Sunday, August 25, 2013

Roster Preview - Forwards/Centers

It's safe to say that Alabama was not an imposing team when it came to their inside game a year ago, even before Carl Engstrom was lost for the season with a knee injury. At its healthiest, Alabama's front line last season consisted of two 7 foot projects and a "below the rim" power forward who came into the season out of shape (by his own admission) and already struggling with ankle and back concerns that would persist through the season.

Despite the size of Moussa Gueye and Engstrom, Alabama struggled to rebound the ball on a consistent basis. To lend some perspective, Alabama's leading rebounder last season was Rodney Cooper, a G/F playing out of position at the 4, who pulled down 4.5 boards per game. The combined total for Bama's two 7 footers - 6.6 per game. That isn't completely fair to Engstrom, who only played in seven games, but through those seven games he was only averaging 2.7 rebounds per game. Not exactly channeling Bill Russell. Alabama must improve its rebounding numbers this season if it is going to have a chance at returning to the NCAA tournament.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Nick Jacobs injury

Nick Jacobs has apparently dislocated his right shoulder.  He posted a pic of his arm in a sling to instagram and said he dislocated his shoulder.  No word on how long he will be out, but generally the recovery time for this injury is 4 to 12 weeks.  Obviously, this would be a huge loss if he can't play in November.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013


This is one of the most exciting days of the year for me, the day our upcoming basketball schedule gets finalized (well, we are still waiting on the 2 NIT games in Tuscaloosa to be announced, but other than that...).  The SEC schedule was released today.

You can see the full schedule here.

Alabama's schedule is (all times Central):

v. Vandy, Tuesday, January 7, 8 p.m. ESPNU
@ Georgia, Saturday, January 11, 3pm, SEC Network
v. Mi$$i$$ippi $tate, Wednesday, January 15, 7pm, SEC Network
@Mizzou, Saturday, January 18, 1pm, ESPN/2
v. Florida, Thursday, January 23, 6pm, ESPN/2
v. LSU, Saturday, January 25, 7pm, ESPN2
@auburn, Wednesday, January 29, 7pm, SECNetwork
v. Tennessee, Saturday, February 1, 7pm, ESPN2
@Arkansas, Wednesday, February 5, 7pm SECNetwork
@Florida, Saturday, February 8, 11am, ESPN
v. Ole Miss, Tuesday, February 11, 8pm, ESPNU
@South Carolina, Saturday, February 15, 3pm, SECNetwork
@aTm, Thursday, February 20, 6pm, ESPN/2
v. Mizzou, Saturday, February 22, 7pm, ESPN2
@Ole Miss, Wednesday, February 26, TBD, ESPN3
v. auburn, Saturday, March 1, 2pm, ESPNU
@Kentucky, Tuesday, March 4, 8pm, ESPN
v. Arkansas, Saturday, March 8, TBD, ESPN3

A few thoughts, playing auburn twice will hurt our RPI, but Florida twice will make up for that.   Mizzou, Ole Miss, and Arkansas should all be respectable enough opponents that this is a solid schedule from an RPI standpoint.

I am looking forward to making my first trip to Mizzou for a game. I was also hoping we would catch Kentucky earlier in the year, they will be tough in March.  On the positive side, for the first time since 1963 we don't have to go to Starkville.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Alabama Lands 2015 Commitment

With a very good 2014 class taking shape, the 2015 recruiting cycle seems to already be under way for Anthony Grant and his staff. It was announced today that Brandon Austin, a 6-5 180 lb SG/SF from Carver in Montgomery has committed to the program. Austin received an offer from the staff after attending one of the summer camps held for high school players at the UA campus. Antoine Pettway is the chief recruiter of Austin. It should be mentioned that Pett is tearing it up on the recruiting trail as he was also heavily involved in the recruitment of Justin Coleman. 

Austin has two more years of high school basketball so it will be interesting to see how his game continues to develop. And it's always nice to see guys attend UA who are from my neck of the woods in the cap city.

In 2014 recruiting news, William Lee, a 6-8 192 lb PF, who is a primary target for the staff, announced on twitter last week that he would be making his college decision on January 10th. Let's hope he chooses Bama because he would fill yet another need (size and rebounding).

