Monday, March 31, 2008

South Carolina hires Darrin Horn from Western Kentucky

... that didn't take long. Now the SEC will have 2 former Western KY coaches in the same division (Felton is from there in case you didn't know).

From sports.

My thoughts... I think they did alright, but could've aimed higher for Grant from VCU. Still, it's an improvement over Odom.

Let's see what LSU has up their sleeve. The rumor is they're going hard after Bennett from Washington State.

Grading the Crimson Tide- John DIll, Alonzo Gee and Richard Hendrix

John Dill- he also did a great job cheerleading from the bench. There's really not much more to say about him as he rarely saw the court. Grade: C+

Alonzo Gee- I keep waiting for him to be that guard we saw his freshman year. You know, the one that took the ball to the hole and scored. He seems to do well in the November and December tournaments then falls apart in conference play. He should be better than 42% from the field. I'll say this... I don't think he fits the offense CMG runs (comments about what that offense is is another topic/another day). I could see him being very successful in a "run-n-gun" type offense. Being that's not what we do, he's fails here. Grade: C-

Richard Hendrix- he was our leading scorer and rebounder, did a decent job defensively, and at times carried the team on his back. The problem we had is teams went into Hack-A-Shaq mode and he was miserable from the charity stripe. He cost us dearly at the line as he couldn't hit 50% in conference play. I wish he would've demanded the ball more (maybe he did and we never heard about it) as we would've been better off letting him bang on the inside than let any of the other guys chuck it up from outside. Hendrix is the only player on the team that shot at a 50% clip from the field the entire season. IMO I think the coaches failed him. Grade B+

Four #1s make it to the Final Four. That's great. The 4 best teams this season will battle it out for the title. Of the four, the only one I don't see having much of a chance is Kansas. Saying that, they'll probably win it.

I think the 3rd times the charm for UCLA... it's a powder blue finals with the Bruins taking out the Tar Heels.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Bama gets committment from 3 star PG from Texas

Reger Dowell, a 6'1, 170 lb PG from Duncanville, TX has committed to Alabama. He had offers from Marquette and Texas A&M. rates him as a 3 star.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Sorry about the lack of updates...

... I was busy helping Santa. If you plan on traveling to Fairbanks, AK I suggest make it at most 2 days. Any longer than that and you'll be bored silly. Oh yeah, unless you want to see the Norrthern Lights I suggest you make your travel plans after May and before October.

The Elite 8 is set and it looks like UNC and Memphis are the teams to beat. I expect both to advance to the Final Four. Both were impressive in dismantling their overmatched opponents.

Davidson crushed Wisconsin and Kansas crushed Villanova setting up an interesting matchup between the 2. Davidson's run ends Sunday.

The SEC is done in the Sweet Sixteen. Louisville out-tenneseeed Tennessee. Man did the SEC suck this year.

Xavier's a nice story, but UCLA should end their run today. IS there a better coach in the land right now than Howland?

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Tide Basketball Signees Net Post Season Honors

All three of the University of Alabamas November 2007 basketball signees have received post season honors recently for their high school senior seasons of play. The 2007 signees are JaMychal Green, Andrew Steele and Tony Mitchell.

JaMychal Green, a 6-foot-9 center/forward from Montgomery was named Mr. Basketball by the Alabama Sportswriters Association. He will play in the McDonald’s All-American basketball game on Wednesday and later in the Michael Jordan Classic. He led St. Jude to the Class 1A state championship and is a three-time Alabama Sportswriters Association Player of the Year for his class. Green, who is the states Gatorade Player of the Year, scored more than 2,500 points and led his team to state championship titles in 2006 and 2008. Green has been invited by USA Basketball to attend tryouts for the 2008 U18 FIBA America Championship Team that will complete in Formosa, Argentina July 14-18. Tryouts and the training camp take place in Washington, D.C. in early July.

Andrew Steele, a guard from Birmingham’s John Carroll Catholic, was recently named the Class 5A Alabama Sportswriters Association Player of the Year and to the Birmingham News Super Five team. Steele, the brother of Crimson Tide All-American point guard Ronald Steele, was also the Birmingham News’ Metro Player of the Year for 2007-08 and is an Alabama-Mississippi All-Star game participant. He ended his high school career with 1,501 career points, 706 rebounds and 305 steals for his career. He shot 47.7% from the field for his career and 53% from the field his senior season. Steele averaged 16.1 points and 8.4 rebounds. Like his older brother who is an Academic All-Southeastern Conference collegiate player, Andrew Steele was highlighted as his high schools Scholar Athlete of the Week on February 6, 2008 because of his 4.0 GPA.

Tony Mitchell, a 6-foot-7 small forward who signed with Alabama out of Swainsboro, GA averaged 19 points, 8 rebounds and 5 blocks per game and was recently named the Class AA Player of the Year by the Georgia Sportswriters Association. Mitchell was also his regions Player of the Year. Mitchell was picked for Georgias 2008 North-South All-Star game.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Grading the Crimson Tide- Greg Cage and Yamene Coleman

I'm going to go alphabetically to make it easier on myself.

Greg Cage- Well, he did one hell of a job cheering from the bench. Outside of a few garbage minutes (which were entertaining) we don't know what kind of a player Cage is. He graduates so we'll never know. Anyways, from the extremely limited times he saw game action I found his play to be what you'd expect from a last man on the bench sort of player. He was inspired, hustled, and seemed to enjoy the moments on the court. I give him a B- just because he rode the bench and cheered the team on.

Yamene Coleman- Unlike Cage, he did get some PT... albeit mostly in the latter part of the year. From what I saw he is a bit more refined than most said he was. He showed some post moves, defended well inside, and rebounded better than I thought he would. What's scary is his FT percentage... one that make Hendrix look like Bobby Hurley. I wish we would've seem more of him this year and I think we'll see him in an expanded role next season. For now... I give him a C.

In NCAA Tournament news... Tennessee is the only SEC team remaining. That's not surprising being the SEC sucked this year. Davidson upsets Georgetown and Villanova beats Siena to make it to the 2nd week. I can see Davidson playing in the Elite 8 as I'm not sold on Wisconsin, but Villanova's run ends with a thud against Kansas.

Many are saying Louisville beats Tennessee in the round of 16, but I disagree. Butler is better than Louisville and IMO they can't match up man for man against Tennessee.

I'm intrigued by Stanford-Texas... should be a high scoring game. Memphis-Michigan State probably isn't close as Memphis has too many athletes for the Spartans to match up with. My adopted team (West Virginia) goes against Xavier. I think they beat the Musketeers and face UCLA in the regional finals.

The UNC-Wast St game should be interesting. Whoever dictates the pace will win.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Quick recap of Saturday's 2nd round matchups...

- West Virginia was simply better than Duke. I dare say they were more talented than the Blue Devils. Duke should not have been a 2 seed.

- Michigan State ruined one of my brackets by stiffling Pittsburgh. It was an ugly game... the type Michigan State loves to play.

- UCLA slipped past A&M. A&M led most of the game, but in the end UCLA made more plays.

- Stanford beat Marquette in OT. I thought Marquette had it won twice... once in the waning seconds of regulation and when they took the lead in the final seconds of OT. Lopez made a tough shot to advance Stanford to the Sweet Sixteen.

