Monday, December 31, 2012

Tulane puts Bama to Shame, 53-50.

I see this game has already been discussed, but wanted to add a couple of things.  In many ways, it was a lot like the Mercer game.  Ugly first half but a 5 point halftime lead, stagnant offense in the second half, failure to use timeouts until a big lead turned into a five point deficit, and unable to get key stops late.  We did improve in some areas from the Mercer game.

We seem to have finally figured out that with our lack of inside guys playing a man to man defense is not an option.  We primarily ran a 1-3-1 zone, and had some success trapping in the corners and double-teaming in the post.  Nick Jacobs was not very good in the first half, but played great in the second half, even on defense by our standards.  I question why he was sitting on the bench from the 8 minute to the two minute mark.  Moussa Gueye actually did an adequate job.

As has been stated, our guard play let us down.  Again, we pass up decent shots early in the shot clock.  I thought Cooper had a mismatch for much of the 2nd half and did not take advantage of it, trying to shoot over his man when he could have beaten him off the dribble.  Overall, the effort was decent,  but there were a couple of plays that stick out in my mind where a lack of hustle hurt us.  There were a couple of plays, especially one in the first half, where the ball was headed towards the sideline being last touched by Tulane, and instead of at least hustling over to be in position to hinder the Tulane player from getting to it, or be able to defend if they did get the save, we stood and watched the ball go out of bounds.  Problem is, Tulane actually hustled and made the saves and got easy baskets as a result.  There were also a couple of loose balls that I think we should have gotten to if we would have got on the floor.

Strategically, I thought our coaching decisions were better defensively this game.  I've already mentioned the 1-3-1 zone, but I thought we made better decisions regarding when to bring full court pressure.  I really liked the way Retin played in the press.  He did a good job of not letting their guards get to the middle and forcing them into long difficult passes.

Earlier in the season we were finding a way to win the close games.  Any confidence gained from the South Dakota State and Oregon State wins are long gone.  Give Tulane credit for making the plays in the final 2 minutes.  They made a couple of 3's, but I had no problem with us being in a zone defense on those possessions.  We are going to have to take some chances and pick our poison with this group, and sometimes we will get burned.  It was our inability to execute and answer on offense that bothered me.

One key play was a travel call on Moussa Gueye.  It was actually a bad call, Gueye did not catch the pass cleanly, he bobbled it, but the official behind the play was not in position to see the space between the ball and Moussa's hand, and saw him shuffle his feet and called a travel.  It happened right in front of me, and should have been a basket.  Instead, Tulane gets 3 at the other end for a 5 point swing.  I was so proud of Moussa for finally going up with the ball and not putting it on the floor in the paint, and he gets called for a travel.  Of course, if he would have caught the ball cleanly it probably would not have been an issue.

Another bad turnover was when Trevor Releford caught the ball in the corner with a wide open look for 3.  He hesitated for a second, allowing the Tulane defender to close out, and then he jumped to shoot and changed his mind in mid air and decided to double dribble instead.  This goes back to what I have been saying about our guards being hesitant to shoot.  If he catches and shoots without thinking about it he's got a good look.  At worst, he should have altered his shot and at least gave us a chance at a rebound.  I'm not certain he would not have been fouled if he went ahead and shot it.

My biggest complaint of this game, once again, is how we managed (or did not manage) the final 10 seconds.  As Tulane lined up for the free throws, I yelled over to Coach Grant, "We've got a timeout left if he misses!"  He missed, we got the rebound.  We frantically pushed the ball up the court as the players scrambled to the 3 point line.  I could see the confusion and panic in their eyes.  Nobody knew who was to be screening for who or where to go with the ball.  All the while I am screaming and jumping up and down yelling "TIMEOUT."  Unfortunately, NCAA rules dictate that only the head coach or players on the court have the authority to call a timeout.  The officials will not grant a timeout to some obnoxious jackass in the stands, and neither our head coach nor our players had the presence of mind to realize the necessity of calling one in that situation.  Who knows if we get and/or make a better shot anyway, but it is beyond frustrating.  We missed an off balance, contested shot and took our timeout with us, along with the loss, into the locker room.

