Wednesday, June 09, 2021

Update on this board

Hey all... after some deliberation I decided that going forward I'm pulling myself from this board minus maybe a few first person views from whatever games I attend. I have been busy with work, kids, side gigs, and other projects which does not leave much time to give this site the attention it deserves. As I get older I find it tougher to juggle multiple things... and I want to call it quits before Coach K does.

This board will be live at least through next season since I already paid up. I like to thank all of the folks that helped write on this board and all of those that have visited this corner of the web. I hope the others (Double T, DJC, and a returning MS... maybe) continue to post updates, previews, and recaps. If they add new voices that would be great as well.

It's kind of ironic that this board opened in 2006 after our 2nd round loss to UCLA... and I depart with a 3rd round loss to the same school 15 years later. Anyways, I have enjoyed keeping this board up most of the time... minus last year where it was obvious to me that I just did not have the passion to keep going.

I'll be at a few neutral site games this year (Orlando and Seattle) so if you are at either and see a long haired, semi-greyed beard dude trying to call timeouts for the coach you have found me.

Maybe I was the curse... who knew when I started this thing we'd only go to 4 NCAATs in that time. 

I'm about 3 months late, but I'll say this... if we somehow pull off that UCLA game IMO we are playing Baylor (and getting curb stomped just the same as Gonzaga) in Indy. Oh well... I thought that was our lost opportunity for a Final Four, but I can see a repeat dominant run next season and maybe we finally break through. 

Friday, June 04, 2021

2021-22 Schedule Updates

 Hi, everyone. Long time no write. Just dropping in to update what we know so far about the schedule next season.

Houston will come to Tuscaloosa this season after the game had to be canceled last season in the wake of the Covid disruptions. Kelvin Sampson has completely rebuilt the Houston program, resulting in a Final Four run and a top five KenPom finish last season. This is part of a home-and-home agreement so Alabama will return the favor in the 22-23 season.

Another big home-and-home series for Alabama this season will be Gonzaga. The Zags were the national runner-ups for the second time in four seasons a year ago, and have elevated themselves to one of the top programs in the sport. Both games will be at neutral sites, with Alabama traveling to Seattle this season, and the Zags making a return trip to Birmingham in 22-23. Based on the style of play of both programs, this should be a really fun game.

Our guys will travel to Orlando in November for the Orlando Invitational. Other teams in the event are Kansas, Miami, Iona, Drake, Dayton, Belmont, and North Texas. Five of the seven teams reached the NCAA Tournament last season. Belmont did not reach a postseason tournament last season despite a 26-4 record. Dayton is coached by former Alabama coach Anthony Grant.

In July of 2020 the university announced that Alabama and Memphis had agreed to play three games - an exhibition in Memphis in 20-21, and a home-and-home the following seasons. The exhibition was canceled due to Covid, but what the status of the series going forward is unknown. 

Alabama will also take part in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge this season. The matchups haven't been named yet.

So that's 6 - maybe 7 - games we know of. Two of them against 2021 Final Four teams. Assuming the team plays a 12/13 game non-conference schedule, my guess is the remaining games left on the schedule will be of the buy-game variety.

I hope everyone is doing well. Take care of yourselves. Roll Tide! 

 

Thursday, April 08, 2021

Tide Lands 2 Big Recruits

  In the span of just two days, Nate Oats and staff have managed to obtain commitments from two major names to add to the 21-22 Alabama team roster. The first comes in the form of 6’10 Canadian C Charles Bediako. Bediako always hovered between the 4 and 5 star lines but ultimately the rating didn’t matter. Bediako chose the Tide over the likes of Michigan, Duke, Ohio State and Texas. That alone is enough to understand just how valuable the commitment is. Bediako brings a freakishly athletic presence to the post for Alabama as well as a shot blocking presence that the Tide desperately needed during its recent Sweet 16 run. Bediako runs the floor well and has a high motor. Look for him to instantly contend for minutes the moment he dons the Crimson Tide uniform. 

 Just today Alabama received a commitment from former 5 star McDonald’s All American Nimari Burnett. Alabama was considered a heavy favorite for Burnett last season before he chose to take his talents to Lubbock at the 11th hour. There he averaged about 6 PPG and struggled to find a role in Chris Beard’s offense. However,  Burnett did manage to play impressive defense and show an uncanny ability to get to the free throw line in spurts while converting nearly 90% of his attempts. The 6’5 combo guard will continue to get stronger in Tuscaloosa and that should translate to success in the lane and the FT line. Alabama fans should be most excited to see him play defense in my opinion. He has the same shutdown ability of someone like Keon Ellis. 

