Friday, March 30, 2012

Jack Blankenship for UA President

Jack Blankenship, the Crimson Tide "Superfan" known for his big-head frown poster that he uses at all Alabama basketball games, is launching his bid for UA President for 2012. His campaign video is shown below.

I encourage any of our Bama Hoops followers that are eligible to please vote for Jack in the upcoming campus election. Roll Tide!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Mi$$iSSippi $tate news- Sidney and Moultrie to go pro

Moultrie is probably a 2nd rounder while Sidney will probably end up overseas as he has no chance at the NBA (or D-league).

In case you haven't heard already, the great Rick Stansbury 'retired' last week and M$U is having a hard time finding someone to take the job. I suspect at some point their AD is going to pull a Mal Moore and yell down the hall gauging interest in the job (the running joke on how Wendell Hudson got the Bama women's hoop job... which he's been terrible at).

Random thought- this one and done is making it harder for me to keep up with college hoops. My interest outside of Bama has waned over the last decade and is probably as low as it's ever been. Either let them go straight out of HS or follow baseball and have them commit 3 yrs (I'd even be fine with 2).

Friday, March 23, 2012

Bama Basketball Grading- Anthony Grant

I'll sporadically put these up the next month or so. This post... starting with the man in charge.

- Made the NCAA Tournament.. after 6 long years.
- 3 SEC road wins. That's 7 in the last 2 years.
- Won the San Juan Shootout. Much better than going O fer in St Thomas
- Had the guts to suspend players during a crucial time and it paid off. I didn't like, but  it worked out okay.

- In game coaching... the last 30 seconds of the Creighton game was not an anomaly. We have posted about stuff like this for 3 years now.
- Half court offense- it seems like everyone is afraid to shoot except Green and sometimes Lacey and Hankerson. If we ain't runnin' we ain't scorin'
- Use of timeouts... DJC has pointed this out in previous posts better than I have... and it bothers me.

Overall Grade: C+

After starting off strong (albeit against weak competition), we lost a heart-breaker to Georgetown, followed by getting curb-stomped by Dayton. Losing to the Hoyas isn't horrible, but it was on our home court and IMO should've been a win. In the grand scheme of the season we beat ONE ranked team (Wichita State) and outside of the San Juan Shootout didn't exactly light it up in our non-conference slate.

The four game losing streak that started off @ $tate in of itself wasn't as bad as it seemed... except for the South Carolina loss. Again, losing to Vanderbilt isn't unexpected, but it was a home game and we were beaten down in it... at full strength no less. We were also throttled by the Gators in the 2nd half of our game against them in the regular season.

Let me stress that I really like our defensive intensity. Usually offense can fail from time to time, but defensive effort can be there all the time. Problem is the offense is rarely in sync.

At the end of year 3 I have questions if Anthony Grant is the man to get us to the level many of us Bama hoops enthusiasts hope for. We definitely play better defense, but our offense is even worse than what Gottfried had (and I was a vocal critic of his 5+ minute scoring droughts a game). I'm also concerned that at the end of year 3 we still don't have a legitimate outside threat and with JaMychal Green moving on... no real inside presence outside of Nick Jacobs (who's hook shot I like, but hate his defensive play).

One thing I lack confidence in is close games... if we are down in the closing minutes I have little faith in us pulling it out.

I get that in year 3 we made the NCAA tournament, but let's be honest... this team was not as good as last year's squad. I assume we'll make the tournament next season too, but will we consistently be one of those unranked teams that gets the 8-12 seed or will we take the next step and push on through to a 3-6 seed? At this time I'm not confident in the latter.

NO THIS IS NOT A GRANT SHOULD BE FAHRED POST...just real thoughts and where I see the program right now. As long as he keeps making the tournament and doesn't embarrass the program (which for sure I know he won't do) he'll be here as long as he wants to.

Also, note that my view doesn't reflect the 4 others that post on here.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Blue Jays Make Bama Pay, 58-57

Most of us thought we would have a great chance to win if we kept the score in the 50's and held McDermott under 20, but unfortunately it did not work out that way.  Give Creighton a lot of credit, they found a way to win despite playing our game.

One of the key statistics was Creighton only turning the ball over 7 times.  We got a steal on their first possession, and I was hopeful that our press would be able to create some offense for us all night, but Creighton settled down and found a way to break it, often leading to open 3 point opportunities for them.  Creighton built an early 7-2 lead, but we made some adjustments and shut them down for most of the first half, holding them to only 23 points at halftime.  Coach Grant recognized that the traps were getting beat so we went to more of a straight up man to man and had some success.

Creighton switched between a 2-3 zone and an EXTREMELY soft man to man defense most of the night, so they were able to pack the lane even when playing man and make it very difficult for us to get the ball into the post.  Despite that, JaMychal Green had a very good game.  He knocked down a few jumpers, took care of the basketball, and avoided picking up stupid fouls.  Most importantly, I thought he played excellent defense on Creighton's big man.