-Wisconsin crushed Kansas State. As great of a player Beasley is, he doesn't make his teammates better. I saw a lot of forced shots by him and the Badgers rebounded and converted it on the other end.

- Kansas beat UNLV behind a strong 2nd half. I thought UNLV would give them a better game... I thought wrong. UNLV couldn't stop any of KU's guards from penetrating.

- Purdue and Xavier played what seemed for like 8 hours. Xavier's balanced offense moved them on.

- Finally, Washington State destroyed Notre Dame. Like the game against Winthrop, their defense shut the Fightin' Irish down.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

NCAA Round 1 recap Day 2

I couldn't do this again (the ball going in pic above) if I took 1000 pictures. I got lucky.

I attended the 1st session in Birmingham and saw Tennessee fight off an upstart American University and Butler destroy South Alabama.

It took 38 minutes for Tennessee to put away American. Lofton had a horrendous game but Chism, JaJuan, and Tyler Smith picked up the slack. American University represented well both on the court and in the stands as quite a few American University fans made the trip from DC.

Butler absolutely killed USA. #34 for Butler made just about everything he threw up from beyond the arc. I watched him warming up before the 2nd half and he didn't miss a shot. Come to think of it, everyone from Butler was hot from beyond the arc (just checked the stats... 53% from 3). USA was clearly outclassed in this matchup. I was kinda surprised there weren't more USA fans in attendance.

The Tampa region saw all the upsets as #12 Western Kentucky beat "The Drake" in OT on a game winning 3 as time expired, #13 Siena took care of Vanderbilt easily, #13 San Diego (drove by their campus Monday... very nice BTW) beat UConn in OT on a last second jumper, and #5 Clemson chokes an 18 point lead to lose to #12 Villanova. So in the 2nd round we have 2 matchups of 12 and 13 seeds. Wow.

Miss State comes back to beat Oregon... I think they give Memphis a game Sunday. Arkansas upends Indiana and now faces UNC Sunday. The Hogs have the talent to play with UNC and will give them problems inside.

Friday, March 21, 2008

NCAA Day 1 review

Eh... outside of the Belmont (Race Track) almost upseting the Dookies everything went the way it was supposed to. I guess you can say Kansas St beating USC is an upset, but it's really not.

Xavier was unimpressive over UGA and Marquette held off Kentucky in games of SEC note.

Washington State throttled Winthrop in the 2nd half. The game was 29-29 at halftime and then Washington State started to play. They allowed 11 points inthe 2nd half. I've liked this team all year long and it seems that they put on their best performance this year. Next up, Notre Dame who outclalssed George Mason. That should be a good one.

UNLV blasted Kent St... the final score wasn't indicative of how dominant the Runnin' Rebels were. I say they give Kansas fits Saturday.

Pitt continued their recent rampage by blowing out Oral Roberts. I have them in my Final Four so keep on winning Panthers!

West Virginia bested Arizona in a game closer than the final score. WVU went on a late run to seal it. I think they handle Duke Saturday.

UCLA demolished Miss Valley State. That was expected. Next up, Texas A&M.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Should He Stay or Should He Go?

I apologize in advance for the length of this post. Feel free to scroll down and just take in the Cliffs notes version.

There has been a lot of talk on the internet message boards and radio call in shows about whether or not the University of Alabama should retain Mark Gottfried for his head coaching services to the men's basketball team. There is no doubt that we just completed a horrible season, arguably our worst in the last 38 years. However, Coach Gottfried has been here for 10 years now, so we should have a complete body of work to judge his performance on. I think we can all agree that this year sucked, but let's examine his overall record and determine if he should stay.

Fortunately, fans do not hire and fire coaches (for the most part). He will not be retained or fired based upon what any of us think. Still, I would like to present both sides of the issue in a fair and factually based manner, as opposed to the over the top rhetoric you find coming from a lot of folks these days.

The case for Coach Gottfried He represents the University well and runs a clean program that we all should be proud of. He recruits players of high character. You never hear of our players getting into any serious trouble off the court. We haven't had any NCAA compliance issues. He graduates all of his players. Few coaches represent their University with the class that Coach Gottfried does, and that means a lot to me.

He is one of us. The man played for some good Alabama teams under Wimp Sanderson. One of my earliest memories of Alabama basketball is counting the consecutive 3 point shots he made during warm-ups of a game against Georgia. He would later play a key role in winning that game in overtime. That was the first of my many trips to Coleman Coliseum. With his strong ties to UA, it is less likely that he would leave us for greener pastures if he ever had great success here. Whereas if we hire the next great up and coming coach, we may enjoy the mountain top for a brief period of time before he bolts to Kentucky, Kansas, Duke, North Carolina, UCLA, or Indiana.

He saved the program from the Hobbs era. Basketball was as good as dead when he arrived. My freshman year at UA was David Hobbs' last year. Nobody went to the basketball games. I could walk in 15 minutes before tip off and sit on the front row along the baseline right next to Alabama's bench. In fact, Hobbs didn't even have enough seats on the bench for the entire team that year, so a walk-on redshirt freshman sat right next to me. It was a sad state of affairs. Thanks to Coach Gottfried, by the time I finally graduated 7 years later, it was necessary to spend the previous night at the coliseum to get a front row seat in the student section.

With the renewed interest in the basketball program, Coach Gottfried was able to pressure the athletic department into renovating Coleman Coliseum. It still has its faults, and we would probably have been better off building a new one, but the improvements were significant and Coach Gottfried deserves some of the credit for making that happen. I've been to every SEC arena, and at least we are now in the top half as far as facilities go.

Recruiting. Coach Gottfried has recruited some great athletes here. From Rod Grizzard, Gerald Wallace, Kennedy Winston, Mo William, Erwin Dudley, Jemario Davidson, Ron Steele, Richard Hendrix, and the list goes on. We have yet another good recruiting class coming in.

He has taken the team to unchartered territory. I have been to some amazing games. I saw the Crimson Tide win a National Championship in football in 1992. I saw my favorite baseball team get its only post season series win in 100 years. Hugging Kennedy Winston's aunt in Phoenix while the final seconds ticked off the clock in 2004 as we beat the defending national champs ranks right up there at the top of the list. That was our only trip to the Elite 8 in the history of the program. Coach Gottfried also led us to our first ever #1 National Ranking, but unfortunately we nearly became the first team to ever be ranked #1 and not make the tournament. We got in as a 9 sede and lost in the first round. Still, it was good publicity for the program.

There are some administrative reasons that would make it unwise to fire him. For one, he has a $3M buyout. As much as I want us to be a basketball school, we are not. The best we could probably hope for would be another up and coming coach who has a resume similar to Gottfried's when he was hired. It would be a gamble anyway, but the buyout issue makes it a HUGE roll of the dice. Not to mention the fact that Wendell Hudson is now too busy coaching the women's team to lead a search for the next men's coach. I like Mal Moore, he's done a lot of good for the athletic department and he knows his football, but I don't think he has the basketball knowledge to lead a search for a new coach.

