Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Alabama Squirms Past Augusta State, 61-55

An uninspired Alabama basketball team playing in front of an equally uninspired crowd needed six straight free throws late to hold off Division II, Augusta State. JaMychal Green, limited to nineteen minutes due to 1st half foul trouble, led Alabama with 12 points and 5 rebounds. He was the only player to score in double figures. Alabama trailed in the 1st half by eight points before rallying to take a one point lead into halftime.

I missed the first 5-6 minutes of this game so I can’t comment on that portion of it. However, what I did see was not very encouraging. Augusta State is a Division II power, they deserve respect, but Alabama did not play well at all. Turnovers were once again an issue (23), though the Tide did shoot extremely well from the free-throw line (90.9%), which was the difference in the game. JaMychal only played three minutes in the 1st half before picking up two fouls. With its best post player off the floor, and facing a zone defense, Bama relied on the three-point shot, which wasn’t there for most of the evening (29.4%).

There isn’t much good to report. However, the defensive pressure did force Augusta into eighteen turnovers and 38.9% shooting from the floor.

Bottom line: The team won the game. It’s better to play poorly and win than to lose games of this nature. With an extremely tough Cornell team coming in Saturday for the season opener, Alabama has a lot to work on if it wants to emerge a victor on Saturday. The best place to start is what has been most consistent the last two games - their defense. This team is going to have to bring it on the defensive end every single night in order to have a chance to win; they simply don’t have much offensive firepower based on the first two games to outscore anyone.

Oh well. It could be worse. We could be Arkansas fans.


DJC said...

The big problem in this game was turnovers. We simply did not take good care of the basketball, and that is why Augusta State was able to hang with us. I think this will improve as the year goes on. A good number of our turnovers came immediately after forcing an Augusta State turnover. We would get a steal in the backcourt and then make a quick pass without knowing where everybody was. It's matter of adjusting to the new system. We also had a lot of trouble with their halfcourt trap.

I give Augusta State's coach a lot of credit for switching up his defenses and keeping us off balance. I liked the way we attacked the zone, quickly passing it around the perimeter, rotating the ball, and looking for the passing lane into the post. Unlike in the Montevallo game, we passed up too many open shots. I think Coach Grant wants us to get our shots up pretty quickly, and we made a few too many passes resulting in turnovers and/or slowing the game down. The jags were able to slow down the pace of the game at times and get us frustrated.

I was back in my normal spot behind the bench for this game. One thing I noticed, the assistant coaches are doing a lot more coaching during the game. It wasn't uncommon to see Pettway and Josh Brannen standing and coaching. In fact, I was concerned that we may get a technical for having too many coaches standing on the bench. Anytime a player was out of position, he had 3 guys yelling his name, as opposed to one or none. A couple of other things I noticed that are different from the past years: When a player comes out of the game, he ALWAYS takes the seat nearest the coaches and receives feedback or instructions. Also, during the starting lineups, each player goes over to shake hands with the visiting coach after he is announced.

On the positive side, the free throw shooting was good. Torrance made 2 under pressure late to put the game away. We built a 12 point lead in the 2nd half but allowed Augusta State to cut it down to 2. I said after the Montevallo game that our defense will force a lot of turnovers but give up some open shots, and Augusta State hit a lot more of those open shots than Montevallo did. You can't turn the ball over on offense and give them even more opportunities like we did. Charvez Davis looks to have a good shot, and I like him at the 2 spot, but we need more consistent shooters, especially given our lack of size and depth in the post. Green had another good game but he's got to stop with the early fouls. Two fouls in the first 3 minutes is not going to cut it.

Ted Valentine officiated the game, so we had the usual inconsistent calls, showboating over-dramatic signals on every whistle, and ridiculous delays for no other apparent reason than to draw attention to himself. I will be glad when he retires.

The Cornell game should be a lot of fun to watch. You have two teams that play entertaining but very contrasting styles. Cornell will be wanting to play a halfcourt game with a motion offense with a lot of backdoor cuts and 3 point shots. I was encouraged by our bigs ability to get out on the shooters in our halfcourt defense, particularly Knox, so hopefully we can contain them. Clearly we have the better athletes and if we can force them into a full court game, we should have the advantage. We don't always play smart, as evidenced by the 23 turnovers, and Cornell can shoot. We need to bring our A game.

bobbyjack said...

Thanks for that. I didn't watch it due to crappy internet connection at the hotel.

I was going to put up a preview, but again... said crappy internet connection won.

MSmilie said...

I think this quote from Grant speaks volumes:

"Our basketball team is a team that's undersized and under-skilled," Grant said. "The way we're going to win games is to play hard, to play together, to play with a purpose and play with passion, and right now, we really don't understand that as a team. ... Maybe this is a wake-up call for guys to understand that, at the end of the day, we have a very slim margin of error for us to be successful."

bamabballer said...

Glad we didn't get Fortson now.

MSmilie said...

bamabballer: did you see that Luke Cothron elected not to sign with NC State during the early period? Maybe Alabama isn't out of that race yet?

bamabballer said...

I saw that. It will be interesting to see what happens with him.

old school said...

On the recruiting trail looks like yesterday Bama signed Charles Hankerson and Travis Releford ( both guards/ both committed back in summer/fall)but looks like Shawn Kemp JR has signed with Auburn.