We actually shot the ball from the outside fairly well, and were able to take a 10 point lead in the 2nd half.  You knew that lead wasn't safe against a team as explosive offensively as Creighton.  While we held their star player to "only" 16 points, he created a lot of scoring opportunities for his teammates.  He moves very well without the ball, and they have great chemistry overall as a team.  They ran quite a few scissor plays, and their executions on the screens and cuts to get open, high percentage shots when needed was fun to watch (or would have been, anyway, if they weren't playing us).  They also did a good job of exploiting Nick Jacobs, forcing him to guard away from the basket which opened up the floor for them.

I really thought Rodney Cooper would be a good option to defend McDermott and pose some matchup problems for them.  4 fouls in 4 minutes proves why I am writing on a blog instead of coaching basketball.  Coop gets the Reggie Rambo award for his efforts, and I'm sure this experience will help him next year.

I was somewhat surprised Engstom did not get into the game, but Green was playing a good game and staying out of foul trouble, and doing a great job on the defensive end, so there really wasn't a good time to put Carl in the game.  I do have one minor complaint regarding our substitutions this game, Trevor Lacey made a 3 in the first half to tie the game and seemed to be finding his groove, but was immediately taken out.  Creighton promptly went on a 6-0 run.  Lacey knocked down a couple more treys, and I am really looking forward to watching him play next year.  I think he can be a dynamic scorer for us.

Levi Randolph only scored 7 points, but I thought he played a great game, other than missing a couple of key free throws late in the game.  He was all over the court playing defense, disrupting Creighton, getting rebounds, etc.  He brought a lot of energy when we needed it the most.  I also thought Releford had one of his better games this year, especially considering how difficult it was for him to get to the rim on the drive against the very soft man.

It was an excruciating loss, but what an amazing college basketball game.  This is why the NCAA tournament is greatest event in all of sports, in my opinion.

There were a few key plays that prevented us from pulling it out.  Levi's missed free throws, and our free throw shooting in general.  We were only 6 of 12, if we shoot our usual percentage, we get the win.  In fairness, Creighton was awful at the line too.  Nick Jacobs failing to get the rebound on a Creighton missed free throw late, we fouled again and they made both shots.  Last but certainly not least, was our clock management at the end of the game.

We made so many mistakes in the final 30 seconds in regards to managing the clock, I really don't even know where to start.  First of all, we took WAY too long to foul on Creighton's last possession.  We kept going for the steal, and didn't get it.  I understand going for the steal on the inbounds pass, but being down only 1 we were going to have a chance to tie at worst, so we should have fouled sooner.  We allowed them to run the clock down to 8 seconds, whereas they should have been at the free throw line with at least 14 seconds left.  The Jays cooperated by bricking them both, but we should have IMMEDIATELY called a timeout on the rebound.  If the Jays don't pressure the inbound, we could've rolled the ball up the floor or thrown a lengthy inbound pass to preserve a few seconds.  Instead, we run it up the court where Creighton wisely used their foul to give with 4.4 seconds remaining.  Creighton came out showing man to man but switched to zone when we inbounded the ball.  We had a play designed to attack the man to man defense, so Coach Grant immediately called timeout, now with only 2.4 seconds remaining.  I understand you don't have time during a 60 second timeout to design separate plays for every imaginable defense you might see, but the players should be able to recognize the zone and go with their base zone offense at that point.  Worst case scenario, we should have been able to at least get a long, but open shot up over a zone.  Any of these options would have been better than taking a side out with only 2 seconds left.

Nevertheless, Releford was fouled, badly, and should have shot 3 free throws.  At the time,  I said we would not get a call in that situation, especially if it looked like we were trying to draw a foul, and I think that was the case.  But still, when it effects the shot to that degree, I think it should have been called, especially considering JaMychal Green was also pulled down on the play without a call.  I doubt Green would have had time to catch the ball and get a shot up anyway, but we will never know.  It was good to see the entire team immediately run over to Releford to pick him up, as he was visibly upset that he didn't hit the game winner.  It wasn't his fault, the play wasn't designed to go to him anyway and he was fouled.

We had a decent crowd there.  Our one section of the lower level was mostly full, and there was some Crimson scattered throughout the rest of the arena.  Creighton's section was also full, but I did not see any of them sitting anywhere else.  Still, considering the size and proximity of the respective Universities, I would have hoped we would have a little bit more of a "home court" advantage than we did.  The Bama fans that were there, were loud and into the game for the most part.  Of course, the overwhelming majority of the crowd was in Carolina blue.

It was a great atmosphere for basketball.  The arena was very nice and easy to get into and out of.  I wish we had their cops to direct traffic in Tuscaloosa, they did a great job.  All of that being said, Greensboro is a crappy town.  I understand they have a long history of hosting tournament games there, but I would much rather be in Charlotte or Raleigh.  The silver lining in the loss was getting to come home today, instead of spending a whole weekend in that hellhole.   In fairness, I was exhausted and not in a great mood by the time we got there.  Thanks to a wreck on I20 in west Georgia, we didn't arrive until 2:30 am.  This after narrowly avoiding a group of 3 deer in East Georgia that likely would have killed us.  Three hours after going to bed, I had to be awake to take care of an important work related matter before the game.