The case against Coach Gottfried

We used to own the SEC tournament. There was a time when it was jokingly referred to as the Wimp Sanderson invitational. You could almost bet that we would be playing Kentucky or Arkansas in the championship game every year. In 10 years under Gottfried, we've been to the final game one time, and lost it. We've won one SEC regular season championship in that time. We've only had 3 seasons with a winning record in the SEC.

His record in SEC play after 10 years is right around .500. I know he inherited a mess and has had a lot of tough breaks over the last couple of years, but still, we shouldn't be this bad now and we should have been better in the years before that. Historically, we are the #2 program in the SEC behind Kentucky. Admittedly, that is a very distant second, and Arkansas would be #2 if they had been in the conference longer, but the point remains. At this point, we have been surpassed by Florida and arguably Tennessee.

As great as the Elite 8 run was, that is the only year he has made it past the first weekend of the NCAA tournament. I'd rather consistently make the sweet 16 than make the Elite 8 once every 10 years.

Every year, we have at least 2 games where we get embarassed. This year, it was Clemson at home and at auburn. Overall, this team played very hard this year with the exception of that Clemson game. That being said, most years we have a couple of games where we almost appear uninterested and unprepared. I have sat through more 20+ point losses on the road than I care to remember. In most of those cases, we were down 30 or 40 at some point.

He doesn't seem to make the best decisions in regards to hiring assistant coaches. I cannot recall the name of the assistant coach we had before Asbury from Alabama State, but he was awful. When Asbury left, there were a lot of well known coaches who were rumored to be available, but Gottfried decided to stay in house and promote Kobe Baker. Ultimately, he needs a staff that he is comfortable with, but from what I gather Baker's strength is that he's a great recruiter. We already have 2 great recruiters on this staff in Coach Gottfried and Coach Pearson. He needed to hire a very good X's and O's, defensive minded coach, but failed to do so.

The Verdict The fact that he is such a good recruiter, makes the SEC record that much more frustrating. He's obviously not getting the most out of his talent. Many of his detractors point to the fact that his crowning achievement, the Elite 8 victory, would not have been possible without the heroics of Pettway in the first round. While that is true, Coach Gottfried should still get credit for bringing Pettway to campus and having him in position to make a difference in the first place.

He seems to always perform well when his back is to the wall. Remember, the Elite 8 season looked like a lost cause after a home loss to Vanderbilt. It took an incredible upset over highly ranked m$u in Starkville to turn the season around. This year, he took some of the heat off by finishing strong with wins over Vanderbilt and Arkansas at home, a convincing win over the Gators in Atlanta, before losing a well played, hard fought game to m$u. While the self preservation instinct is impressive, after 10 years I would like to see him get to a point where his back is not to the wall every other year. For once, it would be nice if we built upon our momentum instead of regressing. We really should have been able to move up to the next level after the Elite 8 run.

You will notice I left some of the more popular reasons out of the case against him above. That's because I think some of the criticism of him is unfounded. For example, many say that he can't draw up an inbound play. While he's certainly called some questionable plays in pressure situations, I can think of several games where we got good shots off at the end of a game or half, including a few game winners. He's certainly no Roy Williams or Coach K in these regards, but he's not as awful as we sometimes make him out to be. Another common criticism is that he runs his players off, looking at the attrition rate. However, when you bring in the recruiting classes that he has, that is bound to happen. Kids want playing time, and for the most part the kids we've lost have not exactly gone on to be superstars, so I give him a pass on that one. Also, while I'm not a big fan of the high post offense and I think it is somewhat outdated, I do believe that any offense can be at least moderately successful if ran correctly with the right personnel.

I wonder if he has the same passion and drive as when he first came here. As an Alabama basketball fan, my expectation for the program is to be consistently competitive, with hopes of making it to a final 4 in the forseeable future. When Coach Gottfried first came here, he often spoke of his goal of winning a National Championship. When was the last time he said anything about a National Championship? I don't think I've heard those words come out of his mouth in 4 years. Somehow we have gone from boldly declaring our goal of winning it all to whining about how difficult it has become to make the NIT.

Okay, I'm going to finally get to the point. I think he needs to go. It saddens me to say that. I like the guy, and I want him to be successful at Alabama. However, the bottom line for me is that I want somebody capable of getting us to a final four. At this point, I'm afraid I have no confidence in Coach Gottfried's ability to do that. When I'm at the point that I feel there is no hope of making the Final Four, then I think it's time to roll the dice and take a gamble. That being said, I want CM Newton in charge of finding the new coach. I'm not willing to take that gamble if it means Mal Moore leading the search, no offense to Coach Moore.

Even though I have now expressed my opinion that he needs to go, I urge everybody to back off the guy. The personal attacks that I have heard and read about him and his family are completely uncalled for. He's done A LOT of good for the program, most of which is outlined above, and he's one of us. We should all be grateful for the job that he has done. Despite all of the mediocre seasons and blowout losses, I will always have very fond memories of the Coach Gottfried era. He made Bama basketball fun again while I was a student at UA. Today, some of my best friends are people that I met in college through our common interest in Alabama basketball. If he didn't save us from the Hobbs era, I probably would have been the only person in the gym those years.

Sometimes long term relationships go stale, and neither is at fault. Alabama and Coach Gottfried are kind of like a couple who have been together forever. Everybody wants to see them be happy together, but it just isn't meant to be. Sometimes you need something new and exciting, and I think that would be better for everybody in this situation. Coach Gottfried is a nice guy, but he can't give us what we need, and that is the next step, either a Final Four or at least a consistently, nationally competitive program. At the same time, Coach Gottfried would probably do very well if faced with a new exciting challenge. I think he would do very well back at another mid major. Regardless, I would certainly be pulling for him.

Reality I was going to post a list of potential coaching candidates, along with their resumes and my opinions of each, but I've decided that would be a waste of time. Unless something drastic changes, he's going to be back. I really hope he proves me wrong and we go all the way next year. I will be pulling for him and supporting him and the program in every way that I can. While I don't agree with it, his return is not entirely a bad thing. This is certainly a situation where there is a lot of evidence to support either position, and reasonable minds can differ. However, next year is a make or break year. The atmosphere at Coleman and the interest of the fan base was deteriorating at a fast pace by the end of the season. We cannot afford another year like the last 2.

Cliff's Notes Version Coach Gottfried is a class act who has done a lot of good for the program. He's taken us to new heights, saved us from the Hobbs era, and spearheaded an improvement in our facilities. He's a great recruiter, runs a class program, and graduates all of his players. However, he has not lived up to our historical level of competitiveness in the SEC, we often get blown out, he's made some bad hires, and he does not get nearly as much as he should out of his talent. A lot of the criticism is unwarranted or too harsh, but at the end of the day I just don't think he can get us to the next level. Regardless, whether we like or not, he's going to be back, so we may as well get behind him and hope for the best.

NCAA Final Four prediction

I like Tennessee to come out of the East. The easy pick would be UNC, but IMO Tennessee has the athletes to match up with the Tar Heels and I believe they'll press their way to the Final Four. Enjoy him while you can Tennessee as Indiana is about to call.

Until Bill Self actually gets Kansas to the Final Four I can't pick them to make it so I'm going with Georgetown. Great guard play and Hibbert in the middle should have them beating Kansas in the Elite 8. I look for Patrick Ewing Jr to have an exceptional tournament.

