Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Al.com article- notes from conference call

Some of the stuff in here we kinda already knew, but being we are deprived of ALL SPORTS we should take ANYTHING and be happy about it. Snippets below... full link here

- Kira Lewis and John Petty will go through the NBA draft process, per Oats. They’ll go through workouts, get feedback and then make a final decision on whether to turn pro. “Based on feedback that they get, they both may leave," Oats said. “We’re planning on possibly not having either of them back."

— Oats is excited about having Jahvon Quinerly next season. “A lot of you saw Quinerly in practice and, shoot, he was really good,” Oats said. “Some days, he was the best player in practice.”

Click the link and read it all...

I was planning on seeing OUR Yankees in Milwaukee in a couple months, but coronamania messed that up! MLB season probably won't start until mid June so I'll be bored silly for the next few months (as many of you are already).

Take care and be safe.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Wrapping up a season that ended with no end. 2019-2020 Recap and State of the Program Manifesto

For many of us, this is the most wonderful time of the year.  Spring is upon us, the weather is warming up in cooler locales, the days are longer, the sun is shining, baseball is ramping up, and our favorite sport is in the midst of its championship season.  We put money in tournament pools, we take off work to watch games and compare brackets, and when Alabama is involved (which sadly has not been very often in recent years) we put our whole lives on hold to at least watch, if not travel to, those games on little notice.  It's fun and exciting.

Obviously, none of that is happening this year.  There is no NCAA tournament, or sports for that matter, as the world is facing much larger issues.  Most of us are working from home if we are fortunate enough to be working at all.  Instead of watching the first weekend of the NCAA tournament, we're all following the news and watching "infection curves" and "mortality rates."  I think there's some value to trying to maintain some sense of normalcy during chaotic times, so I'm stepping away from the news this afternoon to recap the season and give my thoughts on the current state of the Alabama basketball program, as I do at the end of each season.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

COV-19 Alabama-0- SEC Tournament Cancelled

All power 5 conferences have cancelled their tournaments.  It is very likely that the season is over.  I would not be surprised at all if the NCAA tournament is cancelled, and I will be shocked if the NIT happens.

I know a lot of people have strong feelings on this, and this is an area where there is some overlap between government policy, politics, and sports, but I will remind everyone to please adhere to Bobbyjack's "no political comments" rule. 

All I will say is that I encourage everyone to stay informed, follow CDC guidelines, and I hope everybody stays healthy and safe.  I'll try to post basketball related news as things are announced, and once the season is officially over I'll get to work on my annual end of season recap and state of the program manifesto.

Until then, Roll Tide.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

SEC Tournament Preview

Due to time constraints this week as well as a lack of emotional investment, I'm not going to do a full preview for the Tennessee game or any additional games Alabama may play in Nashville. Instead, I'm going to just write a quick preview of the tournament itself. At the end, I'll include some picks.

But first, it's a fair question to ask: will there be a tournament this week that fans can attend? Nashville has reported its first case of the corona virus, and with that report comes the possibility that the event (as well as other conference tournaments and the NCAA Tournament itself) could limit the number of spectators at the event, if not bar fans completely. The SEC has stated that it's monitoring the situation. This coming on the heels of the tornado in the area is less than ideal. My gut feeling is that the tournament will go off without a hitch, but never underestimate the power that panic holds over large numbers of human beings.

Sunday, March 08, 2020

Tide Throws in the Towel against Tigers, Mizzou 69 Bama 50

Alabama wrapped up the regular season with a 16-15 (8-10) record thanks to an ugly loss to Missouri.

Mizzou controlled the tempo from the start, and it was an ugly, slow-paced defensive battle.  I guess if you are looking for a bright side we played pretty good defense for the first 30 minutes.  We even played a fair amount of zone, and that was effective against a poor shooting Mizzou team, but we struggled to rebound out of it.   Neither team could go on a run and it was a close game with the Tigers leading by 1 at halftime.  It remained neck and neck until about the 10 minute mark, but Mizzou ran out to a 9 point lead and we had no response, as the Tigers just gradually pulled away for the rest of the game.

