Saturday, October 31, 2009

Alabama media and boosters allowed to view practice.

For the first time this preseason, Alabama media and boosters were allowed inside Coleman Coliseum to witness the team practice. Gentry Estes of the Mobile Press-Register has provided his observations in an article he wrote, which can be found here.

Highlights of the article include:

  • This team will play fast: True to his word, Grant is using an up-tempo style, full-court pressing and trapping. The pace was much faster and less scripted than anything Alabama has been accustomed to recently. There is an offensive system at work, but Grant also appears to be giving players freedom to operate in the open floor.
  • There is an obvious lack of size: A glaring weakness for Grant's first Alabama team will
  • be in the post. Other than JaMychal Green and Justin Knox, there doesn't appear to be a natural big man on the team. Two competing scrimmage teams geuinely looked to have four guards out there. A pivotal player here could be bulky junior college transfer Chris Hines (6-foot-8), who has some size and was effective around the basket.
  • Tony Mitchell will make an impact: To my relatively untrained eye: The true freshman looks like a player, is settling into the team nicely on both ends of the floor and seems a likely replacement for Alonzo Gee.
  • Looking for a range: Alabama is athletic enough to play to Grant's new style, but perimeter shooting could be an issue in a fast-paced offense. Junior college transfer Charvez Davis may be the best 3-point shooter on the team.
  • UA will be better defending the inbounds pass: As strange as it sounds to mention, Alabama seemed to have a good idea was it was doing on inbounds plays. That goes for the offensive end, too.
  • Big role for Mikhail Torrance: Much of this team's success will rely on Torrance, the senior point guard who now gets a chance to take over on his own in the post-Ronald Steele era. Torrance averaged 10 points a game last year despite starting about half of them.
Interesting observations, though nothing incredibly surprising. We're well aware of Alabama's size issues coming into the system. I've been of the opinion that Mikhail's senior year would be one to watch, and Estes' article only serves to bolster that feeling.

One thing that did stand out is the issue of perimeter shooting. As small as Alabama will be this season, they had better knock down perimeter shots.

So far so good, I say. Grant appears to have brought a toughness to Tuscaloosa that has been lacking far too long. Something tells me that if a player doesn't get after it this year, he will find himself on the bench. The need for discipline has been great the last several years. It looks like Grant is bringing the fire. This team won't lose this year for lack of effort. And that's all you can really ask for as a fan.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Nolan Richardson returns to basketball (WNBA)

He's going to be the Tulsa HC when the team relocates from Detroit. A couple things:

1) While I joke about the WNBA still being around, I'm surprised they're trying out Tulsa.

2) Nolan is like 174 years old now. I kid... I think.

OKLAHOMA CITY — It’s official: The three-time WNBA champion Detroit Shock are moving to Tulsa.

League president Donna Orender and other officials made the announcement Tuesday that the Shock was being sold and relocated to Tulsa, a day after The Associated Press reported the move.

The announcement came five days after a Tulsa ownership group said it would formally apply to the WNBA to purchase a franchise, although it wasn’t known at the time if it would be an expansion club or a relocated team.

The sale and move need WNBA Board of Governors approval.

Former Tulsa and Arkansas coach Nolan Richardson already has been selected as the Tulsa team’s coach and general manager. The team will play at the downtown BOK Center, which holds about 18,000 and opened last year.

The rest can be read here.

Friday, October 23, 2009

UK Wall and M$U Sidney under eligibility scrutiny

Shocking that 2 of the dirtiest coaches in all of college basketball have their fingerprints on this...

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) -- Kentucky's John Calipari raved about the development of highly touted freshman guard John Wall Thursday morning during media day for the Southeastern Conference. Hours later, a report surfaced that his prized recruit might not be eligible to play.

SEC commissioner Mike Slive told that he believes the NCAA's agents and amateurism group -- not enforcement officials -- are looking into the eligibility of both Wall and Mississippi State freshman Renardo Sidney.

"Those are amateur issues that arose prior to their coming to our schools," Slive said. "Those are strictly amateurism issues. As we told our people, somebody needs to determine if they are eligible. It's not relative to you, it's relative to them."

An SEC spokesman Charles Bloom said he could not confirm the eligibility issues to The Associated Press, and Slive was not available for comment.

From SI

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Video of Coach Grant and Mikhail Torrance at SEC Media Days has posted video of Coach Grant and Mikhail Torrance speaking at SEC Media Days.

Two other items from Don Kausler of the Birmingham News posted an article after speaking with Mikhail Torrance about the team's initial practices.

Also, everyone's favorite loudmouth, Bruce Pearl, has picked the Tennessee football team to upset Alabama on Saturday. I hope Bruce keeps a plate of crow handy.

Coach Grant at Media Days

From Cecil Hurt

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Mark Gottfried joins ESPNU/SEC Network Broadcast Team

Though his contract probably won't call for him to revisit the cold halls of Coleman Coliseum, ESPN announced today that former Alabama coach Mark Gottfried has been added to the ESPNU broadcast team to call SEC games.

