Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Too much Tide for Tigers, Bama 61 AUful auburn 43

The game started much like the first matchup in auburn, with Bama sprinting out to a nice early lead.  We did not shut them out for 7 minutes this time, but we held a 13-4 lead 6 minutes into the game. Eight minutes later, we were only up 15-13.  When auburn switched to a zone our offense went stagnant and allowed auburn to get back into the game.  These long stretches of scoring droughts continue to be a problem that will hurt us against decent competition.  Fortunately we were able to bounce back and take a 23-16 lead into the half.

I thought the effort and intensity was much better in the second half.  Trevor Lacey picked up his 3rd foul early, and Retin Obasohan came in and gave us a nice spark with 10 points.  We stretched the lead to 24 at one point and the game was never really in doubt in the second half.  Releford had another great day and is really shooting the ball well.  I actually thought he did better than the 4 for 9 from 3 pt range (which is still very good) from the box score.  Both Levi Randolph and Trevor Lacey continue to be in a slump.  Levi did make a couple of floaters in the lane, so maybe seeing the ball go through the hoop will help his confidence and get him back on track.  As for Lacey, I would like to see him more at the 2 spot and a little less running point, especially with the recent emergence of Retin Obasohan.  Those who read this blog regularly know that I have been high on Retin's athleticism and quickness since day one, and it appears he is developing the basketball skills and decision making ability to be a more than serviceable point guard.  Lacey needs to shoot his way out of this slump from the 2 position.

Nick Jacobs was able to get some revenge on Chubb after his AUful performance in auburn.  He had a nice double double with 10 points and rebounds.  Cooper made some good defensive plays but came back down to earth after having a couple of big games offensively.  He appeared to be in pain on the bench late in the game and the trainers appeared to be looking at his ankle.  Hopefully he is okay.  It's always good to see the walkons get some playing time, too bad they weren't able to score.

While it wasn't pretty at times in the first half, I am pleased that we finally had a relatively easy win and did not play to the level of the competition.

The crowd was the smallest I can ever remember it for being an auburn game in a season that we beat them in football.  I would say there was no more than 9,000 there, with surprisingly about 200 or so aubies scattered throughout.  Usually the "football only" fans who buy up all the season tickets for Tide Totals points at least show up for this one game to see the trophy presentation at halftime.  I guess when you are piling up crystal footballs every year, the ODK trophy loses some of its luster.  The UA SGA President had a nice subtle zing when he "congratulated both teams on a successful season."

Up next, the game we have all been looking forward to, or dreading, as the case may be.  We travel to Gainesville, FL to take on the Florida Gators at 12 eastern/11am central Saturday on ESPN.  With Tennessee's win over Florida, we are now back in control of our own destiny in the SEC race.  Florida has had a couple of key reserves injured who may or may not be back for Saturday.  Clearly, they are the better team, playing at home, and we know Coach Grant has never beat Billy Donovan, but I don't think this is a horrible matchup for us.  They rely a lot on their perimeter game, which is our strength. If  Releford can stay hot, we get the good Nick Jacobs, Moussa stays out of foul trouble, the Gators have an off day and we can ugly up the game, we will have a chance.  To make another football reference, as Mike Dubose would say, "this is a tremendous challenge but also a tremendous opportunity."  With a win, we move into first place in the conference and suddenly our NCAA at large hopes are very much alive.  Either way, we will soon know where we stand relative to the elite teams in college basketball.  Do you believe in miracles?

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Barn preview (and trophy presentation)

Auburn comes into the game on a 4 game losing streak. The last team they beat.... us in that EPIC 49-37 debacle that probably killed any real chance we had at an AT LARGE berth (and LSU buried it). They lost a heartbreaker @ Ole Miss 88-55 on Saturday.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Tigers Top Tide in Three OverTimes, 97-94

I really don't know where to begin in recapping the game that seemingly would never end.  We played great for 37 minutes, but it's a 40 minute game, and sometimes a 55 minute game.

It started slow with neither team scoring in the first 3 minutes.  I thought we were shooting too many 3s in the first half.  I understood the strategy, LSU obviously had an advantage down low against us, so it would be necessary to make some shots.  Thankfully, the shots finally started falling.  Moussa Gueye did a nice job defensively in the first half on the LSU bigs.  Watching him and the big tuba player go after it was...interesting. I was surprised LSU did not make more of an effort to get the ball to Johnny O'Bryant in the post in the first half.   We ended up 8 of 21 from 3 point range.

For once, not using the "use it or lose it" timeout to end the first half actually worked out for us.  Andrew Steele made an incredible 3 at the buzzer to give us a 5 point lead going into the half.

Our defense took a dramatic turn for the worst early in the 2nd half when Moussa picked up fouls number 3 and 4 in short order.  At least one of those calls seemed very questionable from my vantage point.  Gueye was limited in what he could do with 4 fouls, and that left us with Jacobs and at times Pollard trying to defend O'Bryant.  If he got the ball in the post, he was pretty much able to score at will.  We were forced to play a lot of zone, and actually did a fairly good job of denying the entry passes and forcing some turnovers, but they were able to hit some big 3's against us at key times.  I was disappointed with how many wide open looks they were able to get underneath the basket, they would set screens for their big men away from the ball and cut to the basket, and we were not able to communicate and adjust.

Despite all of that, we had a 10 point lead with under 3 minutes to go, thanks in large part to Trevor Releford just completely going off.  T-Relly was in the zone, 14 of 18 from the field, including a perfect 4 for 4 from downtown, and 36 points for the game.  You could sense an intense level of determination by LSU to get back into the game.  I don't think we "let up" or "choked" per se.  I have seen some comments here and other places critical of our shot selection toward the end of the game, specifically Cooper missing a couple of 3 in the final 2 minutes.  I did not have a problem with those shots, they were open looks, and Cooper has been shooting better lately.  If he makes one of those, we probably put them away.  In fact, I even commented at the time that I was glad we were not going to 4 corners, I felt like if we played "not to lose" at that point, LSU would surely come back.  Continuing to look for shots at that point is not why we lost the game.

We lost the game because we did not take care of the basketball and we fouled too much in those final 3 minutes.  I was shocked to see we only had 13 turnovers in this game, it felt like a lot more, I guess because we had some crucial ones late when LSU was making their comeback run.  LSU was aggressive and we kept getting caught out of position on defense, resulting in the fouls.  They made enough free throws and clutch shots down the stretch to get it into overtime.  The odds were stacked against us going into overtime.  LSU had all the momentum, and with Gueye and Levi fouled out, suddenly our best asset, our defense, could be considered a liability.

