Wednesday, June 09, 2021

Update on this board

Hey all... after some deliberation I decided that going forward I'm pulling myself from this board minus maybe a few first person views from whatever games I attend. I have been busy with work, kids, side gigs, and other projects which does not leave much time to give this site the attention it deserves. As I get older I find it tougher to juggle multiple things... and I want to call it quits before Coach K does.

This board will be live at least through next season since I already paid up. I like to thank all of the folks that helped write on this board and all of those that have visited this corner of the web. I hope the others (Double T, DJC, and a returning MS... maybe) continue to post updates, previews, and recaps. If they add new voices that would be great as well.

It's kind of ironic that this board opened in 2006 after our 2nd round loss to UCLA... and I depart with a 3rd round loss to the same school 15 years later. Anyways, I have enjoyed keeping this board up most of the time... minus last year where it was obvious to me that I just did not have the passion to keep going.

I'll be at a few neutral site games this year (Orlando and Seattle) so if you are at either and see a long haired, semi-greyed beard dude trying to call timeouts for the coach you have found me.

Maybe I was the curse... who knew when I started this thing we'd only go to 4 NCAATs in that time. 

I'm about 3 months late, but I'll say this... if we somehow pull off that UCLA game IMO we are playing Baylor (and getting curb stomped just the same as Gonzaga) in Indy. Oh well... I thought that was our lost opportunity for a Final Four, but I can see a repeat dominant run next season and maybe we finally break through. 

Friday, June 04, 2021

2021-22 Schedule Updates

 Hi, everyone. Long time no write. Just dropping in to update what we know so far about the schedule next season.

Houston will come to Tuscaloosa this season after the game had to be canceled last season in the wake of the Covid disruptions. Kelvin Sampson has completely rebuilt the Houston program, resulting in a Final Four run and a top five KenPom finish last season. This is part of a home-and-home agreement so Alabama will return the favor in the 22-23 season.

Another big home-and-home series for Alabama this season will be Gonzaga. The Zags were the national runner-ups for the second time in four seasons a year ago, and have elevated themselves to one of the top programs in the sport. Both games will be at neutral sites, with Alabama traveling to Seattle this season, and the Zags making a return trip to Birmingham in 22-23. Based on the style of play of both programs, this should be a really fun game.

Our guys will travel to Orlando in November for the Orlando Invitational. Other teams in the event are Kansas, Miami, Iona, Drake, Dayton, Belmont, and North Texas. Five of the seven teams reached the NCAA Tournament last season. Belmont did not reach a postseason tournament last season despite a 26-4 record. Dayton is coached by former Alabama coach Anthony Grant.

In July of 2020 the university announced that Alabama and Memphis had agreed to play three games - an exhibition in Memphis in 20-21, and a home-and-home the following seasons. The exhibition was canceled due to Covid, but what the status of the series going forward is unknown. 

Alabama will also take part in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge this season. The matchups haven't been named yet.

So that's 6 - maybe 7 - games we know of. Two of them against 2021 Final Four teams. Assuming the team plays a 12/13 game non-conference schedule, my guess is the remaining games left on the schedule will be of the buy-game variety.

I hope everyone is doing well. Take care of yourselves. Roll Tide! 


Thursday, April 08, 2021

Tide Lands 2 Big Recruits

  In the span of just two days, Nate Oats and staff have managed to obtain commitments from two major names to add to the 21-22 Alabama team roster. The first comes in the form of 6’10 Canadian C Charles Bediako. Bediako always hovered between the 4 and 5 star lines but ultimately the rating didn’t matter. Bediako chose the Tide over the likes of Michigan, Duke, Ohio State and Texas. That alone is enough to understand just how valuable the commitment is. Bediako brings a freakishly athletic presence to the post for Alabama as well as a shot blocking presence that the Tide desperately needed during its recent Sweet 16 run. Bediako runs the floor well and has a high motor. Look for him to instantly contend for minutes the moment he dons the Crimson Tide uniform. 