It is going to be a long season.  I will continue to go to the games and support this team because I love the game of basketball and I love Alabama basketball.  I will enjoy the few victories as they come while trying not to get too upset about the losses, because I am expecting many more of them as this point anyway.  Big picture, Coach Grant is not going anywhere either before or immediately after this season's conclusion.  A lot of you may not like that, but it's a fact, so you might as well deal with it.  If you have read this blog you will know that I am not a Coach Grant apologist.  I have serious issues with the way he has managed the roster this year, his clock and timeout management decisions, and at times our offensive philosophy.  That said, I still think he's a good coach and these are all correctable problems.  My hope is that a lot of people calling for his head now are going to feel very silly when we are playing in the Sweet 16 next year.  I don't think that's an unrealistic possibility or expectation.  

The crowd was much better than I expected.  I would estimate probably 8,000 or so.  My gf has been a little under the weather, so I was flying solo for this one.  After the first media timeout some annoying kids came down and sat behind me, so I joined a friend of mine on the floor student section risers for the second half.  We were the only 2 "students" on the floor.  My friend, while technically a student has been at UA for 20 years and is in his late 40s.  I figured this was probably my last chance to be the youngest person sitting in the student section.  

Up next, the Oakland (Michigan, not Cali) Grizzlies come to Tusclaoosa for a 3pm tipoff next Saturday.  Their record is not good, but they've played a brutal schedule, including Pitt into overtime on the road.  I expect another close game.

Happy New Year to everyone.


BamaLib said...

We will see Leadership on the team emerge.

A young team has to learn the hard way sometimes. Sometimes nothing but adversity can change habitual or complacent ways. These slow starts, the runs of no production, the reluctancy and hesitations, etc, are the equivalent of doom. I hope they are realizing this.

Their backs are against the wall. These players as well as all of us, are so tired of "giving the other team credit". It's time for Alabama to EARN some credit in its play and earn the Victories. I hope they are realizing this.

I keep the optimism that they will return to the same form that led to the 6-0 record at the start of the season, despite their youthfulness. These multiple lost games were certainly within grasp, and could have been victories for the Crimson Tide had the players 'acted like seniors' but the Leadership we need will come. It will come.


finebammer said...

"If you have read this blog you will know that I am not a Coach Grant apologist. I have serious issues with the way he has managed the roster this year, his clock and timeout management decisions, and at times our offensive philosophy. That said, I still think he's a good coach and these are all correctable problems."

DJ, i don't mean to lash out at you, but after four years, grant has too many damned "correctable" problems. again, we lose a close game with a time out in his pocket.

just sick and damn tired of that.

he's had four years to "correct" his damned problems.

sick and damned tired of losing home games.

let's face facts. our pre-conference schedule ain't that tough. despite our depth and injuries, we should be shining right now.

our conference ain't that good this year. and if things continue on they way they have been, we're gonna get creamed. the BEST CASE scenario right now is we make some kind of a conference run and for what? an NIT bid???

and right now that's our best case scenario for the post-season.

and all the while i have to watch that fucking phony mark gottfried lowered from the ceiling at NC state like he's some kind of fucking god.

if 8000 people showed up to see that shit, i'm shocked and i'm sorry for them.

somebody should apologize.

and i can tell you this with some authority, i know florida people, they would have run his ass out of town on a rail already.

you can bank on that.

again, just a vent. not directed at you.

crimsontider said...

If we miss out on the NIT, is there any chance Grant is back next year? I don't think so, he is very much coaching for his job right now.

crimsontider said...

And why is Grant a lock to be back next year?, and don't give me the garbage, about how we have Jimmy Taylor, and Shannon Hale coming in. We had a top 5 recruiting class in 2011 according to rivals, and look where that has us. Bottom Line: you don't keep or fire a coach because of a recruiting class, you fire him because the program is headed in the wrong direction. Grant's program is headed in the wrong direction, and it is not getting better.

crimsontider said...

Also i agree with Finebammer, somebody in the athletic program really needs to come out with a statement offering an apology for the product being put out on the floor right now, because it is freaking pathetic.

bobbyjack said...

