Saturday, December 30, 2006

Tide struggles early, pull away late from the Bisons

Led by Mykal Riley with 21 points, Alabama pulls away late for a comfortable 80-58 win over the Bisons (shouldn't it be Bison?).
Box Score

The game was much closer than the score indicates... we only led by 5 with 8 minutes to go before pulling away. Hendrix had another double-double (18/11) and Davidson came close (16/9). Steele is still not himself, but he did log 37 minutes (too many if you ask me, but he must be feeling better) and finished with 8 points and 6 assists (and 3 TOs).

Scott Sanderson (son of Wimp) had his kids ready to play. Libscomb put up a fight... like they've done against other SEC competition (Vandy and South Carolina). This was a good win... and a nice tune up to the Oklahoma game on New Years Day.

The good:
- Only 9 turnovers. That might be a season low (haven't checked).
- Shot the ball well (27-53 FG, 10-23 3Pt FG, and 16-21 FT)
- Outrebounded the Bisons (still doesn't sound right) 36 to 23

The bad:
- 4 starters logged 33 minutes or more. This isn't supposed to happen. Minutes should be more evenly distributed in a game like this.
- Addendum to above... not enough time for Hollinger and Torrance at the point. I think this will bite us in the ass later in the year.
- Gee was way off tonight... although he did other things well that don't show up in the box score.

I'm going to gripe for a minute... CMG has got to get the bench more involed in the game. It's not like last year when we only had 2 viable options (some would say 1) off the bench. We have some good talent (Hollinger, Torrance, Jemison, Coleman, Tubbs), but only get 14 minutes for MT, DJ, YC, and JT. If we don't get the bench involved in games like this, how are they to gain experience?

I forgot to add this little nugget about Cloyd possibly transferring. Strange considering all the effort to get him cleared.

Alabama freshman guard Verice Cloyd was not in attendance at the game Friday. Gottfried addressed the media following the game stating Cloyd is considering a transfer.

“Verice Cloyd wasn’t with us tonight. He’s contemplating transfering. Like a lot of young players, he wants to play. Playing time is a real issue there. We are going to do everything we can to help him. He has 18 hours under his belt here at Christmas of his first year of college. He has a 2.7 GPA. He has been very, very good academically. If he chooses to transfer, we will help him in any way we can. He’s been very, very good here with us but kids want to play. I have no problems helping guys with those decisions.”

Cloyd transfering?

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Lipscomb stats pack

They're 0-2 vs the SEC so far... make that 0-3 after Friday.
Bisons stats pack

Three guys log 30 minutes per game (Trey Williams, Brian Fisk, and Eddie Ard). They're 8-4 with 3 losses coming to Vandy, South Carolina (both close) and Missouri (a blowout).

The stats:
- 41% from the field
- 34% from 3 (Fisk and Williams are both over 40% and take most of the 3s)
- 70% from the line
- Outrebounded by roughly 2.5 per game
- Tallest player that sees the court regularly is 6'8" (Thomas Pfarr). I expect another monster game by Hendrix.

Former Crimson Tide walk-on LaKory Daniels is getting 14 MPG with Lipscomb. I don't remember him to be honest. Link to his bio.

Gametime is Friday at 8PM EST (7 CST) on CSS. I have to check if directv is getting the feed or not. Chances are I'm stuck with internet radio.

Prediction- Alabama by 13. I expect it to be somewhat close throughout the 1st half.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

SEC week in review (12/18-12/24)

Tennessee had a big week... first they knock off Oklahoma State and then come back from a 15 point deficit (from memory... I might be off a few points) to beat Texas. Right now they're the 3rd best team in the SEC.

Florida demolished Ohio State... when the Gators are on their game there's no one that can beat them. NO ONE!

Arkansas continues to lose. Texas beats them in a close game. Stan Heath is still sooo fired.

Washington manhandles LSU. I've said from the beginning this is an overrated Bengal Tiger squad.

Auburn plays A&M close... until tipoff. Also, UGA goes down to Tech.

A better non-conference showing for the SEC. Let's see what happens this week.

Dec 28th:
- UGA goes to undefeated Clemson.

Dec 30th:
- Miss St goes to George Mason. GMU isn't very good, but it should still be a tough game.
- Florida gets to paste UAB

Dec 31st:
- UGA has Wisconsin at home. I think the Badgers are overrated (like their football team).

Jan 1st:
- Alabama gets Oklahoma at Coleman. I'll comment on this game as it gets closer.

Weak week... but that's to be expect this time of year.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

The best game we've played start to finish. Coppin State blowout.

I can't complain about anything in this game. I tried to at the end, but a last second shot allowed the team to double Coppin State.
Box score

Gee couldn't miss, Hendrix dominated inside, Steele was perfect from the field, and Davidson played well considering all the off the court things he's had to deal with. This is what I was hoping for today.