Nevertheless, the team continued to fight and had chances to win.  Cooper made a clutch 3 to extend the game.  We nearly won it at the end of the 2nd overtime on a tip in that was just a second too late.  I really thought the official did us a disservice by initially ruling it good.  The team started celebrating like crazy only to have to regroup for another overtime.  From where I was sitting, I thought it was pretty obvious in real time that he did not get it off.  LSU had a chance to put us away in the 3rd overtime, but missed some free throws and made enough mistakes to give us one final heave for a miracle, but it was not meant to be.

I thought the officiating was inconsistent all night.  There were several bad calls that went both ways.  A lot of people will point to the free throw discrepancy as evidence of "home cooking" but I really do not believe that is the case.  They were attacking the basket and working the ball into the post more, where you will draw more fouls than a team like us that was primarily relying on perimeter shots.  I thought there were several out of bounds calls that wrongly went our way.  It was frustrating because the amount of contact necessary to draw a foul seemed to change with every possession.

Even though we lost, I am glad I got to see that game.  For all the talk about how "hard to watch" our games have been, this one was anything but.  Neither team is great, but they both played hard and neither would go away.  It had a little bit of everything that makes college basketball exciting; I just wish it would have went the other way.

With the loss, our hopes for an at large tournament berth are all but shot.  I've said all along that was a pipe dream anyway, let's try to stay in 2nd and win the SEC tournament.  I do not think we are mathematically eliminated from an at large position yet, but any such scenario would have to include a win in Gainesville, and know.

This paragraph is totally unrelated to basketball or sports, so if you are not interested, feel free to skip it, but this is a blog, and I'm a fan, not a journalist, so I'll write about whatever the hell I want (subject to bobbyjack's approval, of course).  I have talked a lot of trash about the state of Mississippi, and I still say most of what I've said is true, but I want to give some major to props to the people of the towns of Picayune and Carriere, MS.  On the way down Friday night, the alternator in my car went out, and we broke down at the end of an interstate exit, in the middle of the road, at about 11pm, in Carriere, MS, during one of the worst electrical storms I have ever seen in my life.  In the 45 minutes or so we were stuck there, no less than 6 or 7 people stopped to offer help.  One of which recommended a towing service, who I called.  This gentleman owns a towing service/body shop and was returning home from dinner with his wife, called a friend to arrange a tow truck for us, stopped and picked us up in his personal car, AND replaced my alternator the next day because he knew nobody else in town would be open.  The tow truck driver even gave us a ride to a hotel in nearby Picayune at no extra charge.  They had every opportunity to rip us off, but instead went out of their way to not charge me any more than cost for the part and did the labor for dirt cheap.  It's a shot in the dark, but if anyone reading this ever needs a tow or any sort of body work done in Southern Mississippi, I cannot recommend Todd's Collision Center in Carriere enough.  Also, while doing the paperwork to check into the hotel, the receptionist asked why we were in town, etc, and of course we explained the situation.  The next morning attached to my receipt they slide under the door, she had wrote a long note with suggestions of things to do should we be stuck there all day, complete with directions, business cards for taxi services, and lunch/dinner recommendations, and website print outs for the local establishments.  What could have been a very bad situation was made somewhat comfortable by people who were genuinely welcoming and going out of their way to help any way possible.  Finally, I want to also give credit to the DoubleTree in Baton Rouge for allowing me to cancel at midnight on the day of arrival given the circumstances.  I've stayed at that hotel before and always had good experiences, so give them a chance next time you need to crash in Red Stick.

LSU basketball reminds me of us in some ways.  They have a respectable tradition, with a couple of final 4 appearances and some great players like Shaq and Pete Marovich, they came in a hot team, but they just can't generate the fan enthusiasm behind the program like it once was.  I would estimate there were no more than 5,000 people there, with maybe 40 Bama fans scattered throughout.  We kept the crowd out of the game for the most part, until the very end.  The design of the arena traps the noise, and despite the small crowd it got very loud when LSU was on their runs.  The P-Mac is an underrated venue in my opinion.  It's not state of the art, but it's nice enough and provides a good fan experience.  The LSU fans were good for the most part.  They get a bad rap, but for some reason I've always got along well with them.

Up next, our in state rival the auburn tigers/plainsmen/eagles/fighting Barbees come to Tuscaloosa for an early 6pm start Tuesday night.  I won't beg you to come out and support the team, I hear there is some football trophy presentation at halftime and as a result only a few tickets remain.  I will welcome the extra crowd support, but I still think that whole tradition is outdated and silly, but I digress.  We all remember what happened in auburn a few weeks ago, so hopefully the team can put the heartbreaking LSU loss behind them and get fired up for some revenge.

Friday, February 22, 2013

How much does the LSU game mean tomorrow (and a short preview)?

IT MEANS EVERYTHING if we are to hold on to those slim hopes of making the NCAA Tournament. We have 3 road games left with LSU IMO being the most winnable. I've read some say Ole Miss is, but with our history in the Tad Pad we REALLY need to win tomorrow afternoon in Red Stick.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Recruiting Update (2/21/2013)

Greetings, long lost brethren of Crimson Tide Hoops! I have risen up out of the wastelands of real life to bestow a recruiting nugget, since this is something that I actually can contribute for a change. After sharing 2 season tickets with Alias last season, work, being out of town, football recruiting (Go Yale!), work, and more work have gotten in the way of me partaking in a single game this season. DJC has done a great job with his post-game breakdowns, which has helped me greatly due to my inability to stay on top of all the games this season.

Now, let's get down to business. (bobbyjack, feel free to truncate this, as I am html illiterate) From The Sand Mountain Reporter......

Albertville basketball star Riley Norris (name is full link to article) is regarded as one of the state’s top boys prospects for the class of 2014.

Norris, who averaged 23 points and 12 rebounds per game as a junior, already holds scholarship offers from Auburn, Mississippi State, Arkansas, UAB and Belmont.

On Saturday, Norris added an offer from Alabama to the list of schools seeking his signature on a letter of intent.

“They invited me down to watch the (Tide-South Carolina) game, and after the game, they brought me into a meeting room,” Norris said.

