Sunday, November 17, 2019

Rhode Kill, Rhode Island 93 Alabama 79

Alabama drops to 1-2 with a 93-79 loss to Rhode Island on the road.  The game started out well as the Tide jumped out to an early lead, but Rhode Island answered with a huge run over the next 7 minutes or so building a 20 point lead, and that was the difference in the game.  Twelve first half turnovers, and honestly it seemed like more than that, contributed to that big run.  This team is going to have to start valuing the basketball at some point or it’s going to be a long season.  It’s time to start Shack over JP in my opinion.  I officiated three middle school games Thursday night and I’m pretty sure those teams combined for less travelling violations than we had in the first half of this game.  Those unforced errors are the result of playing completely out of control.

In addition to routinely coughing the ball up, we didn’t make a single three point shot in the first half.  That’s a recipe for disaster.  The last 15 minutes or so of the first half may have been the worst I have ever seen from a college basketball team.  I thought we waited about 3 possessions too long to finally call a timeout.  I know Coach Oats is philosophically opposed to playing zone defense, and I generally agree with him, but we have one player who is above average defensively (Herb).  Our help-side defense is non-existent, and our other guards aren’t capable of consistently staying in front of their man.  We fall for every cross-over or ball fake.  At some point, we need to mix in some zone to keep teams from getting to the rim at will.  All of that said, Rhode Island settled for a lot of mid-range low percentage 2 point shots, but they seemingly made every one of them.  It was just that type of night.

To the team’s credit, they kept pounding the stone and made a run in the second half.  We only had 5 turnovers in the second half and finally started making a few 3s.  We cut the lead to 6 a couple of times and got some big stops but just couldn’t finish closing the gap.  I feel it was a classic case of using everything you have to get back into the game but not having enough in the tank to get over the hump.  A key possession that sticks out in my mind was when we were down 5 or 6 and got a stop, had great spacing leading to a wide open Beetle 3 from the corner, but he air-balled it short.  Beetle struggled in this one, which is disappointing as he’s a senior who has played in some big games on the road before.

On the positive side, Kira and Herb had outstanding games. Kira finished with 21 points and Herb had 17.  We out-rebounded them 40-31.  This team always plays hard, but not necessarily good.

The Ryan Center is a reasonably nice facility with the fans close to the court and good sight lines, but they could improve quite a few things.  The video/scoreboard is nice, but they had some connections issues and the stats did not update beyond about halfway through the first half.  The lighting is somewhat dark, and the LED ribbon board on the faΓ§ade of the upper level drastically changes the color and lighting throughout the arena whenever the advertisements change.  The campus is in the middle of nowhere, I nearly hit two deer crossing the road less than a quarter of a mile from the arena.  It was dark, but from what little I saw their campus was unremarkable.  They have wifi in the arena, but it doesn’t work, and we were unable to get any data service. 

The arena holds about 8,000 and it wasn’t a sellout, but there was probably 7,000 in attendance, including about 100 Alabama fans.  Their student section was packed and it was a good atmosphere, their fans were supportive of their team and loud, chanting “URI” nearly the whole game.  Their alumni were generally nice to us, but their students were classless, with multiple “F^&# You Bama” and “Bama sucks” chants.  I’m not offended by profanity, but at least try to be a little bit creative.  I met some  URI athletic staff members at a brewery after the game through some common friends I have that work in athletics at other colleges in the area, and they were extremely welcoming.  They bought us several rounds of drinks and were very complimentary of our team and our athletic department as a whole.

I toured the Breakers, Cornelius Vanderbilt’s  home in Newport Saturday morning, so I’m including a few pics from there.  As a Chicago Cubs fan, I'm a sucker for old ballparks so I had to stop at Cardines Field and take a few pics, but unfortunately I was not able to get inside.    Newport is a really cool town, and I also had a good time later in Providence watching the football game with some friends there.

Up next, we return to home to Tuscaloosa to take on the Paladins from Furman Tuesday night.  Tip off is set for 7pm. 

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Game Preview: at Rhode Island

Alabama (KenPom: 69) will hit the road for the first time this season on Friday when they travel to Kingston, Rhode Island to play the University of Rhode Island (KenPom: 89) from the A-10. This is the back-end of a home-and-home series that began two seasons ago. Game time is 6:30 P.M.CT and will be televised on the NBC Sports Network. Both teams enter 1-1 on the season. Rhode Island is coming off an 18-point setback at Maryland. Jahvon Quinerly's appeal failed to sway the NCAA to grant him a waiver so he will sit out the remainder of the season and have three years of eligibility remaining next season. Herb Jones will once again be a game-time decision on Friday night. Galin, Alex and Beetle are nursing injuries, but are expected to play.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Tide Grounds the Owls, Alabama 78 FAU 59

The day started with some bad news as the NCAA denied JQ's appeal and he will have to sit out the season before becoming eligible next year. 

The Tide bounced back from its disappointing season opening loss with a comfortable win over Florida Atlantic.  Injuries continue to leave the team short-handed as they only had a 7 man playing rotation for most of this game.  Herb dressed and was a game time decision but did not play.  He probably would have played some late game defensive possessions if we needed a stop in a close game, but thankfully it did not come to that. 

Coach Oats mentioned in his pre-game comments that improving the defense was an emphasis following the Penn lost.  He said the starting five are the guys who played the best defense in practice over the last week.  That starting five was Kira, Beetle, JP, Forbes, and Davis.  Davis took advantage of his starting opportunity and led all scorers with 19 points and 9 rebounds.  I think he's earned another start as he showed good hands, good movement without the ball, and an ability to finish around the rim.  He may not be the rim defender we are lacking on defense, and FAU wasn't particularly strong in the post, so it will be interesting to see how he fares against better competition, but that was certainly encouraging production from the five spot. 

Despite some sloppy play and turnovers early, Alabama slowly built a 10 point lead before FAU was able to slow the game down a bit and start chipping away.  They cut it to 3 following a technical foul on Coach Oats.  The team and staff had already been warned about standing up on the sideline during the play, and Coach addressed the situation, but following a questionable foul call and an FAU layup, the official blew the whistle to issue an official coach's box warning.  Coach Oats continued to argue the call and was promptly hit with the technical foul.  I should note, the entire FAU bench came on to the floor thinking the original whistle for the coach's box warning was a timeout, so that should have been a technical on them as well.  In fairness, it was a reasonable assumption on FAU's part as they were on a bit of a run and a timeout probably would have made sense there.  In any event, the technical seemed to re-focus the squad and they finished the half on a 20-2 run that put the game out of reach.

FAU did cut the lead to 13 about midway through the second half, but within minutes Alabama responded and pushed it back over 20 and the game never really felt in doubt.  Galin and Beetle are both still battling wrist injuries and both fouled out in only 11 minutes of play.  Coach seems more willing to roll the dice with guys playing with four fouls than conventional wisdom would suggest.  With the already short bench, Tyler Barnes got into the game with around 8 minutes remaining and a 20 point lead.  He grabbed a few rebounds and gave us four minutes.

Kira had 16 points and 6 rebounds with 8 assists and only two turnovers in 37 minutes of playing time.  Shack scored 17 off the bench and made 4 of 7 from three point range. Alex had 12 points with 8 rebounds. The biggest negative from my perspective was JP's six turnovers.  He appeared to injure his wrist in the first half, so maybe that was the issue, but he still seems to have a high dribble and struggles to secure the ball at times.  On a positive note he is playing hard and contributing in other ways with 8 rebounds, 5 assists, and 9 points. 

Rebounding was a major concern for me entering the season, but we've won the battle of the boards in our first two games.  It may be a different story when we run up against a bigger team, but I've been impressed with the effort of our smaller quicker guys going in and contributing on the glass.

They say a team reflects the personality of their head coach, and that's starting to become apparent with this group.  Nate Oats is intense and passionate, and that's how the guys play.  Coach Oats is constantly working the refs and aggressively coaching his guys.  Shack missed an assignment on defense in the second half and Oats lit into him for an entire media timeout.  When guys make a mental error, he's quick to pull them and explain things and put them back in at the next dead ball.  The guys are playing with a lot of emotion.  Coming off the floor during a timeout in the first half Davis flexed and yelled "Let's Go!" so loud I think people in Northport heard him.  It was great to see Hawkins leading the team and crowd in "De-Fense" chants at big moments, despite him apparently not making the playing rotation.  At one point Shack turned around to the crowd and yelled "Get the F*&$! UP"  when we were starting one of our runs.  Beetle is probably the most passionate of them all, he was sitting on the risers on the baseline with his wrist in an ice cast coaching and cheering non-stop after fouling out.