All of the issues we've been complaining about off and on all year showed up in this game.  We had 18 turnovers, were out-rebounded 42-27, and gave up 48 points in the second half.  We were only 4 of 25 from 3 point range.

It's fair to question if Oats has lost this team.  They certainly didn't respond well to having their effort called out after the Vandy loss.

Kira scored 18 but also had 7 turnovers.  Shack had a solid game, relatively speaking with 13 points and 5 boards.  Galin had 10 points and 4 boards.  Outside of those 3, we didn't get much effort from anybody else.

Up next, post-season eligibility is on the line in the SEC tournament.  We are the 9 seed and will play Tennessee in Nashville at noon.  You can watch it on the SEC Network.


SEC tournament predictions

DJC will probably put up a post game post on the Misery game so stay tuned.

My guesses on how the SECT will go. Bracket is here

Day 1
UGA over Ole Miss
Vanderbilt over Arkansas

Day 2
Tennessee over Alabama
UGA over Florida
aTm over Mizzou
SC Lite over Vanderbilt

Day 3
Kentucky over Tennessee
Miss St over UGA
Auburn over aTm
SC Lite over LSU

Day 4
Kentucky over Miss St
Auburn over SC Lite

Day 5
Auburn over Kentucky

I think with a run to the semis, SC Lite gets the SEC a 6th bid to the NCAAT. I also can see Miss St sneaking in.
Adding to this... I think the seeds will go like this:
Kentucky- 3
Auburn- 4
LSU- 7
Florida- 9
Miss St- 11
SC Lite- 12 (probably play in game)

Friday, March 06, 2020

Game Preview: at Missouri

If you're going to torpedo your NCAA at-large chances, you may as well do it with style. Alabama (16-14, 8-9; KenPom: 53; NET: 51) did that by losing at home to a Vanderbilt team that entered with just one conference win. It was Alabama's fourth home loss in the month of February/March, something that is becoming a Crimson Tide tradition. The final game of the regular season comes (mercifully?) on the road this Saturday when the team travels to play the Missouri Tigers (14-16, 6-11; KenPom: 104; NET: 94). Game time is 1:30 P.M. CT, and will be televised on the SEC Network.

My Two Cents: I don't believe Nate Oats took this job lightly when he was hired, but Tuesday night may have been the first time it dawned on him what an uphill battle he's in for to change the culture of this program. His frustration and disappointment during the game and after was palpable. Comments he made about players in his press conference needing to get into the gym to improve (as well as captured audio during the telecast) was a window into the state of things. Sure, we can critique some of the coaching decisions (and I will certainly share my opinions after the season wraps up), but it appears that the staff are going through the usual first year problems that arise when some guys buy in, and others do not. You throw in the additional struggles with injuries this season - more than any team in the league - and perhaps we shouldn't be surprised how this season has progressed.

Wednesday, March 04, 2020

Slamming the Door on Tournament Dreams, Vandy 87 Bama 79

First of all, my condolences to the tornado victims in Nashville, and congratulations to the Vanderbilt basketball team for staying focused, playing an awesome game, and getting a great win for their city.  You all know I've never been too fond of the Vandy basketball program, but I think we can all relate to what they are going through. 

The loss drops Alabama to 16-14 (8-9) and ends all hope for an NCAA at-large tournament bid.  We are now more realistically on the NIT bubble. 

We came out flat and Vandy set the tone, scoring on their first two possessions.  Beetle got hot in the first half, and we answered to take a 6 point lead about midway through the first.  It was an up-tempo game, and we did a fairly good job of protecting the basketball, but the defense was atrocious throughout, and Vanderbilt shot the lights out.  We went nearly 6 minutes without scoring from the field, and Vandy reclaimed the lead at 42-35 going into halftime.

We trailed by as many as 10 in the second half before Shack finally started scoring to get us back in the game.  We were never able to go  up by more than a single possession, and another nearly 5 minute drought from the field combined with more terrible defense allowed Vandy to put the game away in the final 3 minutes.