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Bama loses 76-72 in final game of European trip

This team recently played the team that beat us yesterday by 30 within 2, so it's a good sign that we were at least competitive in this game.  Jacobs had 14 points and 9 rebounds while cooper had 14 pts and 7 rebounds.

In recent years, a lack of continuity and certainty with the rotation has hurt us in some early season games.  I am hopeful that this trip will help to rectify those problems this year.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Know your enemy- Boulogne

Up next, we play Boulogne in France, tomorrow morning at 10:30 a.m. CDT.  From the pics and videos I have seen, the team is currently having a great time in Paris.

There are a lot more videos of this team out there, including this one showing a full game that was uploaded in January of this year:

I didn't watch the whole thing, but from what I see they appear to have a little more size and athleticism than our previous opponents.  This could be a very good test.

UPDATE:  Not a good first quarter

UPDATE2:  We are on the wrong end of serious ass-kicking.  55-23 at halftime.

FINAL: 100-70 loss.  Final stats and box score here.  A few thoughts, Releford's numbers look great.  It's encouraging to see Jacobs and Taylor getting rebounds, but given they attempted 26 3-pointers, I'm guessing they are more of a perimeter oriented team.  It looks like turnovers and poor free throw shooting did us in.

Up next, Rouen, tomorrow at 8 a.m.  I will probably not be up and following.  Here is their website which is actually quite useful with the help of google translate.

We will need to do a better job of protecting the ball (even from their coaching staff).  Check out this clip of our next opponent's coach, in a game against the team that beat us today:

 This will be another tough test, hopefully the team can bounce back and end their trip on a positive note.

More from Europe

I found this video of our game from Gembo.

And here is one from the game against the Antwerp Giants

Also, I have been exchanging emails with a gentleman from the Netherlands who attended our first game against Meppel.  He said the team we played was not actually the Meppel Red Giants, as most of that team is currently away on vacation.  There were a few players from that team who played against us, but the coach made some calls and got players from 3 or 4 other teams in the region.  He noted that our players did not wear their normal uniforms and numbers, so the roster was not very helpful.

Of particular concern was that he reported the Dutch center scored 20 points on us in the first half alone, despite being "overweight and out of shape because he hasn't practiced yet this season."  He said this guy showed up shortly before the game because he didn't leave his day job till 6:00 p.m., and cramped up after 5 minutes of play, but still dropped 20 on us in limited minutes in the first half.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Let's talk non-conference hoops schedule

link (opens in new window)

Before I start... I'll probably be posting much less come basketball season due to me cutting the cord. My access to the various ESPN channels (and any sports cable channels)  will mostly wither away (save ESPN 3) so you might not get a whole lot of preview posts. With that being said...

Our non-conference schedule is on paper about as tough as I ever have seen. Of the 13 'published' games 7 of them nicely fit in the 'tough' category. Those are Oklahoma, semi and finals of NIT (assuming we make it that far), Wichita St, Xavier, Charleston So, and UCLA.

I truly have no clue what we are and chances are we won't know the team we got until about game 7 of the season. If I were to guess (and I'm the pessimist of the of the 5 that write here) I'd go with 8-5. I could see it going as high as 10 and as low as 5 wins though.

We really need to see Cooper, Jacobs, and Randolph step up. I'm pretty sure that Releford will put together another fantastic season so I focus on the other upperclassmen. I expect Obasohan to take the next step and give Relly some help. Maybe big Carl becomes a rebound machine, defensive presence so Jacobs can concentrate on O. It's going to be an interesting season. Note- I haven't commented on incoming freshman as I usually wait a few games to even begin to critique them.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Know your enemy, Antwerp Giants

Here is their official site.  It won't do you much good unless you speak Dutch.  Google translate helps, but is a little rough.  Here is their Wiki page.  They have a couple of guys from the states, and they play in lotto arena, which holds around 5,000, making it about five times as large as the last two arenas we played in.  I note that we are playing the Giants II, and I'm not sure what the distinction is between the Giants II and Giants.

I was able to find this clip from a couple of years ago.  They look like a solid team to me

UPDATE:  After trailing 16-14 at the end of the first quarter, Bama takes a 41-30 lead into the second half.

