Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Getting Gigged

We lost to the Aggies 76-63 on the road. It was close for most of the game, but the ninth ranked team in the country was too much in the end.

I thought we did a good job of going into a hostile environment and keeping our cool early against a very good team. This game was very close for most of the first half. For the first time all season, we could not dominate in the low post. Texas A&M had great size and depth at the center and power forward positions, and that ended up being the difference in the game. Hendrix had another very solid game, but he did not dominate the paint like he was able to in all of our previous games. He looked fatigued toward the end of the game. There was one stretch in the first half where we seemed content to settle for outside shots early in the shot clock. Hendrix made one, but then missed a couple of 18 footers. Anytime we are relying on Hendrix to shoot from 15+ out, we are probably going to have some problems. To Coach Gottfried's credit, we called a timeout and made some adjustments after falling down 6 due to poor shot selection.

The end of the first half was very disappointing. We had the ball, down 6, with a chance to go into the half within 5. Instead we turn the ball over and give up an open perimeter shot, to go in down 9. That was a key turn of events in the outcome of the game.

Jemison did not have his best game, but we need him on the floor. When he went out with 4 fouls early in the second half, Texas A&M opened their lead up to double digits. Yamene played hard and got some key rebounds and second chance points, but he isn't really a weapon in the half-court offense due to his inability to consistently catch and shoot the ball.

Overall, I thought we played pretty good defense. We were aggressive in the man to man, forcing a few turnovers, and we were active in the zone. It was nice to see us integrate a little 3/4 court press in the first half as well.

I was pleased with the way the freshman played in a tough environment. Justin Knox came in and gave us quality minutes. Rico Pickett came back his suspension and played with great poise. Senario Hillman made some incredible plays, but at times tried to do a little too much. You can tell he is going to be a tremendous asset for us in the years to come.

The loss of Ron Steele continues to hurt us. We are going to have to figure out who our main PG is going to be. Hollinger started tonight, and played decent despite a couple of turnovers. Torrance did not get the playing time, and Pickett played very well but made a few typical freshman mistakes. This is one area where our substitution patterns needs to become more consistent.

Defensively, I think we did about as well as could be expected in this game. They are very big, strong, and deep inside, and we had a difficult time blocking them out in the second half. Riley continues to be susceptible to the head fake, but the effort is there from him on defense. Gee plays hard, but gets out of position at times, and good teams like Texas A&M will make you pay for that. Most of their outside shots were the result of our defenders helping out when someone got beat off the dribble. We did a much better job of fighting through and switching on screens, and closing out on the ball than we have in previous games.

Alonzo Gee has got to get under control. He makes a great play one second and a horrible mistake the next. A perfect example, he made a great play on defense by stepping into the passing lane and picking off an aggie pass to spark a 3 on 2 fast break. Then, with a man wide open for a possible alley-oop, or an open 8 foot jump shot, he got indecisive and travelled with the basketball. At this point in his career, we can't have those kinds of mistakes and expect to beat top 10 teams on the road.

Hendrix has got to do something about his free throw shooting. One out of 2 is all we can hope for at this point. There were a couple of incidents when we missed the front end of a one and one when we had a chance to cut into the lead. Hopefully our free throw shooting will improve as it has in years past.

Overall, we played a pretty good game. Texas A&M is a top 10 team, and we are not. A lot of people thought we would be embarrassed tonight, but I think we can all be proud of the way these kids played hard and represented the University. The Ags made the shots and plays they needed every time we started to make a run, they were more physical on the boards and deep in the post, and they capitalized on our mistakes. Congratulations to a very good Texas A&M team on the victory.

Up next, a 5-1 Southeastern Louisiana team comes to Coleman. We seem to always play these teams with bad names but respectable teams, which is good for our RPI as long as we win them. Hopefully Coach Gottfried will have the guys focused, as this is the dreaded "sandwich game" between two games featuring top 10 opponents (#5 Georgetown is looming next Wednesday). If we get the same effort we got tonight, we should not have any problems.

This game should give us the confidence we need to know that if we play sound fundamental basketball, improve in a few areas, and eliminate some mistakes, we can play with anybody in the country.

Other SEC games of note

- Missouri at Arkansas: Mike Anderson goes "home" to face the Razorbacks. Everything points to this being a shootout. Game is on ESPN fullcourt at 8PM EST.

- Nicholls St at LSU: Tasmin Mitchell is probably out of the year (big blow) so I'm interested in hearing how they go on without him. Also on ESPN fullcourt at 8PM EST.