The defensive effort was better, but it also helped that FAU was horrible shooting the ball.  They had at least 5 air-balls, went 5 of 28 from three point range, and a laughable 6 of 17 at the free throw line.  On the other hand, we made 17 of 22 from the charity stripe.  At the end of the day, it's always good to get that first win and we took care of business against a mediocre team at home.

The crowd was decent for a rainy Monday night against a C-USA team.  It was a big drop-off from the Penn game, but still probably close to 6,000 or so and they were loud and supportive throughout.  The student section has started doing a thing where they go crazy when our score hits exactly "69."  It's stupid and immature, but somehow hilarious all at the same time. 

Up next, the first true road game In Kingston, RI against the Rhode Island Rams on Friday at 7:30 EST, 6:30 Central.  The game will be televised on NBCSN.  If you watch hockey, you are familiar with that network, otherwise you will probably have to do a little searching to find it.    I'll post a first hand report later that weekend.

Saturday, November 09, 2019

Game Preview: Florida Atlantic

After a season-opening loss at home to Penn, Alabama  (KenPom: 73) will seek its first win of the season on Monday night when the Florida Atlantic Owls (KenPom: 179) from Conference USA come to town. Game time is 7:00 PM, and can be streamed via SEC Network+. The Owls enter this game with a record of 1-1.

Herb Jones left the Penn game with a hyperextended elbow. Nate Oats said that Herb will be a game-time decision for this game. I thought the trajectory of the Penn game changed when Herb exited so I really hope he's healthy and back in the lineup for this game. Jahvon Quinerly's appeal for a waiver is expected to have a ruling before the game tips on Monday. If cleared he likely plays in this game.

Wednesday, November 06, 2019

Penn Pounds Post, Punishes Pachyderms, Quakers 81 Tide 80

Note: This ended up being a lot longer than I originally anticipated.  I've included a "TLDR" version at the bottom for those of you who have better things to do than read my rambling musings.

The Nate Oats era officially got off to an inauspicious start with a one point loss to Penn at home.  Steve Donahue's Ivy League squad ruined the Alabama coach's debut.  If you feel like you've read that somewhere before, you are correct.  It was Steve Donahue's Cornell team that beat Alabama in Anthony Grant's debut back in  2009.   In case you're feeling masochistic, here is what we said about it at the time.   The team played hard and fast, but in the end could not overcome the injuries and a lack of interior defense.  There's a lot to unpack here, so let's get started:

Sunday, November 03, 2019

Game Preview: Penn

After spending this summer asking "Is it basketball season yet?" over and over until I alienated myself from friends and family, the season is finally here. With it comes the beginning of the Nate Oats era in Tuscaloosa. Anticipation was already high before the charity exhibition vs Georgia Tech, but following a 93-65 Bama win, in which our guys knocked down seventeen three-pointers, the chatter about basketball is much louder than we're accustomed to in November. Alabama's first opponent will be the Penn Quakers from the Ivy League. Alabama enters the game ranked 70 at KenPom, while Penn enters as team 112 in KenPom's preseason rankings. Game time is 7:00 P.M. CT. The game will be streamed on SEC Network+ so you'll need the WatchESPN app.

Alabama will be without newcomers James Rojas and Juwan Gary, both out for the season with injuries. Jahvon Quinerly's status is unclear for this game. His initial request for a waiver to play this season was denied by the NCAA, but the school is appealing on his behalf. My guess is he won't play in this game. 

Saturday, November 02, 2019

2019-20 Schedule Preview: February/March

Saturday, February 1 - Arkansas - 5:00 P.M. CT - TV: SEC Network: Arkansas bid farewell to Mike Anderson and hired Eric Musselman from Nevada. Musselman's teams averaged 27.5 wins in his four seasons at Nevada, playing in three NCAA Tournaments. He inherits some talent in Fayetteville, notably Isaiah Joe (13.9 pts, 2.8 rebs, 1.7 asts, 1.5 stls, 41.4% from 3) and Mason Jones (13.6 pts, 3.9 rebs, 2.8 asts, 36.5% from 3) along with experienced returners in Jalen Harris, Desi Sills and Adrio Bailey. Musselman also added a pair of graduate transfers in Jimmy Whitt (SMU), who started his college career at Arkansas, and Jeantal Cylla (UNC-Wilmington). It's an intriguing roster. If Musselman can fit it all together, Arkansas should finish higher than the 11th place prediction in the preseason poll. Alabama has lost five straight to the Razorbacks.

Tuesday, February 4 - Tennessee - 6:00 P.M. CT - TV: TBD: The Vols lost a quartet of players (Grant Williams, Admiral Schofield, Jordan Bone and Kyle Alexander) that averaged a combined 56.1 points last season and were instrumental in putting the program back on the map. Replacing them will be a challenge, and expectations from Vol fans should be tempered as a result. However, with Jordan Bowden (10.6 pts, 3.5 rebs, 1.9 asts, 37.8% from 3) and Lamonte Turner (11 pts, 3.8 asts, 2.8 rebs, 1.3 stls) returning for their senior seasons, the Vols will have a solid base to build around. Beyond those two, it will be up to returning role players to expand their production and an incoming class that is the sixth-ranked class in the league per 247. Most importantly, Rick Barnes is back for his fifth season despite reports that he strongly considered taking the UCLA job this past summer. Assuming Turner and Bowden get consistent help from their teammates, Tennessee should once again be in the mix for the NCAA Tournament.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

2019-20 Schedule Preview: January

January means the beginning of conference play (at least until the league expands to a 20-game schedule). In recent years the conference has done a great job in repairing the perception of the conference. The depth of coaches in the league is unmatched in my opinion, and that strength in the coaching ranks has led to increased recruiting success. In 18-19 the league had seven teams selected for the NCAA Tournament. Five of those seven teams won at least a game, while four of the seven teams advanced to the second weekend. While I don't predict the league to be as top-heavy as it was last season (UK, UT and LSU lost a combined eight games), I do think the middle and, more importantly, the bottom of the league will be improved.

Saturday, January 4 - at Florida - 5:00 P.M. CT - TV: TBD: Alabama will start its conference schedule with a bang as it travels to Gainesville to face a Florida team that was picked to finish second in the league preseason poll. The Gators return three starters (Andrew Nembhard, Noah Locke and Keyontae Johnson, all sophomores), add the second-ranked recruiting class in the league (and eighth in the country), and add the top transfer in the country, Kerry Blackshear Jr. (14.9 pts, 7.5 rebs) from Virginia Tech. The Gators are good enough on paper to not only win the league, but advance deep in March. To do that, they will have to be a better offensive team this season (61st in offensive efficiency, 344 in tempo, and 291 in possession length). For what it's worth, Alabama has won in its last two trips to Gainesville.

Monday, October 28, 2019

Bama Beats the Heck out of Georgia Tech, Crimson Tide 93 Jackets 65

Alabama cruised to an easy victory over Georgia Tech in a charity exhibition game benefiting Hurricane Dorian victims.  Georgia Tech had a significant size advantage, but the fast pace of play prevented them from being able to take advantage of it.

The starting lineup was Kira, Petty, Herbert, Alex, and Galin.  Our bench outscored them 40-22, in large part due to Jaden Shackelford dropping 21 as the sixth man on 6 of 10 three point shooting.  He is the real deal, has a very quick release and is not shy about pulling up even from a couple of feet behind the three point line.  

The playing rotation actually made a lot of sense.  Galin and Javian Davis rotated at the five spot.  Interior defense is clearly our weakness, and Georgia Tech was able to exploit it somewhat early in the game.  If they got to the basket we couldn't stop them.  Fortunately, we forced them into 24 turnovers.  Frankly, I'm not sure what Georgia Tech was hoping to accomplish on offense, they have some decent individual players but they generally looked disorganized.  I'm not a big fan of Josh Pastner.  

