Thursday, March 24, 2011

Crimsons Capsize Canes

I am sitting in front of a computer for the first time since leaving for Tuscaloosa yesterday afternoon.  I guess DJC and our other regular "real" posters have not yet slept off their post game celebrations because none of them seems to have posted a legitimate account of last night's game.  Hopefully some of our regulars can leave a few comments that will be useful and informative.  Those are not my strengths and I am too tired to try to fake it this morning.

To my old eyes perhaps the biggest story of last night's game was the crowd.  My best estimate would be that there were between 10,000 and 11,000 on hand for an 8:00 P.M. tip off on a Wednesday night.  That probably is a quarter more people than the team used to draw for a mid-week game against a major conference opponent.  And the crowd was boisterous!  They were loud from the opening tip and seldom quieted down.  This is the first time since the game against Florida where we secured our last SEC regular season championship that I recall having to stand up for more than half the game just to see the floor.  And I can remember the days when the people behind me would shout at me to sit down just for jumping up and applauding an exceptional play or effort by our team. 

The Tide seemed to start sluggishly last night.  In fact that almost seems to have become one of this team's trademarks.  They were not helped by the fact that Miami started the game in a zone defense.  (I've wondered why ever opponent does not start the game against Alabama in a zone.)  Miami scored the first bucket of the game.  Then Bama turned up its defensive intensity, but not until after the home crowd cranked up the noise level a notch or two.  As Emerald Agassi would say, "Bam!"  Between turn-over, fast-break points and Tony Mitchell's three point shot, the Tuscaloosa Pachyderms erased the deficit and build a lead they would never relinquish before the Hurricane coach realized he needed to burn his first time out.  It was not the last time the Coach Heath had to call a TO to try to interrupt and Alabama offensive run.

JaMychal Green got into early foul trouble again and had to ride the pine the last ten minutes of the first half, so Mitchell, Releford and Hillman took up the slack.  Releford hit his only three point shot, made several baskets off of his dribble drive, and earned trips to the free throw line on several similar efforts.  Hillman created several shots of his own and was the beneficiary of two feeds leading to dunks.   Releford lead all scorers with 22 points, but Chris Stewart and Brian Passink rightfully awarded Hillman player of the game.  He was credited with 17 points, five rebounds (four offensive that lead to six immediate points), one steal and ZERO turnovers before fouling out with about two minutes left on the clock.  This might have been Scenario's most complete game since his freshman year, and his energy off the bench seemed to help spark the defensive intensity two minutes into the game that lurched the momentum back into Alabama's favor.  It also is the first time I recall having seen Hillman play without his trademark headband.  Perhaps he should leave it behind when they board the plane for The Big Apple. 

Bama started the second half sluggishly too.  Miami increased its defensive efforts and sometimes employed a back court press that generated 3 or 4 turnovers leading to fast break points.  They also packed the lane in the second half to keep the ball out of Green's hands.  About eight minutes into the second, half Alabama's 14 point lead had been cut to three.  Then green scored a dunk to knock the lid off the basket, the defensive intensity returned, and the Tide never looked back. 

Coach Grant was animated during the entire game and almost picked up a technical on Hillman's fourth foul.  He was not arguing the foul, but that the Hurricane guard took a step and a half after the whistle blew before attempting the shot at the basket that the official counted as good.  The Cane guard also made the resulting free throw, completing the old style three-point play.  The same official made an obvious make-up call on the next possession, but he would not erase Hillman's fourth foul. 

Back to Coach Grant.  There have been rumors that he might be headed to Georgia Tech.  That could be true, but the man I saw last night appeared to be right where he wanted to be.  The fans loudly cheered their appreciation for his efforts and results every time he walked onto the court or his face was displayed on the jumbotron.  Grant acknowledged the crowd on his way onto the floor just before the National Antheme and celebrated briefly with his team at mid court after having congratulated Coach Heath, his players and staff. 

Coleman Coliseum finally is becoming again what it was during Wimp Sanderson's hey-day.  CM Newton had some great teams during his tenure with our program, but those crowds never got into the games the way they did when CM was coach.  I think Coach Grant feels truly appreciated, both by the Administration and by the fans, and recognizes that we are trying to do what we can to make Coleman Coliseum one of the most difficult arenas to visit in the College Basketball world.  A 19-0 home record suggests both he and we are well on our way to accomplishing just that.  Again, that is exactly what Coach Grant consistently has said he wanted to achieve ever since he first stepped off the plane at the Tuscaloosa Airport.  We all hope that means he is happy and is staying with us for a long, long time.

Roll Tide, babeeeeee!!

New York City here we come.  (Just how long does it take to drive a 15 year old Acura up there and back, anyway?)


bobbyjack said...

I usually leave it to other to report postgame. My memory is foggy as I've been battling the flu, but I want to say that Senario was lights out last night. With the exception of his airball 3 he was dominating.

I wish I could make it to NYC to see them, but unfortunately work is going to get in the way.

Looking back, I think going to the NIT is better for this bunch. Instead of being out in the 1st or 2nd round we have a chance to win it all in the NIT. Even if we don't they get to go to NYC.

DJC said...

Alias, just for the heck of it, I looked up the direction from Mobile to NYC on google maps. You are looking at about a 20 hr drive.

With that amount of time and the current price of gas, you would probably be better off flying Southwest out of Bham. If you are serious about going, let me know and we can coordinate getting tickets and share some costs, etc.

Alias said...

I cannot go, but thanks for thinking of me. My comment was more along the lines of one last dig at the people who won't drive 45 minutes from Birmingham or two hours from Montgomery to see this team play. My round trip is between seven and eight hours, depending on the weather and the traffic. Then again, most people down here thought I was crazy even before I became a Bama Basketball fan.

MSmilie said...

Senario's performance last night was wonderful to watch. He's been inconsistent as a basketball player, but he's always been a good kid. The past two seasons have been difficult for him at times as he's had to take on a different role, but he's been solid throughout. I hope our guys can win this thing for the seniors as it would be a wonderful way to send them out.

You guys have adequately summed up the game. One thing I will point out is that several times during the broadcast last night Dakich mentioned that both Mitchell and Green were considering testing the waters. Green I can understand; he's a junior. Testing the waters and then coming back doesn't hurt him at all.

I do not understand why Tony is considering doing this though. He is an amazing athlete and is growing as a basketball player with each game he plays, but someone better explain to him that playing at the next level involves more than just dunking the ball and making 31% of your three point shots. He needs at least one more season to become a legitimate pro prospect.

If Bama wins this thing they are going to have to beat some really good teams to do it. Colorado and Washington State have some NBA-caliber talent on their rosters while Wichita State has an experienced team and one of the best up-and-coming coaches in the country with Gregg Marshall. I like this team's hunger though. I think they've got a real shot to win this thing.

Alias said...

MSmilie, I don't know anything about basketball and even less about the NBA, but I did read an Internet report a few weeks ago claiming that an NBA team had a scout in Coleman Coliseum to check out Mitchell. I don't know whether the report was true or whether the scout would be able to communicate to Tony or to the coaches that he was going to be present. But I did read that on the Internet and it might have something to do with Tony's considering leaving early - and that is assuming the report about Tony is true.