- Campbell at South Carolina: can another A-Sun team beat an SEC opponent on the road? The Fighting Camels will try their best to make it 3 wins for the A-Sun vs the SEC (which is quite sad if you ask me).

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Texas A&M stats pack

They're no Belmont that's for sure! Click here for stats.

I watched a couple of their games and to say I was impressed is an understatement. They beat an underrated Washington and demolished Ohio State to win the NIT tipoff championship. Mark Turgeon inherited a talented squad from Billy Gillispie. IMO I think he'll keep the Aggies at or near the top of the Big 12 for a long time to come.

The stats:
- 49% FG
- 38% 3PT FG
- +13.1 rebound margin
- 59% from the line
- 14.5 turnovers per game
- allowing 58 PPG on 36.5% FG

Players to watch:
- Josh Carter is their leading scorer and has no problem chucking it from beyond the arc. He's also their best FT shooter so hopefully Gee or Riley (I assume they'll get him defensively) keeps up.
- DeAndre Jordan in the middle is going to alter some shots and clear the boards. We'll probably have to throw a Knox/Coleman combo at him.
- Dominique Kirk takes care of the ball. Check out his assist/TO ratio. I suggest getting the ball out of his hands if possible.

- A&M is really playing well right now... and we're not. I expect a close 1st half. The 2nd half... not so much. A&M wins by 17.

Gametime is 8PM 11/28 on ESPNU (Channel 609 on directv). I'll have to catch the 2nd half of it.

Side note- I'm glad fRan got canned... back to Pittsburgh State with him.

Monday, November 26, 2007

FOX Sports early look at POY

Take a look at who's at #5.

In the end IMO it's going to be Michael Beasley at Kansas State. Enjoy him while you can Wildcat fans as he's gone in April.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

SEC Hoops Ranking

1) Tennessee- losing to the real UT (badly) made me think about dropping them, but at least they lost to a ranked team.
2) Vanderbilt- one of 2 unbeaten teams left in the conference. They haven't played anyone yet... we'll know more about them in the next 2 weeks (Ga Tech and Wake coming up).
3) Arkansas- beat 2 cupcakes... moving up as the rest of the SEC can't seem to win. Missouri coming up next.
4) Ole Miss- undefeated still and probably should stay that way this coming week.
5) Florida- bad loss to FSU, but remember this is essentially a new squad from last season.
6) Georgia- miserable 2nd half did them in at Wisconsin. Being that 1/2 the team is suspended only having one loss is and accomplishment.
7) Kentucky- they've been slaughtering cupcakes since the Gardner-Webb debacle. UNC comes to town 12/1 so we'll see how far they've come.
8) MSU- 2 losses to ranked teams. Still not sold on Clemson though.
9) Auburn- forget the names, they've won 2 in a row on the road. Tough games coming up at GW and West Virginia... a split would be impressive.
10) Alabama- we lost to Belmont and barely escaped the fighting Eustachys. Next up... at A&M... uh oh.
11) South Carolina- tough loss at NC State. Still, they're the worst team in the SEC East right now.
12) LSU- getting good experience in Maui... they should be better for it. At least they beat Chaminade.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Escaping The Eagles

Bama played a solid game for the most part but still blew a 13 point lead with 7'11" to go. This was my first chance to see the new squad live in Coleman Coliseum and I thought the team played well.

Torrance started at the point and did a serviceable job, but the half court offense does tend to bog down when he is at the point. Hollinger does a better job of feeding the ball to Hendrix underneath the basket, and he played at the point most of the game. Neither of them was able to guard Wise, the shooting guard who was the Golden Eagles leading scorer and probably could play on any team in the country.

CMG substituted liberally throughout the game. The most pleasant surprises to me were Knox and Hillman. Knox did not score much but he was a formidable presence underneath the boards and was a threat to take the ball to the hoop any time he got it down low. Hillman is a slashing scorer but his defense is what impressed me most.

The game would not have been close if Bama could shoot from the free throw line. I don't think USM missed more than three shots from the charity stripe, but Hendrix did not shoot more than about 50% from there and missed the front end of at least one shot while we were in the bonus. Even Hollinger, who was a clutch free throw shooter as a freshman, missed two of three shots after having been fould outside the arc. I do not know what our three point percentage was, but we did not seem to shoot many and did not hit many of those we took.

I thought CMG did a good job of directing the troops, with one exception. Wise had 18 points when Hillman started covering him. CMG took Hillman out when he picked up a second foul. Even when Hillman went back in, Hollinger and Tubbs guarded Wise. I thought that was a tactical error and Wise finished the game with about 33 points.