We stayed and watched the first 30 minutes of the Carolina game.  The lower part of the arena filled up but the upper level was only half full, if that.  Their fans were generally knowledgeable and very complimentary to us, and it got loud in there while the Heels were on a roll.  Still, it's hard for me to imagine there would have been that many empty seats if Kentucky were playing an NCAA tournament game that close to their campus.  UNC is fun to watch, they run and get their shots up quick, and are very athletic.  Their baskets seemed to come easy while Vermont's band of Caucasians had to work hard for everything they got.  Still, the Catamounts somehow kept it respectable most of the game, thanks to UNC missing a number of easy shots.  It was obvious the heels were not on their game.

As for the season as a whole, we started off overrated, but briefly looked like we might live up to the hype.  We had some self inflicted adversity that very easily could have wrecked the season.  We broke the 6 year drought, and that should keep the program's positive momentum going for now.  We need to recruit a big man (hopefully Pollard) and it would be nice to find a pure shooter assuming Tony Mitchell doesn't decide to get his head out of his ass and come back with the right attitude.  The season was a success, but still a little disappointing.

Edited to add pics.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

NCAA Tournament- Creighton Blue Jays preview

FINALLY, THE TIDE HAS COME BACK... TO THE NCAA TOURNAMENT (if you know who I'm copying keep it on the down low). I started this blog 6 years ago this week with our 2nd round game vs UCLA. AS pathetic as the last 6 years have been I can't believe I and the others hung around, but we FINALLY GOT A RECEIPT!

Anyways, here is a write up from Creighton's official site. Here is their season schedule. Here are their season stats.

Creighton comes into this game at 28-5 which sounds nice except to be honest they haven't really beat anyone outside of San Diego St in their non-confrence schedule. They did beat Wichita State on the road, but got curb stomped by them at home. We of course took care of the Shockers in Puerto Rico.

I think we all know about Doug McDermott, the 1st team All-American forward that is going to pose a match up problem with us both in the post and around the perimeter. Let's assume he gets his 25 points/9 boards. What we have to do is limit his 3 point looks as he's shooting almost 50% beyond the arc. He might have more 3s by himself than we have as a team (I'm exagerrating... a little).

Gregory Echenique is their undersized center that does damage on the offensive boards. He's 2nd overall in boards behind McDermott and drops almost 10PPG. I see Gueye/Engstrom/Jacobs matching up with him.

Antoine Young is their senior guard and 2nd leading scorer at 13.1 PPG. Him and Grant Gibbs set the table for the offense... averaging 4.6 and 4.7 a game.

Jahenns Manigat is their other starter and 2nd best 3 point shooter. Note that they have had the same starting lineup all season long.

Off the bench, Ethan Wragge and Josh Jones are guys to watch as they also hit at a 40% clip outside. Austin Chapman is the other guy that gets more than a handful of minutes.

The numbers:
- 80 PPG
- .509 FG
- .425 3pt FG
- +6.1 rebound margin
-  .732 FT

Prediction: it's offense vs defense... and if this were football I easily go with defense. In hoops... not so much in the tournament. Creighton is a lot like Florida... a team we just don't match up well with their high shooting percentage and offensive rebounds. Still, I gumped for us in one of my tournament brackets so I'm going to say Green has a monster game with Releford and Randolph burying 3s as we advance to the 2nd (3rd) round vs North Carolina. Bama by 2... covering the spread and all.

Game time is 1:40 EST on TBS I believe. I hope to catch some of the game on the tube.

If I botched someone's name I apologize... writing this before heading to work for the day. I'll check back later to proofread and edit if needed.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Bama vs Creigton 1:40EST on Friday and Final Four prediction

It's on TBS from what I've seen on the innernets. If I'm not on the west coast I think I will drive up to Greensboro for the game (unless someone is going to drive/ride with me). A Creighton preview is coming in a day.

As for the my Final Four... here are my picks:
- Kentucky over Baylor in the South
- Missouri over Louisville in the West
- Syracuse over FSU in the East
- North Carolina over Georgetown in the Midwest

As you can see, I'm not exactly going out on a limb here... IMO there are 8 elite teams and a bunch of filler. I believe Missouri was screwed over as a 1 seed. They should've gotten it over Michigan St. What killed me was the selection committee said Missouri was the last #2 seed. Really? It's far past time for there to be 'etched in stone' criteria for seeding.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Dancing with the Blue Jays in Greensboro.

The six year drought is over!  We will return to the NCAA tournament to take on the Creighton Blue Jays in Greensboro Friday.  This was probably the 2nd most difficult draw we could get.  Creighton is a very strong 8 seed, in my opinion, and if we can somehow get past them we will face the UNC tarheels in their back yard in the 3rd round.

A first round win over a good Creighton team would be huge.  If we lose to Creighton, I hope UNC is at least in our session on the first day.  North Carolina is one of my favorite teams, and I hope to get to see them play in person, one way or another.  Last time I had a chance to do so, Gottfried screwed it up by losing to a God awful Oregon team in Maui.