UPDATE 2:  59-47 Bama through 3 quarters.  Levi leading the way with 19.

UPDATE 3: Bama wins!  79-67.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Bama v. Gembo game thread

Alabama fell behind early, but used a 13-2 run to end the first quarter with a 21-15 lead.  Releford and Engstrom lead the scoring with 5 pts each.  Starting lineup was 1. Retin, 2. Releford, 3. Levi, 4. Shannon Hale, 5. Jimmie Taylor.  It's good to see Retin getting the start in his hometown, along with letting the new guys start to see what they can do.


UPDATE 2:  Bama Wins!  86-79.  Releford led the scoring with 24 points.  Nick Jacobs with a double-double, 18 points and 10 rebounds.

Know your enemy- Gembo

The Tide rolls in Atwerp, Belgium to take on Gembo at 1 p.m. CDT today.  Gembo plays in the Division II league in Belgium.  Antwerp is Retin Obasohan's hometown, and assistant coach John Brannen played there for 2 years in the late 1990's for the Antwerp Giants of the Division I league.  Bama will play the Giants tomorrow.

Here are some highlights of Gembo beating UVA 102-97 last year.  They look a lot more athletic and fundamentally sound than the clips I saw of our previous opponent, and as I said, they beat Virginia last year so this should be a good test today.

As far as I know, once again there is no video or audio available, so follow @AlabamaMBB on twitter for updates.  I am working and won't be able to pass the information along as quickly or frequently, but will try to post updates to the extent I can.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Crimson Tide v. Red Giants

Alabama just tipped off in Meppel, The Netherlands against the Red Giants.  Since our fearless leader failed to provide us with a "know your enemy" report, I will try to pick up the slack, albeit belatedly. (Hey, it's the preseason for us too, give us a break!)

Here is a blog dedicated to the Red Giants.  It will probably not be much use to you unless you speak Dutch.  According to google translate, they need a volunteer to operate the 24 second clock, which makes me wonder if these games are being played with a 24 or 35 second shot clock.  It it's the former, based on our offense last season, that could present some problems.

Here is their official site.  Apparently they play in the Euro basket league.  They played Quinnipiac in 2011 and lost 109-61

I looked for some videos on youtube, and not sure if this is their current team, but if it is, I will be disappointed if we don't beat them by 50+.  Seriously, this looks like a church league team.  I honestly think the 5 of us who write on this blog (PG-Bobbyjack, SG-myself, SF-Hville, PF-Alias, C-MSmilie) despite being small, old, and overall not very athletic, could probably hang with these guys and actually lead at halftime (we would blow it in the second half due to fatigue, foul trouble, and a lack of depth).

Bobbyjack was a little tight with the travel budget allowance this year, so I'm stuck with everyone else wondering what is going on.

UPDATE:  Bama leads 36-25 in the second quarter.  Unfortunately there is no audio or video available for this game, the only way I've been able to keep up is to follow @AlabamaMBB on twitter.  For those of you not on twitter, I will periodically post updates here to keep you up to speed.  At the end of the first quarter, we led 27-20, Nick Jacobs and Rodney Cooper led the scoring with 6 pts each.  The starting 5 was 1. Releford, 2. Levi, 3. Cooper, 4. Jacobs, 5. Engstrom.


Coach Grant can't be happy about giving up 42 points in a half.

UPDATE 3:  10-3 run to start the 2nd half.  58-45 Bama.


That's more like it.  Cooper has 17, Jacobs 13, and Releford 11.

UPDATE 6:  Final Score:  85-68 Bama.

Ranking the MLB Parks- top 5

5) Busch Stadium (St Louis)- the unfortunate thing was I happen to attend a Saturday day game where temperatures hit 100. For the first 3 innings of the game (against the Pirates) I seriously considered bailing early. Anyways, great atmosphere, cheap parking ($5 with about a 1/2 mile walk), decent bars around the park and food/beer selection inside was great. Not terribly pricey on seats and inside is very nice. Super knowledgeable fans around me... I'll go back anytime I'm around the area.