It looked to me like Riley and Torrance try to play defense with their hands and not with their feet. Hillman appeared fundamentally sound on defense, always playing with his feet first, and I think that is why he troubled Wise so tremendously.

Torrance was at the point at the beginning of the second half when the harassing defense was causing missed shots. Torrance seemed to have a really good eye for the outlet pass on the break and that part of the game worked very effectively during his tenure.

The team had relatively few turnovers given the up tempo nature of the game. All the players moved the ball unselfishly and the result was an improved offensive effort.

Hendrix again was the go-to guy. He has developed a hook shot from the right hand side of the basket that was very effective until he seemed to get a bit tired near the end of the game. They ran several plays to get Gee involved in the offense, but he scored most of his points as a result of his hustle.

This is a team that still needs work. I do not think they will learn the fundamentals of effective defense before the end of the season, but it definitely is being stressed and played more than on any CMG team of the past few years. They will be fun to watch and, if they keep up this effort, will continue to improve as the season progresses.

See you next Saturday.

Roll Tide!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Bama beats the Boozehound by 2...USM recap.

We survived a scare from USM tonight and escaped with a 2 point victory at home. We were actually in control for the majority of the game. Hollinger got the majority of playing time at PG, and did an outstanding job of taking care of the basketball. Justin Knox got a lot of playing time ahead of Yamene, and while he did not light up the scoreboard, he played solid fundamental basketball getting rebounds, setting screens, and playing defense. Alonzo Gee had one of his better games, making the two clutch free throws with .5 seconds left to secure the win.

I was surprised that USM did not press us more. We turned the ball over 25 times against Troy's 2-2-1 press, but haven't seen it since. Not that I'm complaining, it is just surprising. Perhaps Mercer, Belmont, and Southern Miss do not feel they have the depth to run a press for much of the game. We played very good man to man defense for most of this game, and while we didn't shoot very much from the perimeter, we controlled the game with our post play. Hendrix had another double-double, and we led by double digits for much of the game.

So, why did this game come down to the final second? It all started with about 3:30 left in the game. We were in a man to man defense, still with a comfortable 7 point lead. USM set a stagger screen on Tubbs, and the man setting the pick wrapped his arms around Justin as he tried to fight through the pick. The official, who had been calling a very tight game to that point, failed to make a call, leaving Justin's man wide open on the wing for a 3 point shot which cut the lead to 4. Riley and Tubbs both took some quick, ill-advised shots in the final 2 minutes, which gave USM the chance to tie it in the final minute. Thankfully, Gee was able to get to the line and make the free throws to put the game away.

Overall, this was a solid win for us. We played much better defense and did a good job of taking care of the basketball. We just need to finish teams like this off when we get the chance. I do feel like we are improving, which is a good sign. We will have to play our best game of the year to get a win in College Station next Wednesday.

As an aside, I had my old court side seats from when I was a student tonight. One of UAPD's finest informed me after the game that they were instructed to "keep an eye on me." While it's good to know that I still have it, and it was fun to sit courtside again, it is somewhat disappointing that those seats were so readily available. I know it's Thanksgiving weekend, but there probably wasn't 1500 people there tonight. This team deserves better, and attendance does make a difference in recruiting, so if you are in the Tuscaloosa area and you get a chance, come out and support this team. RTR!

Tide escapes with win...

... 79-77 over USM on 2 FTs from Gee with less than a second left.

Box score

Gee came up big tonight... especially at the line.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Southern Miss stats pack

'Cause we all want to know right? :)

Read it, breathe it, live it.

They're 2-1 with a road loss to Cal so that's not bad although their 2 wins were against cupcake city so I don't know what to make of them.

The stats:
- 47% FG
- 35% 3PT FG
- 62% FT
- +9.7 Rebound margin
- 6 blocks per game (14 of those blocks from Bain who's also their leading rebounder)

Prediction- I have no idea... after losing to Belmont (stakes) I have no clue what to expect from this team. I guess Bama by 4. I don't expect Hendrix to have a big game with Bain (all 7 feet of him) clogging the middle so we'll need the guards to pick up the slack.

Side note- Most of you know Larry Eustachy from his Iowa State days... and more from his partying with Missouri coeds after a game (which got him fahred). He's a good coach that will probably parlay USM into another gig in a major conference so expect his team to play hard.

Side side note- I wonder how Eustachy keeps sobriety living in Hattiesburg. Seriously, I wish the best for LE even though his #2 seed Iowa State squad messed up my 2001 bracket (I picked them to win it all... ended up losing to #15 Hampton).

