Saturday, February 07, 2015

Fresh Meat- @ LSU Tigers at 6PM EST (5PM CST)

4-5 Bama goes into 5-4 LSU in a game that can define one's NCAAT hopes or put another one's as a somewhat possible idea. LSU is coming off a home loss to legendary coach Bruce Pearl and Auburn. Maybe we can surprise them as well.


Jordan Mickey and Jarell Martin are the leading scorers and rebounders. Both are tough matchups for us inside and I'll be surprised if we can contain them. Keith Hornsby and Jalen Patterson are the only ones to really watch outside, but they're shooting just over 37% beyond the arc so in the end it is a good idea to let them chuck it up from outside. Tim Quarterman is also averaging double digit point sand 5 boards so there yet another guy we need to watch on the offensive end.

The upside is LSU is not a deep team... usually go maybe 7 deep with the starters hauling the brunt of the work. If I were CAG I'd abandon slow it up and chuck O for ole D and transition hoops. We can tire them out... if we don't get into foul trouble inside.

Before their loss to Auburn I said we didn't have a prayer of winning this one. It's now a slight possibility we can IF we get hot from outside. Being that perimeter shooting hasn't been our forte that's kind of a dream, but Cooper and Norris could lead the way out there with Levi and Justin going above their stats from beyond the arc.

Game is on ESPN2 at 6PM EST (5PM CST).


Msmilie said...

Spot on about the perimeter shooting. The key to the Auburn win was they knocked down 9 3-pointers. They also got to the free throw line, making 20-27 shots. LSU is arguably the 2nd or 3rd most talented team in the SEC, but have put themselves in a really bad position from a postseason standpoint due to their last two losses. They cannot afford a loss today. I suspect Alabama will get their best shot. That said, Alabama has been competitive all season. If they compete, they can keep it close against a more talented LSU team that doesn't always play in rhythm with each other. And if it is close, you gotta think at some point our guys are going to get a better bounce of the ball and win one of these types of games.

Msmilie said...

Retin and Ricky out. Justin gets the start. Those of you who wanted to see Devin get more minutes may get your wish today.

needtoknow said...

What happened to Retin? If they continue to get it inside so easy long night.

Msmilie said...

Some kind of "hand infection". Otherwise known as the usual luck for Bama Hoops.

RichTide said...

Choosing to go eat dinner at my folks tonight instead of watching this game. It's Grant at LSU - will be our worst game of the year. We'll lose by 20.

Msmilie said...

LSU shoots over 50% in the 1st half, Bama shoots 24%. Our guys lucky to only be down 10 at the half. If LSU shot better from the FT line, this one might have been over early. Need more from Levi and Coop in the 2nd. They only combined for 6 pts, 4 rebs, and 1 asst. Bama holding their own on the boards. Only -3 at the half.

needtoknow said...

Easy to shoot 50 per cent when you are a foot or so from basket. We have very little player support inside

Msmilie said...

That's the luxury LSU has with two future pros in Martin and Mickey.

needtoknow said...

The inevitable we get close but we usually can't finish. Never many easy baskets for us due to our lack of good big men.

Msmilie said...

It was a long shot once it was announced that Ricky and Retin were out. I thought the team did what they normally do, they fought. Unfortunately, once again, they can't make clutch plays in crunch time. Our guys cut the lead to two, and then went ice cold. Shannon missed two good looks and Justin missed a wide open three when the game was still a two-possession lead for LSU. Knock down those shots and who knows?

Levi had another monster game (17 pts, 4 reb, 2 ast, 3 stl). Riley (12 pts, 12 reb) and Shannon (13 pts, 5 reb) had great days. The guys are playing their asses off despite the struggles. Proud of this team for continuing to tough it out. Hopefully they can finish strong. The game in Starkville suddenly looks much tougher with Bama's struggles and State's improvements over the last couple of weeks.

CTider said...

Nice second half run, but I think we all knew what we were watching was fools gold. Once again, this team came out unprepared for a big game (shocker) and shot 24% in the first half. Despite the second half, we still only shot in the low 30s percentage wise from the field for the game. That is embarrassing. This team has stretches where they show what kind of team they can be, but ultimately poor preparation and poor coaching dooms them every time. This is arguably our most talented roster in a decade, and here we are at 14-9 (4-6) a fringe NIT team. This is Grant's worst team at UA other than last year. Grant's two worst teams have come in year 5 and year 6, the only two years where the roster has featured entirely his players. That says it all. One of the reasons I rip Grant so much is because of how talented these players are and how hard they work. If our roster wasn't so talented, I wouldn't go so upset. These players deserve so much better than Grant.