The good:
- Rebounding (51-19), shooting from the field (61%), and from 3 (50%)
- Everyone got to play and we got much needed PT for Hollinger and Torrance at the point.
- Gee led the team in minutes played with 25.
- FT shooting... minus Coleman (1-4). The rest of the team was perfect (9-9).

The bad:
- Turnovers... not a big deal today as this game was a laugher early.
- We didn't get Dill and Sellers on the board. Everyone else scored.

All in all, this is what the doctor ordered. Great play and getting the bench some PT.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Coppin State stats pack

I think this is the worst team we'll see this season. They are AUful.
Coppin State stats pack

The Eagles are undefeated at home (1-0... with 224 in attendance) and did play Kansas State somewhat competitive in Manhattan, but overall... yuck. Virginia Tech beat them by 50... OUCH!

Tywain McKee seems to be their only offensive option... he's averaging 19.4 PPG. He's also 2nd in rebounds (4.4) and leads the team in assists (33), steals (17) and turnovers (42).

As a team they shoot 40% from the field, 33% from 3, 65% from the line, and are dominated on the boards by an average of 11 per game. Hendrix, Davidson (if he plays), Gee, Coleman, and Mark's Madness should have a field day down inside.

All signs point to blowout. This game should be over by halftime... that way Steele can sit and we can get some much needed experience for Hollinger and Torrance (where is he) at the point. Heck, we should be able to empty the bench by the 5 minute mark of the 2nd half. Prediction- Alabama by 35.

Gametime is 3PM EST (2 Central) tomorrow afternoon.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

YAY! Hendrix dominates inside to lead us past the Wolfpack

Led by Hendrix's 23 points and 12 board the Crimson Tide hold back a late comeback by NC State (I'll comment on the comeback later).
Box Score

First, I'll comment on individual players:

Davidson- he's on a game, off a game. He's got to be more consistent than that. Oh yeah, STOP SHOOTING FROM BEYOND 15 FEET!
Hendrix- a monster game. He led us in the 1st half and then some.
Gee- flashes of brilliance, but for the most part neutralized.
Steele- better than I expected. Still not the RS we know... someone carry him to classes.
Riley- solid. Check that... very good.
Hollinger- arrgh. Frustrating at the end... ok up to about the 5 minute mark of the 2nd half.

The good:
- Had a 21 point lead on the road
- Dominated the boards
- Shot well from the field (27/59) and beyond the arc (7/15)

The bad:
- Turnovers... this is becoming a broken record
- Losing focus late in the game. A scrappy Wolfpack team made it more than interesting in the final minutes.

The late comeback by NC State... give Lowe's team credit for never quitting. They went hard after every pass and defended every shot (maybe too well if you know what I mean), but we got to be able to handle pressure. Hollinger shooting FTs down the stretch is something we should avoid like the plague. He's a PG and should shoot FTs like one... and handle the ball better.

I'm confused on substitutions now... Jemison was getting some PT, but now Coleman and Tubbs has surpassed him. I don't remember Jemison playing all that bad.

Oh yeah, someone put out an APB on Torrance. Did I miss an injury? I guess so. If he's not hurt, him and BH should split time as the backup PG.

NC State has more talent than I thought... and IMO should finish middle of the pack in the ACC. In the end it's a road win and I'll take it... I just wish we could coasted when we had the chance to.

Alias has issues logging in so here's his take (in blue):

This looked like a Joe Kines' sort of game: bend but don't break. Bama started strong and closed confused, but won a big game on the road.

The previous two seasons Bama tended to start cold and eventually warm its way into a game. This year they seem to start hot and then cold down. Perhaps that is attributable to all the youth on this team. I suspect that they get excited, and perhaps tired, as the game progresses and lose their focus on the things that got them the lead.

They also might have problems adjusting as games progress simply because they are young and inexperienced. These things do happen. Especially when you have only one junior and one senior on your team.

Other than Hollinger, Bama shot much better at the line tonight. Other than the last three minutes, Bama defended the three very well tonight. And several of those late threes were shot from the parking lot and/or off balanced in a hurry up manner. This was not just bad defense tonight.

Another huge plus is that Bama won a hack and claw game on the road. I didn't see a single charge called, even though both teams committed several. Few of the hacks and slashes were called, either under the basket or out on the floor. And for the second game in a row the opponents were allowed to push, slap and grab our guards all over the court. Our kids responded well and showed improvement. They need games like this one to keep improving in those areas.

Sure, Gee picked up his standard three silly reach in fouls. Sure, the officials did not call any of those touch fouls on NC State until they were trying to send us to the line. But Gee gets three per game regardless.

Bama did not wilt under the pressure. Instead, they showed they could begin to learn to play back in an aggressive, hacking manner. Our big guys got away with murder under the bucket, especially after they saw the officials were letting NCS do the same think on the other end.

