Saturday, February 28, 2015

Commodores Conquer Crimson, 73-66

Well, at least this game was different.  Normally we spend the first half setting the game of basketball back a few decades.  Today, we played arguably the best half of basketball we have all year in the first half.  We had great spacing and ball movement on offense, played at a reasonably fast tempo, took care of the basketball, and generally defended well.

The second half was more like every game we've seen in Memorial Gymnasium the last 30 years or so.  Every questionable call went against us, and Vandy made just about every 3 and free throw they took.  The names and players change but the script stays the same.

I think our lack of depth caught up with us in the second half.  We only went 8 deep, including Dakota Slaughter who played 7 minutes and made a three.  I do not understand why Devin Mitchell did not get into the game.

Vandy made 5 straight from downtown to start the second half and erase our 14 point lead.  It would have been nice to call a timeout at some point and try to stop their momentum and maybe give our guys a breather.

Kessens was a question mark but he was able to play, and I thought he played well, scoring 10 points in his 15 minutes.  Retin, Levi, and Coop all stepped up and played well.  Unfortunately, Riley had an off day when we badly needed him to take up the slack from missing Shannon Hale.

Even though we out-rebounded them, we failed to get the boards when needed.  I thought a key possession in the game came with about 6 minutes left after we cut their lead down to 4.  We allowed Vandy to score on their third opportunity, then Levi had a bad turnover at the other end which led to another Vandy score.  Give credit to the Dores for making the plays and being automatic from the free throw line down the stretch.

Kudos to the Nashville area Bama fans for representing and the North Alabama contingent who made the trip.  I could hear you guys over the television when things were going well in the first half.

Up next, the Ole Miss Rebels come in for a 6 pm tipoff Tuesday night at Coleman Coliseum.  It's the last home game of the season, so if you can do so, please come out and show your appreciation for seniors Levi Randolph and Rodney Cooper.  The game will be televised on SEC Network.


finebammer said...

" Unfortunately, Riley had an off day......."

let's see, Randolph scored 7 in the second half. 2 were garbage after game was decided. so Levi scores 5 pts. that matter in the second half.

Cooper scores 6 in the second. so that's 11 pts. that matter between our 2 seniors in a road game.

that's not counting their turnovers or taking into account their poor defense in the second half.

then throw on top of that Grant's inability to call a timeout to try and stop the bleeding during that Vandy run. (later, when Vandy was up by eight, Retin hit a three and Stallings immediately called a timeout)

i think those three things had much more to do with 'Bama blowing that double digit lead than a freshman having an "off day".

CTider said...

The perimeter defense was awful. Vandy couldn't miss and they do this all the time in that gym, but we were giving them wide open looks, and you're right, Grant was sitting there like a deer in the headlights during the entire meltdown.

finebammer said...

""We felt like they were in a rhythm and we wanted to try to be their rhythm and we couldn't." Anthony Grant.

ok, coach.


Msmilie said...

I didn't get a chance to see the game due to a blackout in my area. Obviously, Vandy knocks down 11 three point shots (gee, haven't heard that before) and that seemed to be the catalyst in the second half. Again, I didn't see the game so I'm not able to determine how contested or uncontested the shots were, but a lot of teams would have lost that game today when the opposing team shoots the ball that well. That's just the way basketball goes, unfortunately. The only reason it's magnified today is because you have a struggling team and a coaching staff on the hot seat.

One thing that I don't get from fans is that sometimes they act as if the other team doesn't have good players or coaches, and that a loss is purely based on poor play by the team they pull for or incompetent coaching. Based on the numbers, Alabama didn't play poorly today (45% FG, 33% 3pt, 80% FT, +8 rebounding). The difference was the 3pt shot (Vandy makes 58% from the 3pt line, which is just nuts). Vanderbilt is a rapidly improving team that lost a lot of close games early, and could be a dark horse in Nashville in two weeks if they can land on the right side of the bracket. They've got a good big man in Jones, and Stallings has once again assembled a collection of fantastic shooters (It would be so nice if Alabama could land just one shooter, let alone four or five who can consistently knock down jump shots) who will be a real nuisance to play if they continue shooting the ball this well.

The key for Alabama is to remain composed. They're not playing that poorly, they just need a few breaks. The last four games they are 2-2, but if they knock down free throws against Georgia or if Vandy misses a couple of those three point shots, it's a very different scenario. It doesn't change the record, but it doesn't mean they're not capable of winning both games this week. Ole Miss and A&M are two of the better teams in the league, but I think we saw today in the Arkansas/Kentucky game that Kentucky is light years ahead, and the league is actually very close when comparing spots 2-12. There's not a vast difference between where Alabama is and where Ole Miss and A&M is from a talent standpoint. If Alabama continues to compete they can beat both teams. And if they beat both teams, finish 9-9, avoid the Kentucky side of the bracket, they can win some more games in Nashville at the SEC tournament. They just have to stay positive, and focus on playing hard and together.

