Tuesday, October 30, 2007

What Should We Expect From Bama This Year?

That is the question everyone would love to have answered. As has become my habit on the Cycling Logue, about all I can say is "Time will tell." But I am an optimist, so here is what I expect.

First: Which players do I think will start at the beginning of the year? Hendrix, Gee, Torrence and Riley almost certainly will be four of the first five to take the court. I think the fifth player might give us a clue for what CMG really intends to try to do this year. If it is Brandon Hollinger (my favorite player by the way), then that will not bode well for the season in my opinion. As much as I love Hollinger's heart and effort, he simply does not possess the physical tools to be a starter in the SEC, especially not when that would leave so much raw talent on the bench.

I rather hope CMG starts Tubbs in that fifth spot. Tubbs has played very good defense and could use the early season warm ups to find the range on his three point shot. (Ditto for Riley.) I think this would be a good move and would indicate that CMG really does intend to stress defensive play and to try to run the court on their opponents. If CMG starts Jemison (I don't ), that would more likely indicate a commitment to the old way of doing things and I would not deem that a good sign.

Torrence has a big body. His father tells me he has grown to at least 6'5" during the off season, and he might still be growing. He has demonstrated excellent quickness and has been very active in the zone defense. He seemed to be having some problems getting to know the team's offense last year. That is not at all unusual for a true freshman. Here's hoping the off season S&C program did its work and that Torrence spent some extra time reviewing films and studying the game. If he did, I would expect Torrence to surprise many of his detractors this year. Plus I have heard that he has been a relentless defender in practice and that would play into the new running approach.

I honestly hope CMG brings Pickett of the bench early and often to avoid the problems we experienced last year when Ron Steele could not play. Torrence was used only sparingly during the preseason and hardly got to play until late in the SEC schedule. The team would have benefited at that point from a more experienced and more confident Torrence. I have yet to see Pickett play, but if he is nearly as good as advertised then we need him to get his sea legs quickly so he can take his turns at the point. I would expect Hollinger to play only sparingly this year. We need to develop the younger players.

Do we really have the talented bodies necessary to play a true center this season? We will not know until we have seen Knox play. Jemison should be the first big man off the bench. He is not as tall as Knox but he is very athletic. The jury still is out on Coleman. The young man plays hard but he might not have the body or the talent to play more than a few minutes per night in the SEC. I have not heard anyone report on Knox who was not predisposed to favor the young man, so I am optimistic but am waiting to see him before deciding to rely on him to contribute very much as a freshman. If Knox can contribute other than to eat up clock and to take up space, then his presence could make a tremendous difference on this year's team.

I was growing more optimistic about this team's chances until DJC called me on his way home from tonight's Crimson-White exhibition game. Unfortunately the freshmen all still look like freshmen. (That is to be expected. Seldom does a kid come in really ready to play at the speed and intensity of SEC level play.) Torrence played well in spots but the offense has not yet become a part of his nature. A truly excellent point guard has to develop instincts (or habits) that eliminate most opportunities for active decision making. Pickett is a freshman and he really needs a seasoned veteran to mentor him. There's no need to belabor how that situation came to be.

The kids have just started practicing together so perhaps things will fall into place more quickly than they did last year. Let's hope so. If they do, then the freshman will have a chance to grow into their roles without having the weight of the world forced onto their shoulders at critical moments. Not all freshmen are nearly automatic at the free throw line the way Hollinger was his first year.

It sounds like they looked really rusty, but they were hustling and exhibiting effort. I can live with a poor W-L record if we just are getting effort from everyone on the court all the time. Once CMG teaches them to play at full speed all the time, teaching the rest of the mechanics will be easier.

We could have a very competitive team by the end of the season. Time will tell.

Crimson and White Rosters for tonight

The Crimson and White Game is tonight at 6 p.m. CT in Coleman Coliseum. Admission is free. The team will stay afterwards to sign autographs.