Game time and TV coverage will be announced in the next few days.  Alabama's official website has a link that purports to allow season ticket holders to request tickets, but of course it isn't working and the deadline is 5pm tomorrow.  I guess I will call down there and deal with those idiots first thing in the morning.

Photo from NOLA and quick guess on Final 4 at large teams

Thanks to Nick for grabbing this on Bourbon St. Those are Kentucky players Dorom Lamb and future millionaire Anthony Davis in the background.

Quick guess on Final 4 in:
- Seton Hall
- Cal
- NC State
- Drexel

Mark Gottfried has done a good job harnessing the talent left behind by Sydney Lowe. They'll play Tuesday, but at least they are in (at least IMO).

No soup for you M$U... enjoy the NIT!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Gators Survive Bama on the Bayou, 66-63

We got off to a slow start, but overall played a pretty good game against a very solid team.  We never led in the game, but Florida could not put us away.  We battled back from separate deficits of 12,9, and 7 to tie, but Florida always had an answer.  

My view for the first 8 minutes.

Billy Donovan was smart enough to stay in a zone defense,  and we continued to have the same problems against it that we have seen all season.  Our guys have got to get some confidence in their shots.  We look afraid to shoot at times, and we actually made a higher percentage of our 3 pointers than Florida did, of course Florida made more than we actually attempted.  

We moved down to here at the 2nd media timeout

On the positive side, Trevor Releford was back to his old form.  He finished some circus layups in the paint and generally took care of the basketball.  JaMychal Green was a beast and kept us in the game when things could have gotten ugly.  He was 8 of 9 from the free throw line, but that one miss was a huge one, that could have tied the game in the last 30 seconds.  

That was the story of the game, we played well but did not make the crucial plays when we had the opportunity.  Levi Randolph made some freshmen mistakes, including telegraphing his pass which caused a turnover when we had a chance to take the lead late in the game.  After battling back to tie it, we fouled their three point shooter, twice, essentially giving them 7 points.  We still had a chance to tie at the buzzer, and Lacey got a decent look but his shot would not go down.  

Donovan did a good job of exploiting Jacob's defense when he was in the game.  They would get him to switch on one of their 3 point shooters and pull him out away from the basket, where he is not very effective.  Andrew Steele struggled, he was called for a couple of charging fouls and only got 2 shots off.  I would like to see him work on a midrange game, like we see Levi do from time to time.  I think word has gotten out that Andrew is going strong to the basket and hoping to draw a foul.  

It was a very small crowd, maybe 7,000 or so scattered throughout?  We had a decent contingent, but it's impossible to compare our crowd to Florida's because the vast majority were wearing Kentucky Blue.  Most of the Cats fans seemed to be pulling for us.

That was by far the worst NBA arena I have ever been in.  Like many things in that city, it's as if the person who designed it was intoxicated at the time.  There were not nearly enough sets of stairs to get to and from the upper portion of the arena, meaning you had to walk a long way out of your way, and it created a bottleneck with the UK fans trying to leave after their game.  The concourse is very narrow and jam packed with retail space.  It took me nearly 20 minutes to go from entering the gate to my seat.  The stats and display boards are somewhat oddly placed.  Despite that, I wish they had the tournament there every year.  New Orleans is an awesome city.  Yes, it smells like a sewer, and  is arguably the dirtiest town in American, but I love it.  Everything is within walking distance, with the casino, river, french quarter, and sports arenas are all easy to get to.  It's impossible to get a bad meal there.  Everybody knows about ACME, Mother's, etc, but on weekends such as this when those places have ridiculous lines, you can go to any hole in the wall and you are probably going to get some good food.  I wish I could recall the names of the places I ate yesterday.

As usual, the Kentucky fans took over the city, which they dubbed as "Blue Orleans."   Their fans are a lot of fun, and for the most part were very complimentary of our team and Coach Grant.  I know a lot people don't like Coach Cal and his "one and done" system, but I really like this Kentucky team.  They appear focused and play much better as a team than some of his past groups.  Assuming we don't advance too far, I am definitely rooting for them to win the National Championship.  

Up Next, SELECTION SUNDAY!  I fear we will be an 8/9 seed.  If that is the case, we will likely either be in Pittsburgh with a 2nd round matchup against Syracuse, Greensboro in Duke's pod, or Omaha in Kansas' bracket.  I am hoping we will either be a 7 or a 10, but after six long years, it's going to feel damned good "ALABAMA" on CBS tomorrow afternoon.  

Friday, March 09, 2012

SEC Tournament 2nd round- Florida Gators

I'm going to be a debbie downer on this one... even though the Gators have lost 3 straight, I don't have a whole lot of confidence in today's matchup. Another thing... Anthony Grant has yet to beat his mentor.

Here's a write up from their side on the game. Here are their season stats. Here's the write up from our first game.

Not a lot has changed here... the Gators are still deadly from outside, but have struggled the last 3 games with under 40% FG and 27.5% from 3.As their preview tells us, Will Yeguete is done for the year. He gave them 20 MPG and was a good inside presence.