 Just today Alabama received a commitment from former 5 star McDonald’s All American Nimari Burnett. Alabama was considered a heavy favorite for Burnett last season before he chose to take his talents to Lubbock at the 11th hour. There he averaged about 6 PPG and struggled to find a role in Chris Beard’s offense. However,  Burnett did manage to play impressive defense and show an uncanny ability to get to the free throw line in spurts while converting nearly 90% of his attempts. The 6’5 combo guard will continue to get stronger in Tuscaloosa and that should translate to success in the lane and the FT line. Alabama fans should be most excited to see him play defense in my opinion. He has the same shutdown ability of someone like Keon Ellis. 

 Burnett’s selection puts Alabama one over the scholarship limit and speculation runs amok about the ramifications. There are many possibilities such as Quinerly declaring for the draft (though he adamantly denied that possibility via his Twitter feed), a transfer of a player such as Rojas, Wilson or Keon Ambrose-Hylton has been mentioned- as has a redshirt for Jusaun Holt or an incoming player being granted a release though nothing should be taken as fact. The announcement of Noah Gurley could throw yet another wrinkle into that fold as Alabama is HEAVILY in the mix for the talented F. Gurley plans to make his announcement this coming Sunday. 

Saturday, April 03, 2021

Thank You, Herbert Jones

  In this mini-series of articles I’ll be offering homage to the players that we here at and many other fans believe have helped forever change the culture of Alabama basketball. These players were major contributors as Alabama won the SEC Championship, the SEC Tournament Championship and reached the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2004. 

 First up is Herbert Jones. Jones came in to Tuscaloosa as a somewhat late offer in Avery Jones’ signature class. Herbert was wiry and raw, yet outworked his teammates on day 1 and beyond. Though Jones struggled offensively at times during his Alabama career-he never let it effect his effort in the gym and the defensive end of the floor. He was the first one on the floor when there was a loose ball. Herbert typically drew the assignment of guarding the opposing teams best offensive threat...and loved it. Jones had many unforgettable moments in his Alabama career, but he began to garner national attention on the day that he completely shut down now Atlanta Hawk star Trey Young when he was a PG at Oklahoma. Alabama went on to win that day on its way to the 2018 NCAA Tournament. Jones’ remarkable effort on the defensive end was a major catalyst for that signature win. 

 While Jones was always known for bringing the lunch pail to work night in and night out, his game didn’t completely flourish offensively until this most recent season...his senior campaign. All of Herbert’s numbers made a jump and, not by coincidence, Alabama did as well. He was never quite known as a great FT shooter regardless of being responsible for one of the most iconic moments in the history of the program when an injured Herbert Jones managed to knock down two game clinching FTs against LSU with his off-hand while his shooting hand was in a cast. Though much was made of his missing a couple of late ones against UCLA, Jones managed to hit the gym this past summer and therefore post a 74% FT conversation rate during the 20-21 season. The same could be said for his 3 PT %. Having never been known as a threat behind the arc-Jones improved to a 35% 3 PT shooter this season and therefore forced defenders to respect his ability to shoot. So much so that it might’ve won Alabama the SEC Tournament Championship as LSU F Trendon Watford certainly seemed concern that Herb might shoot just before Jones blew by him for a clutch, banner winning layup. 

 The examples I provided only scratch the surface of what made Herbert Jones a player that helped transform Alabama into a national basketball name again. The truth of the matter is that Jones will be more remembered for the plays that never showed up on the stat sheet. More often than not, it was Herb wearing the coveted hard hat given out by Coach Nate Oats after each Alabama win. Herb easily set a school record for charges taken as he became synonymous with the hard hat identity. Coach Oats worked tirelessly to inspire a blue collar mentality into this program...and Herbert Jones will long be known as the embodiment of “Blue Collar Basketball.”

Thursday, April 01, 2021

A couple maintenance updates and Roy Williams retiring

Heads up, this site may transition back to sometime in the next few weeks. will not redirect so keep that in mind if you log in and can't find the site. It might revert back to, but in a transition so want to make sure the site stays up in some fashion.