White Team
Justin Knox FR F
Demetrius Jemison SO F
Alonzo Gee JR G
Senario Hillman FR G
Mikhail Torrance SO G
Greg Cage SO G
Kyle Sellers SR G

Crimson Team
Richard Hendrix JR F
Mykal Riley SR G
Justin Tubbs SO G
Brandon Hollinger JR G
Yamene Coleman SO F
John Dill SR F
Rico Pickett FR G

Following the Crimson and White game, Alabama will get one final public tune-up when it hosts North Alabama in an exhibition game at 7 p.m. CT on Monday, November 5.

Monday, October 29, 2007

The top 25 players in the SEC from collegehoopsnet.com

For your reading enjoyment... Hendrix and Gee made their top 25.

Read it here.

Also from collegehoopsnet.com, an Alabama preview (from 10/1). They have us at #45. Like me, they project us in the NCAA tournament. Below is a portion of the writeup.

Final Projection:

The frontcourt will keep this team in games, but the backcourt has to step up if the Tide want win those games. Mikhail Torrance is now penciled in at the starting point guard position. He averaged 11.7 minutes per game last year in 21 appearances. Torrance does not have as much raw talent as incoming freshman Pickett, but at least he has a year in the system. As long as those two can keep the turnovers down, Bama will be alright. Brandon Hollinger will get another shot starting as the off-guard. He is a good shooter when he actually shoots, but the junior will be pressed by Hillman for minutes. Sophomore Justin Tubbs rounds out the depleted group of guards after averaging 3.2 points per game last season. The Crimson Tide has a great frontcourt that can dominate most teams, yet somebody has to get them the ball. There is too much talent not to be on the bubble, but winning those close games down the stretch without Steele will not keep the team around for very long in March.

Projected Post-season Tournament: NCAA

Projected Starting Five:
Mikhail Torrance, Sophomore, Guard, 3.0 points per game
Brandon Hollinger, Junior, Guard, 4.9 points per game
Mykal Riley, Senior, Forward, 12.6 points per game
Alonzo Gee, Junior, Forward, 12.6 points per game
Richard Hendrix, Junior, Forward, 14.6 points per game

Saturday, October 27, 2007

UGA's Felton dismisses leading scorer Brown

To make up for my lack of updates lately I'm bombarding you with stuff.

Losing Takais Brown doesn't mean Georgia's upcoming basketball season is lost.

That was the word from Bulldogs' men's basketball coach Dennis Felton on the eve of dismissing Brown, the team's leading scorer and most proficient inside player, for an unspecified violation of team rules.

"It's NOT a significant blow in that the guys that are going to be here playing for us are the ones that obviously we can rely on because they're willing to do all the things that go into being a part of this team and being a Georgia Bulldog," said Felton, reached by telephone during a team retreat at Lake Oconee Friday evening. "And from a sheer sense of practicality, we do have a collection of front-court players that I'm very excited about."

Felton remained mum on the reason or nature of Brown's dismissal other than to say it was for "violating team policy" and confirming that it was unrelated to Brown's recent suspension for breaking rules of the athletic association's new academic responsibility policy. Brown was one of three Bulldogs already suspended a combined total of 30 games for the start of the regular season, which begins Nov. 9. Guard Mike Mercer (15 games) and Jackson (6) were also suspended for unexcused absences of class and/or tutorial and mentor appointments.

"I'm dismissing because of team policy," Felton said. "I know that people would like to know and I can understand that but I'm not able to share why."

Rest can be read from the ajc.com. Add this to previous Felton suspensions and you got a team that's going to struggle. As I've said before I have a lot of respect for Felton... his rules are hard and fast and there's no middle ground. It might cost him his job though.

