Friday, March 14, 2014

End of season review and what the immediate future holds for Alabama Basketball

End of season review
Well, this is the worst season the program has had in... forever (40 years roughly). Quite honestly I'm too lazy to dig to find a worse season of Alabama basketball than this one and I've been a fan since 1989.

Several factors resulted in this AUful season from the surprise transfers of Lacey and Gueye, the weird situation of Pollard, issues shooting the ball besides Releford,  and the general inability of finding a big man to work inside (a re-occurring theme under Grant). In the end all of this falls on Grant as this is his 5th year as head coach with another year of a depleted roster. When was the last time we had more than 10 scholarship players?

Quick, gimme the biggest win of the season for Alabama? It's either Missouri or Arkansas and neither will be in the NCAAT unless Mizzou wins the SECT. That's is pretty damn sad.

- Trevor Releford had an amazing senior year. IMO he should've been SEC POY. His final stats are the following: 18.5 PPG, 3.1 AST, 3.5 REB, 85% FT, 2.2 STL, .496 FG, and .393 from 3PT range. It is a crying shame his talent was wasted for much of his career here.
- Shannon Hale and Levi Randolph stepped it up in conference play (Levi much later on, but still) as secondary options to Releford.
- Jimmy Taylor can hold his own inside if put in the right position.

- We all know our long-standing offensive woes... well, this year the defense took a backseat as well with 67.2 PPG given up which is not bad if the O showed any life, but only 98th overall in the NCAA (67.8 PPG on O ranks 259th).
- Offense in year 5 still has no rhythm. Still lots of standing around and running the shot clock under 10 before attempting to drive the basket.
- Rebounding- no decent big man inside got us killed on the glass. Rodney Cooper led the team at 4.9 a game. That says a lot.
- Losing close games- that's on the coaching staff. I defer to DJC on more specifics, but I think everyone here can agree that when the game was close in the final minutes we knew deep down inside we were going to lose.

To close this portion out... I am glad this season is finally over, but sad that we won't see Releford play basketball at Alabama anymore. I hope like heck he finds his way to a 2nd round draft pick and makes a NBA team.

Future of Alabama Basketball
Well, when I started this blog 8 years ago I really thought we were on the cusp of 'goodness'. Ronald Steele barely missed a 3 pointer at the buzzer vs UCLA in the 2nd round of the NCAAT as we lost to the eventual NCAAT runner-up. Who knew that would be the height of this blog's existence? If I knew for sure it was the blog's fault for us being middling ever since I'd shut the thing down...

As I look at the 5 year career of Anthony Grant here my stance is simple... he's not getting it done and there is nothing in his 5 years here that makes me think he will. It is time for a change as this program is very close to falling to M$U and Auburn status. I did post earlier that I believe he is coming back for year 6 (mostly due to money owed on his ridiculous contract), but let's talk about this openly... is paying off $5 million (probably less once you factor in new job for Grant as assistant or HC at a lower level school) worth it to revive a dead program? I think so. I have never seen so much apathy towards basketball as I do now. Yes, I remember the end of the Hobbs' era and it still wasn't as bad as it is now. While season tickets only make a small dent in the athletic budget, I am hearing there are quite a few folks that won't renew next season.

I had my reservations about Grant early... if you dig through the blog you will see I was concerned about his lack of resume for the money we paid. The first time I really questioned if Grant was the right person for this job is when I (DJC and RMBF) traveled to St Thomas to watch us play. We saw very questionable coaching decisions, terrible use of time outs, and in that 3rd game vs St Peter's... a team that didn't give a crap about playing. That 'not giving a crap about playing' stemmed from what I was told was canceling a team outing in St Thomas for practice. The team went on to get blown out a couple more times, before a major transformation which resulted in us playing in the NIT Finals (losing to Wichita St). Whatever Grant did to get the team back worked.

If we are being totally honest that was the best team Grant had in his 5 years here. Yes, I am aware we stumbled into the NCAAT the following year (one and done to Creighton) so IMO we have been sliding since the 2010-11 season. For $10 million we should be better than this. 5 years is an eternity in CBB... heck, most coaches get 4 years to show promise or get shown the door (Barbee, Pelphery, and Horn just in the SEC from memory).

I had the 'pleasure' of reading the latest "The Battle Plan." It was a nice way of telling basketball fans that they don't really care too about the program. If this were football Grant would've been fired the same way Shula was after year 4 when even Stevie Wonder saw he was not the right guy. Quite honestly the latest "Battle Plan" irritated the hell out of me.. to the point I am about to 'reduce my fandom' of Alabama basketball. If they don't care about basketball why should the diehards? I did this a few years ago with the NY Islanders (NHL) and haven't looked back. Why would any sane person spend their cash supporting the basketball program when it is apparent the athletic department looks at it as a baby brother?