We do need to do a better job of denying the ball in low. We won't be able to block shots by our SEC opponents. But they did what they had to do under the basket tonight.

Another big plus, Bama defended the three well. We had some break downs in the last few minutes. That happened after Davidson had fouled out and Steele was off the floor having his knee tended. Hollinger had a couple of problems handling the ball, but in fairness to him the officials were letting State get away with a good deal of pushing and hacking there at the end.

Bama committed three or four turnovers and missed 4 or 5 free throws during State's run at the end of the game. (Two turnovers and three missed free throws on My Man Hollinger.) They only had a few real break downs on defense during that run that were not attributable to kids like Coleman being in the game. But with their backs to the wall, all of State's shots dropping through the net, legitimate ball handling problems, and unfriendly officials, Bama still found a way to maintain their composure and hold on to win the game. Getting frazzled at the end might end up being as good a teaching tool as the butt-kicking they suffered at Notre Dame. Time will tell.

This was a good win. A solid win against a decent team. It beats the pants off of any "quality" loss. It also gives our kids some more experience that will help the younger players toward the end of the season.

I do think the coaches need to teach our kids how to get open runs at the basket when the defense extends out on the floor the way NCS and USM did. I'd be glad to tell them how if I only knew. And it was good to see everyone (except Davidson) shooting well tonight.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

NC State stats pack

Led by their 7th choice for head coach Sydney Lowe.
Wolfpack stats pack

Their 2 losses were on the road to West Virginia and Virginia... undefeated at home, but generally unimpressive. They played 6 against Mount St. Mary's and shouldn't go deeper than 7. They get Trevor Ferguson (transfer from Pitt) on the court for the first time against us. Watch him have a monster game... ugh.

They shoot 51% from the field, 32% from 3, and are 73% from the charity stripe. They don't rebound especially well (tallest guy playing is Costner at 6'8") so we really should be able to dominate inside (I know I've said this many times already, but we really should).

Prediction- we got to win one on the road and this is our best shot. This is a depleted Wolfpack squad with a first year head coach and not a whole lot of talent. Alabama scares the crap out of me, but wins by 3.

Gametime is 6:30PM EST tomorrow night on Fox Sports South (channel 630 on directv).

Monday, December 18, 2006

This week in the SEC

I'll try to make this a regular thing. It all depends on how much time I have. I'm keeping it to the SEC vs "name teams."

LSU wins at Oregon State 60-53. The Beavers stink, but it's a road win.

- UGA upset Gonzaga 96-83... big win for the SEC. The Dawgs are 7-1.
- Arkansas gets manhandled by Texas Tech in Little Rock 71-56. That's 2 bad losses (the other was an asskicking by Missouri). I firmly believe that Stan Heath will be fired at the end of the season. It's one year too late.
- Kentucky continues their recent dominance over Louisville 61-49. Louisville isn't very good... Pitino should've kept the basketball program in C-USA (g). Regardless, Kentucky seems to be improving... although I still think they're the 4th best team in their division.
- Ole Miss beats South Alabama (this is the exception to the "name school" but worth mentioning) in the 1st game of the Coors Classic 82-72. Rebels are 9-2 (losses to UConn and Memphis).

Mississippi State wins at Miami 70-52. Any road win is a good one.

Upcoming big games in the SEC:
12/18 (tonight)- Tennessee faces undefeated Oklahoma State in Nashville.
12/20- Arkansas plays Texas, LSU goes to Washington, and we go to Raleigh to play NC State.
12/22- Auburn plays Texas A&M, Kentucky has UMass, and UGA goes to GA Tech.
12/23- Texas plays Tennessee (did we invite the Longhorns to the SEC?) and Ohio State comes to Florida.
This week will tell us how good the SEC as a conference is. So far it's been disappointing.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Second Add On for USM

Here are my good friend DJC's thoughts on the USM game. The kid is at least 25 years younger than I am and he's complaining about the drive. Sheesh! :-)

Add on to the USM review below

Box Score
Alias gave a great report below. That's as detailed as anything I've read. Thanks for that.

The good:
1) JD had a monster game... fell one blocked shot short of a triple-double (25/11/9). I believe the great Roy Rogers is the only player in Alabama history to do that (and I believe he did it twice).
2) Held USM to 31% from the field and outrebounded them 40-31.
3) Justin Tubbs... did we find our outside threat?

The bad:
1) Turnovers- 18 is way too much.
2) Let USM back in the game late. We got to finish off teams.

Overall a sloppy game played by both, but a good win for the team. Someone tell me why Hollinger played 37 minutes to Torrance's 10. Maybe I missed an injury or something.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Plucking Golden Eagles!