Kenny Boynton leads the team at 16.8 PPG and is their best 3 pt shooter (.434). Bradley Beal and Erving Walker throw down 14.4 and 12.4 and like Boynton are good FT shooters (all over 73%). Patric Young and Erik Young round out their offensive attack both dropping 10 per game as well.Young shot an amazing 61.6% from the field... and like last game will give us fits inside and on the boards. Murphy is another one to watch from outside hitting at a .432 clip. Yikes!

The numbers:
- +10.9 scoring margin
- .462 FG
- .389 3pt FG
- +2.8 rebound margin
- 6.6 steals

Prediction: Like I said to start this... bad feeling about this one. A team that can shoot vs a team that can't. Defense is great and all, but the Gators will get enough good looks and stick them... while we continue to have a hard time throwing a golf ball through the hoop. If we somehow hold them to AUful shooting we have a chance. Let's hope against hope for that. Gators by 11.

Game time is 3:30PM EST on the SEC Network.

Bama's Finer than South Carolina, 63-57

It's March.  The theme of the day is "survive and advance."  That's exactly what the Tide did today, so I won't waste a lot of time recapping it.

For all the criticism of Darrin Horn he had a pretty good game plan against us.  He stayed in the 2-3 zone nearly the entire game, and urged his team to push the ball and take quick shots whenever feasible.  That is as good of a game plan for beating us as anybody has come up with.  Luckily for us, they just didn't have the players to pull it off.

The most disappointing aspect of this game to me was how we handled prosperity.  Our press forced some turnovers and easy baskets, but every time we got the lead to 8-10 pts we seemed to get lazy and let them back in it as opposed to finishing them off.  Kudos to Trevor Lacey for FINALLY hitting our first 3 of the game with less than 1 minute remaining and icing it away at the free throw line, but this team had multiple chances to put it away before then but lacked that killer instinct.

Up next, we face the Florida Gators tomorrow at 2:30 CST in the quarterfinals of the SEC tournament.  I will be there, but I'm not optimistic given our effort over the last 3 games.  That said, it could be worse, we could be Mis$$i$$ippi $tate, who just lost Georgia in the first round and is likely headed to the NIT..  LMAO!  Those bitches may go down as the most underachieving team in the history of college basketball.  Regardless of how this season plays out for us, that puts a huge smile on my face.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

SEC Tourney- South Carolina quick preview

YOUR NCAA TOURNAMENT BOUND (it feels so good to type that) Crimson Tide face off with the Gamecocks from South Carolina with the intent of erasing our worst loss of the season. The Gamecocks are probably the worst team I've seen in the SEC in 10 years... and yet one of their 2 conference wins was over us in a game that made John Wooden roll over in his grave. 

First a write up from their official site.
Next, a look at their best blog. They don't have a preview up yet, but I suspect they will at some point.
Finally, season stats.

The Cocks come in on fire... winners of 1 of their last 8, 2-14 in conference and 10-20 overall. Of their 14 losses in conference, 10 of them have been by double digits. Malik Cooke leads the team in scoring at 12.5 a game. Damontre Harris is their inside force and has improved... he leads the team in boards. Bruce Ellington directs the offense and also drops 11PPG. To be honest I didn't check injury report... if I do and find someone of significance not playing I'll edit this.

As a team they make our offense look like North Carolina, but like us they do play tough defense. Theydo give up a higher than average number of 3 pointers (38%) so hopefully we get some open looks and gulp... hit them.

Green should be able to dominate inside... as well as Jacobs. The key to the game on our end is which Releford will we see... the one @ Arkansas or the one we have seen the past 2 games. When he struggles, we are out to sea in a boat without oars.

Prediction: Even though a 2nd loss to this horrific team would make us worry... we seem to be safely in the NCAA Tournament. I suspect Grant will remind them of their previous game and on a neutral court (in front of friends, family and not much else) we should beat them down by double digits.. like the rest of the league has done. Bama by 13.

Game time is 3:30PM EST on the SEC Network.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

ALL SEC Team announced and Early Season Tournament info

Congratulations to JaMychal Green and Trevor Releford for making 2nd team all SEC.  We were not represented on the 1st team, all freshman team, or all defensive team.  Full story here.

We will be playing in the 2012 2k Sports Classic benefiting the Wounded Warrior Project.  This is a 12 team event, and we will be one of the hosts, along with Villanova, Purdue, and Oregon State.  The winners advance to the championship rounds at Madison Square Garden in New York, Nov. 15-16.

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Bama plays shoddy, loses to hotty toddy. 60-51

Yet another embarassing offensive performance.  17 points at halftime?  Geez.

We never play well in the Tad Pad.  It seems like every year, no matter how good we are playing or what type of team Old Piss has, we take a late season loss over there.  In fairness, this Ole Miss team is a bad matchup for us.  We saw that in Tuscaloosa when they took us to overtime.