My prediction on our regular season record

Game by game:

W Fri, Nov 09 Troy Tuscaloosa 7:00 p.m.
W Tue, Nov 13 Mercer at Macon, Ga. 6:30 p.m.
W Mon, Nov 19 Belmont Tuscaloosa 6:00 p.m.
W Fri, Nov 23 Southern Mississippi Tuscaloosa 7:00 p.m.
L Wed, Nov 28 Texas A&M at College Station, Texas 8:00 p.m.
W Sat, Dec 01 Southeastern Louisiana Tuscaloosa 6:00 p.m.
L Wed, Dec 05 Georgetown at Birmingham (BJCC) 6:00 p.m.
W Sat, Dec 08 Nicholls State Tuscaloosa 12 noon
W Mon, Dec 17 Wofford Tuscaloosa 7:00 p.m.
W Wed, Dec 19 Texas Pan American Tuscaloosa 7:00 p.m.
W Sat, Dec 22 Missouri State at Las Vegas, Nevada 7:00 p.m.
W Sun, Dec 23 Purdue or Iowa State at Las Vegas, Nevada 9:30 p.m.
W Sat, Dec 29 George Washington Tuscaloosa 5:00 p.m.
W Tue, Jan 01 Clemson Tuscaloosa 3:30 p.m.
W Fri, Jan 04 Chicago State Tuscaloosa 7:00 p.m.
W Tue, Jan 08 Florida * Tuscaloosa 8:00 p.m.
L Sun, Jan 13 Arkansas * at Fayetteville, Ark. 12:30 p.m. or 3:00 p.m.
L Wed, Jan 16 Georgia * at Athens, Ga. 6:30 p.m.
W Sat, Jan 19 Mississippi State * Tuscaloosa 2:00 p.m.
W Sat, Jan 26 Auburn * Tuscaloosa 2:00 p.m.
L Tue, Jan 29 Tennessee * Tuscaloosa 8:00 p.m.
W Sat, Feb 02 LSU * Tuscaloosa 2:00 p.m.
L Wed, Feb 06 Mississippi State * at Starkville, Miss. 7:00 p.m.
L Sat, Feb 09 Kentucky * at Lexington, Ky. 12:00 p.m.
W Wed, Feb 13 Ole Miss * Tuscaloosa 7:00 p.m.
W Sat, Feb 16 South Carolina * at Columbia, S.C. 6:00 p.m.
L Sun, Feb 24 Auburn * at Auburn 1:00 p.m.
W Wed, Feb 27 Arkansas * Tuscaloosa 7:00 p.m.
W Sat, Mar 01 Ole Miss * at Oxford, Miss. 1:00 p.m.
L Wed, Mar 05 LSU * at Baton Rouge, La. 7:00 p.m.
W Sat, Mar 08 Vanderbilt * Tuscaloosa

So I have us at 13-2 non-conference and 9-7 in SEC play which adds up to 22-9. That should get us into the tournament (NCAA variety) easily as a 7 seed. Note that I was waaaay off last year predicting our record (as was just about everyone else) so take this with a grain of salt.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Preseason top 25 is out and more SEC stuff

North Carolina is #1. Not that preseason polls mean anything, but IMO #1 should be Memphis as more than likely they'll stick in the top 10 all season long.

My top 5:
1) Memphis
2) Georgetown
3) North Carolina
4) Tennessee


The CBS national schedule is out and Kentucky has 7 games. Florida follows with three and Tennessee only has 2 despite being the almost unanimous pick to win the SEC. We have one game on CBS... a barnburner at Auburn Feb 24th.

Bruce Pearl's response:

"Certainly Kentucky is a premier team around the country," Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl said. "But I think the league is better off when we're not promoting just Kentucky. Besides, who wouldn't want to see me sweat on national TV?"

Rest of the article is here. Comments from the great Dave Odom (2 time NIT champ) are worth reading.

SEC Media Days... hear the coaches speak

... from secsports.com. Click on the coach you want to hear and listen 'til your heart's content.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Tennessee picked to win SEC

That's no surprise considering how well they played at the end of last season, who's returning, and how much Florida is going to drop.

