has been decided yet, he indicates they are leaning toward a large scale renovation. (I'll have much more on this later)
3) Riley Norris announced he will take advantage of his medical redshirt and return for another season.

Make yourself comfortable and join me after the jump...