I believe this team loves their coach, and will do everything in their power to help build a case for him in these final weeks. Will it be enough? Not sure that question can be answered yet. While people have already began to speculate on who the next Alabama coach will be, I'm of the opinion that the light has not dimmed completely on Anthony Grant, for better or for worse. I don't think Bill Battle wants to fire Anthony Grant, but he really won't have a choice if this team can't string together some wins here quickly. The majority of the fanbase no longer believes in Anthony Grant. Battle believes in Grant, and is not in a position at Alabama where he has to make a splash with the fans (this was always a temporary gig for him anyway), but there are those within the university who will be there long after Battle strays out to pasture who do have a stake in this. Those are one the ones who may force Battle's hand in this situation if Alabama's season doesn't extend past Nashville.

Drifter said...

The first half was great.

Drifter said...

If the BOT indicated to CAG that he needed to make the Tourney to keep his job (as a source told me), they did it before the season. They couldn't have anticipated President Bonner retiring.
I'll be honest. I have not considered this aspect of the situation fully. Here's a well thought out analysis.

CTider said...

If Bill Battle is putting his own personal convenience over what's best for the program then he is just as terrible of a person as he has proven to be so far as an AD. The best case scenario would be for both Battle and Grant to be gone after this season. Of course that means both will probably be back.

Grant has got to be the luckiest guy in the world if this stuff keeps him employed for another year. He should have been fired two years ago. He just survived the program's worst season in almost half a century, hasn't won an NCAAT game in 6 years and is being paid two million dollars a year to not accomplish anything. And even if the AD were to someday grow a pair and fire Grant, he gets paid a nice four million dollar exit fee. Damn, it's good to be Anthony Grant. Where can I get a deal like that?

CTider said...

You can't just chalk it up to Vandy getting hot from three when they go on a 20-2 run and we've got one field goal 10 minutes into the half.

finebammer said...

that's excellent content there drift.

"and Grant could easily – and justifiably – make the argument that with a healthy Tarrant, Alabama would be headed to the NCAA Tournament."

could not disagree more. with their pre-conference record and the perception of the conference in basketball, Ricky Tarrant wasn't taking them anywhere. Tarrant was healthy v. Wichita St. they lost. with Tarrant healthy, they just didn't beat anybody. (and folks predicting that the SEC is gonna get 5 - 6 teams in are in for a rude awakening in a couple of weeks anyway)

"Alabama needs to make a move, yes. But will Bill Battle make that move? Will somebody else?"

i agree that if Battle intends to drag up in the near future, he shouldn't do it. the new coach should be the new AD's man. but the real question is even with a new AD, who really makes the hire?? Mal put the search in CM Newton's hands. Newton came back with Grant. will the new AD do the same thing? will he care enough to conduct a search himself? or will he, like Mal, hand it off to somebody else?

and if Battle stepped down tomorrow, would the new AD immediately can Grant???

we easily could be stuck with Grant another season. and here's where the Trevor Lacey syndrome sets in. if you think players on that team are unaware of Lacey's play this season at NC State, you're not working in a twenty first century mentality. if Grant's retained, count on some transfers. Norris and Hale are the top 2 suspects. both are better than what's going on around them.

"It wasn’t a mistake on Mal Moore’s part to hire Grant in the beginning........."

couldn't disagree more here either. after offering Grant the job, he'd have had a couple of days to decide. then i'd have been looking elsewhere. i'd have never waited a week while he looked to gainesville.

and had foley hired him, he'd have been gone a couple of years ago.

Drifter said...

I hope Condoleeza Rice likes roundball.

needtoknow said...

I always get amazed at the things you throw out there to see if it will stick.. Examples are:

(1) "The SEC will not have 5-6 teams in the tournament". Yes they will.

(2) "Norris will leave Alabama". No he won't. He will be a star at Alabama.

If I miss on either of these call me out. I feel good that I won't miss.

bobbyjack said...

Everything I heard was making the postseason... not necessarily the NCAAT. When you think about it, making the NCAAT the year after the worst season in 40 something years is quite unrealistic.
It doesn't look like we'll be in the NIT either, but I seriously doubt the plug will be pulled on Grant. Meanwhile, Auburn will take over the state in the near future regarding basketball.

needtoknow said...

Bobby, one NIT insider (a Joe Lunardi type) had us a third seed in the NIT. You can google to see. Also if you listened yesterday closely Dave Baker and his announcer buddy were guessing that Bama would still be an NCAA possibility if they had beaten Vandy. Even I was not going for that but NIT still real. I'm also agreeing that we want much more than NIT.

CTider said...

To give Finebammer credit, I remember him predicting a Trevor Lacey transfer a couple of weeks before it happened. Nothing would surprise me at this point. I love Alabama but I admit that if I were a basketball recruit I would stay the hell away from Tuscaloosa right now.