 Burnett’s selection puts Alabama one over the scholarship limit and speculation runs amok about the ramifications. There are many possibilities such as Quinerly declaring for the draft (though he adamantly denied that possibility via his Twitter feed), a transfer of a player such as Rojas, Wilson or Keon Ambrose-Hylton has been mentioned- as has a redshirt for Jusaun Holt or an incoming player being granted a release though nothing should be taken as fact. The announcement of Noah Gurley could throw yet another wrinkle into that fold as Alabama is HEAVILY in the mix for the talented F. Gurley plans to make his announcement this coming Sunday. 

Saturday, April 03, 2021

Thank You, Herbert Jones

  In this mini-series of articles I’ll be offering homage to the players that we here at BAMAHOOPS.com and many other fans believe have helped forever change the culture of Alabama basketball. These players were major contributors as Alabama won the SEC Championship, the SEC Tournament Championship and reached the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2004. 

 First up is Herbert Jones. Jones came in to Tuscaloosa as a somewhat late offer in Avery Jones’ signature class. Herbert was wiry and raw, yet outworked his teammates on day 1 and beyond. Though Jones struggled offensively at times during his Alabama career-he never let it effect his effort in the gym and the defensive end of the floor. He was the first one on the floor when there was a loose ball. Herbert typically drew the assignment of guarding the opposing teams best offensive threat...and loved it. Jones had many unforgettable moments in his Alabama career, but he began to garner national attention on the day that he completely shut down now Atlanta Hawk star Trey Young when he was a PG at Oklahoma. Alabama went on to win that day on its way to the 2018 NCAA Tournament. Jones’ remarkable effort on the defensive end was a major catalyst for that signature win. 

 While Jones was always known for bringing the lunch pail to work night in and night out, his game didn’t completely flourish offensively until this most recent season...his senior campaign. All of Herbert’s numbers made a jump and, not by coincidence, Alabama did as well. He was never quite known as a great FT shooter regardless of being responsible for one of the most iconic moments in the history of the program when an injured Herbert Jones managed to knock down two game clinching FTs against LSU with his off-hand while his shooting hand was in a cast. Though much was made of his missing a couple of late ones against UCLA, Jones managed to hit the gym this past summer and therefore post a 74% FT conversation rate during the 20-21 season. The same could be said for his 3 PT %. Having never been known as a threat behind the arc-Jones improved to a 35% 3 PT shooter this season and therefore forced defenders to respect his ability to shoot. So much so that it might’ve won Alabama the SEC Tournament Championship as LSU F Trendon Watford certainly seemed concern that Herb might shoot just before Jones blew by him for a clutch, banner winning layup. 

 The examples I provided only scratch the surface of what made Herbert Jones a player that helped transform Alabama into a national basketball name again. The truth of the matter is that Jones will be more remembered for the plays that never showed up on the stat sheet. More often than not, it was Herb wearing the coveted hard hat given out by Coach Nate Oats after each Alabama win. Herb easily set a school record for charges taken as he became synonymous with the hard hat identity. Coach Oats worked tirelessly to inspire a blue collar mentality into this program...and Herbert Jones will long be known as the embodiment of “Blue Collar Basketball.”

Thursday, April 01, 2021

A couple maintenance updates and Roy Williams retiring

Heads up, this site may transition back to bamahoops.blogspot.com sometime in the next few weeks. bamahoops.com will not redirect so keep that in mind if you log in and can't find the site. It might revert back to bamahoops.com, but in a transition so want to make sure the site stays up in some fashion.

Also, Roy Williams calls it a career.... he was looking really old this year and I have to assume it factored into it. I suspect Oats will get a look (he is chummy with Coach K) despite his contract extension/raise. Carolina is one of the few schools that can afford him... but I don't think there is much to worry about here.

Monday, March 29, 2021

Bruins Bust Bama's Bracket, UCLA 88 Alabama 78 (OT)

 



It was a combination of bad free throw shooting and the old adage of the team that makes the comebacks doesn't have enough gas to get over the mountaintop in the end.  An incredible season for the SEC regular season and tournament champions came to a disappointing end at the hands of a very good UCLA Bruins team.

We got off to another slow start with UCLA jumping out to a7-2 lead.  Then we went on a run and actually had a fairly comfortable lead, if only for a few brief moments.  Overall the 3s weren't falling, and UCLA was finding ways to score in their half court set.  The Bruins made some tightly contested 3s with the shot clock expiring down the stretch in the first half to maintain their lead, and were up by 11 going into the half.