RichTide said...

During dinner a buddy was texting me updates. Down 17. Down 2. Down 16. Final loss by 11. Classic Grant pattern.

To be honest with Retin and Ricky out, that's not a terrible final score. We have matched up poorly against LSU for a few years and with their losses to 3 of the leaues doormats (Barn, Miss St, Mizzou) they had a reason to play up to their potential tonight. Let's not forget the yrs Gottfriend and Hobbs went to Red Stick and came away with a 27 pt loss. Looking forward to reading the blog recap since I didn't watch the game, but I'm less bothered with this loss than Wich St, Xavier, USCe, and FL. At LSU was a likely L before the season started.

Looking at the rest of the season, based on how others are playing, our ceiling seems to be 9-9 and worst case is 6-12. 19-12 or 16-15 puts us in either NIT or nothing. If the outcome of our season is going to be NIT or nothing and the Administration is ok with that, why not fire Grant anyway and hire a mid-major Asst for $250K? I can't imagine the top HS coach in the state couldn't produce 17-14 in most years at Bama and would be thrilled to make that kind of money. Paying anyone $2M for those results is outright financial irresponsibility.

It's a broken record to say Grant is a class act, develops fine young men, and represents UA exceptionally. But this is a big boy businesss where the only stat (despite what the Battle Plan tries to feed us) that matters is how many quality W's you get. Many other coaches could achieve those results for far less money. Heck, I would bet Kristy Curry could have got us safely into the NIT and possibly NCAAT.

Msmilie said...

My argument against your comment would be that this team isn't as talented as you think. At least not in relation to LSU. Levi Randolph is the only player who can consistently create his own shot. The post players (Jimmie and Mike) have potential but they are still just potential. There was an obvious difference between them and Mickey/Martin on the floor physically and from a skills perspective. Shannon Hale is skilled, but until the last three games he was not playing with confidence. Hopefully he can continue his upward trend. Grant is a good coach because he can push his teams to play hard and overcome their own deficiencies, which this team does most nights. But you've got to be talented to make the plays that count when they count in a game. Where Grant's tenure has been a failure in my personal opinion has been his inability to recruit at a level comparable to an LSU who, even though they aren't a great team, have at least two future pros on some level. No, college basketball is not pro ball, but at the level that Alabama competes, you've got to have one or two players who have the ability to play at that next level. With that said, I still love this team. They compete and they support each other despite the adversity. It will not be hard for me to continue to pull for them, regardless of what changes may be on the horizon.

Bad coaches don't get their teams to play as hard as Grant's teams have always played for him. It's not a matter of coaching. If you can explain in x's and o's what Grant does poorly as a coach, I'll accept your position. Until then, I'll stick with my opinion that it is Grant's recruiting, not his coaching, that has put him in the position he's in right now.

256Bradley said...

didn't watch entire game but saw Mitchell play. he looked timid hopefully he catches a rhythm with more minutes

needtoknow said...

M Smilie, you write so well it is really hard to want to try to disagree with you. Regarding Anthony Grant's Alabama teams playing hard no one who is being honest and objective can deny that. Of course they play hard and never quit. For that he deserves an A rating.

You also mentioned that Mickey/Martin were far superior to our inside guys. Of course they were. In fact I'm thinking that most big guys in the SEC are better than our current bigs. Now who do you blame for that? It has to be the head coach/coaches. Anthony Grant deserves a very bad grade for not finding a really decent big man in six years.

Here are some other concerns I have with Anthony Grant and the Alabama basketball program. Many of these have been expressed by others.

(1) How effective are his assistant coaches and how much is he willing to listen to them? For example Brannen is a decent recruiter but can he teach basketball skills and strategy? How about the new assistant from Buffalo? Does Grant use them well? The assistant coaches should be a great asset. I'm not a huge Gottfried fan but he has a great assistant in Bobby Lutz.

(2) How about end of game strategy and game planning? This had been discussed before and I would give Grant a D at least in this.

(3) How about marketing the Alabama basketball program? Again he gets a very low grade. Probably an F.