Galin picked up 3 fouls in the first half and played much of the game in foul trouble.  He ended up with 17 minutes to Javian's 12.  We stretched the lead to an insurmountable margin when we went small in the second half with Alex at the 5.

Speaking of Alex, he went to the locker room in the first half with a hip injury, but returned in the second half and ended up with 9 points in 16 minutes.  He was not 100% and I expect he will get more minutes when fully healthy.

Kira was the star we were expecting him to be.  He scored 20 points with 8 assists and 7 rebounds in 31 minutes of playing time.  He mostly ran the point, but moved off ball for a bit when Beetle came into the game.  Beetle still isn't 100%, but I thought he played well.  He had 3 assists and only one turnover in 18 minutes of playing time.  Jaylen Forbes played 23 minutes and scored 6 points with 3 rebounds.  He was one of the better defenders on the floor, in my opinion.

JP got hot in the second half once he found his spot in the corner, making three 3s and finishing with 15 points.  He also had 3 assists to one turnover and even ran the point for a couple of possessions.  Having Kira, Beetle, and to a lesser extent JP and Herb all capable of handling the ball gives us a lot of versatility.  

Herb made his only three point attempt, so that was encouraging, and played his usual lock-down defense.

Raymond Hawkins and the four walk-ons closed out the final couple of minutes of the game.  

Overall, the team looked exactly as advertised.  They push the ball up as quickly as possible and generally take the first decent look they get.  They shoot a lot of 3s, and if the defense extends they drive to the basket.  There really is no mid-range or post game, and I don't recall us running a single high-ball screen.  Defensively, we occasionally pick up at half court or three-quarters court, but it was strictly man to man.  I thought we communicated fairly well on screens in the half-court, and we didn't seem to switch as much as we did last year.

  The guys are still adjusting to the system and looked a bit out of control at times, especially in the first half.  We had too many turnovers and forced a few bad shots,  but with a 28 point win over an ACC team there's more reason for optimism than concern.

The turn out was a little disappointing, but it being noon on a Sunday in Tuscaloosa a lot of the regulars were probably at church.  I would estimate only about 1,000 or so were there, but those who did show up were supportive.  There were several standing ovations for the team's hustle, guys were not shy about diving for balls out-of-bounds or getting on the floor to secure a steal.  The team played hard and seemed to be having fun, interacting with the crowd after big plays, etc.  Coach Oats was intense, standing and coaching until the very end, even with a comfortable lead.  

Up next, the Penn Quakers come to Tuscaloosa for a game that actually counts.  The season officially gets underway on Tuesday, November 5th at 7pm.  I will see you there.

Friday, October 25, 2019

Game Preview: Georgia Tech (Exhibition)

Here we go again, folks. Pack your hopes and dreams for another college basketball season. Alabama welcomes in a new coaching staff promising a more exciting, uptempo brand of basketball just like the other coaches before them. However, I think this staff really means it. Our first chance to see this team in action comes this Sunday at noon CT when the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets visit Coleman for a charity exhibition game. No TV for this one according to the official site so if you want to see it you'll need to purchase a ticket. Neither team is ranked in the polls entering the season (although Alabama did receive two votes in the AP poll). Georgia Tech is ranked 66th in KenPom's preseason rankings, while Alabama checks in at 70th.

Monday, October 21, 2019

Alabama Defeats Jacksonville State In Closed Scrimmage

The Alabama men's basketball team saw its first game action of the Nate Oats era on Sunday as it hosted Jacksonville State for a closed scrimmage. Alabama won the scrimmage by a final score of 90-81. Being a scrimmage, you take the stats with a grain of salt. Perhaps the most glaring stat to me was both teams combined for 79 combined free throw attempts. Good thing the scrimmage was closed because a game with that many free throw attempts is darn near unwatchable for me. Alabama forced 19 turnovers and limited Jacksonville State to 41.3% shooting (33.3% from 3). Unfortunately, Alabama's shooting numbers weren't great either: 39.2% (25% from 3). The difference in the final score was Alabama got to the free throw line more and made a few more, though neither team made free throws at a high rate (67.4% for Bama; 69.4% for Jax State). It's going to be a process, folks.

Jahvon and Beetle did not play in the scrimmage. Kira played 39 minutes and finished with 21 pts, 7 rebs, 4 asts and 1 stl. Other notable stat lines included Herb (17 pts, 4 rebs, 3 stls, 1 ast and 1 blk), JP (17 pts, 3 rebs, 3 stls) and Javian Davis (8 pts, 10 rebs and a stl).

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Alabama Picked Sixth In SEC Preseason Media Poll

SEC Media Day for men's basketball was held on Wednesday. Nate Oats, Kira Lewis Jr. and Herb Jones made the short trip to Birmingham for the event. The preseason media poll was also released. Alabama was picked to finish sixth. Kira was named to the All-SEC second team. The full predicted order of finish:

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

Monday, October 14, 2019

2019-20 Schedule Preview: December

After a challenging slate of games in November, the December schedule, at least on paper, appears to ease up a little. The team will only play one game outside the state of Alabama in December.

Friday, December 6 - Stephen F. Austin - 7:00 P.M. CT - TV: SECN+: This is the return game in a home-and-home series. The Lumberjacks will be trying to bounce back from an uncharacteristically poor season in 18-19 when they finished 14-16 overall and 7-11 in conference play. That might be easier said than done after losing three of their top five scorers last season and welcoming in nine newcomers. One thing in their favor is the return of Kevon Harris (17.8 pts, 6.5 rebs, 2 asts, 1 stl, 52.1 FG%, 37.9% from 3), expected to be one of the top players in the Southland Conference.

Saturday, December 14 - at Penn State - 1:00 P.M. CT - TV: Big Ten Network: Yet another return game in a home-and-home series. Penn State is one of the toughest jobs in the country, which may explain why head coach Pat Chambers is entering year nine at the school despite no NCAA Tournament appearances. If Chambers and his team are going to get over the hump, this year might be their best chance. The biggest reason for optimism is that Lamar Stevens (19.9 pts, 7.7 rebs, 2.1 asts), a first-team All-Big Ten selection, returned for his senior season. Stevens will need some help; returning players such as Myles Dread (8.3 pts, 2.8 rebs, 1.3 asts, 35.6%  from 3) and Mike Watkins (7.8 pts, 7.4 rebs, 1.5 blks) will need to step up their production as well. While the Lions finished the 18-19 season with a 14-18 record, they did win seven of their final ten games and finished top 50 at KenPom. Will that momentum carry over into this season?

Thursday, October 10, 2019

2019-20 Schedule Preview: November

We are now four weeks from the start of the college basketball season and the first season of the Nate Oats era. Alabama returns an intriguing mix of experience and talent, but it's also a program that has failed to live up to the talent on its rosters in recent seasons. As a result, preseason predictions for this team have been all over the place. I've seen some pick Alabama to finish top four in the league, while others pick them closer to the bottom. If the truth is usually found in the middle, the most realistic expectation for year one of the Oats era is that this is a middle-of-the-pack team.

Once again, the SEC will be a challenge to navigate. You really have to hand it to the league and the schools for the work they've put forth to improve basketball in the conference. In addition, the Bama non-conference schedule is once again expected to be one of the tougher schedules among SEC teams. With this Alabama team breaking in a new style of play under a new coaching staff against a tough schedule, it won't be a shock to see this team go through some growing pains. However, if Oats and his staff are the right guys for the job, and the players can adapt to his style of play and avoid further injuries, the team is talented enough to maybe - just maybe - return to the NCAA Tournament for the second time in three seasons.

Sunday, October 27 - Georgia Tech (Exhibition) - 12:00 P.M. CT - TV: None: Alabama will also have a closed scrimmage against Jacksonville State for the second straight season, but I'm just going to preview what's listed on the schedule. I'm happy that this is the exhibition game for Alabama this season. First and foremost, the proceeds go to charity so that's obviously a good thing. Secondly, Nate Oats is going to learn far more about his team facing an ACC team than he could if the opponent was a D2, 3, or an NAIA team. If Georgia Tech wasn't in the ACC, their preseason expectations would likely be higher. Their top three scorers (Jose Alvarado, James Banks III and Michael Devoe) return, and they added transfers in Jordan Usher (USC) and Bubba Parham (VMI). Parham could be an impact newcomer; in his final season at VMI, he led the Southern Conference in scoring at 21.4 per game (39.7% from 3). The Jackets will also be one of the oldest teams in the ACC with nine juniors and seniors on the roster. What's difficult to predict is how motivated will this team be now that the NCAA has banned them from the NCAA Tournament due to rules violations.