It is true that we have not played well since JaMychal Green has returned.  I think there are a couple of factors at play here.  First, I do think there are some chemistry issues between JaMychal and the freshmen.  When Green was out, Cooper, Lacey, etc, seemed less hesitant to take the open jump shots from the perimeter.  As a team, we don't have a lot of confidence in our outside shot (and rightly so, if you look at the statistics), so I think our young guys aren't comfortable taking that open jump shot on the wing with 12 seconds left in the shot clock when they still think they have time to work it in to Green in the post.  Second, our best games without Green were against Arkansas and Tennessee.  We matchup well against those teams, because they are not comfortable staying in a 2-3 zone for long periods of time.  They both want to run and bring ball pressure like us.  Also, with Green back in the game, other teams feel more of a need to zone us to try to keep the ball from getting to him on the low block, something they don't worry as much about with our other bigs.  For his part, Green is not playing bad at all, he had another double-double and he displayed some great passing skills.  He is good at finding the open man when he's double teamed on the block or near the middle of the paint, but still struggles when he gets doubled along the baseline.

So, what's the answer?  We are at our best when we are able to penetrate with the dribble drive and get to the line, but we are still going to have to make some outside shots to stretch a 2-3 zone in the halfcourt offense.  The perimeter guys, especially the freshmen, need to shoot with confidence.  More importantly, we need to speed up the pace of the game.  We have played 2 ugly, slow, half court style games in a row, and we can't win that way.  Frankly, if auburn had the ability to hit a free throw, they would have beat us.  If Ole Miss could make a free throw, they would have ran us out of the gym.  The most telling stat of the Ole Miss game:  We had 0 fast break points and 0 points off turnovers.  Meanwhile, our turnovers led to 16 Ole Miss points.

Which brings me to my next point, I don't know what is wrong with Trevor Releford, but he needs to get back into form in a hurry.  His stats were not awful yesterday, he made a couple of 3s down the stretch to keep us in it, but 0 assists and 3 turnovers is not what I am looking for in my starting point guard.  He also failed to finish a couple of drives near the basket.  It looks to me like he is trying to draw fouls too much instead of trying to score or set up scores.  A couple of times he tried the move where he cuts in front of a trailing defender in the open court and stops, hoping to get bumped, and the Ole Miss players read it and avoided the foul.  In those situations, we would have been better to continue to attack since we had numbers, instead we had to set up our woeful halfcourt offense.  We actually went on a little run with Eblen in the game, but we are playing 4 on 5 offensively with him in the game and you just can't expect to come out ahead doing that for extended periods of time.

Hankerson gets the Reggie Rambo award for the game by picking up 4 fouls in only 8 minutes of playing time.

With Tennessee's win over Vandy and Kentucky's win over Florida, this loss did not effect our SEC tournament seeding, as we would have been the 5 regardless.

Up next, we go to the Big Easy with a chance to avenge our worst loss of the season, in a first round matchup against the South Carolina Gamecocks on Thursday at 2:30 pm.  Unfortunately, I will not be able to make it to that game, but if we win I will be there for our 2nd round date with Florida.  We have a very difficult draw, to say the least. Here is the entire bracket.  I hate to say it, but if $tansfield can get their heads out of their ass, $tate has a great shot to make a run to the championship game and play their way back into the NCAA field.  I still think we are in regardless, but if we lose to the Cocks, I'll be very nervous this time next week.

Saturday, March 03, 2012

Know your enemy- @ Ole Miss Black Bear Rebels

Our surging Crimson Tide head over to DJC's favorite place to see a game. It's Ole Miss, Oxford, and one of 2 decent spots in the state of Mississippi (the other being the gulf coast). Ole Miss is on a streak of their own// a 2 game run including a come from behind win at Fayetteville.

Your customary links:
- Write up from Ole Miss. It's actually an interesting read, propping up Andy Kennedy as some sort of savior of sorts. I think he should be fahred at the end of the year myself.
- Black Bear Rebels season stats.

Terrence Henry has stepped up his scoring the past 4 games... shooting better than 50% in 3 of them and averaging over 17PPG in that span. Murphy Holloway has also stepped up inside in that span... giving the Black Bear Rebels an inside game that could give us fits with Gueye and Engstrom hurting and Green being Green... getting 2 fouls in the first 6 minutes. Jarvis Summers is one of the better PG in the SEC and more importantly their best 3 point shooter. He shoots better from three than he does inside the arc. Nick Williams drops 10 a game, but like the rest of the team... not exactly efficient at getting to 10. Reginald Buckner pulls down 8 boards a game... I think him and Holloway might be the only tandem in the SEC pulling in over 8 boards a game each. We're going to need Green and Jacobs blocking out.

The numbers:
- 66.3 PPG
- 60% FT
- +3.3 rebound margin
- 6.6 steals
- 5.2 blocks

Prediction: I'm almost thinking that it would be in our best interest to lose this game, but then I took a look at my prediction for this season and NOW BELIEVE WE HAVE TO WIN. DJC posted the scenario below and I'm conflicted on being a 4 vs a 5 seed. The 5 seed does have to play on Thursday, but it's South Carolina... a team we should curb stomp this time. Then it's UTK who I believe we beat with or without the extra day of rest. Then it's Kentucky... and we can hope they take the day off. Anyways, back to the prediction... I need this win so I'm going with the Tide by 3 in Oxford behind Releford's dribble drive and Eblen's 3s.