CT- calm down... Grant is gonna be here at least another couple of yrs so demanding he get fired isn't going to happen. His contract was extended to 2020.

Saying that, I don't see us ever being more than a 3rd round (32) exit team in the NCAAT with him as our coach. That's been my opinion since the day he was hired though.

BamaLib said...

I still think Alabama is among the top teams of the SEC, but there is no way to prove this, or to disprove this, UNTIL we get into Conference play.

Also, there is no way to prove or disprove that another coach for Bama would give us any different results so far with this bunch of sophomores and freshman on the floor. Being realistic, OK?

The timeout issue in my opinion is silly when the team is so apprehensive in the late stages of the game. If you compare our potential offensive effectiveness, is it in a half-court power offense, or is it in a transition-stype of situation based on the quickness of our guards? Not calling a time-out is NOT why we lost the game to Tulane in my opinion. There is a combination of other issues leading to these undesirable outcomes, which manifests itself game after game, but these things will be corrected as our players change their current approach and become more determined and experienced.

Hooray for our Crimson Tide Women's Team in going 10-3 in pre-conference play. Despite the preseason vote for Bama being in 14th place (last place) in the SEC, they certainly have a LOT to prove and hopefully will get more conference victories than they did last year, but it will be tough.

Besides Hale and Taylor coming, how many more scholarships are there to be offered for the 2013-2014 year?


crimsontider said...

"The #5 recruiting class in the country could not get it done, but hey let's wait until we get are two 4 star fowards next year, those guy's will work i swear!!"-Anthony Grant apologists who are obviously living in denial

finebammer said...


"I still think Alabama is among the top teams of the SEC, but there is no way to prove this, or to disprove this, UNTIL we get into Conference play."

and you know what that means right now, lib??


this conference schedule is now meaningless due to the fact we have lost so many games AT HOME to inconsequential teams.

and don't think the fans don't know that.

yeah, we get in if we win the conference or tournament. taking odds on either of those??

"The timeout issue in my opinion is silly.........."

yeah, lib, i guess you're right. funny though, i keep seeing all these fairly decent coaches using them at the end of similarly close games (or, some not so close) to COACH their teams.

somebody told me once it's a coaches job to put their players in the best position to win games.

i guess that's bullshit too.

gave you post of the year earlier. going the other way on this one.

crimsontider said...

No, Finebammer, how dare you question the great Anthony Grant, he will be at Alabama for 5 more years, because of his contract so take that!

MSmilie said...

Oh boy. The unthinkable has happened: Someone actually thinks Finebammer is a sane, rational human being. Who needs the Mayan calendar? I give you crimsontider.

Guys, no one is defending Anthony Grant here. What DJC, Bobby, etc. are saying is that there is little chance of a move being made against Grant this season barring some kind of PR blunder on Grant's part.

Frankly, I don't see how you could make a move against the guy who has two postseason appearances in three seasons. This fourth season looks lost at this point, but Grant will receive a fifth season regardless of what crimsontider or finebammer think. If Grant doesn't get it done in year five, then I'd say that's it for him.

I'd like to see if he's able to salvage anything from this season before I share an opinion on whether he deserves a fifth season.

From a purely basketball perspective: If there is a silver lining from the Tulane game, it's that Grant may have finally settled on a rotation. Through 12 games, the team has had, what, 8-9 different starting line-ups? I think the starting line-up from Sunday, despite the loss, is probably the best bet going forward with Obosohan, Pollard and Gueye coming off the bench. The team still has to find different ways to generate offense (getting to the foul line, fast break points, etc.) to offset their struggles in the half-court, but finding a consistent rotation of players that can generate chemistry in practicing and playing with each other will certainly help.

BamaLib said...

It's true.
All opinions right now are "squat".
Everybody's. LOL.

I know. Losing 5 of 6 of these winnable conference games is very discouraging, and it's looking like this year will result in the fewest SEC teams ever in the NCAA Tournament (we're not alone), and we're all mad and panicking and disillusional and pessimistic. But we care, and I love you all for that. I NEVER hear Auburn people in distress about basketball. But Crimson Tide Basketball is special and matters GREATLY to us.