I like Pitt to make it out of the region here. Memphis' FT shooting is going to bite them in the ass and I think it kills them in the Sweet Sixteen. Pitt's been on a roll lately and I think it continues into April.

UCLA has the easiest road to the Final Four. Their toughest challenge is probably UConn in the Sweet Sixteen. Duke and Xavier are overrated... I don't have either of them making it to the Sweet Sixteen. That would be 3 straight Final Fours for UCLA if I'm right.

Sleeper teams:
- West Virginia: I can see them beating Arizona and Duke enroute to the Sweet Sixteen.
- Kentucky: Despite the loss of Patterson they have a decent road to the 2nd week.
- Villanova: There's usually a 12 seed playing in the Sweet Sixteen. I figure it's them.
- Butler: Normally a team with only 3 losses is not a sleeper, but they're a 7 seed somehow. If I remember correctly they beat Tennessee last season in the preseason NIT. If they can get by USA the Vols better come to play.

Monday, March 17, 2008

NCAA snubs, what should happen to CMG, and some random thoughts

NCAA Snubs
I agree with Dick Vitale in that Arizona State was screwed over by the selection committee. They beat Arizona twice and had a better conference record. There's no good reason why Arizona is in and ASU is out. Sendek has ASU on the right track and should be in the NCAAs next season. His former team (NC State) hasn't been to the tourney since their administration pushed Sendek out.

What should happen to CMG
Should Mark Gottfried come back next year? I say no he shouldn't. Let me list my reasoning behind this:

1) CMG has lost the support of a good majority of fans. People are tired of the excuses he makes when we lose (they made a tough shot, we're close, etc).

2) It is CMG and the staff's responsibility to have a PG we can somewhat trust. Over the last season and a half we haven't had that. I can understand last season, but this year is inexcusable, especially when IMO our best true PG (and he's far from a true PG) doesn't see the court.

3) It's been 40 years since we've sucked this bad in conference play. Being that the SEC pretty much sucked this year makes it even worse.

4) IMO we've gone as far as we can under CMG. We could replace him and fall another step back, but I'm ready to take that chance. What we have right now is mediocrity. Actually, the program has gone backwards.

5) His inability to use the bench over the years. No wonder we have the attrition we have and I suspect a few more will leave before the 2008-09 season.

Random thoughts
- Oklahoma a 6 seed and Mississippi State an 8? I don't have the hatred for MSU like some of my other co-bloggers so I'll say they got screwed a bit. OU finished 9-7 in a fairly weak Big 12.

- Best 1st round match: Arkansas vs Indiana

- I like West Virginia as a sleeper pick. I can see them in the Sweet Sixteen or Elite 8.

- Alabama fired WBB coach Stephany Smith and replaced her with Wendell Hudson... who hasn't coached in 22 years. Not that I care about women's basketball, but come on now... the university can at least pretend they want a competitive basketball program.

- Over the next couple of weeks I'm going to critique the team player by player.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Final SEC Rankings

1) Tennessee- Steven Hill cost them a #1 seed. They got a tough draw in the NCAAs.
2) Arkansas- Came on strong... especially in the tourney.
3) Miss State- DJC found a pic gem below.
4) Vanderbilt- How did they get a 4 seed?
5) Kentucky- Gillespie did one hell of a job getting his team on track.
6) UGA- they win 4 games in conference and go on to win 4 straight in the SECT to get the automatic bid. Not to mention they won 3 games in 30 hours.
7) Florida- A team to watch next year.
8) South Carolina- almost pulled 2 upsets in the SECT.
9) Ole Miss- played well late, but choked against UGA in the 1st round.
10) Alabama- heartbreaker to M$U, played well late, but in the end 5-11 sucks.
11) LSU- the new coach will inherit a lot of talent coming back.
12) Auburn- Lebo committed career suicide taking the job there.

SEC matchups in the NCAAs (all time EST):
- #2 Tennessee vs #15 American (Bham) 3/21 at 12:15PM
- #8 Indiana vs #9 Arkansas (Raleigh) 3/21 at 9:40PM
- #8 Mississipp State vs #9 Oregon (Little Rock) 3/21 at 7:25PM
- #3 Xavier vs #14 UGA 3/20 (DC) at 12:20 PM
- #4 Vanderbilt vs # 13 Siena (Tampa) 3/21 at 7:20PM
- #6 Marquette vs #11 Kentucky (Anaheim) 3/20 at 2:30PM

I can see the winner of IU/Ark giving UNC fits in the 2nd round. I can also see Miss State challenging Memphis.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

UGA wins 2 in a day

Congrats to the real Bulldogs, for making history by winning two games in one day and advancing to the finals of the SEC tournament as a #6 seed.

Tough loss and Tornado to end Tide's season

First of all, I hope everyone who went to Atlanta this weekend, including our rivals fans, is safe and doing well.

Now, a few thoughts on the game. We played awful out of the gate, going one on one on offense, turning the ball over, and not defending the lane or the post at the other end. $tate built a 10-0 lead. We switched to a zone and that made a world of difference. Vernardo still hurt us, but we were able to minimize the damage and shut them down for periods of time. They weren't making their perimeter shots and we went 8 for 15 from 3 point range in the first half to come back and take the lead. We lost some momentum going into the half when we made a boneheaded turnover with 5 seconds left by inbounding the ball from the front court all the way back to near the free throw line in the backcourt, allowing m$u to get the steal, draw a foul, and make a free throw with .1 left.

In the second half, we continued to play good defense in the zone, but $tate was able to make some shots. We blew the lead because we could not make a shot on offense. Riley was shut out for most of the second half. $tate is a very good defensive team, and deserves a lot of the credit for our troubles on offense. Vernardo really did a good job on Hendrix, and we had to rely on jumpshots for our scoring.

For all the talk about Coach Gottfried's inability to draw up an inbounds play, and I have criticized him for this in the past, he did a really good job of that tonight. When we were down one with about 20 seconds left, we ran an inbounds play out of a timeout from the baseline that gave Hendrix a great look. Unfortunately, he went up soft and got blocked by Vernardo, whereas if he would have attacked the basket, he would have probably drew a foul at the minimum. With 2 seconds left, Riley was able to get a good look and send the game into overtime. With .5 seconds left at the end of the game, Riley got another good look from nearly the same spot, but the ball just wouldn't go down.

With about 2 minutes to play in overtime, Gee was fouled, and the roof started to shake. They say that tornados act as if they are magnetically attracted to trailer parks. I guess with severe weather in the area, and the large contingent of Mi$$ $tate fans in the Georgia dome, it's no wonder that is where it hit. The announcers said that one of m$u's coaches was asking the ref where they got the ball out of bounds. I suspect they knew that Gee was going to the foul line, but was trying to take advantage of the confusion in the situation.

Overall, we played a pretty good game, but just got beat by a better team. As bad as this year has been, these guys never gave up. I know Riley is probably still hurting from missing that last shot, especially it being his senior year, but I hope he realizes that he probably saved a lot of lives by sending that game into overtime. If he doesn't make the shot to send it into overtime, thousands of Bama and m$u fans who were not planning on staying for the Kentucky/Georgia game would have been walking out of the dome about the time the tornado hit.