Also, Roy Williams calls it a career.... he was looking really old this year and I have to assume it factored into it. I suspect Oats will get a look (he is chummy with Coach K) despite his contract extension/raise. Carolina is one of the few schools that can afford him... but I don't think there is much to worry about here.

Monday, March 29, 2021

Bruins Bust Bama's Bracket, UCLA 88 Alabama 78 (OT)


It was a combination of bad free throw shooting and the old adage of the team that makes the comebacks doesn't have enough gas to get over the mountaintop in the end.  An incredible season for the SEC regular season and tournament champions came to a disappointing end at the hands of a very good UCLA Bruins team.

We got off to another slow start with UCLA jumping out to a7-2 lead.  Then we went on a run and actually had a fairly comfortable lead, if only for a few brief moments.  Overall the 3s weren't falling, and UCLA was finding ways to score in their half court set.  The Bruins made some tightly contested 3s with the shot clock expiring down the stretch in the first half to maintain their lead, and were up by 11 going into the half.

We made some adjustments on defense and shut them down in the second half.  They didn't score until 6 minutes in, and by that time we had entirely chipped away their lead.  Unfortunately, we could never go up by more than a possession on our own.  The game slogged back and forth, with them going up by 5 or 6 and us tying it or taking a one or two point lead.  It felt like we were playing catchup the whole game, and that eventually wore us down.

The shots weren't falling.  We only made 25% from 3 point range.  The Bruins were slightly better and even shot one more than we did, as I think we put an emphasis on trying to drive once we realized we weren't hitting from the perimeter.  The real story of the night was at the charity stripe.  Both teams shot 25 free throws, though many of UCLA's were late in overtime after the game was already decided.  They made 20/25, we were a horrendous 11/25.  It's frustrating to lose a game that way, but we were a decent free throw shooting team all year, off nights happen.  

My heart is hurting for Herb Jones more than anything else tonight.  We would not be anywhere near this position if not for him.  He picked up two quick charging fouls in the first minute of the game.  From my vantage point in the top row of the arena, I though the defender flopped on the first one, but the second one was a good call.  I know he's beating himself up about going 1 of 4 from the line at the end of regulation, but again, these things happen, and he appeared to hurt his leg prior to his last 2 misses.  

Alex Reese gave us a second chance after those misses with a game-tying buzzer beater at the end or regulation.  I thought that was a great call by Coach Nate Oats, and a great decision by Q to get him the ball.  They knew we had to go for 3 so everyone would be tightly contested behind the arc, but Alex has the size to get a good look regardless.  

You have to give UCLA a lot of credit for the way they responded in overtime.  They had us down several times and we kept fighting back, but they always had an answer, even after Alex's heroics to end regulation.  

The overtime was a disaster.  We couldn't stop them, turned it over and gave them easy baskets, and then panicked and started shooting bad 3s prematurely, and topped it off by taking easy 2s when our only hope was to chuck 3s.  I think everyone just assumed we would get the W after surviving regulation, but hats off to the Bruins for finishing the game.

I thought all along that the sweet 16 was the ceiling for this team.  We were a very good, but not great team.  We were flawed, we didn't have a true PG or a dominant inside presence, but we made up for it with a lot of depth and interchangeable parts.  Expectations changed when we got a somewhat favorable draw, and then a clear path to the final Four seemed to emerge.  It's disappointing that it didn't work out that way, but it's easy to forget, the teams that you play in the later rounds are there because they won their way into that spot.  I think we all get too caught up in saying "oh we should beat an 11 seed," but when an 11 seed makes the sweet 16, they aren't an "11 seed" any  more, they are one of the final 16 teams standing in the tournament.  I won't be shocked if they beat Michigan.  

The crowd of only 1,100 or so was split about 60-40 in our favor, but UCLA gave a significant number of their tickets to students so it seemed like they were louder at times.  Both fan bases were into the game throughout and it was as great of an atmosphere as you could possibly have with limited capacity.

I'll have my usual post season manifesto up sometime in the next couple of weeks, but wanted to focus this post on the game.