4) PNC Park (Pittsburgh)- been around a decade and saw crappy team after crappy Pirate teams ruin it. Thankfully the Pirates are good and I happen to see them this year there for the 1st time which was fun. Park is on the river, great scenery in and around the park... good bars around the area, close to downtown (cross the Clemente Bridge) and the food was decent. Note- I have worked literally right by this place on 4 separate occasions before but the Pirates were out of town.

3) Target Field (Minneapolis)- I wasn't expecting much to be honest when I stopped here along the way. What I saw was a 1000x improvement over the Metrodome... built overlooking downtown with all sorts of bars/restaurants right there in what seemed to be a really good area to hang out around. Parking was a bit of a pain and a decent hike ($10 for about a 3/4 mile hike), but that was good as I got to see a little bit more of the area. Inside it's awesome... seats are great, food was good and not overly expensive. My only complaint is it was 2nd most expensive ticket I bought on my 5 year trek around ballparks ($44). Still, a must see place for any MLB fan.

2) Coors Field (Denver)- I've been here a half dozen times over the last 10 years and it's one of my favorites mainly because of the location. It's situated near great restaurants, hotels, bars, clubs, etc. and easy to get to via light rail. Inside, it's spacious with good food and great beer selection (if you don't like Coors like me you will be okay there). Any time I'm in Denver I look to sneak to a game or two during my stay. For whatever reason I can't find my Coors Field pics... thought I backed them up when my USB drive went bad, but might not have (found my Angels photo though). Damn. I was sitting 24 rows behind home plate the last time.

1) AT&T Field (San Francisco)- Most baseball fans that have been here probably have it in their top 3. It's near downtown SF, but not in it, easily accessible by mass transit, easy in and out, and the bars/restaurants nearby are the best of all the parks I've been to. Inside it's immaculate... sitting on the bay with great views everywhere. The food is great, seats are good enough, and fans are fun. Only gripe... it's always colder than I expect it to be there. I was wearing a sweater to the Giants/Jays game in early June.

Hope you enjoyed my MLB park rundown... I don't think there will be any new parks in the next 10 years so I won't have to update this anytime soon :)
EDIT- found some pics from the missing parks. Boston is updated in 30-21, Anaheim is updated in 20-11, and Colorado is updated here. Colorado pic is from 04 though where I had a decent view from 1st base.

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Roster Preview - Guards

It's hard to believe but the 2013-14 basketball season is a mere eight weeks away (practice begins in early October after the NCAA approved a new rule to allow teams to begin practicing earlier). Alabama basketball has the good fortune of starting the season a little earlier than that as they will be embarking on a 10-day European tour to France, The Netherlands and Belgium for a series of games from August 8th to August 18th. The team has been allowed to practice for this upcoming trip, which no doubt has been embraced by the coaching staff. Any time you can get extra time with your team, it's always a good thing.

It is my understanding that Ricky Tarrant and Michael Kessens, both transfers sitting out the upcoming season, will not be allowed to make the trip. However, the three newcomers who will be able to play this upcoming season - Shannon Hale, Jimmie Taylor and Algie Key - will all be eligible to make the trip. This trip will perhaps serve these three the best as the coaching staff can put them in different game situations and see how they respond. All three will be expected to contribute on some level this season.

With Alabama's roster seemingly set, I wanted to take the time to write up a preview of each player and my opinion on what the team will need from each of them if 2013-14 is to be a memorable year for our beloved Crimson Tide. Today's post will focus on the guards. Even with the return of Carl Engstrom and Nick Jacobs as well as the arrival of two top 100 recruits in Jimmie Taylor and Shannon Hale, this team's strength appears to be in the backcourt as that is where the majority of the skill and experience remain.

Devin Mitchell Commits to Alabama

A fantastic recruiting week for Anthony Grant and his staff has gotten even better as Devin Mitchell - a 6'3, 170 lb SG - has committed to Alabama. Mitchell is a great offensive player who can shoot the ball extremely well, but is also quite good at creating off the dribble. His offensive prowess alone could make him an immediate contributor in his freshman season.

This has been a wonderful week for Alabama basketball. With this commitment, Grant and his staff are quickly putting together a 2014 class that could be ranked in the top 10 when all is said and done. Hopefully this positive momentum can carry over into the team's trip to Europe and the 2013-14 season when it tips off in November.