I know it's tough to make decisions in these types of situations, but I think the officials in Atlanta have done a HORRIBLE job of handling this whole fiasco. We all know the games have been moved to Georgia Tech because the dome is unsafe. If that is the case, why was it considered safe enough for us to finish our game in last night? How exactly can you inspect the structural integrity of a 70,000 seat dome stadium in 30 minutes, at night? If it was safe enough for us to finish the game, then it was safe enough for UK/UGA to get their game in last night without forcing the winner of that game to have such a huge disadvantage of having to win twice today. My guess is that they put a lot of people in danger by finishing our game last night. Bolts and washers were falling from the ceiling. I'm no engineer, but I'm pretty sure those bolts and washers were used to hold something together.

To make matters worse, they are only allowing the bands, cheerleaders, player's family, and media to the games at Georgia Tech. The SEC should refund EVERYBODY who bought a book of tickets this year. People spend a lot of time and money travelling to Atlanta and now they won't even get a chance to see their team play. First of all, I think there were better options than Georgia Tech. Phillips Arena for one, depending on how much damage it sustained. If not there, there is a fairly large arena in Gwinett County that I believe is larger than Georgia Tech's gym. At the very least, they should have made the seating general admission, and allowed the first 9,000 fans with valid tickets in to see their game. The Georgia Dome is horrible facility anyway, especially for basketball. It would not hurt my feelings if they would permanently move the SEC tournament out of Atlanta.

Well, for all intents and purposes, the season is over. There has been a lot of speculation about Coach Gottfried's job security, and I have refrained from posting my opinion in detail on the subject until the season's end. As long as we are playing games, I feel it's more prudent to support the effort at hand than speculate on the future. I will wait until after Sunday to make sure we don't get a bid to the God awful NIT or CBI tournaments, and assuming we do not, I plan to post what I hope will be a fair, balanced evaluation of Coach Gottfried's career at UA. Until then...

Georgia Dome folds under weather... oh yeah, Bama falls to MSU in OT

First off, I hope everyone that attended the game made it out ok. I didn't make it to the game as my flight came in late, but I did get to watch it. Looking back I'm glad I made it home instead.

The good guys fall to Jamont Gordon and Mississippi State in OT 69-67. A beautiful play was drawn up for Riley with 2 seconds left in OT... the shot juuuuust rimmed out. Riley sent the game into OT with a contested 3 over Hansbrough at the buzzer.

With about 2 minutes left in OT Gee drove to the lane and was fouled. Then, the roof of the Dome started moving, the lights flickered, and the catwalk swayed. It's uncomfirmed, but it seems like a tornado flew over downtown Atlanta. Here's a news link from the local ABC affiliate WSB. I live 25 miles west and while we had heavy rain and some wind, it was nothing like what Fulton County got.

UPDATE- Tornado confirmed.

Back to the game recap...

The good:
- Overall good defensive effort
- Held MSU to 20% from 3
- Only 11 turnovers
- Our big 3 contributed 48 points
- Offensive plays after timeouts
- FT shooting

The bad:
- We shot the ball like crap (31%)
- Had problems with Rhodes and Varnado inside late in the game

In the end the better team won, but they had to fight for it. If we had this kind of effort throughout the season things would've been different for us.

The SEC Tournament has been moved to Ga Tech. Only players' families and the media will be allowed to attend the remaining games. Link to this info is here. Georgia and Kentucky are scheduled to play at noon today as their game was postponed.

Maybe this is the kick in the ass needed to move the SEC Tournament out fo the Ga Dome and into Philips Arena or some other non-football venue in the southeast. Next year it's in Tampa and I suspect attendance will be even less than what they normally get in Atlanta. For those that have never attended a SECT game in the Ga Dome let me tell you... the view sucks from anywhere behind row 30 anywhere in the Dome.

Friday, March 14, 2008

As Robbie Robertson said after the last encore of The Last Waltz:

Good night. Goodbye.

Miss State stats pack 3 and a slight rant on some of our "fans"

Because playing them 2 times just isn't enough. MState stats.

You should know Mississippi State's players by now. If not... here's a link to a previous stats pack.

The stats:
- 73.7 PPG
- 46.8% FG
- 34.1% 3PT FG
- 63.5 % FT
- 15.5 turnovers per game
- 6.1 steals

Prediction: Can we build upon a big win over the Gators? Will the extra day off hurt the Bulldogs? Are we too emotionally drained from yesterday's performance? I say YES, YES, and NO. Bama wins by 2 and advances to the semis.

Hopefully, I'll be at the game tonight (if my flight arrives on time). If I am I'll take pictures and post them.

Slight rant
I know of the deficiencies of this year's team and the job done by the coaching staff. Still, people should be happy we won. The team played to the potential we all thought they were capable of (at least in the 1st half). Instead, some of our "fans" are upset we won. I understand all the issues... winning keeps the coach around longer, but geez... be a fan and hope for the team to win. If this team won the tournament and somehow made it to the 2nd week of the NCAAs would some of these "fans" still be upset?

The only time I cheered against Bama in any sport was the 2000 Football game against UCF. The season was in the tank already, no postseason hopes remained, and we had an idiot as a coach.

Crimson Congratulations

Hearty kudos to Coach Gottfried and the team for big wins in their last two games over two of their biggest nemises over during the Gottfried regime. Bama has had big problems beating both Vandy and Florida so any wins over those teams are good for our program. I'm proud of them all.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Gators Drowned in Crimson Tide

Where the hell has this team been all year? The first half was probably our best half of basketball all year. We could not do anything wrong. We moved the ball, and worked it into the post where Hendrix dominated. They couldn't collapse on him because Riley wouldn't miss anything within 30 feet. Jemison was making jumpshots. Coleman was active on both ends of the floor. Rico did an adequate job of taking care of the ball. Our transition offense was great, and our half court offense was great. On the rare occasion we missed a shot, we out hustled them for the rebound and scored on the second chance. Defensively, we created turnovers, and contested all of their perimeter shots. They tried to drive in, but routinely got their shots blocked as they were undersized in the low post. It was 14-0 before the gators even scored, and we stretched our lead out to 42-14. Unfortunately, we should have been able to coast and rest some guys in the second half, but that was not the case.

We got sloppy with the ball at times in the second half, and we had a stretch where we shot 2 for 8 from the free throw line. The defensive intensity from the first half seemed to disappear, as the gators picked up their intensity to a whole new level. We turned it over against the press, and allowed Florida to drive the lane unchallenged and knock down some open 3's, and next thing you know, the lead was down to 6. I thought we waited way too long to call a timeout when Florida was making their run.

Hendrix and Riley would not be denied the win. Florida cut it to 6, and Hendrix came up with a huge block, and Riley made a 3 at the other end. The game was never really in doubt again from that point on.

Riley is really playing great right now. We know he is good when he's making his shots, but he even gave good effort on the defensive end tonight, especially in the first half. He tied the SEC tournament record with 8 three pointers.

Down low, Hendrix was dominant, and he even made 8 of 10 from the free throw line. Yamene actually showed some moves in the post and played good defense and worked the glass, but he couldn't make a free throw. I love Jemison's effort, and the way he follows his shots.