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Rico suspended.

Full story from the Tuscaloosa news here :

I have no idea what he did, but this may prove to be a good thing in the long run. I remember there were rumors of him changing his commitment late in the recruiting process. This could be an attitude issue or a maturity issue. It is good to know that it is NOT a legal or NCAA issue.

Obviously, this leaves us very thin at point guard for the time being. In the past, Coach Gottfried has been criticized for being too soft on his players or playing favorites. If Rico it is not doing the things he needs to do to help his team succeed, then now is the time to get this straightened out. I suspect this suspension is likely related to the same issues that prevented him from playing in the Mercer game, and coming in behind Hollinger in the Belmont game. Leadership skills are a must at the point guard position, and hopefully this experience will help him learn to lead by setting a good example.

Whatever the problem is, I am glad Coach Gottfried is addressing it early in his career rather than letting him get away with shennanigans because we are short at the PG position. Rico is a seemingly good kid with a lot of athletic ability. It is up to him if he wants to be successful and help his team win games. I hope he does what is required and comes back better than ever, but in the meantime, we need Torrence and Hollinger to step it up.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Belmont Recap

I'm not sure who this knowledgeable fan from Birmingham is that Alias is referring to, but I have also asked been asked to contribute here from time to time. As an avid reader of this blog, I appreciate the good job you guys do, and hopefully I can add something worthwhile from time to time. Now, down to business...

I missed the first 2 minutes of this game thanks to a combination of the 6 pm tip off and Birmingham rush hour traffic. I arrived at my seats to find the Tide up 10-5. Earlier in the day, I spoke to a friend of mine who is a huge Samford fan to get the scouting report, and he warned me that their perimeter game should be our biggest concern. What he failed to mention, is that their perimeter game consists of all 5 position players shooting the 3. I was very impressed with Belmont's coach. He has a great scheme for his talent, and they execute very well.

Early in the game, we did a good job of working the ball down low and allowing Hendrix and Jemison to control the game on the offensive end. Jemison's mobility and mid range shooting ability really opens things up for Hendrix. Unfortunately, Jemison got into some early foul trouble, which allowed the Bruins to double team Hendrix in the post. We need to get more consistent production out of Yamene Coleman, because right now our post play really struggles without Hendrix and Jemison on the court. We knew we could not get into a 3 point shooting contest with them, and we were struggling from the perimeter. This allowed Belmont to build a lead in the first half.

Overall, I felt we had good effort on the defensive end, and the guards actually did a pretty good job of defending the perimeter. The problem was, their power forwards and centers would also step out behind the arc, which really stretched our defense thin. When Jemison, Yamene, and even Hendrix at times have to run out to the arc to contest a shot, we are going to have problems on the defensive end. They tried to run an uptempo game, but with only a couple of exceptions, we did a great job of getting back on the defensive end. I was most disappointed with our defensive rebounding efforts down the stretch. There is no excuse for a much smaller team like Belmont getting so many crucial second chance points late in the game, especially when Richard Hendrix is on the floor. He's the best player we've got and he had another great game, but I wonder if he was tiring late due to the uptempo nature of the game. I can think of 2 or 3 instances where he failed to get a body on a much smaller player who got a crucial offensive rebound at his expense.

It appears to me that we have some communication problems on defense. Belmont's offense uses a lot of screens against the man to man defense. At times we looked confused, especially the younger players, on whether to switch or fight through. There were times when one defender would switch and the other would not, and vice versa. A lot of that is communication, and a lot of it is just chemistry. I expect this to improve over the course of the season.

In my opinion, part of the problem with out apparent chemistry issues at this point is our substitution patterns. There seems to be no rhyme or reason. Hollinger came off the bench ahead of Rico. Despite a couple of turnovers, Hollinger did a pretty decent job. He's obviously working his tail off to continue to earn playing time. However, he is somewhat limited by his physical size. Rico and Torrance also did an acceptable job of running point, but their upside is so much greater. I suspect Coach Gottfried is experimenting with a number of different combinations right now to try to figure out what works best in different situations. As our substitution patterns get more set, I suspect our chemistry AND execution will improve on both ends of the floor.

I was very impressed with the play of Senario Hillman. After the exhibition game against UNA, I knew he was an incredible athlete, but was concerned about his willingness to play with in a team oriented system. Those concerns were obviously unfounded, as he made some great passes tonight and picked up some big time assists to go with his points. He made several big shots to bring us closer in the game before being benched with foul trouble, another key factor in the defeat.