These are my concerns with Anthony Grant and this is why I believe he hasn't been able to get over the hump. I do want him to succeed. He has many great qualities that I admire. However he also has many weaknesses and I believe that his time is running out to fix them. I thought we would see a different Anthony Grant after all the focus/attention last year. We haven't.

needtoknow said...

I don't totally agree with you on talent. Yes our guards/forwards are pretty talented but with Grant we've never had a talented big man. Our current two bigs are among the weakest in the SEC. If you're small and weak and still won't box out for rebounds you will lose.

Our shooting percentage last night? Many shots last night were from long range. When you can't crate high percentage shots and are forced to shoot from way out you won't shoot well.

CTider said...

We had a top five recruiting class in 2011, and a top 25 one last year. The one in 2013 was also decently rated. Pretty much everybody in our rotation was either a four star out of high school or a hyped transfer. We've also had two five stars leave the program in the last two years. So, I'm not sure why you are saying that recruiting is the problem. Grant's problem is his coaching style, the way he stubbornly refuses to change it, and his refusal to promote the program. Players don't develop in his system. We're constantly in the late 200s in tempo. What he does doesn't work, and one of my big problems with him is how he never adjusts it. When Grant was hired, it was all about his potential as a head coach. But in order to live up to your potential as a head coach, you have to be willing to grow and learn as a coach. Grant hasn't. He's been in over his head since day 1 and he's made it clear he's not going to change.

You want examples of poor xs and os coaching from Grant? Watch the end of the South Carolina game or the Wichita State game, or the Florida game, or the Creighton game from a few years ago, the one time he did make the NCAAT at Alabama.

I'm not sure what you're arguing here. If this team doesn't have any talent, why were you so supportive of Grant last year? You didn't just support him, you were harshly critical of anybody who wanted him gone. You kept talking about how everything was going to change once the three freshman shooters came in. I believe you even told me at the end of last year that you looked forward to my silence during our great run of success this year. I'm not sure what prompted such staunch support of Grant from you if you knew that this team didn't have talent. Are you arguing for yet another year? Because if we don't have talent this year, we sure as hell won't have any next year when Cooper and Randolph are gone. Should we wait 10 years for Grant to get his great recruits in? Again, i'm not sure what you are arguing for. This was suppose to be the year of no excuses. No transfers, no suspensions, everybody back except for Releford and a top 25 recruiting class and two highly thought of transfers. There's no excuses this year. We just suck. No way this team should be fighting for their NIT lives in early February. Yet, here we go again. The thing is the bar has been lowered so much for Grant. All anybody expected from this season was an NCAAT berth, which is an incredibly low expectation for a top 25 paid coach entering his sixth year and he can't even meet those crappy expectations.

How many NBA players did Florida have on last year's team that went 21-0 in the SEC (including SECT) and went to the final four? Having NBA players is great, but it's not a must to have a successful season. I believe Levi would have pro potential if he played more aggressively more consistently, but I digress.

Msmilie said...

This is Grant's second most talented team. Levi and Coop have been great this season. Outside of those two guys though, the team hasn't really panned out the way I thought they would. I think it's safe to say the freshman class, with the exception of Riley Norris, really hasn't produced at a level that any of us, including you, expected. Hale has struggled with his shot, and, subsequently, his effort on defense this season. And I'm not sure we've yet to see a completely healthy Tarrant or Kessens. Jimmie remains a work in progress. And I would say that the absence of Varidel, not considered a big deal in October, now looms large. Unlike the freshmen, he was a proven player at the D1 level. A guy who, if nothing else, would have provided a legitimate perimeter threat for this team. Having that kind of dimension to this team could have meant the difference in some of these close losses. This team, at this point, doesn't look like the team on paper we discussed in October. That is what I meant in my comments about talent.

I'm not arguing for or against Grant at this point. I like the guy and want him to be the coach, but if Battle and co. decide to go in another direction, I will totally understand and support the decision, assuming the search for a new coach is conducted in a competent manner. If Grant is retained I will continue to support him and the returning players.

I still think this team has a chance to finish strong. An at-large berth is out of the question at this point, and winning the SEC tournament seems impossible unless Kentucky elects not to show up for the event. But I still hope this team can finish strong. And if they do, I hope that will be taken into consideration by Bill Battle and the fans when determining Grant's future at the university.