Friday, December 02, 2011

Winning Streak Goes Down to Georgetown. 57-55

The home winning streak comes to an end at 24 thanks to a heart breaking, last second loss to the Hoyas. We jumped out to an early 7-2 lead, Tony Mitchell had a dunk in the open court, and Georgetown's center picked up 3 quick fouls. It looked like everything was going according to plan.

Then, the Hoyas 2-3 zone took over. We spent the rest of the first half spreading the court and trying to reverse the ball to get open looks. Georgetown was too long, too quick, and too sharp in their rotations for that to work. It seemed like every possession we were attempting a forced shot as the shot clock ran down. It was a very slow-paced, halfcourt game, exactly what Georgetown wanted. We were 0 for 8 from 3 point range in the first half, had an 8 minute stretch where we scored only one basket, and went into halftime with only 16 points on the board. Thankfully, the defense held Georgetown to only 23 to keep us in the game.

Green's left arm seemed to still be bothering him some in the first half. He couldn't handle a rebound and misplayed a pass the he would normally have no problem with. Tony Mitchell's ankle seems to be doing much better, as his explosive vertical was back which seemed to be missing during the VCU game.

Rodney Cooper sporting the mohawk.

I remarked at halftime that we should try to attack the basket, penetrate the zone with more of a drive and dish based offense to hopefully get some better shots or at least get to the foul line. Rodney Cooper did exactly that on the first possession of the 2nd half, resulting in an offensive rebound and put back by Tony Mitchell. The plan of attack worked a lot better in the 2nd half, and we were able to make some runs to get back into the game. While the defense continued to play very solid as always, we had a couple of breakdowns in execution at key times that allowed them to stretch or maintain their lead.

We made a few runs in the 2nd half, but it seemed like every time we would get back to within 1 or 2, they would make a 3 or answer with a big basket. The modified Princeton offense they run is fun to watch and difficult to stop. The slow paced tempo and timely baskets kept our sell out crowd out of the game for the most part. Late in the game Trevor Lacey finally broke through and made a couple of 3's to loosen up the Georgetown zone some, but it was too little too late. If we don't start shooting better from the perimeter, we are going to see a lot of zone.

I've said it before, but Tony Mitchell does not do himself any favors with the officials. He was called for a couple of fouls in the 2nd half and nearly lost his cool, throwing the ball down once, and having to be restrained by Rodney Cooper after a second foul call. It obviously disrupted his concentration, as he was out of position on defense on the next possession giving up an easy layup. During the next timeout, Coach Grant yelled at him, as Tony took his head band off and angrily threw it to the bench. On the one hand, his crazy personality is a big part of the way he plays the way he does, with such energy and recklessness, which is a good thing. His temper is going to get us into trouble though, and it can cause problems at key moments.

An official once gave me some advice that I don't necessarily agree with, but he said, "identify who the turds are, call some fouls on them and get them out of the game." I don't believe you should call the game any differently for one player than any other based on their attitude, but a lot of officials do. Now, let me be clear, I am in no way saying Tony is a "turd." He was our best offensive player last night, and most nights for that matter, he plays hard, and he kept us in the game. I am saying that his reactions to adverse calls could be interpreted that way by the officials, and thus detrimental to him getting the benefit of the doubt in some situations.

Speaking of the officials, I thought they did a pretty good job overall. In a close game, you will always have a few bad calls against each side that stick out in your mind, but we benefited from as many of them as Georgetown did. We got away with one of the most blatant goaltendings I have ever seen early in the 1st half. They screwed up a couple of out of bounds calls initially, but credit the officials for taking the time to get together and get those calls right.

We knew keeping JaMychal out of foul trouble would be key, but he picked up his 4th foul with 7:30 left. Nick Jacobs continues to play well, but this was not an ideal situation to rely upon a true freshman. He got beat badly playing man to man defense, and I think he tried to do a little too much on offense. I still think he can develop into an Erwin Dudley type. He is better in the post with his back to the basket and has decent left handed baby hook shot. We put Green back in with over 5 minutes to play and he managed to stay in the game and bailed us out on a couple of possessions with great, tough baskets in the post. It is interesting to note that neither Ben Eblen nor Carl Engstrom got into the game. I'm guessing this is the rotation Grant envisions going forward, but we shall see.