We made some adjustments on defense and shut them down in the second half.  They didn't score until 6 minutes in, and by that time we had entirely chipped away their lead.  Unfortunately, we could never go up by more than a possession on our own.  The game slogged back and forth, with them going up by 5 or 6 and us tying it or taking a one or two point lead.  It felt like we were playing catchup the whole game, and that eventually wore us down.

The shots weren't falling.  We only made 25% from 3 point range.  The Bruins were slightly better and even shot one more than we did, as I think we put an emphasis on trying to drive once we realized we weren't hitting from the perimeter.  The real story of the night was at the charity stripe.  Both teams shot 25 free throws, though many of UCLA's were late in overtime after the game was already decided.  They made 20/25, we were a horrendous 11/25.  It's frustrating to lose a game that way, but we were a decent free throw shooting team all year, off nights happen.  

My heart is hurting for Herb Jones more than anything else tonight.  We would not be anywhere near this position if not for him.  He picked up two quick charging fouls in the first minute of the game.  From my vantage point in the top row of the arena, I though the defender flopped on the first one, but the second one was a good call.  I know he's beating himself up about going 1 of 4 from the line at the end of regulation, but again, these things happen, and he appeared to hurt his leg prior to his last 2 misses.  

Alex Reese gave us a second chance after those misses with a game-tying buzzer beater at the end or regulation.  I thought that was a great call by Coach Nate Oats, and a great decision by Q to get him the ball.  They knew we had to go for 3 so everyone would be tightly contested behind the arc, but Alex has the size to get a good look regardless.  

You have to give UCLA a lot of credit for the way they responded in overtime.  They had us down several times and we kept fighting back, but they always had an answer, even after Alex's heroics to end regulation.  

The overtime was a disaster.  We couldn't stop them, turned it over and gave them easy baskets, and then panicked and started shooting bad 3s prematurely, and topped it off by taking easy 2s when our only hope was to chuck 3s.  I think everyone just assumed we would get the W after surviving regulation, but hats off to the Bruins for finishing the game.

I thought all along that the sweet 16 was the ceiling for this team.  We were a very good, but not great team.  We were flawed, we didn't have a true PG or a dominant inside presence, but we made up for it with a lot of depth and interchangeable parts.  Expectations changed when we got a somewhat favorable draw, and then a clear path to the final Four seemed to emerge.  It's disappointing that it didn't work out that way, but it's easy to forget, the teams that you play in the later rounds are there because they won their way into that spot.  I think we all get too caught up in saying "oh we should beat an 11 seed," but when an 11 seed makes the sweet 16, they aren't an "11 seed" any  more, they are one of the final 16 teams standing in the tournament.  I won't be shocked if they beat Michigan.  

The crowd of only 1,100 or so was split about 60-40 in our favor, but UCLA gave a significant number of their tickets to students so it seemed like they were louder at times.  Both fan bases were into the game throughout and it was as great of an atmosphere as you could possibly have with limited capacity.

I'll have my usual post season manifesto up sometime in the next couple of weeks, but wanted to focus this post on the game.









I drove up Saturday, and yesterday morning I went to Knightsville, IN to visit the Hoosier gym, where the movie "Hoosiers" was filmed.  If you are a fan of the movie, I highly recommend paying them a visit.  There's a free tour that's very informative and interesting, and you can even shoot around on the floor.  It's only about a 30 minute drive from downtown Indy.

Up next,  the offseason!  There will be recruiting news and I'm sure transfers coming and going, but otherwise rest easy knowing that Bama basketball is back to relevancy.  


A disappointing loss to end a great season Bruins 88-78 in OT

Like Double T does a better job at previews, DJC does a better job of post game so read his for in depth analysis.

My takeaways:

- This loss hurts... BAD, but let's look back at this remarkable season. SEC regular season AND tournament champs
- If there is an "upside" I guess it saved me a bunch of money going to Indy for the Final Four (hotel, driving/flying, tickets, time off work, etc.)
- Critique... our guys were not ready for the moment. That is the only way I can explain the poor FT shooting. Hit just 50% and we win in regulation.

It is funny how things come full circle... I started this blog 15 years ago posting about our loss to UCLA and I'm probably done as a contributor after this loss. That doesn't mean the site shuts down as I hope DJC and TT (plus new blood) continue on, but for me my time is up as my passion for the game (not the team) is just not there like it used to be. Call that getting old I guess.

Anyways, let us hope this is a glimpse of the future of Bama hoops and not a blip on the radar.

