Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Top Ten Tennessee Turns the Tide in Tuscaloosa

This team played as hard as any I've ever seen. Gee, Hollinger, Hendrix, and Hillman seemed to go full speed after every loose ball at both ends of the court all night, but we didn't always play smart, we made some bad in-game decisions, and we didn't make the plays down the stretch, so now we're 1-5 in SEC play.

We were very fortunate that we did not get blown out in the first 5 or 6 minutes of the game. We started off in a man to man defense, and UT spread the floor and used their quickness to get to the basket. We gave up a ton of shots in the paint early. Fortunately for us, UT couldn't make a layup in the early going. I think we stayed with Rico at PG for too long. It was obvious very early on that he was not going to have a good game. He made poor decisions on the break, turning what should have been easy baskets into turnovers. He also missed several scoring opportunities because he was not keeping his head up. No points, 3 assists, and 5 turnovers is not what you are looking for out of your PG.

When we switched to the zone, we were able to force ut to take more low percentage shots. The problem was that we couldn't rebound out of it. I thought we did a tremendous job of rebounding on the offensive end, with Gee, Hendrix, Jemison, and even Riley putting forth a lot of effort to keep us in the game with 2nd chance points, but we were still outrebounded 41-32. As I said before the game, I liked the idea of playing a zone, but I thought we should have changed it up a little bit from time to time to keep them off balance, but we essentially stayed in the same defense for the entire second half.

I think it is time to replace Jemison in the starting lineup. He plays hard and probably pulls down more rebounds than he should, but his shooting seems to have regressed from last year. He was 1 for 5 last night, and I don't think any of those were from more than 8 feet. He can't even make a layup right now, and he doesn't have the size to be a great defender down low. Coleman isn't going to score either, but at least he can help defend the paint and maybe pull down a few more rebounds. It would be nice to see what Knox could do from time to time, but we haven't made any effort to get him playing time and help him develop. We need somebody to step up and compliment Hendrix in the paint.

Hollinger shot the ball well, but struggled at times with the pressure at point, mostly due to his size. He needs to realize that his game should be to look for the perimeter shot, he tried to attack the basket a couple of times with less than desirable results. You're not going to score many layups driving to the hoop in the SEC if you are under 6 ft.

I liked the lineup we used late in the 1st half when we had all 3 PGs on the court, but I would have much rather have seen Torrance running the point than Rico at that point.

We still do not seem to grasp the fundamental basics of breaking a press. I was having flashbacks to the Clemson game when, at the start of the 2nd half, we were unable to even get the ball across halfcourt and gave up a 10-0 run. We had at least 3 turnovers because we wouldn't run the baseline after a made basket.

Tennessee is obviously a better team. They now have some players to compliment Chris Lofton. Lofton made 5 from beyond the arc, and 3 of those were uncontested. Riley, Hillman, and Hollinger respectively either got caught out of position or were too slow to close on him. JuJuan Smith killed us from beyond the arc, and for the most part, his shots were contested, with a couple of exceptions. Still, Tennessee did not play their best game. They ended up with even more turnovers than we had, and most of those were unforced. They made poor passes, dropped balls, and missed a lot of easy shots. Considering that we got great games out of Hendrix, Gee, Torrance, Hollinger, and Hillman, we should have been able to pull off the upset at home. Turnovers, piss poor pathetic free throw shooting, and some bad decisions regarding personnel and defensive sets sealed our fate. Everytime we made a run in the 2nd half, Tennessee would answer with a key 3 pointer. Give credit to them for making the shots when they had to, many of which were well contested.

There was a good crowd of 11,800 on hand, and I would say that number appeared to be fairly accurate. The student turnout was much better than the auburn game, but the general public turnout was not as good. Once again, it appeared in my area that a lot of Tide Pride members are giving away their tickets these days. I can't say that I blame them.

Up next, Brady's Bayou Bengals pay us a visit Saturday at 2pm to determine who is the worst team in the SEC right now. We need another blowout win like we had against auburn to give us some confidence going into 2 tough road games next week, at $tarkville and Lexington.


Alias said...

I hope you remember to send me my cut from your royalty checks!

See you Saturday.

Anonymous said...

Here's the deal, fellas. Tennessee ain't all that much better than Bama. Bama has most of the pieces in place and those guys have great skills -- Gee and Hendrix stand out but they all, as a team, should be better.

Bama shouldn't be 1-5 right now, they should be 3-2 or even 4-1. It's got to be coaching.

MSmilie said...

I guess I'm going to be in the minority here but I saw a lot of good things in the game against Tennessee that suggest to me that if Bama plays with the same intensity for the rest of the year, they may be able to salvage what's left of the season.
I think the best course of action is to go with the four-guard line-up for the rest of the season. I thought that would be the set-up at the beginning of the season. I was very surprised that Jemison was and has continued to start.
I think the best line-up is Hollinger, Riley (or another guard), Hillman (i've been very impressed with his play on both ends of the floor recently) and Gee with Hendrix in the middle. I think that's our best bet with a starting five at this point. It's an experienced (save Hillman), quick, offensively proficient unit. Defensively, I'm not so sure, but this team doesn't appear primed to become a great defensive team anytime soon. I think their best bet is to hopefully do what they did to Auburn - force turnovers, create transition buckets and shoot the three.

Regarding Saturday: I'm really worried about Bama suffering a let-down in this game after the big win over Auburn and the high-energy game with Tennessee. Factor in LSU winning at Auburn last night and things become increasingly worrisome.

DJC said...

We aren't going to salvage anything, no matter how hard we play, if we don't start shooting FTs better. The women's team is shooting a higher percentage than the men's right now (62.3-59.2). Me, Alias, Bobbyjack, Hville, and Mitchell could shoot at least 60% from the line.

Alias said...

DJC, the four of us could shoot 60% collectively even with me shooting my customary 20%. Speaking of 20%, by my calculations that should be about what you owe me out of each of your checks!

I apologize for not having been more active here lately, but I frankly have not had the stomach to watch entire games on television. If I am in Coleman Coliseum I stay until the bitter end. But in the comfort of my den that remote control device sure can alleviate a lot of discomfort when the Tide is on the TV.