Friday, October 04, 2019

2019-20 Roster Preview: Forwards/Centers

With Donta Hall wrapping up his college career, Alabama lost last season's leading rebounder, shot blocker and second-leading scorer. Nate Oats prefers a quicker, perimeter-oriented type of basketball that spreads the floor, but all teams still require some size in the middle. But who will fill that role with Donta gone? Whoever fills it will need to be more than just a big body; he'll need to be able to run the floor, rebound and show some diversity on the offensive end.

While the team has a lot of talent at the guard and wing positions, there are question marks in the post. Rebounding was one of the primary weaknesses for Alabama the last two seasons, and it would appear to be a concern at first glance this season. With the depth at the guard position, none of the guys listed here have to be stars, just dependable role players. If someone emerges as a star, all the better to win basketball games, my dear. Let's take a quick look at those players. Once again, the heights/weights are those listed at the official site.

James Rojas - 6'8 - 215 lbs - Junior: It wouldn't be an Alabama basketball offseason without some bad news, and unfortunately that bad news (so far) was that Rojas - an incoming juco recruit - suffered a knee injury and will not play this season. The team has time to adjust to his absence, but losing a guy that was a juco All-American is less than ideal. For a team that's light on big bodies, losing a 6'8 inside/out player that seemed tailor-made for the type of basketball Nate Oats wants to play may come back to haunt the team as the season unfolds.

Wednesday, October 02, 2019

Alabama Hosting Georgia Tech In Charity Exhibition

This has been rumored for a few weeks, but the university made it official on Wednesday; Alabama will host Georgia Tech in a charity exhibition game at Coleman Coliseum. The game will take place on Sunday, October 27 at noon (CT). The proceeds will go to the American Red Cross Hurricane Dorian relief fund. The women's team will play an exhibition game vs Auburn University-Montgomery afterwards. Tickets will be $5.00. If you're in the area and want an early look at the teams, get out to Coleman because there will be no radio or television for this event.

The program will also continue the Tide Tipoff event for the fifth straight season. That will take place on Friday, October 18th. The event begins at 7, but doors will open at 6 for an autograph session with both teams.

We're close, folks. Roll Tide!

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

2019-20 Roster Preview: Guards

Well, here we are again; another college basketball season is looming. The university made a coaching change at the conclusion of last season, wrapping up Avery Johnson's tenure after four rather frustrating seasons. An efficient coaching search by AD Greg Byrne led to the hire of Nate Oats, formerly the head coach at Buffalo. Oats will be the third head coach hired by Alabama in the last ten years.

Nate Oats will be 45 years old when the season tips off. He began his coaching career in 1997 when he joined the staff at his alma mater, D-3 Maranatha Baptist in Wisconsin. In 2000 he joined the staff at D-3 Wisconsin-Whitewater. Following two seasons there, Oats landed his first head coaching gig at Romulus High School in Detroit. In eleven seasons he compiled an impressive 222-52 record, leading the team to the 2013 state championship. This success led to Bobby Hurley hiring him as an assistant at Buffalo. Following Hurley's decision to accept the Arizona State job two years later, Oats was promoted to head coach.

In his four seasons as head coach, he elevated the Buffalo program. He compiled a 96-43 record, two MAC regular season titles (2018, 2019) and three MAC tournament titles, which resulted in NCAA Tournament bids in three of his four seasons at the helm. Not too shabby. And not only did the program make the tournament, but it won round one games in both the 2018 and 19 tournaments. In addition, Oats was named the MAC Coach of the Year in 2018 and 2019. The program also finished higher in the final KenPom rankings each season of his tenure (138 in 2016; 122 in 2017; 67 in 2018; 22 in 2019).

Monday, September 16, 2019

Predicting the season- game by game

Penn- We can't lose at home to a bunch of nerds! W
FAU- Lane Kiffin isn't walking through that door! W
@ Rhode Island- you don't travel to nowhere RI and expect to come out the victor! L

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

SEC Schedule Released

The conference released its basketball schedule on Tuesday. The league office didn't do our guys any favors. In the first four games of league play, Alabama will travel to Florida and Kentucky as well as host Mississippi State and Auburn. All four teams are likely projected NCAA Tournament teams this season. Kentucky and Florida are expected to be favorites to win the league when the preseason polls are released. Click here for the full schedule. The season opener is 56 days away.

Saturday, September 07, 2019

James Rojas Out For Season With Knee Injury

It wouldn't be an Alabama basketball offseason without some bad news, and this one is a doozy. Juco All-American James Rojas, who just got to campus in August, has suffered a torn ACL and will miss the 19-20 season. Rojas was likely going to be a rotation player this season, and maybe more than that as he brought a high ceiling with him to Tuscaloosa. With the season sixty days away, I believe the team can adjust to this loss, but it sucks for James. He will have two seasons of eligibility when he returns next season.

While Nate Oats wants to play at a quick pace with much of the focus on the perimeter and scoring easy points in transition the loss of Rojas still hurts the interior depth for the team, which was already a question mark entering the season. Rebounding is a particular concern; an area where Rojas likely would have helped. Not to mention he's a guy that could run the floor and shoot. It's a tough loss. 

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Non-Conference schedule released

Most of these we already knew

Nov. 5 vs. Penn
Nov. 11 vs. Florida Atlantic
Nov. 15 @Rhode Island
Nov. 19 vs. Furman
Nov. 27 vs North Carolina (Battle for Atlantis)
Nov. 28 vs. Michigan/Iowa State (Battle for Atlantis)
Nov. 29 vs TBA (Gonzaga, Southern Miss, Seton Hall, or Oregon) (Battle for Atlantis)
Dec. 6 vs. Stephen F. Austin
December 14 @ Penn State
December 18 @ Samford (BJCC in Birmingham)
December 21 vs. Belmont (Huntsville, AL)
December 29 vs. Richmond
January 25 vs. Kansas State

A few thoughts:  It's a good thing we have the excitement of a new coach to bring in the fans, because that home schedule is atrocious.  It's interesting that Samford is listed as an "away" game.  In previous years the Birmingham game has been a home game.  I assume this means that it will count as a road game for NET purposes, but it will not be included in the season ticket package. 

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Schedule News: Alabama vs Samford in Birmingham

I want to start this post by encouraging you to check out a new website devoted to Alabama basketball, Crimson Crossover. In recent years, I've seen a growing presence on social media in fan support for Alabama basketball and I try to show support for those fans at this website and beyond. With that in mind, add Crimson Crossover to your favorites; and, if you're into social media, you can follow them on Twitter or Facebook. They even have a Youtube site where they will post game highlights. Their website, which just launched yesterday, will include articles and a forum for fans to discuss hoops. And there's likely more features they will debut in the weeks and months ahead. So go check them out asap.

In fact, it was Crimson Crossover that broke this bit of schedule news yesterday. Alabama will play Samford in Legacy Arena in Birmingham this season. It's not the marquee game that we've seen Alabama play in Legacy in recent years, but I've never been shy about stating my opinion that Alabama should play more in-state programs (yes, including UAB). What I would really like to see is an event similar to the Crossroads Classic in Indiana where four teams from the state (Alabama and Auburn obviously vs two others) play each other in back-to-back games. While the Alabama version wouldn't match Indiana, Notre Dame, Purdue and Butler squaring off, I do think it would be a fun event for hoops fans in the state. I'll have more to say about Samford when I do the schedule preview, but if you can't wait for that, head over to Crimson Crossover for an early preview.
At this point, your guess is as good as mine when the non-conference schedule will be released. With the Samford news, we now know eleven of the (presumably) thirteen non-conference games.  

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Schedule News: SEC/Big 12 Matchups Set

It's not official, but several media outlets reported on Tuesday that the matchups for the 2019 SEC/Big 12 Challenge are set. The event will take place on January 26. Assuming these reports are true, Alabama will host the Kansas State Wildcats. The Wildcats finished the 18-19 season with a 25-9 record and were top 20 in KenPom's final ratings. K-State head coach Bruce Weber coached Kira Lewis this summer in the FIBA U19 World Cup.