Saturday, March 27, 2021

Game Preview: (2)Alabama vs (11) UCLA

 It’s the Sweet 16! Who would’ve thought that Alabama would be in this position exactly two years ago when Nate Oats was hired? We all knew the talent was there...we just had to put it together. Alabama will face the Bruins tomorrow for an opportunity to advance to the Elite 8 for the first time since 2004. Tip is set for 6:15 on TBS from Hinkle Field House. 

The Opponent: If you’re a stat buff, I invite you to check out Bobby’s latest entry which contains a link for all of UCLA’s stats. Mick Cronin’s Bruins have had a fair season in a PAC 12 that seems to be much deeper than anyone initially thought it to be. UCLA finished 4th in that conference and currently sit at 20-9. 

The Cronin hire was an odd one when it was originally announced, though I can’t say that I’m surprised to see the success he’s had. Cronin is a great basketball mind and UCLA will certainly provide the resources needed to maintain a well ran hoops program. The Bruins have 3 starters that average double figures in Juzang, Jaquez and Campbell. Two of those 3 were offered by Alabama during their high school days. Cronin does a great job using sets to get his shooters in positions for open looks and Campbell is a great distributor within the system. He was 2nd in the PAC 12 at 5.5 assists per game. The UCLA offense has been quite successful in this Sweet 16 run...but they haven’t faced anything like Alabama yet. Facing The 3rd ranked team in KENPOM’s defensive efficiency stat won’t be nearly the same as Abilene Christian. 

Players to Watch: Is there any doubt that the biggest X-Factor in this tournament is John Petty Jr? While Jahvon Quinerly has been virtually unguardable and Jaden Shackleford continues to quietly fill it up...it’s Petty that is capable of taking Alabama to a new atmosphere. There isn’t a team in America that would’ve beaten Alabama last weekend. Not Gonzaga. Not Baylor. Maryland played a great game, but the Tide was simply a buzzsaw that was clearly fueled by the momentum that Petty provides when he’s on. It’s almost as if his confidence rubs off on his teammates

  For UCLA- the choice has to be the aforementioned Juzang. The Kentucky transfer can score it in bunches. The 6’6 G now has 6 games on the season in which he’s scored 20 or more. Juzang will likely get a large dose of Herb Jones in his grill but Petty or Ellis could also handle the assignment. Mick Cronin loves to use off ball screens to free up Juzang for open looks. Alabama defenders could get burned if they choose the under route on said screens. 

My Thoughts: UCLA has had a great run. Has the competition been great in the NCAAT? Meh. They have the pedigree and the coach, however. Mick Cronin will have a gameplan. The man can coach and he’ll have the Bruins ready. However, none of it will matter if Alabama is shooting the ball nearly as close as what it was last weekend. I think we’ll cool off a bit but the Tide seems locked in thanks to the veteran leadership on the team. You can bet that Reese, Petty, Jones and Bruner will set the example once again. UCLA will play well...but the Tide is just too deep and too hungry. 

Prediction: Alabama 78, UCLA 70

Worst ever preview- Sweet Sixteen vs UCLA

If Double T puts one up after this then treat this one for what it is.

Here's a link if you want to read up on UCLA's season stats

UCLA is playing well, but they are not on our level. Unless we put on an offensive and defensive disaster 💩 show and they play out of their minds we will once again reach rarified air of the Elite 8... and a real chance to play next week. We really did not have a prayer against UConn in 2004... which is how I see UCLA tomorrow.

Anyways, after we 🚤🏃‍♀️ UCLA it is on to FSU (I think they beat Michigan handily) and that will be a war.

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Tide Topples Terrapins, Alabama 96 Maryland 77




On to the Sweet 16!  We got off to a bit of a slow start, but they ended up playing at our pace and just couldn't keep up.  We took control of the game about midway through the first half and never looked back. 

We switched up the starting lineup, going with Shack, Petty, Juwan, Herb, and Keon.  Jordan only played a couple of minutes and I'm wondering if his injury has regressed.  Q was huge off the bench with 14 points and 11 assists.  His dribble drive game has been on point so far this tourney.  JP's shot was back as he added 20, and Shack was our leading scorer with 21.  When the shots are falling this offense can light it up.  Maryland was content to enter a 3 point shooting contest with us, and they did fairly well, going 10 of 27, but it wasn't enough with us shooting nearly 50% at 16 of 33.  