It's a nice problem to have for a team that has been overshadowed by two division rivals, two-time defending national champion Florida and perennial power Kentucky. Not to mention Tennessee's football team and the defending national champion Lady Vols.

But the Volunteers were picked to win the SEC on 28 of 30 ballots by league and national media. Florida and Kentucky didn't get a vote, with the other two going to Mississippi State.

It's no big surprise with four starters returning, including preseason SEC player of the year Lofton, from a team that went 24-11 and made it to the round of 16 at the NCAA tournament.

The Gators, meanwhile, lost all five starters, including three Top 10 NBA draft picks. Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl thinks Kentucky should be the East Division favorite. However it shakes out, he's happy to be along for the ride.

From cstv.com (AP report you can find anywhere)

- Tennessee was picked by 28 of 30 to win the SEC, M$U got the other 2 votes
- SEC East voting: UT, UK, UF, Vandy, UGA, South Carolina (in order)
- SEC West voting: Arkansas, M$U, Alabama, Auburn, LSU, Ole Miss

My predictions is in comments. Feel free to add yours.

Friday, October 19, 2007

FYI- Crimson and White game Oct 30th

TUSCALOOSA – The University of Alabama basketball team will host its annual Crimson and White intrasquad scrimmage and fan night on Tuesday, October 30 at 6 p.m. CT in Coleman Coliseum.

The game splits the Crimson Tide team into two separate squads and is played just like a regular game. Designed with the fans and particularly families in mind, admission to this event is free, and, because it’s the night before Halloween, this year’s event will include a Halloween costume contest at halftime with prizes given to the winners.

Fans are encouraged to bring their cameras because after the game, Mark Gottfried and the Crimson Tide basketball players will host an autograph session where fans can collect autographs and take their pictures with their favorite Tide players and basketball coaches.

From rolltide.com

Sunday, October 14, 2007

What should expectations be for the 2007-08 Crimson Tide basketball team?

Before Ronald Steele decided to take a medical redshirt, many were thinking a return to the NCAAs and competing for the SEC Championship (regular season). Now, what should we expect?

Me, I still expect a return to the NCAAs. I say that thinking we'll we glued to the TV on Selection Sunday hoping for a 9, 10, or 11 seed. With Steele I figured to be a top 15 squad.

As for the SEC, IMO Tennessee is the class of the SEC with Arkansas being a close 2nd (on talent). After that, the conference is wide open, with the exception of South Carolina who should be as terrible as they were last season. I expect us to be fighting for 2nd place in the West with Mississippi State (or as Alias likes to call them- M$U). 2nd place in the West should be good enough to make the NCAAs (I know it wasn't good enough last year, but the whole SEC West well... sucked).

I'd like to project a decent run in the SECT, but history tells me the team is packed up by Friday evening on the bus back to Tuscaloosa. Still, a run to the semis would be great.

Making it to the NCAAs would be enough for me... unless the team we play against pulls a Wisconsin-Milwaukee on us (got Pearl his job at UT).

The talent is there... I feel pretty good about a starting 5 of Hendrix, Gee, Riley, Torrance, and Jemison. If the freshman are as good as advertised, Coleman gives solid minutes off the bench, and Tubbs comes up with key 3s, I think we're going to be alright. At least this season we know there's no Steele coming back and the team has to move on.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Update on Yamene Coleman's legal issues...

... to be honest I'm not sure what the conclusion is, but the Huntsville Times is claiming it's getting close. For those who forgot, Yamene Coleman got in trouble for using an student ACT card that didn't belong to him to purchase stuff. I believe the card previously belonged to the great Verice Cloyd.

Anyways, the article link is here.

Friday, October 12, 2007

UGA suspends 3 for class attendance policy violations

The Dawgs looked to return to the NCAAs after Harrick decimated their program, but this news might put them back to fighting with the Gamecocks for last place in the SEC East.

