Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Shocked by Shockers, Wichita State 53, Bama 52.

This was a golden opportunity to pick up a huge road win over a quality opponent to boost our NCAA tournament resume, and we blew it.  Yes, we played better than expected, but there are no moral victories.  This was a painful loss that epitomizes our inability to finish games over the last 6 years.  We were in great position to shock the country with an 11 point lead with 6 minutes left in the game.  We proceeded to be outscored 13-1 in the last 6 minutes.

The end result is all that matters, but it wasn't like the night was a complete disaster.  We faced a top 15 team on the road, and not only held our own, but took it to them for most of the game.  The offense wasn't great, but WSU is a very good defensive team, so I can live with that.  Shannon Hale has struggled much of this year, but made some great plays for us.  He finished tied with Levi for leading team scorer with 13 points, and really gave us a spark off the bench.

The bench was constantly up and into the game, and there were several possessions in the second half when WSU scored to cut the lead to 5 or 6, and we showed great poise in executing the offense and getting a basket on the other end to maintain our comfortable 8-10 pt lead.

I liked our game plan overall.  WSU has some big wings and guards, but while they have a size advantage in the post their big men aren't particularly skilled.  We started out in a tight man and put some pressure on them, but then switched to a zone mostly in the second half and we did a good job, for the most part, of closing out on their perimeter shooters.  Taylor and Kessens cleaned up the glass and guarded the rim well.  Everything was looking as good as could be expected and we had a double digit lead on the road with around 6 minutes to play, but then the momentum shifted.

I loved the effort tonight.  I felt like we outworked them for most of the evening.  We had better energy, beat them to loose balls, etc.  When it came down to clutch time, they responded and we didn't have an answer.  There were a few questionable calls in the last 5 minutes that did not go our way, but you have to expect that and be able to overcome it on the road, and we were not.  I thought Taylor fouling out was a huge factor in the outcome of the game.  They relentlessly attacked the rim the final minutes, and routinely either got to the line or got second chance opportunities.

We were outmatched and on the road in a hostile environment and had a chance to win, so I'm hesitant to criticize Coach Grant for this one.  I thought we were well prepared, and showed  a great amount of mental toughness for much of the game (at least up until the point when Taylor fouled out), but again, I think we misused the timeout situation at the end of the game.  We had a timeout remaining, down one (we would have been tied, but Levi had another off night from the line and only made one of two the previous trip), and with about 4-5 seconds remaining it was obvious there was no clear path to the basket that would result in an open shot.  THAT is the time to call a timeout.  Instead, we waited until the ball was knocked away and we were fortunate to recover with 1.2 seconds remaining, which only leaves enough time to draw up a desperation catch and shoot from Cooper from beyond the arc.

Heartbreaking loss, and while there is a lot of basketball to be played, it's very possible that this will be one that keeps us out of the tournament.  Up next, Stillman comes across town for another ridiculous tipoff time, 6 pm Central Friday night.


CTider said...

Cecil has completely turned against Grant. After six years of jock sniffing and excuse making from the local media, that is refreshing. Then, again, Cecil has always been one of the few local media members to ever really give a crap about basketball in this state.

I was shocked when we lost this game, even though I knew I shouldn't me. I was convinced after we took an 11 point lead, that this team was different. We were finally going to get that signature win, and restore some relevancy to this program. But, once again we choked under pressure. This was even worse than most of them. This is one of the toughest losses in recent Alabama history, and that is saying a lot.

This team, like every CAG team plays hard, seems to be full of good guys, and has talent, but are also a very dumb team that lacks the mental toughness to win a game like last night, and goes into a shell every time they get hit with adversity in a situation last night. We scored 1 point in the final six minutes. Our team captain missed a free throw that would have made the difference. How many timeouts did Grant call during that time? Grant fiddled why Rome burned, and simply watched his team piss away another chance at a signature win. He absolutely has to go. He should have been gone two years ago.

Drifter said...

Good information from knowledgeable fans.

bobbyjack said...

Damn fine read. Applause.
I was texting a couple friends during this game... one of them told me we'll find a way to choke it away, but for some stupid reason I believed. Now I truly know how Chi Cubs, Toronto Maple Leaf, Sac Kings, and Cleveland Brown fans feel. Bama hoops is comparable to all of those.

Tide Bballfan 1981 said...

I was so hoping that we could pull off the win but in the end we just look like a deer in headlights. I have seen most all of the games either on TV or in person and I thought that this team could turn the corner and who knows maybe they still can but we have to learn how to finish against a good basketball team. I have loved Alabama basketball ever since the early days of C.M. Newton and of course Wimp. I raised my son to be a die hard Alabama basketball fan as well, but even he said last night he will not watch them anymore because of the frustration. I am sure he was just upset and will be with me at the next game we can go to but I feel his frustration. It is truly a tough time to be an Alabama basketball fan, you want to wish the coaches and the players the best, but what does it take to get Alabama Basketball where it belongs. We have to rich of a tradition to be where we are today. This is my first post, don't usually write anything just read what all you guys have to say and appreciate all of your insight. There is not a lot of places to discuss Alabama basketball and I really enjoy all of the comments and insight that you guys have.

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wgslaw said...

If Alabama can maintain the level of focus and discipline they showed against us, the talent is there and I would expect to see Alabama in the NCAA tournament-hopefully in another bracket.