I drove up Saturday, and yesterday morning I went to Knightsville, IN to visit the Hoosier gym, where the movie "Hoosiers" was filmed.  If you are a fan of the movie, I highly recommend paying them a visit.  There's a free tour that's very informative and interesting, and you can even shoot around on the floor.  It's only about a 30 minute drive from downtown Indy.

Up next,  the offseason!  There will be recruiting news and I'm sure transfers coming and going, but otherwise rest easy knowing that Bama basketball is back to relevancy.  

A disappointing loss to end a great season Bruins 88-78 in OT

Like Double T does a better job at previews, DJC does a better job of post game so read his for in depth analysis.

My takeaways:

- This loss hurts... BAD, but let's look back at this remarkable season. SEC regular season AND tournament champs
- If there is an "upside" I guess it saved me a bunch of money going to Indy for the Final Four (hotel, driving/flying, tickets, time off work, etc.)
- Critique... our guys were not ready for the moment. That is the only way I can explain the poor FT shooting. Hit just 50% and we win in regulation.

It is funny how things come full circle... I started this blog 15 years ago posting about our loss to UCLA and I'm probably done as a contributor after this loss. That doesn't mean the site shuts down as I hope DJC and TT (plus new blood) continue on, but for me my time is up as my passion for the game (not the team) is just not there like it used to be. Call that getting old I guess.

Anyways, let us hope this is a glimpse of the future of Bama hoops and not a blip on the radar.

Saturday, March 27, 2021

Game Preview: (2)Alabama vs (11) UCLA

 It’s the Sweet 16! Who would’ve thought that Alabama would be in this position exactly two years ago when Nate Oats was hired? We all knew the talent was there...we just had to put it together. Alabama will face the Bruins tomorrow for an opportunity to advance to the Elite 8 for the first time since 2004. Tip is set for 6:15 on TBS from Hinkle Field House. 

The Opponent: If you’re a stat buff, I invite you to check out Bobby’s latest entry which contains a link for all of UCLA’s stats. Mick Cronin’s Bruins have had a fair season in a PAC 12 that seems to be much deeper than anyone initially thought it to be. UCLA finished 4th in that conference and currently sit at 20-9. 

The Cronin hire was an odd one when it was originally announced, though I can’t say that I’m surprised to see the success he’s had. Cronin is a great basketball mind and UCLA will certainly provide the resources needed to maintain a well ran hoops program. The Bruins have 3 starters that average double figures in Juzang, Jaquez and Campbell. Two of those 3 were offered by Alabama during their high school days. Cronin does a great job using sets to get his shooters in positions for open looks and Campbell is a great distributor within the system. He was 2nd in the PAC 12 at 5.5 assists per game. The UCLA offense has been quite successful in this Sweet 16 run...but they haven’t faced anything like Alabama yet. Facing The 3rd ranked team in KENPOM’s defensive efficiency stat won’t be nearly the same as Abilene Christian. 

Players to Watch: Is there any doubt that the biggest X-Factor in this tournament is John Petty Jr? While Jahvon Quinerly has been virtually unguardable and Jaden Shackleford continues to quietly fill it’s Petty that is capable of taking Alabama to a new atmosphere. There isn’t a team in America that would’ve beaten Alabama last weekend. Not Gonzaga. Not Baylor. Maryland played a great game, but the Tide was simply a buzzsaw that was clearly fueled by the momentum that Petty provides when he’s on. It’s almost as if his confidence rubs off on his teammates

  For UCLA- the choice has to be the aforementioned Juzang. The Kentucky transfer can score it in bunches. The 6’6 G now has 6 games on the season in which he’s scored 20 or more. Juzang will likely get a large dose of Herb Jones in his grill but Petty or Ellis could also handle the assignment. Mick Cronin loves to use off ball screens to free up Juzang for open looks. Alabama defenders could get burned if they choose the under route on said screens. 

My Thoughts: UCLA has had a great run. Has the competition been great in the NCAAT? Meh. They have the pedigree and the coach, however. Mick Cronin will have a gameplan. The man can coach and he’ll have the Bruins ready. However, none of it will matter if Alabama is shooting the ball nearly as close as what it was last weekend. I think we’ll cool off a bit but the Tide seems locked in thanks to the veteran leadership on the team. You can bet that Reese, Petty, Jones and Bruner will set the example once again. UCLA will play well...but the Tide is just too deep and too hungry. 