“(Head) Coach (Anthony) Grant was in there, and he was talking to me about he thinks I fit good in their system, and he offered a scholarship to me.

“It was really a surprise. I had hoped they’d offer me sometime but I didn’t know when, and being my junior year, that’s a big offer for me.

“Coach Grant or one of his assistants was at most of my games last summer when I played AAU.”

Norris played for the Southeast Elite last year, an AAU team based in Huntsville.

He was the only junior on the roster, and he doesn’t plan to play for Southeast Elite this summer.

“I’ve got a couple options, and I’m not sure who I’m playing with this year,” Norris said.

Sloppy Play Slaps $tate, 64-56

One would think after losses to Tulane, Mercer, Dayton, and auburn, this team would learn that it's not good enough to just show up and beat a crap team, but apparently that is not the case.  Rodney Cooper, Levi Randolph, Retin Obasohan, and at times Trevor Releford came to play, and thankfully that was enough to beat a bad team that started with 6 scholarship players and ended with 4.

We led the entire way, and Releford played well at the beginning of the game and at the end of the game to give us the lead initially, and eventually help put it away.  We were able to force a lot of turnovers in the first half with our press but we made some silly mistakes on offense and failed to convert a lot of easy chances.  At halftime, we led by 11, and I wasn't too concerned that the score was still somewhat close, as they hung with us for a half in Starkville.  I actually expected them to be fired up for this game and for us to pull away in the second half after our press wore them down.  I was more concerned that we were playing so sloppy and appeared unfocused.

Speaking of halftime, I did not think it was possible to have a worse halftime show than the goofy inflatable mascots last weekend, but this one may have topped it.  It was a heard of about 40 three year old kids dancing around to children's music with basketballs.  I don't want to be critical of the three year olds, they are 3, they can't help that they suck, but whoever organized this should be ashamed.  It would be one thing if they actually danced, or dribbled, or had some decent music, or even moved around...instead they all had little dots that they stood on while they swung the ball over there head, sat on it, stood up, etc.  It was like watching a damned daycare activity.  If they did it for free, fine, at least the kids got to go on the court and feel like they are performing, but if someone is actually charging Universities to book this "performance" they should be jailed for exploiting children, and the person at UA who booked them should be fired for stupidity.

Anyway, back to the game, and the 2nd half where our team looked about as coordinated as some of those three year olds at times.  I remarked with about 8 minutes remaining that the game had an eerily similar feel to the Mercer game, a shitty opponent playing very hard and inspired in front of a small, disinterested crowd while most of our guys just looked like they were ready for the game to be over.  We had no communication on defense.  For some reason we even switched to a zone at one point.  State started putting pressure on us, and instead of attacking the basket when we beat them, we went back to running the shot clock down to 5 every possession.   It was like we were playing the only way that could possibly give them a chance to win, and we found ourselves in a 4 point game with 5 minutes remaining.  Thankfully, we forced some turnovers and turned it up a notch to stretch the lead back out to 12 over the next few minutes.  Those last 4 minutes of the game was the only time that I really felt the entire team played with intensity.

Congrats to Rodney Cooper on his double-double with 20 points and 10 boards.  He won this game for us. Our bigs were horrible.  I thought Moussa took a step back this game.  He did not even have a blocked shot, but he went after several blocks from way too far away from the basket eliminating any chance of getting a rebound.  The bad Nick Jacobs decided to show up, with 3 points and 1 rebound in 15 minutes of play.  I have a theory that Jacobs for whatever reason only plays well against good competition.  He's had very good games against Nerlens Noel and Johnny O-Bryant of LSU, but gets owned by Rob freaking Chubb of auburn and those scrubs from Starkville.  We desperately need the good Nick Jacobs back this weekend.

I'm no expert on the fundamentals of post play.  I'm 5'11, I was a guard and have never played the 4 or 5 position in my life.  If someone more knowledgeable than me can explain to me why our bigs, especially Jacobs, puts the ball on the floor on the low block after receiving the ball in the post, I would greatly appreciate it.  I fail to see what can be gained by having a 6'8 or 7 foot guy, (who let's face it, neither are great ball handlers) dribble the ball that close to the basket.  My understanding is when you receive the ball in that position, especially if you have a clear, wide open one step layup as Jacobs did at one point last night, you immediately go up strong with the ball, and finish before the defense collapses.  Not to mention the fact that our bigs travel more than Patrick Ewing, but unfortunately do nothing else like him, thus it actually gets called on us.  It may very well just be my ignorance, but my perception is that our basic fundamentals in the post are not very good.

Doug Shows and the officiating crew did not have a good night either.  In fairness, games that ugly and sloppy are very difficult to officiate, so I can somewhat understand the inconsistency in the judgment calls.  They called a double technical that resulted in Trevor Lacey's 5th foul during a timeout.  I did not see what the two players did to warrant the technical.  Late in the game when $tate was fouling to stop the clock, they had a guy foul out.  It seemed to me they were taking longer than the 20 seconds permitted by rule to get the replacement into the game.  A couple of plays later, the same thing happened, and this time it was CLEARLY taking longer than 20 seconds.   Shows even signaled to his partner to go ahead and administer the free throws, despite the fact that the disqualified player was still on the court.  The other official correctly indicated that he could not administer the free throws without defensive players in their proper position on the low block.  Finally, well after a whole minute passed, all the while the $tate coach is huddled with his team by the way, he replaces the guy who fouled out WITH THE GUY WHO FOULED OUT EARLIER!  Amazingly, despite the fact that at least a minute has now passed, the officials merely pointed this out to the coach, who then put in a walkon substitute, who did not even bother to report to the scorer's table.  That sequence may have set a record for number of technical fouls that should have been called but weren't.

The crowd was beyond pathetic.  I would estimate no more than 5,000 people were there, and that is simply inexcusable for the 2nd place team in a conference, especially at this point in the season, playing against our biggest rival.  I know $tate is way down (and it couldn't happen to a nicer bunch), but their 8 players were the only ones in the gym who seemed to appreciate the fact that this was a rivalry game.  The only time it got semi-loud was when they cut the lead to 4 late in the game, and the team responded.