We also dominated on the boards with 25 rebounds to 15.  Maryland only got 4 offensive rebounds, as they generally sent everyone back on defense as soon as they got a shot up.  I was surprised Turg stuck with this strategy, as it clearly wasn't working to slow the pace down like he hoped.



It was great to get Primo back and he gave us 10 points in 20 minutes.  Alex made some huge 3s that really opened things up for the guards.  He ended up with 13 points.  Juwan handled the dirty work, leading the team with 7 rebounds.  Herb got in foul trouble and ended up with only 6 points and 3 turnovers in 17 minutes.   It's a testament to the depth of this team that we can still win a second round NCAA tournament game by nearly 20 points with our MVP having an off night.  




Banker's Life Fieldhouse, home of the Indiana Pacers, is a really nice facility.  It felt like way less than 25% capacity though, there was nobody sitting in the upper level along the sideline behind us.  We probably had about 60% or so of the fans allowed in.  I felt like the atmosphere was much quieter than the first round game, maybe the larger and nicer arena just made people more comfortable and less intense.  We did get some cheers going later in the game and players as well as Coach Oats acknowledged the crowd at the end.


I've probably drove through Indy a couple of dozen times over the years going back and forth to Chicago, but this is the first I've really spent any time here.  It's actually a pretty cool city.  There's a bar/sportsbook a couple of blocks from my hotel, where I've made enough betting on the games to cover all of my expenses thus far.  Everything is within an easy walking distance, and there's plenty of sports bars and decent restaurants around.  The people have been friendly and they really know and love their basketball.  It's been a fun atmosphere with fans of so many different teams, and we are as well represented as anyone.  Michigan, Iowa, and Illinois before they got beat were probably the most fans I've seen.  Abilene Christian surprisingly brought a pretty good crowd.  I haven't seen the first LSU fan, and only a handful of Florida and Arkansas folks.

Up next, we're back at Hinkle for a sweet 16 matchup against the UCLA Bruins.  Tip off is set for 7:15 EDT Sunday.  

Monday, March 22, 2021

SWEET SIXTEEN BOUND! Bama crushes Terps 96-77

If Gary Williams was dead he'd be rolling over in his grave sweating profusely over how bad we beat the SNOT out of the Terps.

This was a total team effort. Real proud of this team!

I'll leave the real recap to DJC as he's just better at it... I'm just happy to be playing the 2nd week for the first time in 17 years.

Next up UCLA... and we owe them for 2006. 

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Pachyderms send Pitino Packing, Alabama 68 Iona 55

 


As expected, Iona was well prepared and had a good game plan for us.  Their big did a good job of protecting the rim when our guards beat their slower men off the dribble.  Instead of collapsing, they stayed with our shooters, forcing us to take fewer threes than normal.  In a nod to historical Hinkle arena, they even successfully ran the picket fence on us in the first half.  Our wings were not finishing at the rim, and they kept the pace slower than our liking.  The game was a back and forth slog, until a couple of 3s by Alex and a steal and dunk from Herb broke it open midway through the second half.  



I was disappointed with the way we finished the first half.  We had a 6 point lead late, and I was thinking we might be able to push it to double digits.  Instead we had a couple of costly turnovers that allowed them to get within a point.  We made an adjustment at halftime and started using our size advantage on the wings to post them up, but I thought this took us out of our tempo.  We had some success in the halfcourt when we spread the floor and let JQ take it on the dribble drive, as he was the only one able to finish at the rim.  



Defensively we were fantastic.  We controlled the boards and altered shots at the rim.  This is what allows us to be competitive when we are off of our game.   Regardless, at some point we are going to have to make a lot more than 5 threes, and shoot more than 16 of them, if we are going to make a deep run.  We also left a lot of points at the line, uncharacteristically shooting only 13 of 23.    We desperately need Petty to get out of his offensive funk, but give him credit for continuing to play great defense.  It's the reason we've got another game Monday night.  



Herb had 20 points and 6 rebounds.  JP and Shack both scored 10 each with JP pulling down 7 boards.  Q was also in double figures with 11.  Juwan Gary gave us 6 points and 4 rebounds in 20 minutes, and I thought he was a big factor with Jordan still appearing to be limited.  