The scoring droughts on offense are going to happen from time to time, especially when you rely on the 3 so much.  It seems with our lack of depth and pace of play, we lost our legs late in the game and thus the 3s stopped falling.  At some point we have to make some defensive adjustments.  I know Petty being out presents some major matchup problems for us, but Herb should have been matched up with Lee much more than he was.  Kira and Shack could not guard him. When we finally did put Herb on Lee, they ran a simple high ball screen with their 5, and we inexplicably switched on it every time.  I get that he wasn't that great of a 3 point shooter coming into the game and maybe they were more concerned with the dribble drive, but after he's made 3 or 4 in a row, you need to defend him, and neither G nor JD are capable of doing so at the perimeter.  The third or fourth time in a row that happened was with about one minute remaining and pushed their lead from 4 back to 7 and essentially put the game away.  I admit, I may have had a little bit of a meltdown at that point, so if you were sitting within earshot (which is to say within about a 5 block radius of the arena) I apologize for the profanity.

Coach Oats was as angry as I've seen him all year.  During one timeout in the first half he slapped the seat of a chair, and while I couldn't make out what he was saying, we could clearly hear his voice over the music in the PA system.  He was mic'd up, and apparently the broadcast picked up him saying "soft as $h!t, that's what it is, you don't care about anybody but yourself."  Based on the positioning, I think that was directed at Alex.

Outside of Kira, Beetle, and Herb, we did not get the best effort from everybody while Vanderbilt played inspired basketball.  Alex is scheduled to have surgery on his hip after the surgery and I think the injury is bothering him more, as he has been noticeably slower over the last couple of weeks.  I was really disappointed in JD being a non-factor against much less competition after putting up a double-double in the last game.

On the positive side, Kira had 30 points, 8 assists, and only one turnover.  Beetle had 24 points on his senior night but had 5 turnovers.  Shack bounced back from a bad first half to end with 18 points.  Alex and Herb both had 8 rebounds. 

The crowd was disappointing considering it was an ideal tip-off time with a lot on the line.  I would guess there was no more than 6,000 there and they were mostly taken out of the game for much of the night.

If either Ole Miss beats Mizzou or LSU beats Arkansas tonight, we will avoid having to play on Wednesday of the SEC tournament.  If that's the case, I would rest Herb, Alex, and JP against Mizzou and focus on getting everyone rested and healthy for Nashville.  Assuming either Ole Miss or LSU wins tonight, it's probably in our best interest to lose Saturday and get the 10 seed in the SEC tournament.  An 8 or 9 seed will put us on the Kentucky side of the bracket.

Up next, we wrap up the regular season at Mizzou, game time is 1:30 pm Saturday on the SEC Network.

Monday, March 02, 2020

Game Preview: Vanderbilt

If I may cite a famous line from a not-so-popular film: "Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in!" Alabama (16-13, 8-8; KenPom: 48; NET: 40) refused to close the book on this season by gutting out a 90-86 victory this past Saturday. With two games remaining in the regular season, can this team create some momentum for itself heading into Nashville? The first step to answering that question is defending home court on senior night when the Vanderbilt Commodores (9-20, 1-15; KenPom: 187; NET: 170) visit. Game time on Tuesday night is 7:30 P.M. CT, but get there early for the senior night festivities. Only one senior - James "Beetle" Bolden - will be honored on Tuesday night, but it could also be your final chance to see any players that may pursue professional opportunities after this season concludes. SEC Network will televise the game.

My Two Cents: As basketball fans, we've all had our share of frustrations with this program over the years. But one thing I've always felt proud of as a fan are the number of high-character players that have come through the program. That kind of character was on full display again on Saturday night. Per Bryan Passink (in case anyone doesn't know, a radio analyst for Crimson Tide Sports), Alabama starters/key reserves have missed a total of 94 games. The SEC Network showed a graphic of 73 on Saturday, but I don't recall if that was number of conference games missed. Whatever the number, Alabama leads the league by a wide margin in the number of players that have missed games this season due to injury or illness. And yet, the team still has a puncher's chance at making the NCAA Tournament because they have refused to wilt despite the adversity. That takes character, and character is easy to cheer for.