Unfortunately, while Hendrix actually made some free throws, the rest of the team stunk it up at the line. This was a huge factor in Florida getting back into the game, and we're going to have to be more consistent from the charity stripe if we're going to continue this Cinderella run through the SEC tournament.

Up next, we face the cow college to our west in the second round. m$u got a bye in the first round, so $tansfield's semi-pro athletes should be very well rested. We'll need another great defensive effort to keep Jamont Gordon in check and stay in the game. Tip off is set for 6:30 CT on Raycom sports.

I will not be able to make it to Atlanta until Saturday. Hopefully we can make it that far. The good thing about the way the bracket worked out, is if I do go, that means most of the mi$$ $tate inbreds will be gone by the time I get there.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Florida stats pack II

I think we're catching the Gators at the right time. They've been struggling as of late... losers of 3 straight.

Gator stats pack.

The stats:
- 49.2% FG
- 36.3% 3PT FG
- 70.8% FT
- 12.7 turnovers per game
- +4.2 rebound margin

Prediction: We haven't won a neutral site or road game this year so there's no sense in expecting a change. Besides, I don't think Mark Gottfried has ever beaten Billy Donovan outside of Tuscaloosa as a head coach. Oh yeah, Florida needs to at least make the SECCG to have a prayer of defending their title. Gators by 7.

Gametime is 7:30PM EST Thursday on Raycom Sports.

Note- I won't have a game recap tomorrow. Heck, I probably won't see the game, not because I don't want to, but because I won't have time to do so. Maybe one of the other guys can give a recap... I wouldn't mind reading it as it'll be my only way of knowing what we did right and wrong in that game.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

SEC Tournament predictions and SEC Men's BB awards announced

SEC tournament predictions
Since I'm predicting tourney winners I figured why not predict the SEC Tournament game by game.

FIRST ROUND - March 13 (Thursday)
Game 1 - [E5] South Carolina vs. [W4] LSU [RS] 1:00 ET- LSU
Game 2 - [W6] Auburn vs. [E3] Vanderbilt [RS] 3:15 ET- Auburn
Game 3 - [W5] Alabama vs. [E4] Florida [RS] 7:30 ET- Florida
Game 4 - [E6] Georgia vs. [W3] Ole Miss [RS] 9:45 ET- Ole Miss

SECOND ROUND - March 14 (Friday)
Game 5 - LSU vs. [E1] Tennessee [RS] 1:00 ET- Tennessee
Game 6 - Auburn vs. [W2] Arkansas [RS] 3:15 ET- Arkansas
Game 7 - Florida vs. [W1] Mississippi State [RS] 7:30 ET- Florida
Game 8 - Ole Miss vs. [E2] Kentucky [RS] 9:45 ET- Ole Miss

SEMIFINALS - March 15 (Saturday)
Game 9 - Tennessee vs. Arkansas [RS] 1:00 ET- Tennessee
Game 10 - Florida vs. Ole Miss [RS] 3:15 ET- Ole Miss

FINALS - March 16 (Sunday)
Game 11 - Tennessee vs. Ole Miss [CBS] 1:00 ET- Tennessee

Yes, I'm predicting Ole Miss to go far. If they have a run to the SECCG I believe they played their way into the NCAAs.

SEC BB Awards


The cliff notes:
- Gillespie and Pearl share Coach of the Year.
- Shan Foster is SEC POY.
- Nick Calathes (UF) and Patrick Patterson (UK) share freshman of the year.
- Jarvis Varnado (MSU) wins SEC Defensive POY.
- JP Prince (UT) is the sixth man of the year.
- 1st and 2nd team ALL-SEC are included in the link above... I'm too lazy to type them out.

Finally, Auburn Elvis at is running some sort of scavenger hunt before the SECT. If interested, click on the link for more info.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Predictions on who wins the Big 6 conference tourneys

ACC: North Carolina- I don't see anyone in the ACC coming close to beating them.

Big East: Louisville- Despite their loss to Georgetown, right now they're playing the best ball in the Big East.

Big 11: Purdue- just a hunch. It would've been Indiana, but the coaching change has affected them.

Big 12: Kansas- I don;t think Texas makes it to the finals... otherwise I'd pick them.

PAC 10: Washington State- They've underachieved this season... I look for them to step it up and win.

SEC: Tennessee- not because they need to, but because they want it.

What the heck... I'm going to predict some more.

CUSA: Memphis- Their bench players could win the tournament.

MWC: UNLV- They need it and it's at home.

WAC: New Mexico St- Only because it's played on their home court.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Victory over Vandy

This was, by far, our best win of the season. Maybe we are peaking at the right time, and this will be something we can build on going into the SEC tournament.

We played very good in the first half as we were able to build an 8 point lead by halftime. Hendrix was not 100%, but he still had a solid game and was complimented very nicely by Yamene and Jemison. One thing I liked about our play was our committment to getting the ball into the post. When they tried to front Hendrix, we actually ran plays designed to create passing lanes and get him in position to get the ball. It seems the 5 man substitution experiment has come to an end.

I was proud of the way we played defense for the most part in this game. Vandy is a difficult team to defend in the halfcourt with their motion offense and an explosive Foster. Alonzo Gee did an outstanding job on Foster. The way he was fighting through screens and contesting every shot was really fun to watch for someone who appreciates good defensive basketball. We played solid man to man defense most of the game, and we were fortunate that Vandy was not able to shoot as well from behind the arc as they usually do when we were in the zone.

We were able to get both Foster and #4 in foul trouble, but that proved to be a curse rather than a blessing. Stallings switched to a 2-3 zone to reduce the liklihood of those guys picking up their 4th foul, and our zone offense was horrible. I liked the fact that we put Hollinger in at point to counter the zone, in that it gave us a few perimeter shooters on the floor. Unfortunately, we were content to try to shoot them out of it, and nobody could make a shot. I was hoping we would put Torrance in to try to get some penetration, but we never got him in the game. As a result, we saw our halftime lead evaporate.

One thing I like about the way Vandy plays is that they waste no time getting the ball up the court after giving up a basket on the other end. They were able to burn us by taking the ball out of the net and running the court a couple of times.

Alabama showed a lot of poise in bouncing back after blowing the lead. For the most part, we put forth a lot of effort on defense and on the boards, although we did get outworked for a couple of loose balls that I thought we should have been able to get.

The last minute of regulation was frustrating, to say the least. We have a 3 point lead with less than a minute to go, and out of a timeout we decide to run 4 corners with Hollinger at point to run some clock. With the shotclock running down, Hollinger attempts to drive inside the arc and gets his shot blocked, resulting in a 2 on 1 fast break the other way. Riley, who is trailing the man with the ball, foolishly fouls on the layup and allows Vandy to tie the game on a 3 point play. No doubt, that was a boneheaded play by Riley, but the play call on the other end of the floor put us in that situation. I have no problem with running the clock down and going one on one, but typically if you are going to utilize that strategy, you need to get the ball to somebody who can at least create his own shot. Having the shortest player on the court drive in one on one when everyone else is cleared out in that situation is just inviting disaster. As if that wasn't bad enough, we then call another timeout and run essentially the same play, with Jemison forcing a last second shot. Vandy was left with only .8 seconds, and they threw the ball the length of the court where we only had Coleman defending underneath the goal. Yamene got sealed off, and Vandy had a great chance to score a game winning layup but fortunately they missed the shot.