Okay, so it's not much of a banner line, but I am tired and have a bad cold. Maybe I'll do better next time.

These were the best seats I've ever had at a basketball game. We were just left of mid-court sitting five rows behind Chris Stewart and Tom Roberts. I haven't had seats like this since my friends and I used to sit right behind the basket as students.

Unfortunately, I don't think Mrs. Alias will ever attend another game with me. That crowd was duller than a wet firecracker. Somebody had to let the officials know we had our eyes on them. There were not very many real Bama Basketball fans in that crowd and there certainly was no Marks Madness presence. I did my duty as a fan. Now I will have to pay my penance as a husband. Oh well!

Perhaps the most obvious thing I can say is that this team simply is not the same without Ronald Steele. Hollinger is more than capable, but he is not Ron Steele.
Perhaps the best thing I can say about this game is that this team can win without Ron Steele.

If Bama played defense like Southern Miss and with the same intensity, they would be unstoppable. Hollinger had hands in his face and on his belly all night. He and the other guards were pushed, shoved and grabbed up and down the court all night. The team committed way too many turnovers, but I don't think the guards were responsible for many of them. Hollinger will not often be defended more tightly or physically than he was tonight, and he still found a way to get the ball underneath the basket where CMG repeatedly told the team he wanted to go.

Gee and Hendrix both have a bad habit of putting the ball on the floor too close to the basket. That leads to way too many turnovers. Hopefully with more playing time they will develop the sort of presence and feel Davidson now has. They don't have it yet. They still were very productive offensively and should continue to improve. Given all the hacking and slapping the officials allowed both teams to commit tonight, the big men got a good deal of experience against physical defense.

Tubbs still had his shot. I think he was 2 of 3 outside. That was excellent news. I think Gee was 2 for 4 or 5 outside the arc, but I easily could be mistaken. I keep waiting for the officials statistics to be posted and will defer to them when they are available.

Torrence looked a bit out of sync tonight. He has looked much sharper in other games. Both Torrence and Hollinger forgot to play defense with their feet from time to time. Tubbs did not. The more I see of all these kids the more I want to see more Tubbs.

The key to this game was Davidson. USM simply did not have an answer for him. He was quicker, moved better with the ball, and shot the short jumper better than any of the USM inside players. He fouled out one defender and hung 3 or 4 fouls on each of the other two guys who tried to guard him. He was more effective down low than Hendrix or Gee because he has an 8-12 foot shot that was dropping tonight and defending that forced his opponents to give up moves toward the basket by JD. When JD took the ball to the hoop tonight, Bama won.

Bama defended credibly against a good shooting team. I really liked Riley's defense, especially in the second half. Some of the younger players have trouble getting back out to guard the three after offering double team help near the basket, but they are doing better all the time. Davidson and Hendrix generally were allowed some body bumps while they swatted away almost everything under the basket.

All things considered, it was a good win in a beautiful arena before a large, neutral crowd. The young kids keep getting better. We need to see more Tubbs. If Steele ever gets well, we will be very good. We are pretty good without him, but Steele is the difference between a good Bama team and one that goes to the Final Four.

I continue to believe this team will be fun to watch all year.

Roll Tide!

Friday, December 15, 2006

Southern Miss stats pack

All you ever wanted to know statistically about the undefeated Golden Eagles from Hattiesburg.
USM stats pack

A couple of things about them you might not know:
1) They've played a cupcake schedule. They haven't been tested. Even Dukie V commented on this.
2) Larry Eustachy is their HC. You know him from Iowa State as the guy that lost as a 2 seed in the 1st round to Hampton. You also know him from his post game parties at rival school's fraternities and student apartments. I think he's turned his life around so good luck to him after this game.

Not a whole lot you can pull from their stats being the weak schedule they've played.

Almost 50% FG, 35% 3pt FG, 61% FT (AUful), and their rebound margin is +15.4 per game.

I have not seen them play (and unless you're an avid USM fan you probably haven't either)... all I could guess is Wise is their best player and biggest threat beyond the arc (which we still have problems defending under CMG). Hendrix should have his way inside as I don't think Dotson can cover him. FEED THE BALL INSIDE TO JD AND RH!!!

Prediction... Alabama in a close one by 7. TV coverage on CSS at 8:30PM EST (7:30PM CST)

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Looking Toward Southern Miss

I had a few extra minutes in my day so I thought I might try to learn something from Bama's performance statistics so far this year from the site

First, our three point shooting numbers are not where they need to be. We attempt about 22% fewer threes than our opponents (164-212), but we have made almost the same number (61-59). We've shot threes at 32% and held opponents to 28%, but much of that was against inferior competition. Iowa and Xavier both shot at 23% while Bama it at 21% and 26% against them, respectively. Notre Dame was the killer. They went 12 for 28 (or 43%) outside the arc, while Bama shot a respectable 9 for 24. I'd say it's too early to draw any conclusions from those numbers.