The other games in the event:

Kentucky at Texas Tech

Tennessee at Kansas

Baylor at Florida

Mississippi State at Oklahoma

Missouri at West Virginia

Oklahoma State at Texas A&M

LSU at Texas

Iowa State at Auburn

TCU at Arkansas

Friday, July 12, 2019

More Schedule News: Battle 4 Atlantis Bracket Released; Richmond Added To Schedule

DJC has already mentioned this in the comments section of the previous post but, if you'll indulge me, I'd like to write a bit more about this news. After all, schedule news is almost as fun to me as the games themselves.

The bracket for the Battle 4 Atlantis was released on Thursday. Along with the Maui Invitational, this has become the premier early-season event in college basketball. That Alabama will participate in both events in the next two seasons is great for the program.

Alabama's first opponent in The Bahamas will be a little basketball school by the name of North Carolina. Perhaps you've heard of them. Alabama will play the Tar Heels on Wednesday, November 27 at 1:30 PM CT. Win or lose, this is a great opportunity for our guys. If you're good enough to play D1 basketball, these are the kind of games you want to play. The trip to The Bahamas is a cherry on top. The entire event will be played November 27-29 so free up your Thanksgiving calendar now. The other matchup on this side of the bracket is Michigan/Iowa State. The matchups in the bottom half of the bracket are Gonzaga/Southern Miss and Seton Hall/Oregon.

CBS Sports Jon Rothstein also tweeted on Thursday that Alabama will host the Richmond Spiders from the Atlantic-10 conference this season. The previous meeting between the schools was in 2017 in Tuscaloosa in the first round of the NIT. If you remember, the Spiders thoroughly outplayed Alabama in that game, winning 71-64. One of three first round NIT losses during Avery Johnson's tenure, but I digress. Unfortunately for Richmond, the two seasons since have been rough as the program has only won a total of 25 games in that span.

Thursday, July 04, 2019

Schedule News: Alabama Adds Penn to Non-Conference Schedule

Following CBS' Jon Rothstein on Twitter can be a chore at times (those of you who follow his account know what I'm talking about), but I have to give the guy credit for being a constant source of college basketball news during the summer. Today, he reported that, via a source, Alabama will open the 2019-20 season hosting the Penn Quakers from the Ivy League. And yes, the Quaker Oats jokes came fast and furious.
The Quakers finished the 18-19 season with a 19-12 record, but no postseason. The program is preparing to enter its fifth season under Head Coach Steve Donahue, whom you may remember built Cornell into a strong mid-major (three straight NCAA Tournaments, including a Sweet 16 appearance). He guided the Quakers to an NCAA appearance in 17-18; and while they didn't make the postseason in 18-19, they did have quality wins over the likes of Miami, Villanova and Temple. I haven't studied their roster for the upcoming season so I have no idea how good they're expected to be. But given Penn's historical success in the Ivy League, combined with Donahue's leadership, I'm guessing they'll be picked to finish high in that league.

Without pulling up the schedules, I'm pretty sure this will be the first meeting between the two schools since they met in the 1995 NCAA Tournament. That was a great game, Alabama won 91-85. Antonio McDyess led the team with a 39 pt, 19 reb effort.

Here's what we know about the non-conference schedule so far:

Penn (season opener)
Battle 4 Atlantis (Gonzaga, North Carolina, Michigan, Iowa State, Oregon, Seton Hall and Southern Miss)
at Rhode Island
at Penn State
Stephen F. Austin
Belmont (Huntsville)

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Let's Go Crazy, Let's Get Nuts: SEC Picks in June

Hello again. Sure, the college basketball season is five months away (I promise not to weep). But now that NBA Draft and (most) transfer decisions have been made, I thought it would be fun to post my way-too-early SEC picks. I encourage anyone who reads this post to do the same in the comments section.

In recent years we've seen the SEC make improvements in basketball. That continued last season when the league sent seven teams to the NCAA Tournament. Five of the seven teams won their first round games, and four of the seven made it to the second weekend. I'm sad to report that Auburn made the Final Four, the first in the school's history. If one measures success on NCAA Tournament results (and most fans do), the SEC had a very successful 2018-19 campaign. And yet the league still finished a distant fourth - behind the Big 12, Big Ten and ACC - in Ken Pomeroy's conference rankings.

With so much talent leaving the league for the NBA Draft, it will be difficult for the SEC to move into Pomeroy's top three rankings this season. The league likely won't be as top-heavy as it was last season (LSU, Kentucky and Tennessee finished a combined 46-8 in league play), but the league expectation of seven or eight teams in the tournament should remain. Let's get to the picks:

Tuesday, June 04, 2019

Bama v. Belmont in 2019 Rocket City Classic

It was announced today that the Tide will take on the Belmont Bruins in Huntsville on December 21.  Attendance has been a bit down at the Huntsville games the past couple of years, but with this being a mid-major program that's had a lot of recent success, located just a little over an hour away in Nashville, and the game being on a Saturday, I expect there will be some renewed interest in the game this season.

Monday, June 03, 2019

Annual Season Re-cap and Off Season State of the Program Manifesto

I apologize for posting this much later than I normally do, but the day job has been taking up most of my time, and I wanted to wait and see how the roster moves would shake out.

Before we get into basketball, I want to Congratulate our Softball team on an amazing season!  They were a lot of fun to watch, and fought hard to the end before finally being eliminated in the semi-finals of the WCWS last night.  They were under-rated all year and badly under seeded in the tournament, but I expect they will be a national championship contender again next year.  Now, on to hoops.

2018-19 Season Re-Cap

It was another up and down season that ended with a first round NIT loss and the dismissal of Coach Avery Johnson.  There were some terrible losses including a blow out to Northeastern, and blowing huge leads at home to Georgia State and Texas A&M.  There was some hope after we upset Kentucky and played Tennessee to the wire on the road.  Unfortunately, another poor stretch in February left us on the wrong side of the bubble.  Mercifully, the season came to an end with a loss to 16 point underdog Norfolk State in the NIT.

Avery Johnson left the program in much better shape than he found it.  He recruited well and promoted the program, restoring a lot of fan interest.  In the end, he just couldn't adapt his coaching style to the college game. 

The Search and Nate Oats

Greg Byrne ran a very efficient and professional coaching search, unlike the unmitigated crap show Bill Battle put us through the last time we went through this process.  It is rumored that he wanted to hire Rick Pitino, but could not get approval from the Board of Trustees.  Byrne made it very clear in his first press conference that we would not be taking a chance on anybody with NCAA baggage.  He also warned us that agents will sometimes float names to try to generate interests for their clients.  I think we saw a bit of this with the Andy Kennedy, Kelvin Sampson, and even John Pelphrey rumors that were circulating.  I am very curious as to what happened with Thad Matta, as several fairly well respected writers were reporting he was going to be the man right up until the point that Coach Oats was officially announced.  Many have speculated that Matta doesn't really want to get back into coaching but needs to search for employment to maintain his buy out from Ohio State, but I'm not really buying that.  If anything, it seems to me Ohio State would have a stronger case for ceasing his payments if they can prove he is turning down opportunities like Bama and UGA.  I have a theory that we may have leaked that info to put some pressure on Coach Oats to make a quicker decision.  In any event, it doesn't really matter how we got here, the Nate Oats era has begun!

Coach Oats promises to bring an up tempo style with a focus on defense and three point shooting.  His four out offense led to back to back NCAA tournament appearances, including an upset of Arizona, and a top 25 ranking in Buffalo.  Originally from Michigan, where he was a successful high school coach, he has ties to both the Midwest and North East. 

As is the case with all up and coming coaches from mid-majors, the big questions will be: 1) Can he recruit at the level necessary to win in the SEC and 2) Can he adjust to the higher level of competition.  It's obviously way too early to make a determination, but the early returns have been mostly good. 

He convinced Kira and Petty stay, and also signed Coach Johnson's previous commits of Gary, Forbes, and Shackleford.  He's signed a couple of  PG transfers in James Bolden from West Virginia and former McDonald's All American Jahvon Quinerly from Villanova.  Unfortunately, we lost Trendon Watford to LSU, but signed a Juco small forward in James Rojas instead.  Coach Oats is also bringing his former Buffalo commit Raymond Hawkins, a 3 star center from NV.

