Thursday, January 13, 2011

2-0 in the SEC, 57-47 win over Carolina

If you play good defense, you will at least have a chance to win every game. This team is the perfect illustration of that statement. Alabama ranks #1 in the SEC and #8 in the nation in scoring defense, and we find ourselves 2-0 in conference play for the first time since 2002 despite making only one 3 point shot in our first two games.

It was not an easy win. South Carolina played some great defense too, and they made just enough perimeter shots to keep it close. USC started out in a tight man to man that seemed to really bother our guards, then switched to a zone when Releford and Hines had to come out of the game in the first half with foul trouble.

Ben Eblen provided us with some good minutes at point guard. He played great defense, showed some quick hands, even made a shot and got a rebound or two. Chris Hines did not put up impressive numbers, and he never does, but we are a much better team when he is on the floor. He sets good screens, boxes out, and does the little things to take some pressure off of JaMychal and Tony Mitchell.

I liked the fact that we did not get frustrated and start jacking 3s against their zone. We were 0 for 3 from down town, and it was obvious that our guards were not going to have a good night shooting. Credit South Carolina's defense with that to some degree, but we continued to attack the basket and get high percentage (although mostly highly contested as well) shots in close range. JaMychal and Tony scored 20 and 16 respectively. It was a physical game, and we held our own. I was impressed with USC's Murdrow, he plays great defense and is a shot blocking machine. I was very proud of the way our post players handled him and USC's other bigs defensively.

Ted Valentine is the most overrated official in the history of basketball. He could not even bend over to pick up the ball last night due to his bad back, but he was still out there showboating and calling attention to himself. Tony Mitchell had a shot "blocked" in the first half, but the USC defender came from the other side of the court and jumped into him. To say he got him with the body would be an understatement. I'm pretty sure he clocked Mitchell upside the head when he followed through with his swat as well, both players go crashing to the floor, and no foul is called.

This team still has some problems. Free throw shooting continues to suck, and we most likely won't be able to keep winning by making only one 3 pointer every 2 games. Defensively, there were a couple of times in the second half when we allowed the USC guard to dribble the length of the floor in transition. We need to do a better job of stopping the ball in those instances. I am concerned with how we handled the press and trap at the end when USC was trying to make their last run. Nevertheless, this squad appears to be coming together and forming an identity. I like the chemistry of this team. Hines is stepping up and being a vocal leader on the court, which is what you are looking for in a senior. The team is playing with a lot of energy and intensity, and having a lot of fun. The guys who have lost playing time, especially Hankerson who went from starting earlier this year to not playing at all in the USC game, are into the game and putting the team first. Hankerson was by far the most excited in the post game celebration last night.

The crowd was awesome last night, especially the students! It was a late arriving crowd, which surprised me with an 8pm tipoff, but the student section was filled beyond capacity. Rather than turning students away once their section was filled, they were allowed to come in and sit in the empty seats in the corners. Kudos to our gameday administration officials for doing the right thing. The additional students made for a great atmosphere, and all 11,000 or so fans were loud and into the game. Hopefully this will continue, as protecting our home court is going to be a key to having a successful season.

Up next, we travel to Fayetteville to take on the Arkansas Razorbacks. Tip off is set for Saturday at 12:30 pm Central time, and will be televised on the SEC Network. I posted this
story in the comments below, but if you haven't seen it yet, it is a must read on the tragic bond between Coach Grant, Arkansas Coach John Pelphrey, and Billy Donovan.


MSmilie said...

I want to follow up. I thought the officiating was absolutely terrible. South Carolina did play good defense, but I thought the officials allowed them to maul our guys around the rim. The play that DJC references where Mitchell was sent crashing to the floor was an obvious foul. It was ridiculous how obvious the foul was. There were several more that were obvious body contact and no call. It's a testament to the players they were able to keep their cool and stay focused on winning the game.

Not that I don't believe in letting them play, I do. But call it both ways. Carolina would maul one of our guys and then the officials would call a Bama player for hand checking. Total crap. Finally, late in the game, the officials start calling the game more closely. It made absolutely no sense.

I don't like Ted Valentine. Every time he officiates an Alabama game I get irritated. I have no basis for this, but the calls always seem to be heavily against Alabama when he calls a game. And the theatrics by him and other refs seriously need to go. Someone needs to tell them how ridiculous they look flittering around. Just call the damn game.