What does look like good news is that Riley seems to have found his shot. He shot pretty well in the first two games but was an abysmal 1 for 11 against Xavier and Iowa. (Maybe he enjoyed the beach too much?) Against Notre Dame he went 2-6 outside the arc and shot 54% over all.

Torrance and Hollinger have not been much help here. Torrance is shooting at 18% outside the arc. Hollinger is hitting one-third of his threes, but he's only shot 20 of them. Geeks three point numbers are similar to Hollinger's (9 of 23).

Some people thing Tubbs is the answer, but he's only had the one good game. Tubbs did play solid defense, so perhaps he can be a good first replacement for Riley while Hollinger and Torrance trade time at the point. (I think Torrance is Steele's heir apparent, but he's not in condition yet and he is not yet playing at the level that will be required to edge out Hollinger.)

The numbers that jump off the page are turnovers and free throws. We have committed an appalling 117 turnovers for a margin of -1.3. I know we are playing a lot of youth, but with all the true ball handling guards and big men with gifted hands, those numbers are way too high.

Our team free throw shooting is bad at 65%. Inside those numbers, Gee is at 60% (33 of 55) and Hendrix is at 67% (25 of 37). Given the numbers of minutes they play and the number of times they both will be fouled, if they do not improve those numbers we will lose several games we should win at the line alone.

A good friend of mine likes to say, "Whatever you measure improves." I hope he's right because those FT numbers really need to improve.

I guess that's enough whining for one afternoon. Hopefully we will pad all those numbers a bit against USM and Steele will be ready to play before Oklahoma.

P.S. Sorry for any misspelled words. I cannot seem to make the spell checker on this site work.

Davidson cleared by NCAA to rejoin team

"We have received official word that Jermareo has been cleared to play and is eligible," Alabama coach Mark Gottfried said in a statement. "I think our compliance staff here at Alabama did a great job working with the Southeastern Conference in getting it done in such a timely manner.

"We're excited that's behind us. I know Jermareo is eager to get on with it."

Davidson cleared

Good news indeed.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Around the world of college hoops... things you might not know

Since we've got a week between games I figured I'd throw in some things you did not know

Syracuse will not leave the state of New York for a game until January 7th when they go on the road to Marquette.

SEC Out of Conference record vs the AP top 25 (AP top 25 as of 12-12): 2-13
Alabama: 0-1 (Xavier will be back in the top 25 soon)
Arkansas: 0-0 (biggest win vs WVU)
LSU: 1-1 (biggest win vs Texas A&M, L to Wichita St)
Auburn: 0-3 (played Pitt and Oklahoma State tough)
Ole Miss: 0-2 (couldn't hang with UConn or Memphis)
Mississippi State: 0-0 (super cupcake schedule)
Florida: 0-1 (Kansas OT loss)
Kentucky: 0-3 (UCLA, Memphis, UNC)
Tennessee: 1-2 (Ls to UNC and Butler, W over Memphis)
Vanderbilt: 0-0 (L to G'town and W over Ga Tech... both should be back in the top 25)
South Carolina: 0-0 (big win over the real USC in So Cal)
Georgia: 0-0 (big win at Wake Forest)

Gonzaga has the nation's longest home court winning streak at 45 games. Granted most of their home games are against a bunch of cupcakes. BTW- they don't seem to be missing a step from Adam "Pornstache" Morrison's departure to the NBA.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Simple Thoughts about State

Alabama State thoughts, that is. Or the Alabama State game, anyway.

As noted by Jet, neither Steele nor Davidson played. Steele's absence puzzles me, because every person I know who is somewhat close to the program says that the earlier layoff made his condition worse. I am not a doctor, I've never played one on tv, and I did not stay in a Holiday Inn Express last night, but I suspect Steele will not be back to 100% at any time during the present season. If that happens, I sure hope it does not impact his professional prospects. A healthy Steele is a young man who probably should skip his senior season for the NBA goldmine. Let's hope everything works out best for him.

The game was such a joy to watch, I'd better hit the few negatives I think I noticed before moving on.

Everyone knows I am the founding member of the Brandon Hollinger fan club, but I believe Torrence is the point guard of the future. The mechanics on Torrence's set shot worry me, but he is tall, strong, and can both pass and shoot layups equally well with either hand. Unfortunately, he is not in good enough condition to play 30 minutes per game and he has not yet developed the feel he needs for when to pass and when to drive. Once he overcomes those two problems, I believe he will be an excellent point guard for us. But as of last night, he was not quite ready to assume Steele's role.