Looking Ahead- Next year

One thing I like about Coach Oats is that he seems very forthcoming in his interviews.  There's not a lot of coach-speak or attempts to manage expectations.  He seems genuinely, pleasantly surprised with the talent already on the roster, and has openly stated that he expects to make the NCAA tournament in year one.  Any time there is a change in coaches and systems there will be an adjustment period, but if everyone buys in and the team can develop some chemistry, I think it could be an exciting year.  As I stated above, Coach Oats is inheriting a pretty talented roster that was only one spot out of the tournament last year.  A good first season would go along way toward legitimizing Coach Oats in the eyes of local prospects.  We will know fairly early in the season how good we can be, as a November trip to the Bahamas could see us matched up with the likes of Gonzaga, North Carolina, or Michigan.

Overall State of the Program

I'm going to be brutal here.  We've been mostly irrelevant for the better part of three decades now.  Anthony Grant, Avery Johnson, and the other failed coaches before them are not the problem.  They are a symptom of the problem.  We just hired a coach who was coaching high school basketball five years ago.  We may or may not eventually get around to renovating our antiquated arena.  Meanwhile other schools like Ole Miss and auburn (who just went to a final four, by the way) are playing in brand new facilities, and the rest of the conference has landed established, proven coaches.  If we are honestly ranking the SEC coaches based on what they've accomplished in the college game to date, we would probably be next to last (thank God for Vandy).  The reality is that mid-major coaches are much more likely to turn out like Stan Heath than Billy Donovan.  Regardless, even if he is successful, unless something changes at the top and our administration makes a commitment to the sport, the best case scenario is he that he does so well we lose him to a blue-blood and are back in the same position.

Meanwhile there is still a lot of uncertainty in the college basketball world with the FBI trials wrapping up.  The fact of the matter is that unless the NCAA decides they want to cook their golden goose, not much is going to happen to the likes of Bruce Pearl and Will Wade.  As long as Pearl is at auburn, Wade at LSU, Howland at $tate, and Penny in Memphis, it's going to be very difficult for us to recruit at the level necessary to compete. 

All of that said, there is still reason for hope and optimism.  Ronald Steele pointed out on this very blog a couple of years ago that our teams had a couple of major problems.  I'm paraphrasing because I'm too lazy to go back and find the exact quote, but basically he said 1. We don't have an identity.  Successful teams have a system and implement it well, and 2. Our players don't have the freedom to make plays.  Coach Oats teams certainly have an identity, always ranking near the top in tempo, defensive efficiency, and three point attempts.  His comments seem to indicate that he doesn't want anybody to be afraid to shoot.  I think this team is going to be fun to watch, and will have a chance to be successful.

The roster is set and we should have scheduling news soon.  Otherwise, enjoy the off-season.  November will be here soon enough. 

Sunday, June 02, 2019

Offseason Post #7: The Jahvon Quinerly Edition

Posting this in the middle of a huge Alabama softball game because it is big news. Former McDonald's All-American Jahvon Quinerly has committed to Alabama after transferring from Villanova. The 6'1, 175 lb guard, with three years eligibility remaining, is expected to sit out this upcoming season, but he will apply for a waiver to play immediately. My guess is he won't receive a waiver, but the NCAA has also been, shall we say, inconsistent where it concerns transfer waivers.



While receiving a commitment from a former 5-star McDonald's All-American is always a cause for celebration, it does need to be pointed out that his first and only season in Villanova was somewhat of a struggle. He only averaged 9.1 minutes per game, finishing his season with modest averages of 3.2 pts, 0.9 ast, 0.8 reb, and 0.2 stls with shooting averages of 33.7% FG, 25% 3-PT and 73.3% from the foul line. I didn't watch enough Villanova games last season to offer an opinion on why Jahvon struggled, but I'm more likely than not to bet on a former McDonald's All-American to figure things out. Hopefully, the future is bright for Jahvon in Tuscaloosa.


Thursday, May 30, 2019

2019-20 Schedule News: 2020 Conference Opponents Announced

Hi. It seems like only yesterday that I wrote about Bama Hoops. Wait, it was yesterday. Huh. Well, it's wonderful to see you again just the same.

SEC coaches are currently in Destin, FL for the conference summer meetings. In recent years the conference has taken the opportunity to release the conference basketball opponents for each school, and they were kind enough to do so again.


Alabama will play home-and-homes with Auburn, LSU, Mississippi State, Missouri and Vanderbilt. Auburn, LSU and Mississippi State all made the NCAA Tournament last season, and will likely be projected to return to the tournament in 19-20. I remain confused what the schedule rotation process is because Alabama played a home-and-home with Vandy just last season and will do so again. I thought the purpose of rotating two home-and-home opponents was to create a different matchup each season. Whatever.

Conference home games for Alabama: Arkansas, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas A&M.

Road games for Alabama: Florida, Georgia, Kentucky and Ole Miss.

The league has been on an upswing the last few years, and it doesn't appear to be slowing down anytime soon. Once again, the conference should be in contention for 7-8 bids.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Offseason Post # 6: The Tevin Mack Will Not Be Back Edition

Hello again, everyone. The deadline for early withdrawal from the NBA Draft is today. The only decision that Alabama was waiting for was that of redshirt senior, Tevin Mack. Tevin sat out the 17-18 season after transferring from Texas. This past season, he averaged 9 pts and 3.3 rebs. He had flashes of brilliance during the season, but I would have to judge his 18-19 season as a disappointment overall. Yesterday, Tevin announced that he was withdrawing from the NBA Draft, but he will not be returning to Alabama. Instead, he will transfer as a graduate, thus insuring he can play immediately wherever he chooses to go. Good luck and best wishes to Tevin moving forward.

Tevin's decision to transfer means the coaching staff have a scholarship to give. It appears their primary recruiting target for that scholarship is Villanova transfer and former McDonald's All-American, Jahvon Quinerly, who was in Tuscaloosa earlier this week for a visit. Quinerly is a 6'1, 175 lb guard. The four schools that appear to have emerged as leaders for him are Bama, Pittsburgh (he's visiting there today), Arkansas and Georgia. Quinerly will have to sit out a season per NCAA transfer rules.


In Other News:

1] Not long after Trendon Watford elected to commit to LSU, Alabama announced that Juco All-American James Rojas had signed. The 6'8, 215 lb forward led Hutchinson Community College in scoring at 19 pts per game (his points per 40 minutes was an astounding 29.4), while also averaging 6.8 rebs and 1.5 stls. His shooting percentages were impressive: 50.4% FG, 38.4% from 3, and 79.5% from the free throw line. While I was disappointed to see Trendon leave the state, signing a Juco All-American isn't a bad consolation prize. If Rojas is able to transition his game successfully from Juco to major college basketball, he could be a pleasant surprise for the team this season.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Offseason Post # 5: The Trendon Watford Has Left The State Edition

As most of you reading this likely know by now, Trendon Watford, a 5-star forward and the top player in the state of Alabama in the 2019 class, made his college decision on Monday, choosing to take his talents to Baton Rouge and play for the LSU Tigers. For any Alabama fans angry at this development, let me just remind you that Trendon wasn't likely to come to Alabama if Avery Johnson was still the coach. What once seemed like a sure commitment got away over the last two years as the leadership of the program began to be openly questioned by fans, media and, it would seem, recruits and their families. If Nate Oats had more time to build a relationship with Trendon and his family, I think Alabama would have remained a strong leader for his commitment, but there just wasn't time.

I wish Trendon was suiting up for Alabama next season, but I'm guessing Will Wade made a strong a** offer. It is what it is. In all seriousness, I wish Trendon the best at LSU. He's a great player that is doing what he feels is best for his basketball future, and any sane, rational fan has to accept his decision process. That said, I hope Alabama sweeps LSU next season. Will Wade has quickly become, for me anyways, one of the more loathsome characters in college basketball. The fact he still has a job after the revelations that have surfaced the last few months is further testament to the now open embrace of the rot and corruption at the heart of college basketball, and, if I may be so bold, our society as a whole. One thing is for certain: the game between the two programs in Coleman Coliseum next season should be quite interesting. I suspect the Alabama students will not be kind.