I disagree that Mal made a mistake hiring CAG. Grant was a good hire at the time. He was on top of every fan's list and we weren't the only school in the power five conferences with an opening that wanted him. Mal's mistake was paying an unproven coach top 25 money and then overreacting to a one and done NCAAT appearance and giving him an extension. Those were Mal's mistakes. That being said, Mal would not have let this go on this long. I personally believe that if Mal were still around that he would have made a change after last season and there would be no doubt that Grant would be gone right now.

The terrible hire was making Bill Battle the AD after Mal's passing. He was 72 years old with little to no qualifications for the job. Battle is a great business man but he is not equipped to be an AD. His decision to bring back Grant after the worst season in 45 years last season was one thing, but he is just a PR disaster. Every time he writes one of those puff piece Battle Plans full of excuses it pisses off the fan base. Battle doesn't know how to endear himself to the fan base the way Mal did. If Coach Battle doesn't believe that he can make the hire for the basketball program in a couple of weeks or simply doesn't want to conduct a coaching search at his age then I would hope that he would have enough respect for his alma mater to step down and not hold the program hostage just because he doesn't want to deal with it. I would be fine with keeping Battle in an administrative role and letting someone else make the hire.

Speaking of CM Newton, It's going to be interested to see if he says anything in the next two weeks. Last season I think he was speaking for the AD when he was cheerleading for Grant. He hasn't said anything this season. Gonna be very interesting to see if we here from him in the next few weeks.

finebammer said...

"He (Norris) will be a star at Alabama."

let me tell you something, bud. Riley Norris isn't half the player Gerald Wallace was. Wallace spent one year at 'Bama (one year too many) and turned pro.

i can guarantee you Mr. Norris will have voices in his ear this off-season telling him if he has any idea of being a star anywhere, he'd best get his white ass out of tuscaloosa and into a basketball program that can hone his game.

you're right about this, i can't build a watch.

but i can tell time.

CTider said...

We'll make the CBI. That's good enough for everybody right?

finebammer said...

"I disagree that Mal made a mistake hiring CAG."

he may have been the flavor of the season, but we have wasted 6 years in this experiment and there will likely be one more.

hiring Anthony Grant was a mistake. he was not what the program needed from the jump and he can't coach his way out of a wet paper bag. he was sold to us as being ready for prime time. nothing has been further from the truth and the signs were there early on. all of our opponents LOVE him.

as time has passed in his tenure our program hasn't got better. it's worse. demonstrably worse. you have to look no further than the stands at a home game.

look, i get Grant's a great guy. great father. class act. but is that all we're paying him Jim Boeheim money to be?? is sweeping auburn all everybody here wants???

if not, hiring Anthony Grant has been a very costly mistake for this program in more ways than just dollars.

and we're still not rid of him.

CTider said...

All of those things are true in hindsight, but back in 2009 I don't remember talking to Alabama fan who didn't like the hire. Hell, most were ecstatic. He had us going in the right direction for three years but the bottom fell out in year four and these past three years have been a disaster for reasons that can all be traced back to coaching. It's Mal's fault for overpaying him and giving him an undeserved extension, it's Battle's fault that he's still here.

finebammer said...

a blast from the past:

finebammer • 6 years ago

"mal (out)maneuvers maligners"

don't know exactly what that's supposed to mean but let's be perfectly clear about something here:

mal didn't "(out)maneuver" anybody.

grant came down here, toured the campus and told mal, 'don't call us, we'll call you'.

what's the best evidence billy donovan's staying at florida??

anthony grant's now the coach at alabama.

so grant "insisted" on telling his players. i guess it's another sign of where we are as a culture when we praise people for doing WHAT THEY'RE SUPPOSED TO DO.

look, i know i'm perceived as a negative nellie on this forum and many others.

i hope this is the last negative commentary i have about our basketball program, i really do.

but to spin this story to deflect from the fact that we just hired a coach who would have rather been at florida is just bullshit.

maybe grant will be a "major get" for the university. only time will tell. (mark gottfried was considered a "major get" at the time by people a lot smarter than me)

i know this sentiment is probably going to upset some here and that's not the intention.

i just believe in the truth.

and the truth has been a rare commodity around tuscaloosa over the years to the detriment of the athletic dept. as a whole.

i too welcome coach grant and wish him success. (for my own selfish motives)

but my head's not in the sand on this.

i wasn't alone:

finebammer • 6 years ago

from the capstone report:

"Only an idiot would create such a situation. Even if Alabama lands Grant, this has to rank as an example of how not to conduct a coaching search. Five days is perhaps the most bizarre thing I’ve ever seen. Grant never should have been brought to Tuscaloosa without an agreement. But to give him five days after touring the campus? Absurd! The more I watch Alabama’s athletic department, the more convinced I am that it could be the setting for a Camus novel."