Some random stuff:
- Since 1990 we have played the 2nd week of the NCAA tournament TWO TIMES (1991, 2004)
- We have not won a SEC Tournament in 23 years. We have only been in the finals ONCE in the last 20 years.
- In the last 20 years we have been seeded higher than 6th in the NCAAT THREE times (1995, 2002, 2005).
- Also, in the last 8 years we have made the NCAAT 2 times.
- under Anthony Grant we have been ranked for 6 weeks (2011-12 season) HIS ENTIRE TIME HERE. Never have been ranked under Grant after December 19th and haven't sniffed the top 25 since that time.
- ZERO top 50 wins in 2 years
- 18 game road losing streak
- lost last 17 games vs ranked teams (unverified, but sounds accurate)

Looking to next year... who really thinks this team's peak is anything more than a bubble NCAAT team? I don't... I would be 'satisfied' with a NIT which I shouldn't be IN YEAR SIX of Anthony Grant. Again, it's time to make a change, but as the latest Battle Plan garbage tells us it won't happen.

I'll decide on my future contributions to this blog later...


GEE said...

if auburn hires Bruce Pearl. Do you think these kids who want to stay and in state and play ball would rather play for GRANT OR PEARL?What about the 5stars and 4stars player where will they go?

finebammer said...

from the "Battle" plan:

"Many factors shape a season. We made some strategic decisions going into the year, both with scheduling and with players, that didn't work out like we planned."

who scheduled the games???

"Alabama's 2013-14 schedule ranks second on the list of the nation's difficult overall schedules."

our schedule was too tough.

"The power of the NCAA Tournament appears to have diminished interest in the regular season."

ok, it's the NCAA's fault?!?!?

"The "one and done" rule has had a greater impact on the game than just those players that come and go after one year."

it's those crazy players. (specifically, Trevor Lacey) (think about that. our AD is calling out players for the season's demise. and this isn't the first time)

"I am very proud of our strong finish......."

strong finish??? last 10 games: 4-6.

excuses. excuses all. and think of who's making them: our athletic director.

now, the question is, do you buy the crap he's chucking at us?

(or, has anybody seen Battle and happy in the same room together?)

finebammer said...

the only thing the football flunkies in tuscaloosa respond to is being embarrassed by auburn.

for that reason alone i hope they hire pearl.

(and the silver lining is he'll have them on probation inside 5 years)

crimsontider said...

As disgraceful and disgusting as this was, you had to be a fool not to expect it. The Alabama athletic department sent a message today. That message was simple. "We don't care about basketball" The "Battle Plan" article was so f****g disrespectful to the fan base. The decision to retain CAG, while irresponsible, and disappointing was expected. However, to right a weekly blog that you title "the Battle Plan" and then throw out excuse after excuse as to why we can't have a successful program proves that Battle, and UA thinks the fan base is dumb. Coach Battle, I know you are nothing more than a Paul Bryant Jr. puppet, but at least act like you care about basketball,and the fan base, you tool.
As an aside, CBB maybe laughing over steaks with Nick Saban, and PBJ right now, but if Auburn hires Bruce Pearl, the fan base is going to run his ass out of town on a rail.

crimsontider said...

I'm not rooting for a Pearl to Auburn scenario, but maybe it would be a wake up call to our apathetic athletic department. If Auburn does hire Pearl, and owns us in 5-10 years in basketball, nobody would deserve it more then our AD.

DJC said...

Pearl won't go to auburn. He can and will get a better job. $tansfield on the other hand...

finebammer said...

CT, i wouldn't worry too much about pearl to auburn. i personally think he's a slime ball but he's tasted big time CBB. with his current position with ESPN, i just don't see him being that desperate for a job. plus, i think he'll get a better offer. (i'm hearing scuttlebutt that crean may be in trouble)

bobbyjack said...

Battle pissed on our heads and told us it was rain. I have a real problem with that. My original post was more about Grant not being the man for tge job with the understanding he was coming back... it got really negative after I read that steaming pike of garbage.

As finebammer posted below it was an excuse list... something you can get away with in years 1-3... maybe 4, but certainly not year 5. Battle gave the basketball fanbase an 'attaboy' while winking at the FB program saying no money will be lost this year. The only real way the fanbase can stick it to Battle for his comment is with their feet.

crimsontider said...

The rumors are that Indiana boosters are looking to buy out Tom Crean. I don't think Crean is a good enough coach to consistently take a top 5 program like Indiana to final fours and national championships, however if he somehow ended up at Auburn, he would dominate this state. I know i'd take him at Alabama in a New York minute.

finebammer said...

yeah, happy loves to throw his regular season win totals around defending grant but catch this:

crean's last two seasons, 27 - 9 and 29 - 7.

despite Battle's obfuscations, the regular season is for making the tourney. the tourney is for winning championships.

real basketball people understand that.

those that don't try and bullshit you with mediocrity.

finebammer said...

now syracuse goes down to (on) gottfried. lucky fucker.