The team showed a lot of grit out there tonight in grinding out the win. Last year, this was the type of game the team couldn't finish. Every time Carolina appeared to be taking control, one of our guys would make a play.

Green and Mitchell were huge for the team last night. They just kept fighting. A key moment in the game was in the first half. Our guys were being mauled by the Carolina defenders every time they went to the rim. Yet, our guys didn't lose patience and kept attacking. Late in the first half with South Carolina gaining some momentum, Tony Mitchell threw down a vicious dunk that really changed the momentum of the game, got the fans into it, and provided a frustration release for me who had been yelling at the officials on television (they will hear me one of these days). That damn dunk sent me into hysterics. I can only imagine what it was like in person.

Releford did not play well offensively, but he did guard Ellington pretty well. And Ben Eblen had probably his best game in an Alabama uniform last night. He made some big defensive plays and hit a big bucket to stop a Carolina run.

Senario also had a great game. It's good to see that coming off the bench hasn't affected his attitude towards the team. Same goes for everyone, really. This team has very good chemistry, which is probably what saved it from completely collapsing after the trip to the Virgin Islands.

Regarding the next game: It's hard to figure out Arkansas. They play well at home, but then can't beat a lowly LSU team on the road. Unfortunately, this game is in Fayetteville so we figure to see the good Arkansas team. The great thing about the West this season is any road game is winnable. We shall see.

MSmilie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
finebammer said...

"Crimsons Choke Cocks In Coleman Coliseum"

my recently deleted post was for less than this. bobbyjack, have your four-year old memorize that then send him to his/her mother.

kidding ;)

if you watch games around the country, you see home teams favored by officials consistently. i'm not saying that's right but i am saying why not us???

is my bias blinding me??? i try and look at a game fairly (especially when viewing the telly) it is on rare occasion i've felt like an alabama basketball team has got the home cooking from the refs i see at other venues. (i used to think it was a lack of respect for gottfried. is this residual???)

i thought chris stewart was going on the court. he was livid and i believe actually yelling at valentine at one point.

one of these days we're gonna get eli gold's fat ass out of the football booth and put somebody who actually has a clue about how to call a game over the RADIO AIRWAVES. chris stewart is a gem and i love listening to his call of the game. he's a fan of the basketball game and loves alabama too. he knows how to paint that picture in your mind. eli couldn't do it if you threatened to cut him off at the buffet.

defense. wimp said it's the one phase of the basketball game you can control in your mind. your shot comes and goes. your defensive attitude is a choice. wimp didn't give a damn about your shot. if you didn't d'up for him, you rode the bench.

that's the only chance this team has. play defense.

you guys have heard me rail about the shitty way they treat the students down there. they're the key to a winning atmosphere. we shove them in a corner. get those kids in there and make some damn noise.


DJC said...

Finebammer, we find some common ground. I agree re Chris Stewart and Eli Gold, and also wish we could find a way to get the students closer to the floor. We've made some progress in that area by giving them more space behind the basket and adding floor seating for students at both ends. The way our gym is configured there just isn't much we can do, but that's a rant for another day.

Alias said...

FB, I did not realize the innuendo when I titled that post. Now that you mention it, it was much more clever than I originally anticipated.

I also agree with you and DJC about Chris Stewart and Eli Gold. I ran into Chris last year and asked him when they were going to let him call the football games. He rolled his eyes and gave no response. I suspect he is too much of a professional and a gentleman to criticize a colleague, especially when it would not help him, but I do wish they would make the trade.

I also agree with you about Ted Valentine, officiating in general, and the calls in the USCe game. Our kids were getting mauled under the basket, both in that game and in the M$U game. USCe was slamming our guys with their bodies, whereas Sidney for M$U was shoving their bodies and hacking their arms. It would be okay if they called the game the same way on both sides of the court, but they did not. To their credit, our kids played through it both times. If they keep winning, perhaps they will get the benefit of the doubt one day instead of the other team. Alabama, the Blue Devils of the Real South! ;-)

Roll Tide!

finebammer said...

"FB, I did not realize the innuendo when I titled that post. Now that you mention it, it was much more clever than I originally anticipated."

(channelling charlie brown)

good grief!!!