Friday, April 26, 2019

Offseason Post #4: The Andrew Steele Returns Home Edition

It's not official yet, but it's being reported that former Alabama basketball player Andrew Steele will be returning to Tuscaloosa for a position with Coach Oats staff. The reports say that he's likely to be hired as the director of player personnel. Previously, Andrew was the director of basketball operations at Troy University. Prior to Troy, Andrew was also the director of basketball operations at South Alabama and spent two years as the head basketball coach at John Carroll High School. Andrew always struck me as a standup guy when he was a player, and I think I speak for many when I say I'm excited to have him back in Tuscaloosa.

In Other News: 

1] Former Alabama assistant coach Yasir Rosemond was named in federal court on Thursday as part of testimony given by Marty Blazer. Rosemond was one of several college basketball assistant coaches named by Blazer, who is cooperating with the government's investigation into bribery and corruption in college athletics. Blazer has pleaded guilty to a number of crimes, including wire fraud and lying to the SEC (the Securities and Exchange Commission). He's facing 67 years in prison, which would be my guess as to why he's cooperating with the investigation.

According to journalists covering the trial, Rosemond was videotaped at a meeting in Las Vegas with Blazer, agent runner Christian Dawkins and undercover FBI agents in July 2017. At this meeting, he allegedly told those in attendance that "whatever you need me to do, I'll do it." in an effort to gain resources to aid in recruiting. However, it's also being reported that Rosemond did not receive any money at that meeting. Furthermore, Blazer testified that Rosemond and the other assistants named didn't receive money because they didn't have enough pull yet with prospects. I recommend clicking the link above for more information. As if the basketball revelations weren't enough, Blazer also testified to paying college football players, including players at the University of Alabama.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Coaches in the SEC and their previous experience (WEST)

Continuing with the West (which doesn't really exist in SEC Basketball) as I was waiting for Arkansas to blund... hire their next coach.

Alabama-  Nate Oats... 4 seasons at Buffalo and 3 NCAATs to show for it. Seems like it was his team the last 2 years and not Bobby Hurley's so that makes me feel a bit better (when we hired Grant he has 3 years at VCU). Obviously going to give him a chance, but the older I get the more cynical I become about Alabama becoming a force in hoops again... especially with the coaches listed below and the ones in the EAST making noise.
Unrelated, isn't it sad that Buffalo has as many NCAAT appearances in the last 4 years as we have in the previous 13?

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Offseason Post #3: The Beetle Bolden Edition

Big news today as West Virginia grad transfer, James "Beetle" Bolden, announced on Twitter that he will be transferring to Alabama. Bolden was in Tuscaloosa this weekend for the A-Day festivities.

This is more great news for the new coaching staff. They desperately needed more ball-handlers at the guard position, and Bolden will fill that role nicely. But like Kira, he's also a more than capable scorer (12.2 ppg in an injury-shortened 2018-19 season). Assuming he's been able to overcome the injuries that limited him this past season, Bolden should be a fun player to watch next season.

In Other News:

1] Tevin Mack announced that he will test the NBA Draft waters. He has submitted the paperwork for the draft, but will not hire an agent. It's possible he returns to Alabama, but it's also worth keeping in mind that he will turn 22 years old next month and is expected to graduate in May. My guess is he's likely moving on.

2] Freshman guard Diante Wood has decided to enter the transfer portal and will likely join Dazon Ingram and Daniel Giddens as expected departures. Wood redshirt this past season due to a leg injury, and it was likely a numbers game that led him to decide that a transfer was in his best interests. Best of luck to Diante as he moves on.

Tuesday, April 09, 2019

Offseason Post #2: The Kira Lewis Edition

After Avery Johnson and Alabama parted ways, Kira Lewis chose to enter the NCAA transfer portal. He did not rule out the possibility of returning to Tuscaloosa once a new coach was hired. Fortunately, it appears that Nate Oats and the new staff have made an impression on Kira and his family as Kira announced today on Twitter that he will withdraw from the transfer portal and return to Alabama.

This is big news for Nate Oats as he prepares for his first season. In my opinion, Kira, a member of the SEC All-Freshman team, was the top returning player on the roster. Based on his skill set, Kira should thrive in Oats' system. John Petty, who also entered the transfer portal and elected to return, is no worse than the second-best returning player. To get both of these guys back is huge. A successful first season for Oats in Tuscaloosa is now very possible.

In other news:

1] Nate Oats finished fourth place in AP Coach of the Year voting after he led Buffalo to the best season in school history with a 32-4 record and a top 25 KenPom finish.

2] The coaching staff is also taking shape. Nate Oats has brought assistant Bryan Hodgson from Buffalo to join the staff. Hodgson has a reputation as being an elite recruiter and many Buffalo fans were lobbying for him to get the head job after Oats left.

Monday, April 08, 2019

UCLA job invades the SEC- first Kentucky, now Tennessee

UPDATE- Crisis averted... UCLA hires Mickey Cronin from Cincy.

As UCLA continues to whiff on a replacement for Steve Alford, they have set their sights on Rick Barnes. While I secretly hope he leaves, he'd be a fool to do so.

UCLA is a program built around a coach and some shady recruiting practices. Outside of the Wooden run what exactly has UCLA done to be considered a blue blood school? A natty with Harrick and 3 Finals Fours with Howland... in the course of 40 years that's not exactly setting the basketball universe on fire.

Granted, the above would make all of our fans swoon forever, but if you look at their program, the fan base, and the money they will invest, it is just not a job someone with a Power 5 gig should leave for unless UCLA opens the pocketbook AND they are unhappy where they are.

I suspect the next coach they try is Bruce Pearl.

Thursday, April 04, 2019

2020-21 Schedule News

For those of you with the resources to travel, it appears that your Thanksgiving plans are set for the next two years. It was announced today that Alabama will be part of the 2020 Maui Invitational Field in the 2020-21 season. That will be a year removed from the program playing in the Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas in the upcoming 2019-20 season. Not a bad way to spend the next two Thanksgiving weeks.

The other teams in Maui will be Davidson, North Carolina (also in the Battle 4 Atlantis in 19-20), Indiana, Providence, Stanford, Texas and UNLV. As always, the lineup in Maui is top-notch.

Wednesday, April 03, 2019

Coaches in the SEC and their previous experience (EAST)

I know there is technically no East and West, but to make this easier to read I went ahead and broke it down that way. Today is SEC EAST.

The SEC went from a conference with little coaching star power to one where the big names play. Here's who's here and what they did before getting here:

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Offseason Post #1

You always remember your first. This is the first of what will likely be many offseason posts this spring and summer as the Alabama program welcomes a new coaching staff. To start, for those of you that haven't seen the press conference to introduce Nate Oats as the new head coach, here is some embedded video:

Here's the latest with the current roster. Kira Lewis, John Petty, Daniel Giddens and Dazon Ingram all entered the transfer portal. Daniel and Dazon are likely not coming back, but the good news is JP has already withdrawn from the portal and will return to the team. Assuming John doesn't change his mind, this is a big development. In my opinion, John did improve from year one to year two, but he hasn't come close to reaching his ceiling. The hope is that the new coaching staff will bring the best out of him. As far as Kira goes, Coach Oats has talked with him and his family about returning, but, for now at least, he remains in the portal.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Nate Oats Named New Head Coach

Alabama officially named Nate Oats as the new head coach today.  It's no secret that I had him at number 9 on my list, but there's a lot to like about him.  There's no doubt it's a gamble, as is the case with any mid-major, but it could pay off big.

After a long, successful high school career, he served for 2 years as an assistant at Buffalo before taking over as head coach.  In 4 years as a head coach for the Bulls, he's made the tournament 3 times with an upset win over Arizona last year and a first round win over Arizona State this year.  He is a former math teacher and embraces the analytics of the modern game.  Buffalo ranked 21st in adjusted offensive efficiency, 31st in adjusted defensive efficiency, and 12th in adjusted tempo. 

Here's a great SI Article from last month about him.  You really should take the time to read it, but some of the highlights that I found compelling were that he believes in practicing hard and giving the players a lot of freedom in the games, and being upset about only beating a team by 18 that he felt they should have beat by 35 or 40. Having a team that won't take the foot off the gas with a comfortable lead will be a refreshing change.