Survive and Advance, that's what it's all about this time of the year and we accomplished that.  I was very fortunate to be one of the 1,300 or so fans allowed in to see this game.  Going to a game at Hinkle scratched an item off of my bucket list, and it did not disappoint.  This place is the Wrigley Field of college basketball.  It's a national historic landmark, and while it's seen many renovations over the years it still has that old school feel and charm to it.  Coleman Coliseum was actually based on the design of Hinkle, and you can see that somewhat with the barrel shaped roof that runs opposite of the court direction.  Hinkle now only holds around 9,000, down from it's original 15,000 capacity.  As you can see from my pics, even in the 300 level you weren't too high, though we were a little farther off of the court than we would have been in a more modern arena.  I really liked how the windows provide a lot of natural light, and they block the ones that would be in the eyes of the shooter.  The brick work and detailed architecture is amazing.  I suspect the concourses and restrooms/concessions might be a nightmare if it was at full capacity though.  

Unlike previous tournaments, tickets are only good for one game instead of two game sessions, and they spend a little over an hour cleaning the arenas between games.  As soon as our game was over they asked everyone to leave and started spraying everything down with disinfectant.  I do think we benefited from having 95% of the crowd cheering for Alabama, as in normal times all of the fans of the teams not involved would have been rooting for the underdogs.  

I will have more about the Indianapolis bubble experience when I recap the Maryland game.  I left Birmingham at 6 am Saturday morning and drove straight to Hinkle, so I really haven't explored the city much yet, but so far it's been a positive experience.

Up next, we go to Banker's Fieldhouse, home of the Indiana Pacers to play the Maryland Terrapins in the second round Monday night.  Tipoff is set for 8:45 pm EDT and will be televised on TNT.

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Game Preview: (2) Alabama vs (15) Iona

 Let’s dance! Alabama’s NCAA Tournament run begins this Saturday as the Tide will come into Hinkle Field House as the undisputed SEC Champions having won the regular season, the SEC Tournament and therefore earning a 2 seed. Alabama will meet the Iona Gaels of the MAAC coached by the legendary Rick Pitino. Tip is set for 3:00 Saturday on TBS. 

The Opponent:  Alabama comes in to this match up the prohibited favorites with a spread of 17. That doesn’t mean Iona should be taken lightly, however. They have championship pedigree with Pitino at the helm, but the Gaels have also reached the Dance for 4 consecutive years. Though Alabama is the more talented and athletic team, it’s possible that Iona could have an advantage in the mental preparedness department. Having said that, it’s hard to gauge Iona due to the mountain of cancellations brought on by Covid that the program faced this season. They did perform well against subpar competition in the MAAC and rank inside the top 3 of the conference in most offensive stats. KenPom paints a different picture, however. The Gaels have hovered around 200 in both the adjusted offense and defense categories all season. Scoring should not be an issue for Alabama unless it’s just an ice cold day from the field. 

Players to Watch: Iona is led by Senior G Isaiah Ross who scores about 18 PPG. That’s nothing to scoff at. He’s capable of carrying the team offensively so Alabama will have to keep Ross in check. 

Though the offense of Jahvon Quinerly and the leadership of Herbert Jones have been key to Alabama’s success of late...I have to go with John Petty. Bama is perfectly capable of making to the Sweet 16 with an average John Petty, but the team simply can’t perform near its ceiling unless Petty is scoring at a high level. His debut against Virginia Tech in the NCAA Tournament was one to remember. The Tide will need something similar to that John Petty if it has any aspirations of reaching the Final 4. Iona could be just the tune up he needs to get it going if things go the way they should. 

My Thoughts: Strictly from a talent standpoint, Iona may be the worst team that Alabama has played since East Tennessee State. This is still the NCAA Tournament and that man is still named Rick Pitino, however. Iona has seniors that have played good basketball this year. They’re not scared of this moment. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a somewhat close score at half. Ultimately, Alabama’s seniors will pull the team together and steer them in the right direction. I could see the Tide coming out and making a bold statement. As soon as the nerves settle, I believe that’s what we get. Bama advances

Prediction: Alabama 85, Iona 68

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Final Four guess

Here is mine:

West- Gonzaga
East- Alabama
South- Villanova (I still don't think Baylor is what they were earlier in the season)
Midwest- West Virginia (I can see the UTK/OK St winner taking out Illinois)

I won't go further as getting to the Final Four is all I ever wanted... everything else is gravy.

Sunday, March 14, 2021

UNDISPUTED "Championship School." Bama 80 LSU 79

 



To quote the great Coach John Doe, "I KNOW you missed me!"  I attended my first game of the season today to watch our team win its first SEC tournament championship in 30 years.  On a personal note, in the grand scheme of things I've been very fortunate throughout this pandemic.  I haven't caught the corona virus, haven't lost employment or significant income, and haven't lost any loved ones to illness.  However, not being able to attend Alabama basketball games has probably been the most difficult part.  The is the first season since I was in high school that I did not attend a regular season game.  I grew up in the days of the SEC tournament being known as the "Wimp Sanderson Invitational," and there was no way I was missing this.  