Obviously it's too soon for him to feel comfortable returning to call an Alabama game, but I think he will do a good job. What do you guys think?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

New Uniforms and a New Style of play

A good article from Gentry Estes of the Mobile Press on

Also, check out Brock and Green sporting the new unis:

I like them, although it's difficult to tell in that lighting if they got the color of crimson correct.

SEC Conference predictions

Conference records

SEC East
1) Kentucky- 14-2
2) Tennessee 10-6
3) Florida- 8-8
4) Vanderbilt 7-9
5) South Carolina- 7-9
6) Georgia- 3-13

SEC West
1) Mississippi State- 11-5
2) Ole Miss- 9-7
3) Arkansas- 8-8
4) Auburn- 8-8
5) Alabama- 6-10
6) LSU- 5-11

NCAA Tournament teams- Kentucky, Tennessee, Florida, M$U, Ole Miss.

- SEC Coach of the Year- Rick Stansbury (only because Cal is expected to win big)
- SEC Player of the Year- Patrick Patterson

I also predict that every head coaching job in the SEC is safe through the 2010-2011 season. :)

Friday, October 09, 2009

Predictions for the 2009-2010 Alabama basketball season

I'm going with 17-13 and 6-10 in conference play. I see our lack of big men posing a huge issue. With Jemison out for the season, Coleman at Troy, and Kemp not qualified (and reopening his recruitment) we have 2 proven big men (Green and Knox) with Hines hopefully picking up some of the slack.

I don't see us winning on the road in conference... and I can see 2 home losses. I think this will be a learning year. Too bad as I'd really like to see Green and Torrance experience the postseason.

Montevallo W
Augusta St W
Cornell- W, but this will be a challenge.
Jackson St W
Providence L (We should be very evenly matched, but Keno has a year head start on Coach Grant, and they have more solid, experience PG coming back in Curry.)
Baylor W (They lose a lot from the team that made it to the NIT championship game. Some good young talent coming in though…another game that could go either way)
FSU/Iona W
11/29/09 TBA L (I’m thinking a loss to Xavier, Marquette or Michigan here)
North Florida W
La-Monroe W
Purdue L (I’d really like to pick this as a W, but I think we have problems with their size)
Samford W
Kansas St W (Another toss up game)
Mercer W
Tennessee St W
at Toledo W (I really don’t know much about them, but if it were CMG, I would consider this a loss just because it’s an away game. I’m hoping that situation has improved.)

So, now we are 11-3 going into SEC play.

at LSU W
Vanderbilt W
at Arkansas L
Tennessee W (This will be a notable upset, but I think we match up with them pretty good, especially at home)
Miss St L (They’ve bought themselves a good team and should win the west this year)
at Auburn L
Florida L
at Ole Miss L
at Kentucky L
Arkansas W
at Georgia W
at Miss St L
Ole Miss W
at South Carolina W
Auburn 12:30 W

9-7 in SEC play, but unfortunately I’m a lot more confident in the “L” predictions than the W’s. I tend to be a little optimistic when looking at the schedule on a game by game basis. That being said, I’ve got us at 20-10. I would be very happy with that…a win or two in Nashville would get us into the big dance.

Using voodoo and an offering of sacrifice, I have come up with 16-14, and going 7-9 in the SEC losing all 8 on the road and 1 at home. I have concerns about our size, and I have to stay reserved on our ability to play well in our conference road games. Until that changes, I will keep this stance.

MSmilie (he broke it down game by game)
Forgive me for breaking down each game; I'm a nerd. My overall prediction is 17-13 as well. There's too much uncertainty in the paint and the league as a whole promises to be much better.

Cornell - 1-0 - Not an easy opener. In fact, this could be a nailbiter for an Alabama team with a new coaching staff and system. This game worries me. Look out for Cornell players, Ryan Wittman and Birmingham's own, Louis Dale (I assume he's the reason this game was scheduled).

Jackson State - 2-0 - A SWAC team, even one projected to win the league, is still a SWAC team.

Providence - 3-0 - This could be a tough one. I've read several basketball publications that have Providence finishing near the bottom of the Big East, but I think they could surprise. Their backcourt is really good with Sharaud Curry and Marshon Brooks. Their frontcourt is a question mark coming into the season so both teams could be playing small ball. Green could prove to be the difference.

Baylor - 3-1 - I think Alabama will give Baylor a tough game (particularly if Baylor plays defense the way they have the last two years) but ultimately I think Baylor has too much talent for Alabama to overcome.

Iona - 4-1 - This is a projection based on what I think will happen in the other games. Iona isn't completely horrible and might hang around for a while, but Alabama should win.

Creighton - 4-2 - I respect the job Dana Altman has done with the Creighton program. That program is one of the top mid-majors on an annual basis. I think they will be the slightly better team if that's the way the bracket works out.

North Florida - 5-2 - Bama should roll.

Louisiana-Monroe - 6-2 - This isn't football.