In overtime, we finally started making some shots Riley had a fantastic conclusion to his career in Coleman Coliseum. After his bad foul allowed Vandy to tie the game, he took the game over and drilled several 3 point shots. It would have been very easy for him to get down on himself going into OT when Vandy had all the momentum. For all the hard time I have given him about his defense, we will certainly miss his ability to get on a hot streak and light up the scoreboard.

With this win, we are probably back on the bubble for the NIT or the new CBI tournament. I think 2 wins in the SEC tournament and we would definitely be in. With that in mind, I hope we either win the whole tournament or lose in the first round. I'd rather not prolong the agony of this season with meaningless NIT or CBI games, not to mention the possibility that we may have to face UAB.

Up next, the SEC tournament in Atlanta, where we will face a young Florida Gator team in the first round. The loss to Florida at home was one of the more aggravating losses of the season. The Gators have not been impressive lately, but you never know which Florida team will show up this year. Hopefully we'll play the bad Florida team. If we're able to beat Florida, we would face $tansbury's mi$$ $tate blowhards, er bulldgogs in the second round.

SEC Rankings week 18

1) Tennessee- looking to be a #1 seed.
2) Mississippi State- this team can go pretty far in the NCAAs. I see at least a Sweet Sixteen appearance.
3) Vanderbilt- loss to Bama hurt their seeding. Unless they win the SECT I see them as a 5 or 6 seed.
4) Kentucky- What a turnaround from the beginning of the season. The team was left for dead and somehow they end up winning 11 (maybe 12) SEC games.

They all suck from here.
5) Arkansas- at 9-7 they need to win one in the SECT to be safe.
6) Florida- Even if they beat UK they'll have to make it to the SECCG to defend their title.
7) Ole Miss- finally won a road game. At 7-9 they need to make it to the SECCG to have a shot at the NCAAs.
8) South Carolina- They won more road games than home ones in the SEC.
9) LSU- I wouldn't want to play them in the SECT.
10) Georgia- Felton should get one more year... or at least a half season. Saying that, I don't see UGA being anything more than 3rd rate in the SEC with him.
11) Alabama- good win against Vandy. Still, the only team in the SEC without a road win in conference.
12) Auburn- they lost to UGA at home. That's embarrassing.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

OT Thriller- Bama beats Dores 78-73

Box score

It took all season, but we finally beat a ranked team. Great win on senior day. Riley came up clutch in OT. It's good to see him shine in his last home game.

The good:
- 1/2 court defense. I thought for the most part it was outstanding.
- Riley kept coming up with big 3s. Good for him on senior day.
- Held Vandy well below their season scoring average in regulation.
- Defended Shan Foster well.

The bad:
- The last 2 minutes of the 2nd half. I just knew Vandy was going to tie it up.
- Riley's silly foul on Ogilvy under a minute left. Let him go and you're still up by 1.
- Hendrix was lousy defending the interior. He also went invisible in the 2nd half.
- Transition defense... again it was horrible.

Let's see if the team can build on this win come Thursday when they face the Gators. We're in the bracket opposite of Tennessee so we could make a run to the SEC Finals. I'm being serious... outside of Tennessee I don't see a team in the SEC we can't match up well against IF they guys play like they did today.

Vanderbilt stats pack

Vanderbilt season stats.

The Dores come in at 25-5, but only 2-5 on the road in the SEC. They beat the Cocks and Dawgs (Athens variety).

Shan Foster (probably SEC POY) leads the team in scoring, steals, and is their best 3 point shooter (47.5%). AJ Ogilvy is shooting almost 60% from the field and is their leading rebounder and shot blocker. All of their starters shoot 75% from the charity stripe, but that's what you expect from Vandy players... right?

The stats:
- 80.6 PPG
- 46.4% FG
- 40.7% 3PT FG
- 73.4% FT
- 14.5 turnovers per game
- 66 PPG on the road in the SEC

Prediction: We don't defend the 3 well... Shan Foster shoots it well, but being it's senior day I say Hendrix, Riley, and Gee put up monster numbers, we pull the upset, and clinch the 5 seed in the West. Alabama by 4.

Tipoff is at 2PM EST (1CST) on Raycom Sports. For those not in front of a TV, but with internet access you can watch it here.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Random thoughts

1) ESPN's top 25 college basketball players of all-time- How they don't have Christian Laettner in their top 5 is mind-boggling. IMO he's ahead of Maravich, West, Bradley, Thomspon, Bird, Wilt, and Lucas. To be honest I wasn't alive or was too young when most of those listed played, but none of them can match up to Laettner's career and post season moments. Laettner led Duke to 4 straight Final Fours. The year after he graduated Duke lost to Jason Kidd and Cal in the 2nd round.

2) Syracuse is on the verge of missing the NCAA tournament for a 2nd straight year. The program has gotten worse each year since their 2003 championship. Expansion of the Big East has hurt Jim Boeheim.

3) Barring an ACC Tournament Championship, Maryland is about to be left out of the NCAAs 3 of the last 4 years.

4) Arizona might not make the NCAAs... that would snap a streak of 23 straight trips.

5) Has the Player of the Year ever been on a team that didn't qualify for the NCAAs in the modern era? Michael Beasley might be the first as Kansas State is shaky. FWIW I think Tyler Hansbrough of UNC wins it.

6) Florida's streak of being a 5 seed or higher in the NCAA tournament ends this year at 5 years. Impressive. Over that same timespan Duke has been a #1 three times making it to the Final Four once in that span.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Gottfried/Hobbs comparison

TideDruid posted an interesting comparison. Click here to read it.

I remember my last semester at Alabama watching a miserable Hobbs' team lose to UT-Chattanooga at home in front of a gathering of maybe 2000. I thought that was as low at it could get. Right now I'm not sure if we've hit that level again.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Same song, different verse... Bama falls late to LSU...

... 80-74. I really thought we'd win this one the way it was going the first... 30 minutes.
Here's the box score.

I don't know what goes on at halftime in CMG's lockerroom, but it doesn't work. How many times have we come out flat to begin the 2nd half? Maybe the team takes a collective siesta and are shaking off the power nap. I dunno.

The good:
- Hendrix got the ball
- Jemison and Hillman continue to impress
- Put on a 1st half rebound clinic

The bad:
- Couldn't stop Randolph or Thornton.
- LSU shot 55% from the field.
- Snatched defeat from the jaws of victory (again).

Well, we're perfect on the road in the SEC and this loss just about clinches the worst record we've put up in SEC play in over 40 years. It also assures us of another 5th place finish in the SEC West. I'll check tiebreakers later, but I think we lose out to Auburn if we have the same SEC record.

LSU stats pack II

For your enjoyment.

LSU is riding a season high 3 game winning streak. Led by the Marcus Thornton and Anthony Randolph and interim head coach Butch Pierre, the Bengal Tigers have been playing good ball the last 3 weeks. The returning Chris Johnson has helped their inside game.

This is another game for the rights to last place in the SEC West.