It was a physical, scrappy game between two teams that obviously didn't have their legs 100% under them.  I'm glad we don't play again until Saturday.  

We've struggled at times this year with slow starts, but wasted no time today in jumping out to an early 8-0 lead.  I was thinking and hoping it may go like the two previous games against those cheaters this year, but unfortunately they were having none of that.  We had 4 turnovers in a short span and the lead quickly evaporated.  The game seemed to turn when Keon went out with an injury and LSU took a lead.  We managed to scrap and keep it close and finished the half on a strong note to take a 40-37 lead into the half.  

It was a back and forth game with neither team taking full control.  LSU would go ahead by 2 possessions and we would quickly answer.  We would gain momentum and go up by 6 or so but they would answer.  We couldn't put them away.  I thought both teams looked fatigued at times but played hard and physical.  

With Primo out, Keon really stepped up playing 25 minutes despite coming out in the first half with an injury.  He had 14 points and played adequate defense even if not quite on Primo's level against some tough matchups.  

Speaking of touch matchups, I hate the guy as much as anybody, but you have to give Watford credit for his performance today.  He almost single-handedly won the game for them, and we had no answer for him in the second half.  I thought Alex actually did the best job on him in the first half when they were matched up, but nobody was stopping him down the stretch, until we finally did on the last possession.

Shack was the leading scorer with 21 points.  A key point in the game came about midway through the second half when he missed a midrange jumper, the cardinal sin in Coach Oats' system.  We took more midrange shots today than Coach would have liked, and he appeared livid on the sideline after each one.  I think that was a symptom of playing 3 games in the 3 days.  Anyway, after getting chewed out in a timeout for missing a midrange-J, Shack responded by knocking down a couple of 3s that seemed to remove the lid from the rim.  His scoring was the offensive spark we needed when we were struggling with our perimeter shots in the second half.

Juwan Gary played tough, pulling down 8 rebounds and scoring 8 points in 17 minutes.  His game has really improved over the course of the year, and he's becoming that rebounding/second chance points guy we need in the paint.  

Q scored 14 and despite making the all tournament team, I don't think people appreciate how good he's playing right now.  I like him more off the ball, but he has good court vision and is showing some quickness, good moves, and an ability to finish at the rim.  He was a McDonald's All American for a reason and that talent is starting to show now that he's recovered from the illness that set him back earlier this season.  He is a key component to a deep run this month.

Herb had 13 points (including the game winner), 11 rebounds, and 6 assists to only 2 turnovers.  He's really taken to the point forward position and is a great leader on this team.  I loved his quote about making this a "basketball school," which is referenced in the title of this post.  

My biggest takeaway from today, and from the season as a whole, is that this team, under great senior leadership from Herb, JP, and Alex, has developed a winning attitude.  When we are on, we are capable of blowing out decent teams because we play fast, shoot well, and have great depth.  More importantly, when the shots aren't falling, we clamp down on defense, and keep scrapping for rebounds and loose balls and do the little things it takes to win close games down the stretch.  We are regularly finding a way to grind out wins that would have been losses more often than not over the last decade or so.  We could very well lose in the first round in a close game next weekend, that's the nature of the tournament, but even if that happens it won't change the fact that the culture here has changed.

JP has been in a bit of a slump, and I  wish we would run some sets to get him some more shots.  I feel like we need him to shoot his way out of this slump to be a serious contender.  Jordan still doesn't seem to be 100%, we will need him to continue to improve.  If he gets back to his pre-injury production we could hang with anyone in the tournament.

As with most things this season, it was a weird atmosphere for an SEC tournament game.  It was nice being able to park right next to the arena and grab a bite an hour before the game across the street with no wait.  It was odd not being surrounded by a sea of Kentucky blue.  They only sold about 3,000 or so tickets, and I would guess maybe only 2,000ish were used.  We had upper level seats but moved to the lower level with no problems.  Some of the unsold seats were blocked off, but oddly it was random, there were entire rows that weren't blocked off.  There was a small section of LSU fans behind their bench, but otherwise we had close to 85% of the fans.  It was relatively loud given the limited attendance, and we had several students there who led cheers that the whole arena followed along with.  I will admit I was straight up acting a fool, between (unsuccessfully) taunting Trendon Watford, missing all the previous games this season, and it being our first tournament championship in 30 years...I don't have much of a voice left.  