Game time is 4PM EST (3PM CST) on the SEC Network and

Friday, March 02, 2012

SEC Seeding Senarios

Kentucky has clinched the #1 seed.  After that, it gets messy.  Florida and Vandy are currently tied for 2nd at 10-5.  Alabama and Tennessee are tied for 3rd at 9-6.  3 teams are tied at 7-8, Arkansas is right behind them at 6-9, auburn and Georgia will be battling for the 10th seed as both are 4-11, and South Carolina will definitely be bringing up the rear as the 12th seed at 2-13.  I am only going to deal with our possible scenarios, but if you want to figure out where everybody else will end up, here are the tie breaking procedures:

Two team tie:  A. Head to head record
B. Record versus the number 1 seed (and proceeding through the no.12 seed, if necessary)
C. Coin toss.

Three team tie:  A.  Best winning percentage of games played among the tied teams.  B. Best winning percentage of the tied teams versus the no 1 seed and proceeding through the 12 seed, if necessary.  C.  If two teams remain, coin toss, if the 3 or more teams remain tied, draw their names out of a hat.

Remaining games:

We play @ Ole Miss, Tennessee hosts Vanderbilt, and Florida hosts Kentucky.

If we beat Ole Miss we are the 4 seed and thus get the bye UNLESS Tennessee beats Vanderbilt AND Kentucky beats Florida.

If we lose to Ole Miss, we are still the 4 seed if Vandy beats Tennessee.  If Tennessee wins that game, we would be the 5.

It's odd that we are better off finishing in a tie for 4th than we are in a 4 way tie for 2nd, but that's the way it works out.  Basically, the Vanderbilt-Tennessee game is more important than our own game Saturday.  As long as Vandy beats Tennessee, we will be the 4 seed and get the first round bye.  If we win and Tennessee wins, we need to be huge Florida fans Sunday.

My original intentions were to work out the scenarios for the whole conference and post who we would be playing depending on the outcome of this weekend's games, but after about 15 minutes I gave myself a headache and decided it wasn't worth the effort.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Bama Barely Beats Barbee's Barners, 55-49

Alias did a good job of recapping the game below, so I will try not to be too repetitive.  We won this game on defense, especially in the 2nd half and down the stretch.  We used some very unusual substitution patterns, but I understand some of the players were feeling a little under the weather.  Perhaps that explains why Randolph and Cooper were not in down the stretch.

We won this game at the free throw line.  Much like the game in auburn, it's a good thing they cannot shoot free throws.

I did not get to see the senior day activities for JaMychal Green, for reasons I will get to in a moment, but I am curious as to what kind of reception he got from the crowd.  He didn't have his best game, but still put up a double-double and was the leading scorer.  He made some nice passes from the post and was big on the boards for us.  I thought he tried to do a little too much, especially in the first half.  I think we all wish he would have developed into more of a leader, but despite the occasional attitude and off the court problems, I never felt like he wasn't playing hard on the court.    I will miss watching his post moves, defense, clutch free throws, and mid range jumper.

Ben Eblen ran the point down the stretch and did a good job for us, even making one free throw, somehow.  I very much agree with Alias below regarding running out the clock at the end of the game.  Our time management was AUful last night.  Once again, we failed to use our "use it or lose it" timeout at the end of the first half when auburn was on a run cutting our lead to 2.  We had momentum, the ball, and a 4 point with 2:30 to play in the game, and went to a 4 corners offense.  When you are clearly the better team, you generally want more possessions in the game.  We allowed auburn to control the pace all night and I thought we were playing into their hands by trying to milk the last 3 minutes off the clock.  Thankfully, we played great defense and JaMychal got the tip in and free throws, so it worked out, but I didn't agree with the strategy.  

I am probably in the minority here, but I think the Iron Bowl Trophy presentation should take place on the field, immediately after the game.  It has to be somewhat disappointing to the team to be in the locker room at halftime and hear the loudest cheers of the evening while they aren't even on the floor.  One very minor complaint I have with Coach Saban is he didn't mention the basketball game or say anything to encourage the fans to get behind the team in what was a close game at halftime.

Once again, despite the crowd being a "sellout" there were plenty of empty seats in the student section.  There were lots of people sitting around us who had not been to a game all year, and were less than enthusiastic about the basketball game.  In fairness, the team didn't exactly give us a whole lot to be excited about most of the night.  Hopefully we will have a good March and bring some energy back to Coleman next year.

This is somewhat unrelated, but allow me to vent.  Yesterday was one of those days where I felt like Charlie Brown being followed around by the storm cloud.  I didn't get to leave work when I would have liked, it seemed like everywhere I went I got behind the most slow, idiotic drivers, etc.  As a result of all of this, by the time I get to Tuscaloosa and grab a bite to eat before the game, we arrive about 12 minutes before tipoff.  I was denied access to the parking lot, to which I PAID $50 FOR A PASS, because it was "full."  If you are going to charge $50 for a season parking pass, you better be damn sure you don't sell more passes than the number of spaces.  I am in the "B" lot, and I am curious if the "A" lot was full.  My guess is there were hundreds of available spaces that went unused.  I had to park illegally at Foster Auditorium and walk briskly through the rain to barely make tipoff.  Yet another in a long line of screw-ups by the incompetent dolts that occupy our athletic and ticket office.  