Up next, we travel to Baton Rouge to take on a solid LSU team at 12:30 p.m. Saturday.  The game will be televised on the SEC Network, but if you are in South Alabama (or anywhere, really) try to make it to the P-Mac.  LSU still has plenty of good tickets available.   This is a HUGE game for obvious reasons, and I'm sure the team would appreciate seeing and hearing some Crimson in the stands.  Huntsville stepped up earlier and helped get us a win in Nashville, now it's time for you Mobile folks to do your part.  Of course, I'll be there representing the Ham.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Mi$$ State preview and a blurb about our Women's team

Remember our one big blowout win in conference? It was against these guys in $tarkville. They might even suck more since the last time we played them. $tate comes into the game tomorrow losers of 10 straight (we started their losing streak). Only 2 of their SEC losses have been within 10 points. Looks like $tan$bury took all the ca$h with him.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Bama Beats Cocks, 68-58

We got off to a great start.  The ball movement and spacing were great on offense in the first half, leading to several wide open 3's that we were able to knock down.  The made shots allowed us to get into the press and create some turnovers.  We also played very well in our zone, getting into the Carolina passing lanes and creating turnovers which led to fast break opportunities.  With a 32-9 lead with 5 minutes to play in the first half, it looked like we would have an easy win for a change.  We should have known better.

We got a little too complacent, made some unforced errors, forced some bad shots and allowed the Cocks to close the half on an 11-0 run to cut the lead in half at 35-24.  

This was our halftime "entertainment."  Inflatable mascots by the names of "Dennis Frogman, Yao Flamingo, and Monkey Mantle" dancing around.  We've ran out of ideas, it's time to just go back to the 4 year olds trying to play basketball.  

The second half was a completely different type of game, but with almost the exact same results.  After scorching the nets from downtown in the first half, we did not make a single three pointer in the second half.  Instead, we aggressively attacked the basket and were able to get to the free throw line.  Unfortunately, we shot only 18 of 33 from the charity stripe, but that would be good enough to build the lead back up to 19 before Carolina made another run in the final few minutes that was too little too late for them.

It was very unusual to see a two man crew officiating a Division 1 college game.  It was reported that the third official missed the game due to a family emergency.  Whoever that was, and whatever the emergency was, I hope all is well now.  They generally go to great lengths to get replacement officials in when something like this happens.  As an example, one of the officials for the five overtime Louisville-Notre Dame game last weekend had called a game in Milwaukee earlier that day and drove down to South Bend for the game.  Whatever caused the 3rd official to miss must have been fairly serious and/or came up at the very last minute.

To put into perspective how unusual that is, in Alabama officials may not even START a game with only 2 officials at the high school varsity level.  (I'm not saying it doesn't happen, but when it does, those officials get suspended).  Middle School through Junior Varsity games are usually played with only 2 officials here, but some states do not even use 2 man crews for middle school games.  Guys at the SEC level likely don't call recreation leagues, so it had probably been decades since Joe Lindsay and C.J. Washington worked a two man crew.  Early in the game, they made a few mistakes with their positioning and rotation, but they quickly got on the same page and I think they did a great job.  I do think we benefited by having only two officials, as the most difficult thing to see/call in a 2 man crew is the moving screen in the high post/elbow area.  The reason being, is the trail official is focused on the ball out around the perimeter, while the lead official is watching the matchups in the post play, usually focused in the paint and low post area.  As such, it is no coincidence that Moussa managed to only pick up two fouls.

Trevor Lacey is showing some signs of getting out of his slump, leading all scorers with 17 points and going 2 for 6 from 3 point range.  Retin is giving us a good spark off the bench in the first half, he played 14 minutes and scored 8 points, knocking down a couple of threes.  We had the good Nick Jacobs for most of this game too, as he gave us 10 points and actually pulled down a few offensive rebounds.  Levi came up huge defensively with 4 steals.

Andrew Steele dressed out but did no play.  He is dealing with discomfort in his right ankle from a "stress reaction," and is day to day.  We all know the difference in our record with and without him, so I hope he is ready to go by the time we hit the road for Baton Rouge next weekend.

It was an average crowd, probably close to 9,000, but frankly there was not a lot of energy in the building.  It was fairly quiet most of the night, as I think most people were just hoping we wouldn't relinquish the lead.

Up next, our rivals from the west, the Mi$$i$$ippi $tate bulldogs come to Tuscaloosa for a 7 pm tipoff.  They don't like us, and they will be looking for revenge after we thumped them by 30 or so in Starkville earlier this year.  They are horrible, but as I've said numerous times, we aren't good enough to take a night off against anybody, so let's hope for a good crowd and a good performance to take care of business.

Friday, February 15, 2013

South Carolina preview

Before I begin let me thank reader Karen for sending the following pics from the UGA game on Tuesday. If the game started at 7 or 8 I would've made it (2hr drive for me).

Also, here is the latest SEC Power Poll.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Minor update to site and the state of the SEC

Minor update
Testing out something called Disqus for comments. It's a comment board used on websites like CNN, Android community, FoxNews, and others. The upside is one logon goes across multiple boards.

If the majority don't like this we can go back to the way it was... but I'll be honest and tell you I like the Disqus comment board.

I saw that previous comments were deleted not published.... working on this now. I still see them in the admin piece of this blog. Hopefully it's temporary as an import supposedly goes 24 hours.

UPDATE- Old comments are back, updated mobile version (now closer to a Crimson color), but mobile comments are posting to blogger not Disqus (meaning it is using the old format in mobile only). Looking into it. At some point I'm going to try to redesign the website as it's been like this for over 2 years. Sometimes change is good.

State of the SEC
Here are your standings:


Florida101.909203.870Won 212083
Kentucky83.727177.708Lost 112255
Alabama83.727168.667Won 210365
Missouri74.636186.750Won 214046
Ole Miss74.636186.750Lost 212165
Arkansas65.545159.625Won 114118
Georgia65.5451212.500Lost 19636
Texas A&M56.455159.625Won 111445
Tennessee56.4551310.565Won 29347
LSU46.400138.619Lost 111226
Vanderbilt38.273914.391Lost 16638
Auburn38.273915.375Lost 27629
South Carolina28.2001211.522Lost 48645
Mississippi St.29.182716.304Lost 956210

Right now I see 3 teams from this conference getting in (UF, UK, Mizzou). I also see a 4th team coming from Ole Miss (favorite), Alabama, and Arkansas (a huge stretch, but due to their non-conference slate).