Up next, we go to Indy to play the Iona Gaels in the first round of the NCAA tournament next Saturday at 3pm Central on TBS.  I fear this will be a difficult game.  Whatever you think about Pitino, he can flat out coach and I openly advocated for us hiring him two years ago.  Here's hoping that Coach Oats and crew can prove me wrong once again.  I'm planning to make the long drive and will post an update when I can.



Enjoy this, fellow Bama Basketball fans.  We are the UNDSIPUTED SEC CHAMPIONS, and there's more to come.  ROLL TIDE!


SEC Tourney champs! 80-79 nailbiter

Box Score

I'll reflect more tomorrow, but this should give us a 1 seed.
End of the game Watford should have been called for a backcourt violation and those shots would have taken a few years off my life. 

Also, congrats to Georgetown and Iona... and their coaches Patrick Ewing and Rick Pitino. Good to see both in the tourney, but hopefully not matched against us.

Saturday, March 13, 2021

SECT Championship Preview: (5) Alabama vs LSU

  A day long in the making is upon us. After an exhilarating 15 point come back win over Tennessee-the SEC regular season champion and #1 seed Alabama will play LSU for the SEC Tournament Championship tomorrow. An Alabama win would earn it’s first SECT Championship banner since 91 and a potential shot at a number 1 seed for the NCAA Tournament. Tip is set for Noon on ESPN. 

The Opponent: Alabama has trounced LSU twice this season. On one hand, we know Alabama is the better team here. On the other, you have to be concerned of the galvanizing effect that embarrassing losses can have on a team. LSU is loaded with talent on the offensive end. Cam Thomas can score at will and he has plenty of teammates that can fill up the scoring column. Will Wade’s problem has been motivating his team to play defense, however. The Tigers answered the bell today in a big win over Arkansas to end the Hogs’ 12 game win streak. It’s not as easy for Arkansas when they’re  not +20 at the free throw line apparently. Imagine that. I digress. I think the Tide will need a good start tomorrow as LSU isn’t a very mentally tough team. Motivation shouldn’t be an issue for either team with a championship on the line but LSU has been know to fold when facing adversity

Players to Watch: Hard not to include the aforementioned Cam Thomas. Offensively, the kid is ready for the NBA right now in my opinion. However, like many freshman, he loses motivation on the defensive side at times. Thomas and Watford will likely get their points but Tide fans should hope for the same defensive effort that those 2 have given in the previous 2 games. Alabama had its fair shape of open layups and looks from 3 as these two lost interest. 

There are so many players playing at a high level for Alabama right now. The team has taken it up yet another notch since Jahvon Quinerly got his legs back under him after missing time with an illness. He’s been practically unguardable while reaching double digits in the last 11 games. He should have ample opportunity to get out in space to score and facilitate as Alabama has had great success with spacing the floor against LSU twice this season. Having said that, he’ll likely be matched up with Javontae Smart at times tomorrow. Quinerly’s defense will be equally important as Smart can be quite the difference maker if he gets going. 

My Thoughts: Alabama is 23-6 with a chance to be both SEC regular season and SEC Tournament champions. That’s an incredible thought to process and you know the players are channeling some strong emotions. The team will have to channel those emotions in a positive manner . Alabama doesn’t need to come out overly aggressive on the defensive end and find itself in foul trouble due to reaching or over the back rebounding, etc. The Tide has to keep the pace up, make shots, turn defense into offense and force LSU to try and keep up. I have a feeling that LSU comes out hot and leads a big portion of this game. That could spell trouble if the Crimson Tide have another cold day from the perimeter. But Alabama has begun to thrive in that challenging position. The Tide eventually gets a lead and LSU won’t be able to fight off the familiar sense of dread. I think we see another net cutting ceremony for Alabama. 

Prediction: Alabama 84, LSU 72

Survived! On our way to 1st SECT Championship in 19 years- 73-68

Box score

Defense saved the day... horrible from beyond the arc and forced a lot of bad shots on the offensive end.
Herbert had a double-double (20/13), but also forced quite a few shots.
Quinerly was the star of the game with his dribble drive and smooth stroke.
FT shooting was also the star (everyone was perfect except Herbert who was 8/11)... 16/19

Next up... the winner of LSU and Arkansas. 

Friday, March 12, 2021

UTK game open thread

I think this will be another asskicking as I think this team is on a mission to DOMINATE!
Bama by 15 on our way to the 1st SECT finals since 2002.

Mi$$ St game open thread

Posting for comments.
Prediction... PAIN!

As we stroll to the finals of the SECT.