Up next, we go to the Tad Pad, which may be the worst venue in the SEC, to take on the Ole Miss Rebels at 3pm Saturday afternoon.   We never play well over there, and they gave us all we could handle in Tuscaloosa.  This is a rare weekend road game that I will be watching on TV on the SEC network.    The SEC standings are a mess, with Florida and Vandy tied at 10-5, while Bama and Tennessee are 9-6.  I will try to study the schedules and tie breakers at some point and post what scenarios we need to get the 4 seed and thus first round bye in the SEC tournament.

U-G-L-Y You Ain't Got No Alibi, You're Ugly!

"Auful Alabama Autlasts Api" might have been a more politically correct header, but I'd already used something very similar in this older post after we beat api on the plains.  (No, the header does not reference anyone in the photo.)  But a win is a win, a conference win is a conference win, and a win over api beats a loss to our cross state rivals any day of the week; so I'll take it and be grateful. 
(Photo from
It seems only appropriate that we give Auburn their due after this game.  Coach Tony Barbee knew he had an uphill battle on his hands and he had his players poised to take a win from Alabama in Coleman Coliseum.  He knew what the Tide's strengths and weaknesses were and he apparently drilled his team in how to control them.  The Tide's few fast break points came after steals.  Auburn's plethora of post players were constantly blocking and altering Bama's shots after their drives to the basket.  Coach Barbee also refused to lose a war of attrition and rotated fresh players onto the floor.  Alabama won an ugly, hard fought game that was made difficult by the play of the Auburn team and the preparation of their coaches.  Kudos and respect to the Auburn Tigers (who will henceforth be referred to by their more appropriate name of "api"). 

Alabama's cold shooting and defensive lapses allowed api to jump to a quick 8 point lead.  The Tide clawed its way back to a ten point first half lead, only to see it evaporate due again to defensive lapses and poor offensive movement that failed to produce good shots at the basket.  api had a chance to tie the game at the half but one of their big men (I'm sure DJC will remember his name) blew an uncontested dunk with about 3 seconds left on the clock. 

Alabama actually won this game at the free throw line, hitting 24 of their 32 attempts.  When was the last time Alabama got into a bonus free throw situation before last night, even at home?  The zebras and api put them there both halves last night.  api missed 7 of their first 8 free throws (shooting at even 50 percent would have given them a meaningful half time lead) and hit their last four.  The partisan crowd booed several of api's clean blocks and steals, but from my vantage point the officials called almost all of those plays correctly.  There were a couple of phantom calls on each team, one of which seemed to be an effort to keep things from getting out of hand and another looked to me like a "make-up call" for a previous blown assignment.  Bama was allowed to get away with a lot of bumps, pushes and slaps away from the basket, and api was allowed to set illegal-moving screens all night.  Since Alabama cannot win if it is not allowed to play defense, I'd say the officials did us a favor with the way they called the game.

I still don't know why Coach Barbee did not play zone defense all night.  Bama was miserable outside the arc and hit only 3 of its 11 attempts.  The api zone stifled Bama's dribble drive offense all night until Andrew Steele made three crucial plays during the last four minutes.  The majority of Bama's other attempts to drive to the basket were swatted or simply refused by the api post players. 

It was nice to see JaMychal Green earn a double-double in his last home game.  He showed his customary frustration when he picked up his third foul.  He appeared to complain to the official that the apite had hooked his arm and not the other way around.  To his credit, Green quickly stopped complaining and went back to play defense.  To his credit, Coach Grant pulled Green almost as quickly to be sure his star forward had a chance to cool down before hurting himself and his team.  Green's late put-back of a missed shot and free throws allowed him to pass Trevor Lacey as the Tide's leading scorer on the night.  Fellow freshmen Levi Randolph, Rodney Cooper and Nick Jacobs also contributed important points and rebounds and defended well all night. 

One thing that continues to puzzle me is Coach Grant's insistence that the team take the air out of the ball if they have a lead at the end of each half.  This team does not move well on offense even when it is trying to score.  Telling them to stand around for 20 seconds only seems to make matters even worse.  If no one can hit a three point shot then the post players cannot take their defenders away from the basket and the dribble drive by Releford or Lacey (or last night at the end of the game it looked like they were going to try to use Eblen!) will get swatted away.  This team looks like it has a better chance of killing the clock if they are allowed to run what passes for their regular offense, because their delay game does not seem effective at generating points 

Here is your obligatory Box Score.  DJC does not drive nearly as far as I do to get to the games.  I had hoped he would have given our fans a report before I got this one posted.  Now you all will just have to wait for him to correct all my mistakes.  You too, MSmilie!

Now it's time to try to grab a rare win at the Tad Pad.  Roll Tide!