I'm leaning to 3 teams unless an upstart wins the SEC tournament... while is possible if Florida plays at 50%.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Bama Beats Bulldogs, 52-45

At this point, I'm not sure if I should continue to complain about the offense.  It is what it is, which is not good.  Going forward, I think I'm just going to embrace this team's identity of being a hard working, great defensive, offensively challenged team that strives to win ugly.  It doesn't get much uglier than what we saw in Athens, but I will take that over a pretty loss any day.

It took us 5 minutes to score to start the game, but thankfully we only fell behind by 7 points.  We were able to chip away and actually take a lead into halftime.

If we could somehow combine Nick Jacobs and Moussa Gueye into one person, we would have a pretty good center.  As it stands, we have one decent offensive player who can't do much of anything on defense, and another who is pretty good defensively, but no help on offense.

Rodney Cooper had a great game.  The form on his shot looks to be improving, but I would still like to see him put more arc on the ball.  Trevor Lacey's shooting slump continues, but I liked the way he played last night.  He was aggressive at both ends, and worked to get good shots.  As long as he keeps shooting, they will start falling at some point, and then we will be a more difficult team to defend.

I am disappointed that Devonta Pollard has not developed more than he has.  His shot is AUful.  He was 0 for 5, and his first 2 shots were air balls, one of which was from about 7 feet.

Retin got some playing time and made the most of it.  He must have read my post after his last game about him getting to the basket but not finishing.  This time he didn't mess around with layups and had an impressive dunk.  I like the energy he brings and he's obviously very quick.  I thought he gave us a spark off the bench.

Once again, we had a team on the ropes and failed to put them away.  We were up 8 with around 4 minutes to play, but gave up a 9-0 run.  I liked how the team responded to losing the lead though, we picked it up a notch and made back to back 3s to regain control.  The defense made the necessary stops in the final two minutes to get the victory.

With the win, we move into a tie with Kentucky for 2nd place in the SEC at 8-3.  It was a huge win towards our goal of finishing in the top 4 and getting the double bye in the SEC tournament.

It looked like there were a ton of empty seats on TV.  There did not appear to be anybody sitting in the upper level behind the basket, and that arena is not particularly large.  That was sort of surprising to me given their recent hot streak, but in my experiences UGA fans rival auburn fans in terms caring only about football.

Up next, we return home to face the South Carolina Gamecocks at 3 p.m. Saturday.  The Cocks are led by Coach Grant's good friend Frank Martin, and I'm sure he will have his team ready to go.  We will need a good crowd on hand to encourage Bama to beat the Cocks.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

@ UGA preview

The Dawgs come in winners of 5 in a row including 3 road wins @ A&M, SC Lite, and UTK. Granted, they didn't beat much of anyone on this 5 game stretch, but being that they were putrid to start the season (losses to Iona, Youngstown St, USF, GA Tech) it seems like they have found their groove. Don't expect an offensive explosion tonight as we will see 2 teams that can't throw it in the ocean from the edge of the beach.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Tide Tames Tigers in Tuscaloosa, 60-57.

Despite the poor shooting percentages and low score, I thought our effort and strategy on offense was better than it has been.  We set a lot of off ball screens against the man to man and were making much better cuts and moving without the ball.  This opened up some lanes for the dribble drive and some perimeter shots.  Unfortunately, none of those perimeter shots were falling.  We had several turnovers by making one too many passes in the lane, or trying to make bounce passes to our bigs after driving in.  It's hard to expect 6'8 and 7 foot guys to be able to catch passes at their knees in traffic.  At least we didn't run the shot clock down to 5 seconds every possession.

As usual, we played great defense and took a 6 point lead into the half.  Our inability to put a team away is maddening.  Our lack of a killer instinct has costs us a few games already, and I suspect it will cost us more if we do not get it addressed.  We had a 10 point lead with 8 minutes left, but had to hold on for dear life in the final minutes to get the win.

The only time the offense really looked stagnant was when LSU switched to a zone early in the 2nd half.  Given our 2 for 18 shooting from 3 point range, it was good decision by the Tigers.  I can't believe I'm saying this after the Gottfried years, but I would like to see us run the high post with Cooper at the elbow more against the 2-3 zone.  We ran that set a few times and it seemed to open a few options.  Coop has the skill set to make that 16 foot jumper, put it on the floor and drive to the middle to collapse the defense, or pass back to the wing or to a cutter on the baseline.

This is the version of Nick Jacobs we need to show up on a consistent basis.  He had a couple of offensive rebounds, actually blocked out from time to time and even blocked a few shots on defense.  He was our leading scorer with 15 points and shockingly enough was the only one who seemed to be able to make a free throw.  Neither he nor Moose was able to do much to slow down LSU's Johnny O'Bryant III in the post, but I really didn't feel like we lost a lot defensively with Jacobs in the game instead of Gueye.  Our guards did not have a great game, and we do not win this game if not for Nick Jacobs' play.

Retin Obasohan played 12 minutes, and did a nice job defensively.  He showed his quickness in getting to he basket but couldn't finish.  It's hard to figure out the rhyme or reason for when he gets playing time.  At one point in the first half we had a lineup of Lacey, Retin, Steele, Pollard, and Jacobs.

Pollard hit the floor hard when he got called for a blocking foul and appeared to be a little shaken up on the bench.  He did not return to the game, so hopefully he is okay.

Trevor Lacey appears to be in a slump right now.  His shots just aren't falling.  The only way to get out of it is to keep shooting.  The same could be said for Levi to a point, and even though they aren't making shots right now, I have no problem with them continuing to shoot.

I would consider taking Rodney Cooper out of the game in late situations when we need our free throw shooters on the floor.  While he may be one of our best 5 free throw shooters by percentage, it's obvious he's not good from the line under pressure.  He missed 2 that allowed LSU to stay in the game, and that is the 2nd or 3rd time he's choked at the line late in the game.  Even Releford missed 2 after getting a steal that should have made the lead more comfortable with under a minute to go.

We tried to do everything we could to give LSU a chance.  I wish we played smarter in these late game situations.  With a 3 point and the ball in open space with less than 4 seconds to play, we could have thrown the ball up to the rafters and by the time it came down the clock would have expired, instead we make an ill advised pass and give LSU one last shot at the buzzer.  Either hold the ball and get fouled and make a free throw, or chuck it in the air and kill time, there is no excuse for a turnover in that situation.

At the end of the day, the team did what they had to do to get out with a win and stay in the top 4 of the SEC race.