Purdue - 6-3 - Purdue is light years ahead of Alabama right now in terms of experience and mental toughness. While I expect a sellout for this game and a good effort on Bama's part, Purdue is a certain top 10-20 team (I don't buy the Final Four talk for this team) that should have enough to get out of Tuscaloosa with the win.

Samford - 7-3 - Samford's style of play could be a problem, but I think Alabama will be okay.

Kansas State - 8-3 - This should be a great game as both teams have great athleticism and match up rather well, with K-State having the slight advantage. However, Grant is too good a coach and Alabama has enough talent to win one or two games they shouldn't.

Mercer - 9-3 - Mercer won in Tuscaloosa last year and could do it again. They should be one of the top teams in the Atlantic Sun, if not the top team. James Florence lit Alabama up the last two years and will probably do so again. However, I think Alabama pulls it out.

Tennessee State - 10-3 - Alabama should win easily.

@Toledo - 11-3 - The first true road game of the season. If Gottfried was still coaching this team, I wouldn't be sure about Alabama's chances. However, with Grant in charge, I hope to see Alabama become a better road team over time. Plus, from what I've read, Toledo could be downright horrible this year.

@LSU - 11-4 - 0-1 - I see LSU finishing last in the conference. However, at home, they probably squeeze by Bama. I don't think Bama's conference schedule this season is conducive to a good start.

Vanderbilt - 11-5 - 0-2 - Bama should hang tough, but Vandy is a much better team this season.

@Arkansas - 11-6 - 0-3 - I don't think Arkansas is going to be that improved this season. In fact, the heat may be turned up on Pelphrey by the end of the season. There seem to be some internal troubles there that need to be sorted out before Arkansas can improve. With that in mind, they probably beat Bama in Fayetteville.

Tennessee - 11-7 - 0-4 - Even with Negedu's medical condition, Tennessee is still the 2nd most talented team in the SEC (assuming that Renardo Sidney is not cleared to play at Mississippi State). This one could be ugly.

Mississippi State - 11-8 - 0-5 - Even if Sidney doesn't play for State, they are still the best team in the West by far.

LSU - 12-8 - 1-5 - If Alabama could win at home against last year's LSU squad, they should be able to produce a home victory this year.

@Auburn - 12-9 - 1-6 - I don't think Auburn will be NCAA-good, but I think they will be respectable (whether or not this saves Lebo's job is anyone's guess) and good enough to win a close one over Bama at home.

Florida - 13-9 - 2-6 - Big game. Grant vs Donovan. Florida will be vastly improved with Georgetown transfer Vernon Macklin providing the toughness inside that Florida has missed the last two years. And freshman Kenny Boynton may be the second best freshman in the league after John Wall. Coleman better be sold out. I wrote above that Bama would beat one or two teams they shouldn't, and I think this is one of them.

@Ole Miss - 13-10 - 2-7 - I think Ole Miss is an NCAA team if they can find some decent interior play. Their backcourt is sick. Terrico White, Chris Warren and Eniel Polynice are among the best guard tandems in the country . Could be a long night at the Pad.

@Kentucky - 13-11 - 2-8 - Ouch. Kentucky is a top five team this season. Alabama isn't.

Arkansas - 14-11 - 3-8 - Bama should win this one at home.

@Georgia - 15-11 - 4-8 - No way Alabama goes winless on the road with Grant in charge. I do think Georgia will be slightly better than that mess of a team from a year ago.

@Mississippi State - 15-12 - 4-9 - Might be one to forget.

Ole Miss - 16-12 - 5-9 - Bama wins a close one at home.

@South Carolina - 16-13 - 5-10 - I think Carolina is being overrated by the preseason publications. The East is too strong for this team to break through and reach the NCAA Tournament. However, at home, I'll give them the slight nod over Alabama.

Auburn - 17-13 - 6-10 - Alabama finishes the season by taking care of Auburn.

I think Alabama will finish no worse than fourth in the West and should be good for at least one win in the conference tournament. Hopefully their RPI (which should be strong based on their non-conference schedule and an improved SEC) is enough to net an NIT bid.

All I'm really looking for this year is how this team plays. Does it play with discipline, focus and toughness? Does it look like a program with a future? That is ultimately more important to me as a fan this season. If that translates into enough wins for a postseason bid, then all the better.

So... 2 of us have it at 17-13, 1 at 16-14, and the ever optimistic DJC has us at 20-10. I'm hoping DJC is closer to being right as it's been way too long since we sniffed the NCAA tournament.

I appreciate the input...

Monday, October 05, 2009

Ole Miss basketball 2009-10 schedule

Here's a link to it.

They have Indiana in the opening game of the O'Reilly Auto Parts Puerto Rico Tipoff, but Indiana is name only and probably won't be any better than a middle of the road Big 10 team and a road trip to Morgantown to play West Virginia. Not exactly a loaded non conference schedule.

I say they lose 2 games non-conference... 1 in the tourney (Kansas State) and on the road at West Virginia.

Oh yeah, for you early birds, SEC Tournament tickets are on sale now through or 800-732-4849. It's in Nashville BTW.