Not to pick on Torrence, but like half the team he continues to try to play defense with his hands. I think the problem these kids have is that they were so much better physically than the kids they played against in high school that they never really had to practice the fundamentals in order to excel. Please don't think I am negative on Torrence. He has more than overcome my former reservations about him and I continue to believe he is our long-term solution at the point once Steele lives. He just is not quite where Hollinger was fundamentally or condition-wise at this time last year. (Then again, Otis Hughely might be the most demanding high school coach in Alabama so that is not surprising. I wish we could sign more kids from his program.)

The other negative was not a surprise. Many of us had hoped Cloyd would pressure Riley for playing time as our outside threat. He does have wonderful tools, but Cloyd simply is not ready to be counted on yet. It's not that Cloyd is not good. It's just that some of us had been lead to believe that he might make an immediate impact. He still might do that before the season is over, but I just do not think he is ready yet.

Now to the good. First, Riley. Riley's defense is good and improving. That's good because we need him to be better than he is right now. He's also found his shot and he has some nice moves toward the basket. Riley is permanently entrenched in that wing spot. Assuming a healthy Steele, Riley fills the one gap that existed on last year's team. He appears to be everything we were expecting.

My Man Hollinger played pretty well at the point. Neither he nor Torrence committed a turnover, but they needed some help from their teammates who saved a couple of miscues by each of them. Hollinger shot a little better last night, but the bread and butter of the offense for about a ten minute stretch was a nifty move where Hollinger moved toward the basket then passed the ball around his defender to Hendrix who was in position to move straight to the hoop for a lay in. Hollinger was more than passable at the point last night.

Hendrix had a monster game and did not commit the silly fouls that have gotten him into trouble in other games. Jemison is more than just a physical specimen. He plays sound defense and rebounded well. Coleman did not have as much competition last night as he has in other games, but he played well. He scored some needed points and grabbed 9 rebounds. Coleman is progressing well. If he improves like Davis and Davidson did between his first and second years of playing, we will not miss Davidson too much next year.

Gee continues to be a joy to watch, but I cringe every time I see him dribble in traffic. (Okay, pretty much the same can be said for half the team. But given the magnitude of Gee's strengths his weakness seems pretty spectacular.) That's not much of a down side, and there's not another player anywhere I'd swap Gee for. Kudos to CMG and the staff for landing that prodigy.

Everybody but TI's DJCEsq was surprised by Justin Tubbs' coming out party last night. DJC told me before the game he was hoping we'd see more of Tubbs because "he's looked really good every time he's playd." Not only did Tubbs light it up from outside, but he played defense with his feet the entire time he was on the court and had quicker hands than Hollinger. At one point on defense he reminded me of a thin, althetic Anthony Murray with a good haircut. Let's hope last night's performance will prove to be the rule, not the exception.

Last night was much more than an easy win against a less than good opponent. We played much better last night than we did against this same team in Montgomery two years ago. Not only did the puppies on the bench get to play, but most of them played well and played well together. I think it is important that CMG become comfortable playing these younger kids, especially if Steele's problems linger. It also would be very nice to have lots of bodies to throw at people in a press, which they played pretty well last night for several possessions.

See you all Saturday in Mobile!

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Crimson Tide coast to easy win...

... about freakin' time I say. Note- we played without Ronald Steele and Jermareo Davidson.

Steele missed the game with tendinitis in his right knee and a sprained left ankle after trying to go in warmups. Coach Mark Gottfried announced before the game that Davidson, a senior center, had withdrawn from the fall semester after missing some classes following the death of his girlfriend in a November car accident. His brother is in the hospital with an unrelated injury.

Davidson is expected to be eligible for next Saturday's game against Southern Mississippi once final exams are over.

"With the SEC and the NCAA, there's a process where you can withdraw and have your semester wiped out and not get penalized when there's a death or tragedy," Gottfried said. "We're just trying our best to make sure we look out for him."

Yahoo game summary

Box score

The good:
Everyone got to play. I think some members of Mark's Madness got some PT in the last few minutes. (g)
Gee was the only one to log more than 30 minutes. Oh yeah, Steele got rest.
68% from the field is ok... won't lose many doing that.
Hendrix- he picked up the slack big time (34 points/10 boards).
Hollinger and Torrence... zero TOs toggling at the point.

The bad:
Too many turnovers (I have to bitch about something).

Overall, this is what the doctor ordered after a tough loss in South Bend.

Alabama comes home to battle state rival Alabama State (stats pack)

Ok, they're not really a rival but it sounded good. The Hornets are coming off winning 2 of their last 4 with big wins over Tuskegee and the ever impressive Troy University. This should be a barnburner.
Alabama State stats pack

I'm not going to sugarcoat this... they stink. Here's a glimpse of how bad they are.
Scoring margin: -17.3
PPG: 56.5
FG: 32%
3pt FG: 33% (this isn't bad, but it's sad they shoot better beyond the arc)
Rebound margin: -13.5

If we don't beat them like we stole something I'll be disappointed. This game might in some small way take some of the pain from the Bama nation with the 2nd half tailkicking to Notre Dame and Rich Rodriguez telling our AD that life is better in West Virginia.