It appeared that all hope was lost when Georgetown took a 9 point lead with about 2:30 to go. This Alabama team would not give up though, and went on a 10-0 to take the lead with 12 seconds to play on a couple of Trevor Releford free throws. Despite pretty good defense, they hit a long 3 over Trevor Lacey with 1.8 seconds remaining to win the game. I know there is not much you can do in 1.8 seconds and inbounding under your own basket, but I did not like our last shot. I would have liked to have seen a longer pass, perhaps to Green, which admittedly would be more difficult to execute, but if we could catch it perhaps we could have gotten a higher percentage shot.

It's always disappointing to lose, but this may not be a bad thing for this team. The freshman got some real big game atmosphere experience that will help down the road. We showed the ability to fight back and overcome late deficits. Some of the pressure of the home winning streak and high ranking will be alleviated. Now, we can get back to playing ball without worrying about the big bullseye on our back.

It was great to see the first non-conference sellout crowd since 2003. Former players Rod Grizzard, Charvez Davis, Doc Martin, and Terrance Meade were all in attendance. Trent Richardson made an appearance in the student section. The student section was packed, and many were even turned away. Five star forward Devonta Pollard was visiting. He is considering both Georgetown and Alabama, along with his home state team of mi$$i$$ippi $tate. He was sitting close to me, but I was too into the game to give a fair report to his reactions. As you can see, he did seem to enjoy the concessions.

Up next, our first true road game, as we go to Dayton to take on Coach Grant's alma mater, the Dayton Flyers. It will be a sold out, hostile environment on Wednesday, Dec. 7 at 6pm Central. I am not aware of any television coverage, and unfortunately I do not think I will be able to make the trip. Thank God for Chris Stewart and Bryan Passink.


MSmilie said...

Great recap, as always. As we feared, Georgetown's size and length really hurt us. The team showed a lot of toughness keeping the game close, but it was effectively over when Georgetown went to the zone with no one able to penetrate or shoot over it. The football team needs kickers and the basketball team needs perimeter shooters.

Tony and JaMychal finished with good numbers, but they had long stretches where they were unable to get anything going, and I feel like Releford so far this season has struggled with consistency. I'm only watching or listening from the comfort of my own home but he seems to be lacking the aggressiveness with the ball that he had a year ago when his ability to push the ball and penetrate the defense really helped alleviate some of the offensive issues the team had. He also really seemed to struggle at times on the defensive end last night and ESPN caught Grant really giving him the business on camera. He definitely has to play better if Bama is going to reach the goals we think they can this year.

DJC said...

Regarding Releford, I think there are a number of possible issues at play here:

1) the dreaded "sophomore slump"

2) Last year he knew we were limited as far as perimeter shooters on the wings goes. This year, with the addition of the freshmen, I don't think he sees himself as much as a priority as far as scoring options on the court goes, so he is looking to pass more and get others involved and doesn't feel like he has to score as much himself.

3) I have heard that he has been dealing with a groin issue, and at times he has looked to be struggling a little physically. This could be costing him a step and preventing him from finishing or having confidence in beating his man off the dribble.

Hopefully he will get healthy and the chemistry with the freshmen will continue to grow.

finebammer said...

"Thank God for Chris Stewart and Bryan Passink."

from someone who's listened to Eli Gold call a basketball game, trust me, I do.

39 Steps said...

A. We could have used a true center, as well as a stroker from the behind the arc.
B. We were out-coached. Why did it take CAG till the second half to figure out how to attack the zone?

MSmilie said...

A. Our true center is sitting out with an injury.
B. I disagree that Grant was outcoached. He made the necessary halftime adjustments and Alabama did enough to win the game despite not playing their best game.

You have to give Georgetown credit. They were able to hit timely shots, limit turnovers and played good defense themselves. They're a good basketball team. This game may turn out to be a blessing because it highlighted some areas the coaching staff can address and was good experience for the young guys.

39 Steps said...

A. And we sure could have used him.
B. Why wait (waste) a half before making an adjustment?
With 14 coaches sitting around our bench, SOMEBODY must have had a clue...

I give Georgetown a lot of credit. They had a good plan and executed better than we did.
A loss sooner is better than a loss later.

Roll Tide!!

bobbyjack said...

JTIII is a better coach right now. That's a fact. No shame in being outcoached by him.

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