The stats:
- 68.0 PPG
- 42.5% FG
- 31.9% 3 PT FG
- Rebound margin -2.0
- 13.9 turnover per game
- 6.4 blocks

Prediction- LSU is certainly playing better than they were the last time we saw them... and we struggled to beat them then. It's a road game and although we've been close, we still haven't got the job done. Expect a perfect 0-8 SEC road record... LSU by 5.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Thoughts on the current coaching "situation"

It's obvious that Mark Gottfried is on the hot seat. What I want to do is examine some of the reasons he should stay or be let go and play devil's advocate for each.

Why he should stay:

- Ronald Steele being out for the year is a valid excuse. While it's true that a healthy RS would've helped, does anyone believe Steele is a 6 game difference maker in conference play?

- Who's going to come up with $3 million topay off the rest of CMG's contract? By that logic, CMG gets 2 more years as getting it down to a mere $1 million makes more sense. The problem with this is the University might end up losing more than $1 million per for each year he sticks around in ticket sales and concessions.

- CMG took us to the Elite 8. Yes, making the Elite 8 was one of the most exciting times in Alabama basketball history. Heck, I had plane tickets reserved for Houston if we would've beaten UConn (tickets to Austin were too expensive). Here's the thing... we were an 8 seed that almost lost to SIU if not for Pettway. We pretty much underachieved that entire season.

- We achieved our 1st ever #1 ranking under CMG. We did... it was a great accomplishment, then we lost to Utah, went into conference play and couldn't muster a .500 record. We were almost the 1st team in history to achieve a #1 ranking and miss the NCAA tournament altogether. We snuck in as a 10 and got beat by Indiana.

- CMG has done more for this program than any other coach. Yeah... if you compare him to David Hobbs. While Wimp Sanderson never took us to the Elite 8 or to a #1 ranking, he did go to 5 straight Sweet Sixteens and won a bunch of SEC Tournaments.

Why he must go:

- The high post offense is outdated. While I'm not a fan of it, with the right players (Davidson, Chuck Davis, Erwin Dudley, Richard Hendrix) it's been effective. Besides, we don't use it as much as we used to.

- The program is going back to Hobbs' levels. Take a look at the roster and tell me we have no talent. I dare you to. While many of us have issues with the coaching, I don't think anyone (sane at least) is saying that our talent level is as bad as Hobbs' last few years.

- We can't win consistently on the road. The thing is, outside of Kentucky and Florida, no one in the SEC has won consistently on the road in the SEC the past 5 years.

Sunday, March 02, 2008


... template went boom. I guess I'll spend the night trying to get it back to normal.

Update- updated the look... if the background is too bright (white) say something and I'll find another background color.

SEC Rankings week 17

1) Tennessee- the loss to Vandy was expected after a big win at Memphis.
2) Mississippi State- winning in the Swamp is big.
3) Vanderbilt- beat UT then lose to Arkansas. Next up... Miss St.
4) Kentucky- 10-3 in conference play... but Patterson out for the year. Buh bye NCAA hopes.
5) Arkansas- should be in the NCAAs, but would help their case more by winning at Ole Miss this week.

They all suck from here.
6) Florida- needed to beat M$U and didn't. Now they're on the outside looking in.
7) Ole Miss- still can't win on the road and that's killed them this season.
8) South Carolina- under .500 overall and in the SEC, but sadly they're better than the teams below them.
9) LSU- playing much better since dumping Brady.
10) Georgia- no longer sure if Felton should get another year in AThens.
11) Auburn- can't beat the Cocks at home.
12) Alabama- I am a fan of the mass substitutions. I'm not a fan of how badly this team has underachieved.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Raped by Rebels & Refs

Final, Ole Miss 92, Alabama 89.

First of all, congrats to ole piss. They deserved to win the game, and despite the bizarre ending, the refs did not cost us this game.

We were in control and had the lead throughout most of the first half. We make the worst decisions at the end of each half in close games. We had the lead, and the ball and a chance to take the last shot in the first half. In those circumstances, you should never go into the half without the lead, but that's exactly what we did.

Once again, the start of the second half was a disaster. We turn the ball over on our first 2 possessions, and Ole Miss extended the lead and dominated much of the half. Once again, we resorted to chucking 3's nearly every possession. After a great defensive game against Arkansas, we were horrible on defense today. Ole Miss was able to establish their inside game, and they really took advantage of us in the paint when Hendrix was out of the game. This opened up their perimeter game, and I think they went 8-15 or so from downtown, most of which were uncontested shots.

The team never gave up, and made a terrific comeback in the last 2 minutes of the game. Suddenly Riley, Gee, Hollinger, and Hillman all started making shots, and we were able to force some turnovers. We trailed by 15 with around 2 minutes to go, but had cut the lead to 9 with 1:30. For some reason, we opted not to foul, and Ole Miss ran the clock down to 1 minute before scoring to make it an 11 point lead. I wish we would have fouled there, as it would be interesting to see how this would have turned out if we hadn't lost those 30 seconds.

Trailing by 3 with 7 seconds to go, Senario got a steal but immediately threw up a desperation shot to tie the game. He may have been fouled on the shot, but you cannot expect to get that call at that point in the game, especially on the road. We should have been more patient and tried to get a better look at the basket. Still, I thought Hillman played a good game, and I really liked his effort in those last few minutes. Anyway, Ole Piss gets the rebound, and Gee immediately fouled the guy. He grabbed him from behind, but the refs did not blow the whistle. He continuously tapped the guys arm trying to commit the foul, but it wasn't called. The clock operator obviously thought it was a foul, because he stopped the clock with 2.5 seconds left. A foul should have been called with 4 seconds left. After reviewing the monitor, the officials determined that the clock should not have stopped and the game was over. Technically, that was the right call on the review, because you cannot review whether or not a foul occured, only how much time should be left. By watching the replay, they were able to determine that none of the refs blew their whistles, and declared the game over.

Next time we are in that situation, I hope we punch the opposing player in the mouth. It will be an intentional foul and probably a suspension, but it might be worth it to get the message across to the SEC officials that by not calling obvious fouls when one team is clearly trying to foul to stop the clock, they are putting the players in danger. Just to be clear, I am not stating that the lack of a foul call on Gee cost us the game. Ole Piss would have had 2 free throws with 4 seconds left, only needing 1 to go up by 2 scores, and even if he missed them both, we would have had to go the length of the floor with no timeouts. This game was lost long before the final 5 seconds. Still, it's a shame we did not get to play it out.

Up next, we travel to red stick Wednesday night to take on Butch Pierre's Bayou Bengals. LSU has got some of their walking wounded back, and have played much better since giving Brady the boot. We are still looking for our first SEC road win of the year, and will have to win both of our remaining games to prevent having our worst SEC record in nearly 40 years.

Pre-box score and TV/internet coverage of the Bama-Ole Miss game

SEC box scores

TV is Raycom sports: Affiliate listing is here.
For those not in front of a TV and have internet access you can watch the game here. Click on the camera icon.

Update- anyone saw the end of the Pitt-Syracuse game on ESPN? Pitt came back from 11 down with under 4 minutes to play to win the game. Pitt stole the ball and scored with under 10 seconds to play to take the lead.