The crowd was much larger than I expected; I would estimate over 9,000, close to 10,000 were actually in the house.  It was not a very loud or energetic crowd for the most part.  I think most of us were just watching nervously as LSU kept getting closer and closer and we were more relieved when it was over than anything else.

Up next, we go to Athens, GA to take on the red hot Georgia Bulldogs.  They've won 5 in a row, so we will need a great effort to put an end to their streak.  Tipoff is at 8pm CST on ESPNU.

Saturday, February 09, 2013

Quick LSU preview

I'm still irked over the Barn game. Our football team scored more on them AT THE HALF than the hoops team did in THE ENTIRE GAME. That should NEVER happen!

Thursday, February 07, 2013

AUful! Tide loses 49-37 to auburn

Embarrassing.  That is the word used by auburn's coach Barbee to describe his feelings following their 6 game losing streak leading into this game.  I can't think of a better way to describe our offense.

I was worried about this game coming in.  Auburn was due for a win, and you knew they would be fired up. It seemed like the perfect storm, their coach's harsh words, huge rivalry game, at home, and on a National Signing Day.  While auburn is a bad team, they are capable of playing good at times.  They took Illinois down to the wire on the road, took Arkansas to double overtime in Fayetteville, and played Ole Miss down to the buzzer.  I never imagined they would beat us in this fashion though.  If anything, I thought they would get off to a great start and our comeback would fall short.

Instead, we shut them out for the first seven minutes of the game.  Unfortunately, we were only able to build a 9-0 lead during that time.  When you shut a team down like that you need to put them away.  Instead, we would later have two separate 8 minute stretches without a FG ourselves to let them come back and win easily.

During the first half when we should have built a much larger lead, I thought we were once again way too selective in our shot selection.  They were leaving Levi Randolph wide open on the perimeter and he passed up several good shots.  I know he was 0-7 from the field, and he continues to play good defense and rebound, but he seems to have lost confidence in his shot.  I have no problem with him taking open shots from the perimeter, especially when we have guys under the basket who, in theory, may be able to get a rebound.

Still, at halftime you had to feel relatively good with a 10 point lead despite our best scorer sitting on the bench for most of the half with foul trouble.    On the other hand, you knew auburn would score more than 13 points on 3 fgs in the second half.

I knew we were in trouble when Gueye picked up his 4th foul early in the second half.  auburn had not been shooting the ball well, and Moussa was effecting them when they tried to go inside.  He played good defense on Chubb and hindered their guards and forwards when they tried to drive to the basket.

I am now officially calling out Nick Jacobs.  He is supposed to be our "offensive" center, but he's so inconsistent at that end I consider him to be more of a liability at this point.  Defensively, at least he is consistent, consistently horrible.  One play in my mind sums up Nick Jacobs' defense perfectly:  with about 3 minutes to play we were down 9 desperately needing a stop, auburn set up in their half court offense running the clock down.  Their 5'11" guard gets by his man on the wing and drives toward the basket.  Nick Jacobs is on the opposite block.  If he rotates over and provides help side defense, this little guard is going to have to force a shot over him, or try to pass it off to a teammate (and with such little time on the shot clock, if we rotate properly, they aren't likely to get a shot off).  Instead, he stands there flat footed and watches the midget get an uncontested layup with 2 seconds remaining on the shot clock.

He is 6'8" 260 lbs, and he has TWO freaking rebounds.  Levi and Coop had 7 each.  Moussa had 6, playing half as many minutes.  Ben Eblen took a lot of heat the last couple of years, and I even said it was like playing with 4 on offense when he was in, but Eblen at least gave his all every time he stepped on the floor.  Jacobs, in short spurts, has proven that he has the capability to be a much better player than he is.  Frankly, he is soft and lazy. He doesn't extend his arms to catch passes in the post, often resulting in turnovers.  He doesn't move his feet to get a body on anybody to block out.  I know he doesn't have much of a vertical, but a guy his size should be able to get rebounds without being able to jump out of the gym.  Maybe he should watch some old clips of Erwin Dudley to see how it is done.  Going into the season, we knew the Center position was a big question mark, and many of us pointed to the continued development of Jacobs as a key to this season.  By all reports, he worked hard in the offseason and dropped 15 lbs, which gave us all hope.    He's been a huge disappointment, and his body language at times seems to indicate that he doesn't even care.  Unless Coach Grant or somebody can figure out a way to light a fire under his ass, this team is going nowhere.

Now, back to our offensive woes, and I don't even know where to start.  We have been a better 3 point shooting team this season, but we were not last night.  That did not stop us from jacking them up though.  After getting stuff and turning it over on the dribble drive a couple of times early in the half, we went 5 straight possessions where we settled for a contested 3 with the shot clock winding down.  We ended up 2 of 19 from downtown.   Half of our shots in the second half were from behind the arc, I don't understand why we stopped trying to attack the rim.  As I have stated before, it hard to come up with a good offensive strategy for this team.  We have no offensive post presence (see Nick Jacobs rant above) so our opponents can over extend their defense on our guards.  I even understand the slow pace, to some extent, short roster, conserve energy, play good defense to keep it close and try to win in the end, but when you only score 37 points against an average at best defensive team, you aren't beating anybody.  I don't know what the answer is, but what we are doing is not working.  Last night was a pitiful display, we had no spacing, no ball movement, poor screens (which led to Gueye sitting on the bench most of the game, then being ineffective playing with 4 fouls), we didn't cut with any purpose or intensity, all of our cuts were just light slow jogs from point A to B.

Trying to find a bright spot, Rodney Cooper at least had a good game.  His shot seems to be improving.  In the grand scheme of things, I'm not sure this is the devastating loss people are making it out to be.  The scenarios of us playing our way back into the tournament, going 14-4 and beating Ole Miss and/or Florida were never very realistic.  We have too many bad RPI team like auburn on the schedule, and when you figure our style of play results in nearly all of those being close games, we were bound to lose at least one or two along the way that would have the same effect.  It just sucks that we lost this particular one that is so important to a lot of people within our fanbase, especially in state.  As I stated before, our goal at this point should be to stay in the top 4 of the SEC to try to make a run in the tournament.  Right now, we are tied with Mizzou in the loss column with 3 losses for 4th place.  There is still a lot to play for.