Athens -- A relatively new academic policy aimed at improving graduation rates for Georgia athletes has left the Bulldogs' men's basketball team reeling as it heads into one of its more promising seasons in years.

On the eve of the first practice of the season, three players were suspended for a total of at least 30 games for violating the athletics department's class-attendance and academic-appointment policy. Among them were starting guard Mike Mercer (15 games), leading scorer Takais Brown (nine games) and backup center Albert Jackson (six games).

Felton takes education seriously... might cost him his job though.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Cecil Hurt- Questions face Tide basketball team

The University of Alabama men’s basketball team, which begins practice for its 2007-08 season on Friday night, has questions, like every other team in the NCAA.

Tide coach Mark Gottfried has at least gotten a sneak peek at some of the answers.

First, Gottfried has gotten to see his team perform in a long weekend trip to Canada and the practices that preceded that northern jaunt. Second, Gottfried knows already point guard Ronald Steele won’t be available this season. The senior has chosen to sit out this year and rehabilitate his surgically-repaired knees, eliminating the uncertainty that plagued the Crimson
Tide a year ago.

Steele’s absence does raise some other questions, though. Who will replace him as the Tide’s point guard. Perhaps more importantly, who will replace the leadership he provided as a sophomore, when he was the healthy focal point of the team? Most importantly of all, how good can Alabama be without him?

“We learned a lot on the Canadian trip,” Gottfried answers. “We learned about our strengths — and we learned we have a lot of weaknesses that we have to work on.”

The rest can be read at tidesports.com

Friday, October 05, 2007

SEC news- Vandy forward leaves team and other stuff

Vanderbilt- JeJuan Brown withdrew from school for personal reasons. Last year as a freshman he averaged 3.1 points and 2.5 rebounds.

Tennessee- Ramar Smith crashes Wayne Chism's car. Smith borrowed Chism's car without his knowledge. I'm sure that won't sit well.

Kentucky- Michael Porter suffers a concussion during workout. He should be fine for Big Blue practice Oct 12th.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Name schools playing at mid-majors

It's something that's good to see. As many of you know Alabama is going to play at Mercer this season, but there's plenty of other "name" schools doing the same.

Another factor is the rising cost of guarantee games, contracts that pay smaller schools a fee (the current market rate is $50,000-$75,000) for one-off, nonreturnable contests. Over the summer, Alabama head coach Mark Gottfried entered into a "two-for-one" agreement with Mercer of the Atlantic Sun. Mercer will host a matchup on Nov. 13 in Macon, Ga., in return for two trips to Tuscaloosa in 2008 and 2009.

"The guarantee money is getting pretty high," said 11th-year Mercer head coach Mark Slonaker, who handled Georgia's schedule as an assistant in the early '90s. "Things go in cycles. We're coming back to a two-for-one mentality. More of the big schools I talk to and bring up the two-for-one deal are receptive to it, when they used to scoff at the idea. Alabama was having trouble filling their guarantee games, so Mark and I started talking about it again. Our facility is good, they have a local guy on their team [freshman Senario Hillman from Irwinton, Ga.], and Mark had a good similar experience with Alabama State. He felt like it didn't hurt his team to take them on the road for a game that they should still win.

"A lot of coaches might be afraid of scheduling games like this," said Gottfried, whose
Crimson Tide won at the SWAC's Alabama State 72-54 on Dec. 7, 2004. "I think it can only make a team better."

Perhaps the most important reason to leave the cozy confines and play elsewhere, anywhere, is the potential NCAA impact once March rolls around.

"If you're a team that's a very solid tournament contender, then it doesn't make much difference," Gottfried said. "But if you're a team that ends up on the bubble, and the committee sees that you're willing to take your team on the road, wherever it is, it's a good thing. So we're going to Mercer, we're going to Texas A&M. In my talks and dealings with the committee members, they think that's important. And anything that helps our chances to go to the NCAA Tournament, I'm willing to do."

ESPN article