Let me confess at the outset that my life is unusually busy right now. My time is regularly committed each week in big chunks that force me to be very deliberate about how I spend the rest of it. Given the quality of the product on the court, I have been forced to relegate Bama Basketball to much the same priority it suffered during Coach Gottfried's last two season. (As an aside, I am pleased to see that Mark appears to have righted the ship of his personal and professional careers. I wish he had done it while he still was here. I still am waiting for our apology from him, because he definitely did not give us his best for at least two years.)
This team can be fun to watch at home - at times. They have beaten some lousy teams on the road. They've lost to some lousy teams on the road too. (Does api immediately jump into your mind when you read that?) But a game at Ole Miss' Tad Pad was not a pain I was going to inflict on myself.
Granted, the kids evidently played like Tasmanian Devils for the last three minutes. What did they do for the first 37 minutes? I don't know. Like I said, I didn't listen to the game. I don't need the aggravation of another disappointing performance by a team that does not know what it's doing.
Please do not take this as a criticism of any of the players. I lay the responsibility where it belongs, in Coach Grant's lap. He is responsible for both teaching and motivating the players. That works best when he has some on-the-court leadership. If that does not exist, it is Coach Grant's responsibility.
I admit again that I do not know much about basketball. I'm merely a fan. At this stage in my life I don't bother to watch anyone but Alabama so I don't know anything about other teams. I've never played the game at an organized level and would not presume to coach it. But even an ignorant fan can watch this team and KNOW that they are not well coached, at least not on the offensive end of the court. Some players have improved through the season, but as a team they are fundamentally flawed.
No player on this team seems to know what to do when they have the ball in the half court. They stand around apparently waiting for someone to tell them what to do. If their fundamental training were even adequate, they would move automatically in given situations. They would know how to set picks. They would know how to dribble off a pick. They would know how to set their feet and square their shoulders before taking a jump shot. Their free throw shooting form, and hence their performance, would be much better.
They can't throw the ball to Gueye in the paint because if he catches it (which is a real adventure) they have no reason to believe he will be doubled by a defender because the young man couldn't score consistently against my grandmother (who died ten years ago at age 103)!
Nick Jacobs couldn't guard that same grand mother. (Remember, she hasn't twitched a muscle for ten years.)
I think any of us could go on for hours about things like this - the little things that have driven us all crazy all season. The things that lead to ten minute scoring droughts in virtually every game. The things that make us scream at our televisions. The things that make 14 year old girls in Coleman Coliseum scream, "At least act like you care!"
A good coach should have noticed these tendencies in his players long before now and have had them practice drills that correct the fundamental flaws in their games. How many of those close games would we have won if we had hit our free throws? (For what it's worth, C.M. Newton's teams always had this problem too.) A good coach would drill these fundamental skills into his players so they did what they were supposed to do to generate an open shot without thinking. Instead, our players dribble in circles or stand around, apparently waiting for the other team to be lulled to sleep, before throwing up a hurried jump shot with a defender draped all over them.
No, I don't need to suffer that kind of aggravation during the last two hours before going to bed at night.
I still believe in Coach Anthony Grant. A good person learns from his mistakes. So does a good coach. I remain convinced that Anthony Grant is a good man and a good coach. I hope he learns from the mistakes he made this year. I certainly am not the person who can correct them. That does not mean I have to force myself to suffer the results of them right now.
Thank you all who did watch or listen to the game. I'm sure DJC drove over to watch it in person. He remains the most loyal and devoted Bama Basketball fan I ever have met. Hey, DJC, maybe it's time for you to make an honest woman of the sweet, lovely girlfriend of yours. Bama Hoops certainly does not look like it's going to put up much competition unless Coach Grant changes the way he is doing some things, and that young lady is a real catch! ;-)
Here's hoping things turn around next season. I do intend to watch the game Saturday, but only because the Paris-Nice bicycle race will be broadcast on the Internet early in the morning and will not conflict with our game.