We continue to struggle from the free throw line. We seem to do this every year early in the season, and by the end of conference play we are one of the top 3 free throw shooting teams in the SEC. Let's hope that is the case this time, and we can get this straightened out sooner rather than later.

Despite several disappointing possessions late in the game, this team did not give up. Riley was having a horrible half, he shot one air ball and threw another so hard off the backboard from about 10 feet out that the ball nearly cleared the 3 point line in the air, but he came back and redeemed himself by knocking down some crucial 3's late in the game, including one to tie the score in the final 30 seconds. Give credit to Belmont's player for the game winning shot, Riley played about as good as one could hope for without committing a foul on defense.

Belmont is not a great team, but they are the type of team that can beat anybody on a given night and could lose to anybody on a given night depending on how they are shooting. They WILL get open looks against just about anybody, it's just a question of whether or not they will make enough of them and do enough on defense to win. Tonight, they did, and congrats to them.

We played much better tonight than we did against Troy, in my opinion. This team is still a work in progress, and hopefully we will continue to see improvement. The season is still very young, so let's stay behind these players and coaches.

Up next, Larry Eustachy's Golden Eagles from Southern Miss pay us a visit Friday evening. Unfortunately, we probably will not have any coeds on campus to get him drunk the night before due to the Thanksgiving Holiday. I hope to see a lot of you supporting the Tide and heckling 12 step Larry at Coleman Coliseum Friday evening. RTR!

Belmont Bumps Bama

The Belmont Bruins brought a veteran squad to Coleman Coliseum and left with a well deserved and hard earned win. Bama's younger players made a contest of it but the Bruin's experience prevailed in the end.

Being the "super" fan that I am, I did not know the game was on television and thought tip off was at 7:00. When I turned on my radio at about 6:50 the half time score was Belmont 50 - Bama 45. I did not jot down the halftime statistics but Belmont apparently shot between 50 and 75% from outside the arc in the first half. Here is a link to the final box score.

Bama did defend the perimeter much better in the second half, but they forgot to box out underneath the basket. If we are lucky this team will continue to take baby steps and improve as the season progresses. Tonight the differences in the game appeared to be Belmont's second chance points in the second half, Belmont's three point shots in the first half, and Bama's being stone cold outside the arc and from the free throw line.

All things considered, I am not discouraged by tonight's loss. I do not know what happened in the first half, but the offense seemed to bog down with either Hollinger and Torrance at the point. Pickett did not appear to make any more mistakes than the other two but he did seem to add some energy into the offense. They looked either fatigued or confused at a couple of points, but for the most part it seemed that the players moved pretty well without the ball. They hustled up both ends of the court and were beat back on defense only a few times. I liked the way they moved the ball around. The point guards frequently looked frustrated and tended to dribble toward the basket when the clock ran down, but they did not seem to have a feel for what to do with the ball when they were blocked off. Bama suffered several other turnovers trying to make inlet passes, but at least they made them at full speed.

The team still does not appear to be fundamentally sound and looks about as confused as a novice observer would expect them to be. But they were moving much better on both ends of the court than in years past and the four guys who were not dribbling the ball did not stand around waiting to get the rebound after the point guard missed a three point shot or driving lay up.

All things considered, this is about what I expected. I hope CMG continues to use lots of players and to involve the younger players into the game. I wonder why we never saw Coleman. I would think that we will need him to contribute several times this year, especially if Hendrix will continue to get gassed like he did toward the end of tonight's game.

I will drive to T-town Friday night so my report will be posted quite late. If you read this early, then I encourage you to check back on the blog before you go to bed tonight. One of the most knowledgeable Bama Basketball fans I know has agreed to contribute here on as regular a basis as he can. I'm hoping he posts something when he gets back to Birmingham after having attended tonight's game.

Roll Tide!

Belmont stats pack

For your viewing pleasure. Click here.

They did win at Cincinnati, but this isn't your Bob Huggins Bearcats... they really do suck. They recently got slaughtered at Austin Peay, but they did go on the road and beat Samford. Make of that what you will.

The stats:
- 44% FG 36% 3PT FG
- +1 rebound margin
- 17.2 turnovers per game
- 77% from the line

I know nothing about Belmont outside of it being a place to bet on horses in NY. Oops... wrong Belmont... see I know nothing about them (had to look up where the school is- Cincinnati... or Nashville [thanks for the correction]). I do know we should beat the holy heck out of them.

