Sunday, February 05, 2012

Crimson Tide is fine in Double Overtime, 69-67 over Ole Miss

Ole Miss has a lot of size and a very strong front court, and we knew that could give us some problems.  We did a decent job with them defensively despite JaMychal Green getting into early foul trouble again and eventually fouling out early in the 2nd overtime.

Once again, the offense got off to a slow start.  Predictably, Ole Miss sat in a zone and dared us to shoot.  There are 344 teams in Division 1 Men's basketball.  We rank number 343, ahead of only Grambling State, in 3 point FG%.  Another pitiful 3 of 17 performance did not help matters.  Trevor Lacey only played 14 minutes, missing all 3 of his outside attempts.

Despite the poor shooting, I actually thought our execution on offense was a little bit better.  Releford was able to drive in and get near the basket but his shots just were not falling.  We got a lot of open and high percentage shots near the basket, but it seemed like the ball would not bounce our way.  A big part of the problem is that our big guys never use the glass.  We make 3-4 foot shots a lot more difficult than they have to be by refusing to use the backboard.

Although Releford did not have a great day offensively, his defense was stellar.  Both he and Randolph were able to force several turnovers in the press that lead to scores.  Releford was also very disruptive in the half court defense, deflecting passes and pestering the Ole Miss guards.

The Rebel black bears built a 10 point lead in the first half.  Charles Hankerson came off the bench and busted the Rebel zone to get us back into the game.  He had 10 points in 13 minutes, including some desperately needed outside shots which opened up the inside game.  His play at the end of the first half and midway through the 2nd got us back into the game and put us in position to win.  It was a remarkable performance, and I thought he should have played more down the stretch, but he was coming off of a knee surgery Monday.  

I think one overlooked aspect of this game is our rebounding.  We actually out rebounded a much larger Ole Miss team.  Nick Jacobs has had problems getting off the floor at times this year, but he continues to improve and he snagged 9 boards.  I thought he did a great job of blocking out most of the night.

There were a lot of rumors surrounding a possible Tony Mitchell suspension coming into this game.  As noted, he was not in the starting lineup, but he did come off the bench to play for over 30 minutes.  I thought he played well and hard for the most part.  He had a huge block of an Ole Miss 3 point attempt at the end of the game, although with a 4 point lead in that situation I would generally rather not go for the block in that situation.   His 14 points and 4 offensive rebounds were huge down the stretch.  His put back actually gave us the lead for good in the final overtime period.  He got hit in the head at one point late in the first half and had to be taken back to the locker room.  It was a strange situation in that he came back out and was sent back to the locker room 2 or 3 times before coming back into the game.  He looked visibly upset about having to go back and not being able to get back into the game.  

The foul trouble and injury to Tony Mitchell resulted in some strange lineups at times, which I think hurt our chemistry a little bit.  I still do not understand our substitution patterns.  The way Hankerson was playing, he should have played much more down the stretch.  

Once again, Andrew Steele stepped up in the clutch and made the jump shot to put us ahead by 3 with only 30 seconds left in the final overtime.  Andrew is a great leader in these pressure packed situations.  He will be a key factor if we are going to win these next two tough games on the road.

"Hey Ref, you're blowing the..."

The crowd was all over the officials for most of the night.  I actually didn't think they called that bad of a game.  They missed a few of what looked like obvious fouls against Ole Miss, and then when they made actual good calls that went against us they really heard about it.  Both teams got away with a number of travels.  Coach Grant got a technical after one such missed call.  As Ole Miss was bringing the ball back up, Coach Grant questioned the call, and I could see the official tell Coach, "That's enough," and when Coach said something else he was hit with the T.  I don't think Coach did it intentionally, but it did seem to get the crowd into the game and energize the team.

Hopefully getting the come from behind win against a solid team in a close game like this will give the team some confidence.  We are back to .500 in league play now, and Ole Miss is another team that is fighting for a potential NCAA bid.  On the positive side, we finally found a way to win one of these games.  It was good to see the team having fun.  On the negative side, we blew a 5 point lead with 2 minutes to play in the first overtime.  Hankerson nearly stole the in bounds pass, and it seemed like the whole team was smiling and having fun, while Ole Miss answered with a 5-0 run.

Coach Grant did a good job of managing the game.  At the end of regulation in a tie game, I thought we should have went for the 2 for 1 with 50 seconds left.  Thankfully, Ole Miss committed a dumb foul with 30 seconds left giving us an opportunity to get the last shot.  I liked the play Coach Grant drew up, we had several options and Levi Randolph had an open mid range look, but it wouldn't fall.  Green probably should have started the 2nd overtime on the bench, it was obvious he was winded and playing with 4 fouls.  He fouled out immediately, but Coach Grant wisely took the air out of the ball on offense and limited the number of possessions in the final overtime.

Ole Miss made a meaningless 3 at the buzzer to make the final 69-67.

Up next, we travel to the ugliest village on the plains to take on a much improved auburn team.  You know they will be fired up for us.  Tip off is at 8pm Central.  I will be there, and hopefully a lot of Southeast Alabama area Tide fans will join me.


39 Steps said...

"A big part of the problem is that our big guys never use the glass."

Nice, needed win, but I'd like to see stronger fundamentals.

Roll Tide!!

MSmilie said...

39 Steps: It's February. What you see is what you're going to get with this team.

Personally, I thought the team showed some toughness against an Ole Miss team that came in ready to play and played extremely well. That return trip to Oxford will not be fun.