Prediction... Crimson Tide by 30 and Steele gets much needed rest.
Internet broadcast on yahoo at 7:30PM EST (6:30PM CST).

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Disappointment At The Dame

An uninspired Alabama team refused to play defense for most of the game and fell to a hot three-point shooting Notre Dame. I kept screaming at my television to try to out quick that team, but that was not what CMG had in mind. Gottfried finally put in the press with about three minutes to go, but our kids make way too many mental errors to win this game.

Bama seems to have fallen into a pattern. They play lights out offense for about 10 or 15 minutes, but then the fail to adjust when the defense adjusts to stop what they are doing. CMG needs to get this young team's attention. Davidson needs to assert his leadership (and stop shooting those long shots with time left on the clock) until Ron Steele can rehabilitate his knee.

The most consistent thing about Bama's defense this year has been its inconsistency. I never thought I would miss Jean Felix, but there were at least two guys we could have put him on tonight. Riley is expected to become a lock-down defender. He'd better adjust quickly because we are going to need him soon. Gee needs to learn not to make silly fouls and (silly dribbling turnovers). If he can, he can defend too.

One other person who has not been mentioned much is Torrence. He has the speed and tools to play defense. If he can be taught to play with his feet all the time, perhaps he can fill that void. Unfortunately, no one answered the defensive call tonight. I hope Torrence decides to be that player.

The zebras did not do us any favors in this game. I will be interested to hear what the Marks Madness kids who made the trip have to say about their on-site experience. The officiating was not the difference in the game, but they didn't help. With the game on the line and Bama down by only three points, Riley was mauled underneath the basket with no call. Much the same thing happened on our next possession.

On area where CMG and Coach Asbury need to continue to improve is to help our big men stay focused in physical games. They made great strides in that area last year, but our big men still don't exhibit the "feel" for the ebb and flow as the game officiating changes. I certainly don't know how to teach that. Heck, I usually am not even aware of it until the flow has moved back in the other direction. But the best teams seem to have this.

While I'm complaining, there is no way a good team gives up 99 points to Notre Dame. The kids in Crimson did not play defense and they paid a huge price. After being humiliated before a national television audience, we will see whether CMG can do what all good coaches do and turn this apparent negative into a positive.

There was no shame in losing to Notre Dame on their home court tonight. But losing by a dozen points or more and giving up 99 points should tell our kids that they need to dig really deep and to stay focused on defense if they are going to reach their goals for the year. I hope their goals are at least as high as my expectations for them. I am betting on CMG and our experienced leadership to help turn this around so we don't play so poorly on defense again this year. Hopefully by February we will be saying this was a "good" game to lose in December because our kids needed a wakeup call.

Time will tell.

Roll Tide!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Notre Dame stats pack and more

Obviously, this our first true road test. Should be a back and forth game.
Notre Dame stats pack

Their lone loss to Butler doesn't look so bad right now. The good news is they struggled to be Lehigh at home, but that could've been an off-game for them.

Our D will have to be stronger than it has been during our tuneup week... Notre Dame shoots 51% from the field, 37% from beyond the arc, they get to the free throw line a bunch (163 times in 7 games), and hit 73% of their FTs.

Mike Brey has done a solid job in South Bend... and he did a great job at Delaware before this gig. They are well coached and play solid fundamental ball. We need to bring at least our B+ game to escape with a win.

As for individual talent... we'll need to contain Rob Kurz (I assume Hendrix gets the task of covering him) inside and cover Colin Falls and Russell Carter from the perimeter. They don't have a player taller than 6'9" on the roster so we should be able to punish them inside, but they do play 9 so they'll have fouls to give (read- we must hit FTs).

The game is on ESPN at 9PM EST tomorrow night (12/7). I assume it'll be in HD.

Prediction- Alabama wins by 4 in South Bend behind a monster game by Davidson (something like 20 points, 12 boards and 5 blocks).

Monday, December 04, 2006

New polls out... Alabama #4 in AP and #5 in Coaches

I'm too lazy to link, but you can find the rankings on or whatever sports website you like to use.

It looks like Notre Dame might be better than most thought. They won at Maryland yesterday (12/4) impressively. Their only loss was to Butler in the preseason NIT which is not looking so bad after all (Butler won the preseason NIT). We better be on our game to win.