Consider that calling the time-out could have been in Alabama's disfavor because it's hard to create a transition-attack after a time-out. LOL. Forgive if I err, but my vague memory goes back to the first game of the season that was won by a quick 3-pointer in the last seconds, without a time-out called. Whether so-called good coaches call time-out actually depends on the players available on a team, and the strengths of a team. From what I have observed, no amount of "coaching" during a time-out is going to magically make Alabama's half-court offense its greatest weapon. This is our reality (which does displease me).

I just had a curious thought. Supposedly all these emphasis on defense is supposed to generate offense. But what if these slow starts by our team are symptomatic of a concern of running out of fuel at the end of games, so they are withholding their energy and explosiveness to the 2nd half. The fact that our Guards also have to take on the responsibilities of being our leading rebounders, yeah, maybe that accounts for something, including why there are so few assists. There MUST be a reason as to why certain guards seem to withhold themselves from scoring until the 2nd half. The lack of FG-attempts by half-time by leading scorers just astonishes me. I hope in the upcoming games, these patterns will change.


BamaLib said...

sorry... I meant to say "winnable non-conference games". (instead of saying 'conference games')

Crimsontider said...

What I am saying is that I disagree with people saying that no matter how bad this season gets, coach Grant has earned another year, I disagree with that. I also disagree that a school that generates as much revenue as Alabama would have a problem with Grants buyout. That is all I am saying. Happy New Year to everyone.

DJC said...

Crimsontider and finebammer, my point is not so much that coach Grant has "earned" another year. I think reasonable minds can differ on that at this point. In saying that Grant WILL be back next season, barring some unforeseen circumstances, is based upon my understanding of the way the people who actually make these decisions view things. The big money BOT members, along with Mal Moore, made an investment in Coach Grant. They are not going to be willing to let him go after what they see as ONE disappointing season.

Frankly, looking at our track record, I would be surprised if they even consider making a change after NEXT season unless it's a total disaster. Basketball does not live in the same pressure cooker around here as the football team. We held onto Hobbs for about 3 years too long and he nearly destroyed the program. We kept Gottfried 1-2 years longer than we should have.

Bamalib, I understand your point about our transition offense being better than a half court set, but when the team looks panicked, and we don't have numbers, we could have called timeout with 5-6 seconds left and drew up a designed play to hopefully get someone a decent look. Earlier in the game, we got an open look from the corner coming out of a timeout. I agree that did not cost us the game, a number of things put us in that position in the first place.

I still think Coach Grant can do a great job here. I think this season is probably a lost cause, for the reasons we've discussed, but I'm still hopeful that next season can be special.

finebammer said...

m, how can one person (yourself) be wrong so damned much and have anyone pay one scintilla of attention to you???

"Oh boy. The unthinkable has happened: Someone actually thinks Finebammer is a sane, rational human being. Who needs the Mayan calendar? I give you crimsontider."

show me one place where CT has called me sane or rational.

also, (this is for everyone) show me one place (recently) where i've called for grant to be fired.

after letting gottfried hang around as long as they did after trashing ron steele's career, it's pretty damned obvious nobody down there gives enough of a shit.

Crimsontider said...

DJC, money is not a problem for the university of Alabama, whether they think coach Grant deserves another year is a completely different story. Secondly this will be Alabama's second straight dissapointing season, we had top 15 talent last year, and settled for a 9 seed, and a first round exit in the NCAAT. Thirdly Msmile, yes it only took 3 years, and 12 games, but Anthony Grant may have just set his rotation, congrats, now he can focus on winning the 10 championships the Anthony Grant apologists have promised us.

crimsontider said...

Also, i do not think coach Grant should be fired tomorrow, I am more then willing to wait out the year at this point.

crimsontider said...

And Finebammer just adressed my last point, we let CMG hang around way too long, can't make the same mistake with CAG.

MSmilie said...

Finebammer: Remind me again what I've been wrong about?

If anyone actually cites a comment you made in one of their own comments, they are seriously short a few screws. How anyone reads any of the slop you post here with anything other than an amused smirk and a roll of the eyes is shocking to me.

crimsontider: if you're willing to wait out the year, then I don't understand why you can't just shut the fuck up about Anthony Grant until the end of the season. Believe me, you've made your feelings about the matter more than clear. Sorry to be so blunt, but you're being redundant at this point.