Sunday, March 01, 2020

Bama Beats Cocks, Alabama 90 South Carolina 86

Next Man Up!  Alabama once again overcame numerous injuries to grind out a tough win at home against a very physical USCe squad.  The win puts the Tide at 16-13 (8-8) overall. Those slim NCAA tournament hopes are still alive.

It was another slow start as Carolina ran out to an early 12-1 lead.  Over five minutes ran off the clock before we made a basket.  Coach Oats argued relentlessly with the officials after Beetle was called for a block on a play where everyone in the gym saw it as a charge.  After several warnings, Oats was nailed with a "T." I think this was another instance of Coach actually wanting the technical foul.  The team looked flat to that point, and his technical certainly seemed to inject some energy both into the team and the fans in the arena.  Bama answered with a 7-0 run to get back into the game, and only trailed by 2 at halftime.

Davis hit a 3 to start the second half (I'm still not crazy about him shooting them), but South Carolina answered with a run to push the lead to 6.  Shack got  us back into the game with a 3, then a defensive stop and a Kira layup cut it to one, and from there the game pretty much went back and forth with neither team able to take over control.  Both teams were attacking the basket and getting to the free throw line, and our guys were doing a phenomenal job of holding their own on the glass.  Defensively, we struggled to get stops at times and even mixed in a zone for a couple of possessions.  We led by as many as 8, but when Carolina switched to a press late in the game, we struggled to inbound the basketball.  The Cocks cut the lead to two with just under two minutes when they committed a flagrant foul on Herb.

Herb proceeded to make both shots one handed, then drive down the lane and get a one-handed layup to push the lead back to 6.  We made just enough free throws to hang on from there, including Davis with the final dagger to make it a two possession game in the final seconds.

I'm really proud of the way this team pulls together and picks each other up.  With no John Petty against a bigger, more physical team, and us having a short bench, this looked like a bad matchup.  However, JD proved to be a huge asset with his first double-double.  A lot has been made of our weakness at the 5 spot, but if we can get anywhere near that kind of production from JD this is a totally different team.  People often forget that big men generally develop slower than wings/guards, and it's obvious Davis has improved over the course of the year.  Davis ended up with 20 points and 10 rebounds.

Kira was the leading scorer with 25 points, 6 assists, and only two turnovers.  He had a couple of big 3s to get us going, and was excellent driving to the basket and maintaining control.  Shack had an "off" night and still scored 18 points despite having 3 turnovers and only going 3 of 7 from the line.  Coach was in his ear all game.  I've noticed Coach seems to ride Shack a bit harder than the others, for example Beetle makes a lot of the same mistakes, getting out of control, dribbling into traffic, etc, but he doesn't seem to catch as much grief for it as Shack does.

Herb had 10 points, 9 rebounds, and went 4 of 6 from the line while playing his usual lock-down defense.  Of course he won the hard hat again.  The man is an absolute warrior, and it's just amazing what he is doing right now despite playing with a cast. It's not just his physical play either, he's a leader and a coach on the floor.  On one possession, he recognized that USCe was about to switch to a zone, he signaled for Kira to hold up a second, called a different set, and the result was a slash for a layup.

Alex continued to struggle offensively, going only 2 for 7 from the field with a couple of turnovers.  I thought he did a good job with their bigs on the defensive end though, grabbing 10 rebounds.

It's encouraging that we've shown we can win multiple ways, despite our "live and die by the 3" reputation.  We were a respectable 9 of 24 from three point range, but we also attacked the basket and got to the line where we made 33 of 47.  That's about 70%, and while not great, it's respectable.  Carolina was only 17 of 26.  We actually out-rebounded them 44 to 39, and limited the turnovers to 11.

The crowd was actually much better than the last game.  I would estimate around 10,000 were there, and with the exception of the slow start and during the flurry of turnovers late, the fans were loud and into the game.  Signee Keon Ambrose-Hylton was there.

Up next, Vandy comes in for a 7:30 tip-off Tuesday night.  The Dores beat LSU and have been playing much better lately, so we will need another good crowd to cheer our guys on in another "must win" game.  If you can't make it to Coleman, you can catch it on SEC Network.