On a side note, I forgot how frustrating it is to watch these games on TV.  We are now 1-3 in games that I have not attended this year, so maybe it's on me for not making the trip.  While I thought the commentators were fairly accurate in their analysis, the lack of information was maddening.  There would be a whistle away from the ball, off camera, and we get "foul on Alabama."  If you aren't going to show the official reporting the foul, at least tell us who it is on.  I guess it would kill them to give you the total number of team fouls as well.  Speaking of which, the officiating seemed fairly one-sided to me as well, but again, if you are soft on offense and generally try to avoid contact like we did, you won't get the calls, especially on the road.

Up next, the LSU Tigers come to Tuscaloosa for a 7pm tipoff Saturday night.  I know we are all frustrated right now, but this is when the team needs us behind them the most.  I hope we have a good crowd to help get things back on track.

Monday, February 04, 2013

@ Barn preview and various NCAA projections (for Bama)

Wednesday night we travel to the Barn to take on the fightin' Barbees of Auburn. Auburn set the world on FAHR with their 2-0 start in conference play only to Auburn it up and lose their next 6. They did play Ole Miss to the wire in their last home game. (click title for more)

Sunday, February 03, 2013

Tide is Dandy, finally wins at Vandy, 58-54.

The first 3 possessions of the game featured 2 Alabama turnovers on travelling calls, and a Vandy 3 pointer.  For most of the game, it felt like Groundhog's day, the same thing we've seen over and over for the last 20 years in Memorial gym, unfavorable calls from the officials, a barrage of 3's from the home team, and we leave town with an L.  This team refused to follow the script for the last 5 minutes, and now the gorilla known as Memorial gym has been expelled from the back of the Crimson Tide basketball program.

Vandy  is a young team that has struggled this year.  We actually matched up with them better than most teams because they are susceptible to back court pressure and do not have a dominant big man.  We pressed nearly the entire game.  Vandy shot over 70% from 3 point range in the first half to build an 8 point halftime lead.  While most of those shots were wide open, for the most part they were not the result of poor defense.  When a team breaks a 2-2-1 press, they will often have an open look from 3 point range, but most teams won't take that shot with 25 seconds or so left on the shot clock and nobody under the goal to rebound, but Vandy playing at home is a different animal.

They also hurt us by moving their smaller center out on the perimeter, where Gueye is not particularly effective on defense, and of course Nick Jacobs isn't effective anywhere on defense.  This opened up some space under the basket for them.

We briefly countered with a very unusual lineup.  At one point we had Lacey, Retin, Levi, Cooper, and Devonta on the court.  To say that Pollard was playing out of position would be an understatement.  He did okay defensively since he wasn't matched up against a true center, but watching him try to play with his back to the basket in the low post was brutal.

In the second half, our press was much  more effective and we were able to get some points off of turnovers and get back into the game.  It seemed like every time we would get to within one possession, Vandy would knock down another 3 or we would get called for some ticky-tack foul.  With 7 minutes left, Vandy had stretched their lead back to 11.  At that point, they had called one foul on the Dores in the second half, and 5 total for the game, while we were already in the bonus.  There were several out of bounds calls that went against us that looked to be bad calls from my vantage point.  It certainly seemed that we were facing insurmountable odds.  To make matters worse, Releford would leave the game with an eye injury.

The team didn't quit and never lost confidence.  Andrew Steele once again demonstrated great leadership in keeping everyone focused, but he also set the example with his play.  He was aggressive at both ends of the court and was able to contribute 13 points.  Rodney Cooper bounced back and had a great game after struggling some against Arkansas.  Levi's defense was huge down the stretch.  Of course, you cannot say enough good things about Trevor Lacey's play in this game.  Not just making the game winning shot, but stepping up when Releford got injured and making several improbable shots throughout the game to keep us in it.

After falling behind 11 with 7 minutes left, we outscored the Dores 18-3 to close out the game.  I felt that if we could ever get the game tied or take the lead, the young Commodores might begin playing tight.  At the same time, there was a part of me that expected either a fluke shot, bad call, or some combination thereof to beat us even after we got the lead.

Coach Grant should also get a lot of credit for the game winning shot.  I made the comment out of the timeout that Stallings is a much better X's and O's coach, so I thought we would be at a disadvantage in that situation.  Coach Grant drew up the elevator door screen, which Cooper and Jacobs executed to perfection.   I have not seen us run that play this year, and I don't think Vandy saw it coming.  Lacey cut from the basket to the top of the key, going between Jacobs and Cooper at the free throw line.  Lacey had a step on his defender, and Cooper and Jacobs came together to set the screen.  The defenders on Jacobs and Cooper did not recognize it in time to switch, giving Lacey an open look from the top of the key, which he knocked down.  We played great defense forcing 2 missed three point attempts at the other end, and made just enough free throws to put it away.

We got to congratulate Trevor Lacey after the game.  He was extremely cordial and polite, even taking the time to pose for a picture with my friend's son.

A friend of mine and myself after the game.  He's lived in Nashville for 20 years, and finally got a win.

I would say Memorial Gym is a piece of shit, but that would be insulting to feces of all kinds.  You have to navigate a number of narrow hallways with twists and turns to get from one side of the arena to the other.    Our seats were in the second tier, where the seats are wooden benches.  As you can see from the first pic, I could only see the bottom 20% of the TV screen.  Also, I do not think the NCAA should allow their goofy court configuration.  Unless the rules are different from high school, the coach's box is supposed to be from the 28 foot line, extending 14 feet toward the baseline.  I don't understand how Vandy is allowed to put the benches wherever the hell they please and arbitrarily mark a coach's box on the baseline.  

That was probably the fewest Vandy fans I have seen there for a Bama-VU game.  My understanding is that dump seats approximately 15,000.  It's hard to give a crowd estimate when I can only see about a third of the seats from where I was sitting, but based on what I could see, I would say there was probably only 7,000 or so there.  Of that 7,000, close to 10% were Bama fans.  The "De-Fense" and "Roll Tide" chants could be heard clearly throughout late in the game.  Our Nashville alumni base and North Alabama fans really did their part.  Most of the Vandy fans were nice enough.  Several congratulated us after the game, although one snobby bitch did approach me at the end of the game and inform me that I needed to see a therapist.  I just smiled, told her "good game" and went back to my "Roll Tide" chant.  In fairness, I was probably a little more excited than most visiting fans are when beating an 8-11 Vandy team, for obvious reasons.  I was surprised most Dores fans I spoke to had no idea that they possessed such an impressive home winning streak against us.  