Here's something to ponder: outside of firing Anthony Grant right now, what do you think can be done to change this team's fortunes? I would love to read a basketball opinion from you for a change.

Alias said...

I am glad to see our program generating so much conversation. I am disappointed it is their poor performance that seems to have provoked that conversation.

I am not ready to can coach Grant. I do not think they would can coach Grant before the end of next year even if I wanted them to. But I am voting with my feet.

I would continue attending games and supporting the team if I lived closer to Tuscaloosa, but I refuse to drive 7-8 hours to watch this crap. I've put my tickets up for sale on Stub Hub. Hopefully some visiting fans can help me recoup my losses.

DJC, I will see you at the aTm game. If any of the other tickets don't sell (will there be any market for them?), I might drive up for Arkansas and Kentucky, but only because I have so much long-term respect for their programs. I also might drive up for M$U if we have a snow ball's chance of beating them. How bad are THEY this year?

39 Steps said...

Does CAG ever sell the program?
His team is NOT fun to watch, and he does not come across as a fun person to be around.
Why would a prospect want to play for him?

Crimsontider said...

Msmilie: Just because, I may be willing to wait out the year, does not mean, I can't criticize CAG's coaching. As for your other question, yes I will offer my "Basketball" opinion. IMO Coach Grant should change his system, You can't full court press the entire game with 8 scholarship players.

DJC said...

We only pressed for a few possessions against Mercer, and you see where that got us. I'm not sure there is a basketball answer to the problems we are facing this year.

Also, for the record, I never said UA had a "money" issue with regards to Coach Grant's contract. My "investment" comment was more along the lines of saying, "they aren't going to admit they were wrong before they have to."

BamaLib said...

I won't lose hope. 90% of all teams (just an estimation) have slumps. Alabama has proven in the past two years to become stronger after slumps. Two years ago, it happened during the pre-conference holiday tournament. Last year it was around February. But then some sort of self-discovery occurs and they go on winning streaks.

The teams that we have lost to have the following records: (13-1), (9-4), (10-3), (8-6), and (11-3), and I expect most of them to sweep through their conference schedule. Not shoddy! With the exception of one team, every one of these records would be equivalent to the records of SEC Teams in the UPPER-HALF of the SEC as this point of the year. I really trust Alabama will be competitive against the SEC, despite being so youthful and short-handed, and still finish up in the upper-half.

After this weekend, a new season begins. Keep calm and ROLL TIDE !

Crimsontider said...

DJC, your last point has been my point all along, the athletic department, can't live in denial and keep trying to convince themselves that CAG is this great coach, like a lot of people on this blog are. If this season goes down the drain, they have to let reality set in, and make a change, or else the program could really become damaged beyond repair.

DJC said...

The teams we have lost to...

Cincinnati- Good team, how the hell we played them to the wire is still a mystery.

Dayton- Decent team, but with losses to Weber State and Illinois State. This is a game you have to win at home.

VCU- Solid team, they will be in the tournament.

Mercer- Losing to this bunch at home is unacceptable. They were blown out by UIC and Denver, plus have several other bad losses. They aren't going anywhere.

Tulane- Decent record, but has won only one road Tuscaloosa. They may or may not tear through their crappy conference, but we shouldn't lose to them at home.

I hope you are right and this team turns it around. This feels different than the slumps of the last couple of years. We have serious weaknesses on the roster that we did not have to overcome the last couple of years. I agree we COULD finish in the top half of the SEC, but that's more of an indictment of the current state of the league than an affirmation of our ability.

Crimsontider said...

Would not be shocked at all to see us finish in the top half of the league, but really what does that mean this year?

Anonymous said...

It means half the world wants to fire their coach and hire one with superpowers.

Sam Singh said...

your last aspect has been my aspect all along, the health and health and fitness department, can't live in rejection and keep trying to convince themselves that CAG is this outstanding instructor, like a lot of people on this blog page are. If this season goes down the stress, they have to let fact set in, and make a change, or else the system could really become damaged beyond fix.