With the Big East lookng to be somewhat down this year, it might be Notre Dame's chance to shine. I'll write up more about the Irish and their coach later this week.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Tennessee State Observations

Box Score

The first thing that surprised me was that Ron Steele not only played but started the game. I thought the coaches might want to rest his knee one more game, but with 5 days before Notre Dame perhaps he needed to play with the team. The second surprise was that Coleman was the first big man off the bench today instead of Jemison, who seemed to have passed him in the rotation. Those are just two more reasons why CMG coaches our team and I do not. :-)

Hendrix and Gee both got into early foul trouble. Each of them bought one early foul that should not have been called, but Hendrix should know better than to keep lowering his shoulder when the officials already have called a charge on him. Gee committed an unnecessary foul trying to get back a ball he had lost in traffic. With continued coaching they can learn not to make those types of mistakes. At least they were hustle type mistakes and were made at full speed.

Another unpleasant thing about this game was the way the team let TSU back into the game after having earned a 24 point lead. Much of that lead was lost with Gee and Hendrix on the bench (put there by their own foul troubles) and with Hollinger at the point, but even with the starters back in they took several possessions to reassert themselves.

One other negative was how our ball handlers lost the ball from behind on several possessions. Both the forwards and point guards showed problems here, but these too are correctable mistakes. We also were beat out on the boards. As JD said in his post-game interview, "Coach is going to be pretty mad."

To begin the plus side, TSU was a pretty good team and had two kids who could play for almost any team in the country. They were well coached and played hard and together as a team the entire game. This was a solid win against decent competition.

Another huge plus is that Riley found his shot (four of six outside the arc) and was the team's second leading scorer. An equally impressive plus was the flow of the offense in the first half. The High post was working almost to perfection, Davidson had two assists and Hendrix five. The coaches used the time outs effectively in the first half and set up back door cut plays to Gee, Hollinger, Riley and Torrence. Riley had another set up, but bobbled the ball allowing the defense to force him to alter his shot.

TSU played a tough man-to-man defense in the second half that slowed down the offense, but they played a lot of zone in the first half. The ball movement against that zone was excellent. I noticed Riley running the baseline against that zone the way Kentucky used to do in the late seventies with Chuck perturbed.

Not many of JD's outside shots fell, but enough of them did to help make the high post work. JD also faked his shot from outside several times (something I've wondered why our team does not do more often) to set up his drive or dish. He even made one clever outside play when his jumper would have been blocked so he dribbled the ball on his way down to avoid a walking call.

The defense was more than credible. We did give up some threes to their player with the hot hand, but several of those shots were open because our guards and forwards were giving trapping help. We moved quickly to guard the shooter but got there a half step late several times. Again, this is something that can improve with time.

Coleman's play was improved. He does not move as quickly as Davidson, but he is larger, provides a big body inside, and seems to body up well to afford him rebounding opportunities. It was good to see Coleman play well enough to spell Hendrix, but that also kept me from seeing much of Jemison.

Torrence's father told me last week that the coaches intend to play him at the point, the two guard and the small forward. He has the body and the talent to play all three positions, but they played Hollinger at the point today. They also replaced Riley with Hollinger the last few minutes, presumably to help control the ball and to provide a reliable free throw shooter. I am beginning to believe that Torrence will start at the point after Steele leaves, because of his size, his passing ability, and his ability to slash toward the basket and lay the ball in with either hand. It will be fun to watch Riley and Hollinger battle for playing time at the point.

For the most part I think the teams mistakes and break downs today are attributable primarily to their youth. Remember we play only one senior and two juniors, one of whom is a juco transfer. All but two of our "veterans" are true sophomores. Any team that young will be prone to make mistakes. Steele's and Davidson's leadership will be crucial to keeping the youngest kids under control. Hendrix and Gee need to contribute by not getting into silly foul trouble.

I don't want his fouls to be the only thing I type about Hendrix. For the most part he played a solid game. He is a force on the boards, has a nice move to the basket with the ball in his hands, and maintains an incredible eye for the open man when he gets cut off or doubled near the basket.

I'd say this was a very positive outing. The team won a hard-fought game that will give the coaches a number of things they can correct. If CMG does not freeze out his bench once SEC play starts, we should have the talent and depth we need to go a long way.

After having seen two games live and two on television, I am even more excited about this team than I was before the season started. We are going to lose some games, but this team will be a whole lot of fun to watch, especially within the friendly confines of Coleman Coliseum.

Roll Tide, brothers, Roll Tide!

Friday, December 01, 2006

Tennessee State stats pack

The last of 3 tune ups to Notre Dame.
TSU Tigers stats pack

This really should be a scrimmage game. TSU is 2-2, but they're bad from the field (35%), from beyond the arc (24%), turn the ball over like it's going out of style (19 per game), and can't hit free throws worth a damn (56%).

Matthews and Weaver seem to be their scorers as they are the only ones averaging double digits. This game should be decided by halftime... I hope.

I say Alabama by 28.

Gametime is 3:30PM EST (2:30PM CST) on ACN and the usual Yahoo audio webcast.