Up next, we go to auburn Wednesday night for a 7pm tipoff that will be televised on the SEC Network.  It's also National Signing Day for football, so expect an extraordinarily hostile environment.  We will need to bring our A-game to keep Coach Grant's perfect record in auburn Arena in tact.  

Saturday, February 02, 2013

@ Vanderbilt preview

It's been beaten to the ground, but we haven't won in Nashville (outside of the SEC tournament) since 1990. DJC went through exactly how much time has passed since then and the things that happened that year... let me add a couple more:

Friday, February 01, 2013

Bama Barely Beats Bacon, 59-56

I would rather win ugly than lose pretty any day, and it doesn't get much uglier than that game last night.  In some ways, it was similar to the Tennessee game, in that we got off to a good start in the first half but spent the rest of the game desperately trying to cling to our lead.

Nick Jacobs was a beast in the first half.  His work on the offensive end was a big reason why we were able to build an 11 point lead.  His ineffectiveness on defense, lack of rebounding, and turnovers were also a big reason why we lost that lead in the second half.  I really wish we had just one more big man to push him for playing time.  There was one particular turnover in the second half that really bothered me, he had his man posted up on the low block, and attempted to catch the entry pass with one hand, and of course lost it.  There is no excuse for that, we've got to get more consistent effort out of him on both ends of the floor.  He has the skills, and shows them at times, but he plays soft.

Moussa Gueye on the other hand is doing everything we could realistically expect from him at this point.  Sure, he still occasionally has the bad plays where he puts the ball on the floor for no good reason or gets out of position, but he is now a legitimate presence in the paint on defense, and is at least active enough on offense to score every now and then and make the defense account for him.  I was concerned about our ability to match up with Marshawn Powell in this game, but we held him to 11 points and he fouled out in the final minutes.  That's a credit to Moussa's defense, and also to Coach Grant's strategy of going after him with our bigs and our stronger wings.

Arkansas came in averaging 77 points per game, but we were excellent in transition defense. Gueye altered and blocked shots near the basket, and the guards did an excellent job both of getting through screens in the man, and closing out on the perimeter in the zone.  Our pressure seemed to disrupt their offense at times as well.

Arkansas fouls.  A lot.  They are aggressive on defense but not very fundamentally sound, which results in a lot of hacking.  The officials called as much of it as they could.  We were in the bonus within 10 minutes of the first half.  In the first half, when Arkansas would over extend their defense we had guys cutting behind them to get to the basket.  In the second half, we were less aggressive and had a hard time getting a shot off. We were not getting the benefit of as many calls because we were not being aggressive on offense.

Once again, we had an 11 point lead late in the first half, allowed the hogs to close on a 4-0 run to cut it to 7, and came out flat on offense for the second half.  Arkansas slowly chipped away until the lead was gone, then we had to make the plays in the final 2 minutes or so to win the game.  Trevor Releford's technical foul really hurt, and after watching the replay, I'm not sure it was warranted.  There was very little contact and it did not look like the type of situation that was going to escalate.

We turned the ball over 21 times, 7 of those being Trevor Lacey.  We need to get more production out of Lacey, but he did make some clutch free throws toward the end of the game.  Once again, Andrew Steele's leadership may have been the difference in the game, even though it doesn't show up in the box score.  When things were looking grim in the second half, he was the calming force that kept everybody focused.  I noticed him coaching the guards from the bench during free throw attempts on a few occasions in the 2nd half, and Lacey in particular seems to really listen to him.

I thought Devonta Pollard had a good game and is hopefully starting to adjust to the speed of the game.  He had a few turnovers, but also made some good defensive plays and had some nice rebounds.  He can get off the floor in a hurry, and he is probably our best chance of being the guy who can get us some offensive boards.  Levi had another good game, I love his effort going for loose balls, and he was a perfect 4-4 from the free throw line.  Cooper only played 16 minutes and did not have a very good game.  Coach Grant did not play him much down the stretch.  Retin Obasohan made an appearance and played well for a couple of minutes.  I am not sure of the rhyme or reason for Coach Grant's decision on whether or not to play him from game to game.

On the one hand we played great defense, made 9 of our last 10 free throws, and did the things we had to do to pull out a close game in the end.  As bad as Arkansas has looked at times, they are a talented team and still a top 100 RPI team.  On the other hand, we seem to lack the ability to put teams away when we get the lead, and we were sloppy with the ball and very bad offensively, especially for most of the second half.

The crowd was terrible, I would guess there was only 6,000 or so there and it didn't really get loud until the very end.  The student section was maybe half full.  If that's the best we can do for a team that is tied with Kentucky for 3rd place in the SEC, on national television, against a team that has been a historic rival, this program will always have a glass ceiling.  You guys know how I feel about the marketing, or lack thereof, of this team, so that's all I will say about that.

Looking at the big picture, it's now February, just one month removed from that glorious month  that all of us College basketball fans live for.  We find ourselves ranked 60th in the RPI, 13-7(5-2).  Villanova has inexplicably started winning and is close to being a top 50 RPI team, and Kentucky still has a good chance to get there.  The only real quality win type opponents left on our schedule are Ole Miss (assuming they don't collapse) and Florida, both on the road.  While every other game on the schedule is winnable, we will inevitably have some bad nights so I don't think it's very realistic to expect us to finish 14-4.  Unfortunately, due to a horrible December with losses to Mercer and Tulane, I think that is what it would take for us to reach the tournament (and even then, I think one of those wins would probably need to come over Ole Miss).  However, I do think a realistic goal is to stay within the top 4 of the SEC standings, and get the double-bye in the tournament.  If we only have to win 3 games in Nashville, I think we have a fighter's chance.  Obviously, Florida is leaps and bounds better than everyone else in this league, but my guess is they will have secured a #1 seed by that point and will be less than enthusiastic about the SEC tournament.  If somebody knocks them off, we have as good of a chance as anybody else in this league.

Up next, a trip to Memorial Gym in Nashville to play Vandy, where we have not won since the ice ages.  Seriously, it was 1990.  To put that into perspective, the internet was just getting started, and did not really become popular for a few years later.  This Vandy is team bad, but they played Ole Miss and Kentucky to the wire.  Hopefully, I will have a chance to be the first person to blog about a Tide win in Memorial gym.  Tip off is at 3pm CST Saturday.