I read a lot of comments on the web in regards to Bama basketball and it seems fans from everywhere have the prescription for what ails Bama's offense. Again, I think that the Bama offense is what it is. The continued criticism seems unneccessary at this point (not talking about anyone who writes or comments on this blog, I'm just speaking in general).

There are 8 games left in the season. None of them are going to be automatic wins for this team. They're going to have play every game similar to the last two. Play hard on both ends, defend well, rebound well (DJC is right on that Bama outrebounding Ole Miss was a big stat), get solid bench play and hope that's enough to gut out a win. Maybe the shots fall in a game or two to help avoid another pressure-filled ending.

Speaking of the shooting: Bama had plenty of open looks Saturday, the shots simply are not falling. The guys look good shooting the ball, but the damn thing just won't go in the hoop. Sometimes, that's all it is.

The game tomorrow night will probably be another dogfight. Auburn has had a few poor performances, but overall have been a much-improved team from a year ago when they were one of the worst major-conference teams in the country. We give the local fans grief for what appears to be an inability to fill Coleman Coliseum, but we are Cameron Indoor Stadium compared to the Auburn fans. However, I'm sure their fans will turn out for the Bama game so that will probably be a tough environment.

My opinion is that Alabama needs to find a way to at least split the two road games this week going into the Florida game because, quite frankly, I'm not sure effort alone is going to be enough to beat Florida. The last thing the team can afford in this final month of the season is to endure another 3-4 game losing streak.

Bamalib' said...

THE BEST TEAM-WIN THIS SEASON ! No signs at all of any so-called 'selfishness' in this grueling Victory over Ole Miss, which was made possibly by so many players !

I've been wondering if Alabama's power in football is on the minds of basketball officials, which brings them to feeling some sort of misguided-moral obligation to neutralize the Crimson Tide's athletic success. I swear, how often does it appear that Bama gets treated as the visiting basketball team on its own home court by officials! ! ! ! ! ! !

I'm actually more confident about beating Florida, than I am about winning future games on the schedule against Mississippi and Arkansas ! ! !

In their home game (a big victory) against Vanderbilt, Florida, which only has a (2-1) SEC record as the visiting team, generated an odd statistic: MORE THAN A THIRD OF ALL THEIR SHOTS WERE THREE-POINT ATTEMPTS. Almost 50% of all their MADE shots were Three-pointers ! When playing in Oxford, MS, MORE THAN HALF of all their FG-attempts were 3-pointers.

Are we going to take that in Tuscaloosa? Our guards MUST take that aspect of their game away! And I trust we CAN shut them down. After all, Tennessee beat Florida in Knoxville. Mississippi almost beat UF too, leading 20-4 and up by 10 points at halftime, only to lose by 4.

And Alabama, really really needs to have a victory against a ranked team this season. That's what is keeping our RPI way down ! ! !

Looking ahead, I can see the possibility of Florida losing 4 more games, and Mississippi State losing 3 more games (neither of which has played Ky yet), and even Vandy losing 3 more games. If Alabama can keep winning, we can end up passing by those teams in the SEC rankings and reach 2nd place in the SEC.


Hopefully the winning streak for Alabama continues with a confidence-building big blow-out on the road against the team of the Town-of-auburn University. I really think Coach Grant is the smarter, better coach compared to Barbie, who still looks foolish for signing Shawn Kemp and Luke Cothwell/Cottran? (I forgot his name) a couple years ago.

MSmilie said...

Lib: I certainly don't wish to temper your apparently boundless enthusiasm, but Bama's RPI is pretty high (I haven't looked at it recently, but I believe it was in the 30's going into the Ole Miss game, who themselves were in the 40's). The RPI isn't employed as much as people think though. What is helping Alabama right now with the "bracketologists" is they played a really tough schedule and the SEC is stronger than it's been in a few years.

I don't think your theory about the officials hold much water, no offense. Alabama plays very aggressive defense and most officials call a tight game, at least that's the way I see it. The players have to adjust to the way the game is being called and stop allowing the officials to get in their heads and upset them (Tony and JaMychal really suffer from this). Having written that, the officials were not kind in the first half of the game Saturday.

AlabamaLib said...

Thank you for the comments. The use of word "so low" is relative, and I was indeed considering an RPI in the 30's to be lower in comparison to its RPI earlier in the season (Wasn't it The Best in the SEC at some point and in the national Top 10?), along with the consideration of "how much higher" its RPI could be with a win over a ranked team. It is my fault that I wasn't clear about the perspective I was taking and I'm sorry.

And you are right about the so-called theory about officiating having no proof. They may be several other factors involved in why 50/50 types of calls, which other teams usually win on their own home courts as they play defense, tend to go against Alabama on their home court.

But I must disagree with your suggestion that the foul discrepancy is due to Alabama's defense. How many times do we see JaMychal Green and Trevor Releford and the other players get obviously hit, pushed, beaten with no whistle blowing on the visiting opposition.

It's NOT about the amount of defense, if you will recall an uncanny number of fouls in the last home game being whistled against Alabama while Alabama HAS THE BALL and playing offense.

Something is going on. What other possible explanations are there? That the officials subconsciously expect to blow more whistles against Alabama even before tip-off because of our reputation of a tough defense??? Hmm. No proof for that, but it's a possibility; another "theory".

Another question: I wonder which Coach in the SEC is the leader for getting Technical Fouls? Seriously! I really haven't seen many this year among SEC games on TV, but the question deserves to be asked.

"Boundless enthusiasm"? LOL (And I had written then that I was not optimistic about winning against Arkansas or Ole Miss. Notice that?)