Prediction- Marks Madness should get some PT in the final 5 minutes. Hendrix with another monster game (25/15) with timely threes from Tubbs, Gee, Riley, the ball boy, team manager, and even CMG as Alabama rolls by 30.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Bama Basketball Season Has Officially Started

The good news is that Coach Nick Saban is in the process of fixing the Bama Football program. The bad news is that the early stages of that process are going to be painful. Since Bama will not be playing football on January 1st, there is no reason for every Bama fan out there not to drive to Coleman Coliseum January 1st to attend the Clemson game. The roads will be empty. The drunks will be asleep and the football junkies will be glued to their t.v. sets. We will have the state to ourselves, so let's all come out to support The Tide.

We have games Monday and Friday night this week. Family obligations will keep me at home Monday while I listen to the game on the radio (assuming the local station doesn't go dark again like it did last week), but I will be in Coleman Coliseum both this Friday and next Friday to get my first, first-hand look at the new edition of The Tide.

Come and support Bama Basketball. I will see you there.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

SEC Hoops ranking

1) Tennessee- they continue to bulldoze inferior opponents.
2) Florida- actually here because of Arkansas and Kentucky faltering.
3) Alabama- good win at Mercer.
4) Vanderbilt- You just don't go into Toledo and expect to win... well, actually you should.
5) Arkansas- slipup against Providence unexpected. Actually they looked like crap.
6) Mississippi State- home loss to Clemson... too early to say if Clemson is better than advertised
7) Georgia- despite half the team on suspension they're still unbeaten.
8) Ole Miss- to be honest, 7-10 are about the same.
9) LSU- almost lost to McNeese St. That would've been embarrasing.
10) Kentucky- they lost to Gardner-Webb. They sit in the bottom 3rd until they beat someone.
11) South Carolina- undefeated and still shooting for another NIT title.
12) Auburn- they beat Bama... State. Still they barely survived that and an ugly loss to Tulane is still there.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

SEC signing day breakdown

Here is the SEC signing list breakdown. Obviously, we got our guys: JaMychael Green, Tony Mitchell (shown in the photo), and Andrew Steele. Welcome aboard!

Also of note, the Aubs appear to be living and dying with JUCOs, considering they signed two, Tay Waller and Johnnie Lett. Also, remember Courtney Fortson? After a year of prep school, the former Jeff Davis standout has signed with Arkansas. Also, the alma mater of Albert Weber, the degree mill of Genesis One prep, is still in business. Arkansas signed two of their players, so it will be interesting to see if they have any admissions problems....

Also, wanna walkon to an SEC team this year???? Georgia junior guard Billy Humphrey has been indefinitely suspended following his arrest for possession of a weapon on school property. The Bulldogs previously dismissed senior forward Takais Brown for violation of team policies. Guard Mike Mercer and forward Albert Jackson, both sophomores, are serving suspensions for violation of academic policies.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Schlabach (ESPN) writeup on Alabama-Mercer game

The school's string symphony performed the national anthem, and the Little League World Series champions from nearby Warner Robins, Ga., were honored at halftime. NBA scouts occupied several seats at the scorer's table and media row was packed.

Fans anticipated another upset for the once-woebegone conference that already has produced upsets of Kentucky, Cincinnati and USC during the first week of the season.

And the Bears, who had finished 13-17 last season and were picked to finish fifth in the A-Sun by media this season, were brimming with confidence. Beating a USC team chock-full of former McDonald's All-Americans, including sensational freshman O.J. Mayo, tends to do that to a middling mid-major.

"We want to get to the NCAA tournament," said Mercer guard James Florence, who nearly matched Mayo's 32 points with 30 points of his own in Los Angeles last weekend. "But after we beat USC, we saw where we were getting votes in the Top 25. Our expectations kind of changed."

Alabama doesn't have a guard as talented as Mayo. The Crimson Tide had one of the country's best point guards, but senior Ronald Steele is redshirting this season while recovering from surgeries on both knees.

But what Alabama does have is what a lot of teams like Mercer rarely have: a dominating inside player.

Read the rest here.
Things I didn't know... Lex Luger's kid plays for Mercer (Brian Pfohl). He did his best to cover Hendrix, but couldn't.

GREAT espn article by Jay Bilas on how the college game has changed

The early entry of so many of the game's best players has robbed college basketball of its mature talent. In the "good ol' days," we could watch a talented freshman class mature into seniors, and into an experienced machine out on the court. Tim Duncan didn't put up significantly bigger numbers from his sophomore to his senior years, but the way he put them up was magnificent and a joy to watch for anyone who truly loves and appreciates the game.