Tuesday, August 06, 2013 Features Men's Basketball International Blog

In anticipation of the basketball team's trip to Europe, the official site put up a new page that will feature player video diaries, pictures, game summaries, along with other features for those who want to keep up with the team during their European tour. You can find the page here

Monday, August 05, 2013

Riley Norris has committed to Alabama!

In a shocking turn of events, at least to me, Riley Norris has committed to sign with Alabama.  You can read his statement here.  This comes just a few days after we reportedly pulled his offer.  I'm not sure how one commits to a school he doesn't have an offer from, but apparently we re-offered, or perhaps the reports of the original offer rescission were bogus.  Either way, good job by Coach Grant and the staff and welcome to Tuscaloosa, Riley.  This should finally give us that outside shooting specialist we've been missing the last few seasons.

Friday, August 02, 2013

Alabama Reportedly Rescinds Riley Norris' Offer

Big news on the recruiting front last night as Evan Daniels, a national recruiting analyst with Fox, reported that Alabama has rescinded their offer to 2014 recruit, Riley Norris, whom many rate as the #2 ranked recruit in the state of Alabama. The reason for this move is unknown at this time, but my two cents is it has something do with an off-court issue of some kind. The strangest part of this story seems to be the fact that the Bama coaching staff may have leaked the story they were backing off of Norris. For a coaching staff that has been so tight-lipped in the past regarding any decisions made involving players, this is an interesting development to say the least.

UPDATE:  Okay. Evan Daniels, who originally reported that Alabama had rescinded their offer to Riley Norris, tweeted this morning that Alabama is once again involved with Norris. Whatever bridge had been burned has obviously been repaired. Ah, the long strange trip of recruiting.

In other recruiting news, 2014 SG Devin Mitchell will be announcing his top eight schools at noon today. Alabama is expected to be among those schools. Mitchell has had plenty of nice things to say about Grant and his staff, but his stock is rising heading into his Senior year of high school and it appears his recruitment could last well into the spring. I've sang the praises of Mitchell in a previous post so my hope is that he eventually chooses to come to Alabama.

UPDATE 2: And now it appears Riley Norris has committed to Alabama. Dogs and cats living together. Mass hysteria!

UPDATE:  As expected, Alabama makes the cut for Devin Mitchell. Other schools in his top 8 are K-State, Memphis, Wake Forest, UAB, Georgia, Cincinnati and Ole Miss.

This video highlights some of the reasons I like Mitchell's game so much.

Ranking the MLB Parks 10-6

I'll add photos ASAP. When I talk about the food I pretty much go with a park dog or brat when available.

10) Citizens Bank Park (Philadelphia)- What I really like about this place is Philly put all their pro sports teams within a 1/4 mile of each other. While there is nothing around the park to do, inside it's immaculate. Great view from just about every seat, great food and parking wasn't a total ripoff.

9) Petco Park (San Diego)- the location is great although that makes it a bit more expensive to park. Inside, I thought it's in my top 5, but I wasn't a fan of the food (blah). The fact that the Fathers have sucked the better part of a decade doesn't help the atmosphere.

8) Safeco Field (Seattle)- Used to be in my top 5, but others have bumped it down to here. Great view of the city, easy to get to (Mass Transit drops you off a block or so away), inside is awesome, and the food was decent. Only downside to me is the seats seem a bit far from the action.... and the day I went it was about 45 degrees (game after opening day).

7) Comerica Park (Detroit)- Detroit is a hellhole, but this park (and Ford Field) is the exception to this place. The area around the park is nice with plenty of bars, restaurants and even casinos (got to pay off city bankruptcy). Inside I was impressed with the view, seating and even the park dog was pretty good. Parking was a bit pricey ($20), but I drove in from western Ohio so planning mass transit wasn't a real option.

6) Camden Yards (Baltimore)- Just missed the top 5 although one of my favorites. This place is what started the really nice new parks you see today. 20+ years later this is still a treat to go to and with the Orioles being meaningful again, the place is rocking. Parking can be had for $15 with a not too far of a walk. Not much right there by the park, but inside you have plenty of food choices to pick from. I suggest the RF area as I believe they have mastered the brat. Seating inside is close to the action IMO and ticket prices are more than fair.