The main question is can he recruit at a level necessary to do that in a power 5 conference?  Time will tell, and a good place to start would be getting Kira and Petty back from the transfer portal.  I suspect he will be meeting with the Watfords in the very near future as well. 

I know we all wanted a "bigger name," but this guy deserves a chance and I hope everyone will give him their full support. 

We'll have more after the press conference and I'll post some additional thoughts on the hiring whenever I get around to drafting my annual end-of-season manifesto. 

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Let's Talk About Transfers

Transfers have become the new normal in college athletics. If a coaching staff isn't preparing for it each season, they're not doing their jobs. It's even more likely when there's been a coaching change. Greg Byrne mentioned in his press conference that they have asked the current players, recruits and their families to be patient as they search for the next coach. Unfortunately, a couple of players have began exploring other options immediately.

Dazon Ingram has made it official that he will play his graduate year at another school. This has actually been rumored for a week or so. Dazon has received a fair share of crap from fans over the years, but he made a commitment to Alabama, played through a litany of injuries, and was, by all accounts, a solid citizen. He was also a solid basketball player when he was at his best. A guy that could give you double figure points, grab rebounds, assists, and was a solid defender. I got no beef with Dazon, and I wish him nothing but the best. Rumors are he will stay close to home (South Alabama, UAB, etc), but he's also had some top flight programs like Nevada and Gonzaga reach out to him, per reports.

The bigger news on the transfer front is that Kira Lewis has entered the "transfer portal" and is weighing his options ahead of the Alabama coaching search. This doesn't mean Kira is for sure gone - entering the portal just means he can be contacted by other coaches - but I do think it puts more pressure on Greg Byrne to try and wrap this coaching hire up sooner rather than later. In my opinion, Kira would be the best returning player for next season so the next coach needs to make retaining him a priority. I would assume more transfers are possible, if not likely. The hope here is the remaining players will wait to see what happens with this coaching search.  

Monday, March 25, 2019

Greg Bryne holds press conference to discuss coaching search.

The key points:

- He wants someone with college experience and ability to develop players and recruit.
-Is not concerned with "geographical footprint."
- The reputation of the University will be at the forefront of everything we do, and it will be a person with a history of academic and NCAA compliance.  (Welp, there went my first two choices)
-Everybody needs to be patient.
-Coaches and agents start rumors for leverage, don't believe anything or anyone.
-No search committee or outside headhunters, he got this.

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Official- Avery Johnson out as head coach at Alabama

Here's the link.

First off, like DJC said below... I want to thank Avery Johnson for his efforts here. While it didn't turn out the way either side wanted it to, there is no doubt his first 3 years here he was doing everything he could to get the program off and running. He left his program in much better position than the previous 3 coaches before him.

To put the blame on Avery Johnson for the recent failures of the program is short sighted. Sure there were things he could've done better, but in the end it came down to execution on the court and I'm going to point the finger at the players on the team. With the exception of a couple... most of them played with little heart or desire. You could see Avery's frustration on the bench when someone would jack up ANOTHER ill-advised 3 that a mason would've been proud of to further bury the team in a deficit. There were no leaders on this team. ZERO. For anyone that thinks Kira should've taken that role... yeah, no one is going to follow a 17 YO's lead. He should be that person next year though.

We all complained about Avery's weird rotation of players. My understanding of this was out of pure frustration as communication on the team wasn't very good and he kept trying to find ANY 5 that could play in sync. Rarely did we have more that 3 players have a really good game within the same game. You can blame that on team chemistry.

Friday, March 22, 2019

Head Coaching Wish List

I previously said I would not discuss this topic until and if we have an opening.  While it's not official, with the news breaking that we are negotiating Coach Johnson's buyout, I think it's obvious he's not coming back and it's now an appropriate time to have this conversation.

First of all, I am saddened that things didn't work out with Coach Johnson.  I appreciate his relentless recruiting and marketing efforts, and he seems like a genuinely good guy.  Our program is in much better shape, and it should be a much more attractive job than when he found it 4 years ago.   To Coach Avery Johnson, I say Thank you for your service to this program and our University, and I wish nothing but the best for you and your family in the future.

Before I get to my list of names, let's take a quick, honest look at the pros and cons of our job opening. 

Pros:  1) We can and will pay top dollar.  We are loaded.  Thanks largely to Nick Saban and football, we have one of the most profitable athletic departments in the country.

2) We return a talented roster.  At least on paper, we are only losing Riley and Donta from a team that missed the NCAA tournament by one spot, and we have a top 20 recruiting class signed.  The new candidate will have a lot to work with and should be able to hit the ground running.

3) Facilities- We can sell a potential coach on the commitment to the program by pointing to the planned renovations and facility upgrades.

4) We have an AD who loves basketball and has a strong background with good hoops programs.

Cons: 1)  It's fair to question our Board's commitment to the program by pointing out that we are only renovating rather than re-building, and even that is being pushed back to phase 2 and contingent upon fundraising success.  Before reaching out to the top names on my list below, I would announce that we are moving the renovations into phase 1.  I would love it if we also announced we are building a new arena, but I know that's not realistic at this point. 

2) Football- it's a double-edged sword.  A lot of coaches have big egos, and no matter what you do here, you won't be the big dog on campus at least for the foreseeable future. 

3) Expectations- We have a small but passionate and knowledgeable fan base that expects to be in the NCAA tournament more often than not.  The reality is we play in a very competitive conference with many already established program, and we haven't been a consistent NCAA tournament team in over two decades. 

Other schools with a current opening include UCLA, Texas A&M, Nebraska, and Vanderbilt.  LSU may soon have one.  I think we are as attractive as any of them with the exception of UCLA.  Texas A&M can likely outbid us with their oil money if they choose to do so.

Now, I'm going to list these in order of my personal preference, with some comments on their resume and the likelihood of us being able to land them.  Hit the break for more...

Alabama Negotiating Buyout With Avery Johnson

It appears the Avery Johnson era at the University of Alabama is coming to an end. Multiple outlets are reporting that the university and Johnson are negotiating the terms of his buyout. This seemed inevitable following yet another late-season collapse, plus a dispiriting loss in the first game of the NIT. Steve Prohm, an Alabama alum and current head coach at Iowa State, is expected to be the favorite for the job. Feel free to share your coaching wishlist in the comment section.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Norfolk it all, NSU Spartans 80 Alabama 79

This roller coaster season mercifully came to an end with an overtime loss in the first round of the NIT tournament.  Alabama wraps up the campaign with an 18-16 record. 

I didn't go to this game.  Work obligations, the general admission seating situation, my inability to get reserved floor seats, and an unprecedented level of personal apathy all added up to make it not worth my while.  I haven't seen a box score yet so this recap is going to be quick and short on stats.  I doubt many of you care much about this game anyway. 

We started slow and fell down early, so CAJ called a timeout and did a line-change substitution that proved to be effective for a time.  We evened up the score and the game went back and forth through much of the first half, despite our usual sloppy play leading to at least 9 turnovers. 

Alex Reese went off for 14 straight points on a run that gave us a double-digit lead.  We maintained a 7 point advantage at the half.  After stretching the lead to 10 again, we stayed in the zone too long and allowed the Spartans to bomb their way back in it from 3.  With the game tied in the final seconds, Donta went for a block and allowed a wide open put back opportunity that they missed to send it to overtime. 

We continued to have issues rebounding the ball, dribbling or passing the ball, and defending the 3 point line as NSU was able to take a 5 point lead late in the overtime period.  Herb and JP made some great plays down the stretch to keep it close, and NSU even gave us the ball on a turnover in the final 10 seconds with a chance to win the game, but Riley's shot came up just short and that was that. 

Donta was mostly a non-factor till the overtime period despite them not having anybody over 6'8."  We stunk it up from the free throw line again. 

Kudos and thanks to the fans who showed up to support this team in their final game tonight.  Up next, the off-season, and with rumors abound, it promises to be an exciting one.  We'll try to post any breaking news as we hear it, and I'll have my annual end-of-the-season/state of the program manifesto up at some point in the coming weeks.  Otherwise, enjoy the off-season.