Well, the days when teams of juniors and seniors -- most of them future pros -- littered the landscape are over. We have a younger, less mature and lesser game as a result of the most talented players bolting college early for the NBA draft.

Already, talented freshman have made an immediate impact on the game. Michael Beasley of Kansas State scored 32 points and grabbed a Big 12-record 24 rebounds in his first game. Derrick Rose of Memphis has wowed us with his Jason Kidd-like ability. UCLA's Kevin Love dominated in his first game. Eric Gordon of Indiana, Kyle Singler of Duke and several others have established themselves as players worthy of immediate national recognition.

The rest can be read here (If you read just one link on this blog this is one to read).

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Hendrix leads Tide to big win at Mercer

90-83. Gee added 16 and shot well (up to the last 5 minutes). The D shut down Florence as he was miserable from the field.

A win on the road is always a good thing. I caught bits and pieces of the audio so I can't be as detailed as I'd like to be. If someone can add more feel free to.


Monday, November 12, 2007

Mercer Bears stats pack

I posted an espn recap of their upset over #18 Southern Cal a few posts below. I'll link last year's results/stats for your amusement.

Link to 06-07 season stats. They sucked last year, but a year of experience seems to have done the trick with them.

Hendrix should have his way inside with them, but Mercer should make up for it on the offensive side with James Florence and Shaddean Aaron (get a hand in their face please).

Prediction- Can another Atlantic Sun member shock the SEC? It happenned to Kentucky (Gardner-Webb) and this game is at Mercer so it's highly possible. Despite their upset against Southern Cal I still say in the end Hendrix and Jemison are too tough for them inside and the Tide escape Macon with a W. Tide by 4.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Mercer (our next opponent) might be better than we thought...

... went and beat USC in LA by 15. That's preseason #18 USC. This is probably a good thing for us as it should keep the team focused.


Around the SEC and getting Croomed again

Tennessee was impressive against Temple (of the Dog), Arkansas woke up and beat down Wofford, South Carolina won the battle of SC by beating SCSt, UGA demolished Jax St, Florida had a mild scare against North Dakota State, and Lebo's Tigers played really hard but in the end could not defeat the great Tulane Green Wave in front of a capacity house (of 1700) in New Orleans.

Summary from

In other news, Alabama gets Croomed again. Check with tidedruid, eightinthebox, or rollbamaroll for more indepth coverage. If we had a QB and a backup RT that could occasionally block IMO we'd be sitting at 9-1.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Hendrix leads Tide to win over Trojans

84-72. Troy got out to an early lead, but Alabama came back to take the lead at halftime and never looked back.

Box score

It looks like we clamped down on D in the second half... or Troy was ice cold from the field. I suspect the truth is in the middle. Regardless a good way to open the season. WE'RE UNDEFEATED BABEE WITH A CAPITAL B!

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

The (Second) Sixty Four Thousand Dollar Question

I suppose the first $64,000 question involves whether CMG really has seen the light and will stick to this "new" way of playing and coaching the game. Will basketball fundamentals, devensive play, and a premium on effort really become trademarks of CMG teams. Most of us who have been around for a while really hope so, but because we have been around for a time we are reserving judgment to see how the team really performs. I say again that I am more than willing to tank one season in return for the prospect that future teams will be fundamentally sound, physically conditioned, know how to play defense, and exhibit effort and heart.

The answer to the first question probably will resolve the second one, but here it is anyway: Will this season's team play up or down to its competition like CMG teams have done virtually every year during his tenure. How many years have we seen our teams play lights out against their biggest rivals and best teams in the conference and nation only to play poorly (and too frequently lose) to teams that did not have the talent to stay on the court with them.

I am cautiously optimistic about this year's team. I really hope things change. CMG is a good person, a good mentor for our players, and he can be a very good coach. Let's hope this is the season when he finally starts to put it all together.

Troy Trojans stats pack...

...of sorts. They demolished West Alabama 112-76. Read about it here.

Stats pack

Former great Alabama guard Justin Jonus plays for the Trojans now so you know he'll be fired up to stick it to us. I doubt he does, but CMG teams in the past have had problems with slow white shooters.

Looking at the boxscore of their game against West Alabama, they took 44 3pt shots... a little more than 1/2 their total shots. Uh oh... hopefully we shored up the beyond the arc D. Also, everyone that played logged 10 minutes or more so I have to assume they'll run at least 10 against us.

Prediction: Everything points to this being a game that's too close for comfort. Alabama by 7... clinching in the final minute.

Gametime is 7PM CST Friday 11/9.

This just in... the Big 10 sucks at basketball too

... first Michigan State loses to Grand Valley State now Ohio State loses to Findlay in an exhibition game.

I know Michigan State is the preseason favorite in the Big 10, but I think cheating Kelvin Sampson and Indiana win the conference.

Ranking the SEC from first to worst

I'll try to update this weekly. Let me start off with a preseason SEC list:

1) Tennessee- the odds on favorite to win the SEC.
2) Arkansas- gets the nod over Kentucky as they have better talent.
3) Kentucky- Tubby didn't leave a whole lot for Gillispie.
4) Alabama- despite what CMG says, this team can compete for the SEC title.
5) Mississippi State (M$U)- let's see how much or little the loss of the Delks and Goodridge make.
6) Florida- something tells me they'll be top 3 by the end of the year. For now it's a brand new team so they start here.
7) Vanderbilt- I predict they'll stay middle of the road all season long.
8) Auburn- some say Lebo's Tigers could be a sleeper NCAA pick.
9) Georgia- Felton's hardline stance might cost him his job. Before all the suspensions they were a potential NCAA team.
10) LSU- looks like another long year for the Brady bunch.
11) Ole Miss- Andy Kennedy is going to have to work magic for them to compete.
12) South Carolina- Dave Odom is prepping his Cocks for another NIT championship run... maybe not.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Sluggish 1st half... monster 2nd half as Tide beat down Lions

99-71. Hendrix with 18 points to lead the way, Riley and Jemison with 10 boards each (and double figures in points), and Pickett with 11 assists to go with 13 points.

Stats here.

I'm sure some were shocked at how close the game was at halftime... what I'm impressed with is how the team came out in the 2nd half. Total domination. A 26-0 run put the game away.

UNA stats pack...

... sort of. The best I can do is a box score of their first exhibition game (below). Here's their roster. Notice how many upperclassmen (I counted 13) they have.

They played Indiana tough for a half before getting run out of the building. Final score 121-76. Box score is here. From that game I guess we can assume they shoot a lot of 3s. I know nothing about the program to tell you the truth.

Alias posted the tentative starting lineup for your Alabama Crimson Tide. I'm kinda surprised at Pickett getting the nod over Torrance.... must've had a great run of practices or Torrance played below par. I don't know. I guess this is as good of time as any to see who's better prepared to lead the team at the point. I still think by next week we'll see Torrance starting with Pickett getting plenty of PT.

Prediction- If Indiana can beat them by 45 we should be able to take care of the Lions by 22.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Rico Pickett Expected Start At The Point In

Monday's exhibition game. It's posted here on So I guess I'm wrong again. I hope that means that Pickett has been progressing very well and not that anything is wrong with Torrence. I have heard from several sources that Pickett would be the guy to follow immediately behind Steele at the point, but those people thought it would happen next year. Given my friends overly optimistic assessment of incoming players recently, I have been reserving judgment on Pickett. But, as Coach Saban says, "It is what it is."

We will have to see whether this prediction bodes true and, if so, what it means. Or as I like to say, "Time will tell."

If anyone attends the exhibition game please either give us a report here or email one to me. I will be glad to post it and clearly identify the original author.

Roll Tide!

Friday, November 02, 2007

AP Poll released... Bama #41 and more news

Ok, the real story is the AP top 10 mirrors the ESPN one, not that we're ranked below Virginia, Clemson, and Syracuse (amongst others).

Link to AP and ESPN/USA Today polls.

From rivals, J'mison Morgan chose LSU over Alabama. I guess he wants to be the next Shaq. Like I said a dozen times, I don't follow recruiting... just passing the info along. If you're into that stuff, the link is a preview of paid content.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Preseason All-SEC announced

-Richard Hendrix, Alabama F 6-8 265 JR Athens, Ala.
-Patrick Beverley, Arkansas G 6-1 180 SO Chicago, Ill.
-Ramel Bradley, Kentucky G 6-2 199 SR New York, N.Y.
-Tasmin Mitchell, LSU F 6-7 230 JR Denham Springs, La.
-Jamont Gordon, Miss. State G/F 6-4 230 JR Nashville, Tenn.
-Charles Rhodes, Miss. State F/C 6-8 245 SR Jackson, Miss.
-Chris Lofton, Tennessee G 6-2 200 SR Maysville, Ky.
-Shan Foster, Vanderbilt G/F 6-6 205 SR Kenner, La.

I still don't get how the 1st team can have more than five players, but who am I to argue. Mango Salsa (Steven Hill C Arkansas) should be 1st team over Charles Rhodes IMO.