Prediction: Alabama 78, UCLA 70

Worst ever preview- Sweet Sixteen vs UCLA

If Double T puts one up after this then treat this one for what it is.

Here's a link if you want to read up on UCLA's season stats

UCLA is playing well, but they are not on our level. Unless we put on an offensive and defensive disaster 💩 show and they play out of their minds we will once again reach rarified air of the Elite 8... and a real chance to play next week. We really did not have a prayer against UConn in 2004... which is how I see UCLA tomorrow.

Anyways, after we 🚤🏃‍♀️ UCLA it is on to FSU (I think they beat Michigan handily) and that will be a war.

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Tide Topples Terrapins, Alabama 96 Maryland 77

On to the Sweet 16!  We got off to a bit of a slow start, but they ended up playing at our pace and just couldn't keep up.  We took control of the game about midway through the first half and never looked back. 

We switched up the starting lineup, going with Shack, Petty, Juwan, Herb, and Keon.  Jordan only played a couple of minutes and I'm wondering if his injury has regressed.  Q was huge off the bench with 14 points and 11 assists.  His dribble drive game has been on point so far this tourney.  JP's shot was back as he added 20, and Shack was our leading scorer with 21.  When the shots are falling this offense can light it up.  Maryland was content to enter a 3 point shooting contest with us, and they did fairly well, going 10 of 27, but it wasn't enough with us shooting nearly 50% at 16 of 33.  

We also dominated on the boards with 25 rebounds to 15.  Maryland only got 4 offensive rebounds, as they generally sent everyone back on defense as soon as they got a shot up.  I was surprised Turg stuck with this strategy, as it clearly wasn't working to slow the pace down like he hoped.

It was great to get Primo back and he gave us 10 points in 20 minutes.  Alex made some huge 3s that really opened things up for the guards.  He ended up with 13 points.  Juwan handled the dirty work, leading the team with 7 rebounds.  Herb got in foul trouble and ended up with only 6 points and 3 turnovers in 17 minutes.   It's a testament to the depth of this team that we can still win a second round NCAA tournament game by nearly 20 points with our MVP having an off night.  

Banker's Life Fieldhouse, home of the Indiana Pacers, is a really nice facility.  It felt like way less than 25% capacity though, there was nobody sitting in the upper level along the sideline behind us.  We probably had about 60% or so of the fans allowed in.  I felt like the atmosphere was much quieter than the first round game, maybe the larger and nicer arena just made people more comfortable and less intense.  We did get some cheers going later in the game and players as well as Coach Oats acknowledged the crowd at the end.

I've probably drove through Indy a couple of dozen times over the years going back and forth to Chicago, but this is the first I've really spent any time here.  It's actually a pretty cool city.  There's a bar/sportsbook a couple of blocks from my hotel, where I've made enough betting on the games to cover all of my expenses thus far.  Everything is within an easy walking distance, and there's plenty of sports bars and decent restaurants around.  The people have been friendly and they really know and love their basketball.  It's been a fun atmosphere with fans of so many different teams, and we are as well represented as anyone.  Michigan, Iowa, and Illinois before they got beat were probably the most fans I've seen.  Abilene Christian surprisingly brought a pretty good crowd.  I haven't seen the first LSU fan, and only a handful of Florida and Arkansas folks.

Up next, we're back at Hinkle for a sweet 16 matchup against the UCLA Bruins.  Tip off is set for 7:15 EDT Sunday.  

Monday, March 22, 2021

SWEET SIXTEEN BOUND! Bama crushes Terps 96-77

If Gary Williams was dead he'd be rolling over in his grave sweating profusely over how bad we beat the SNOT out of the Terps.

This was a total team effort. Real proud of this team!

I'll leave the real recap to DJC as he's just better at it... I'm just happy to be playing the 2nd week for the first time in 17 years.

Next up UCLA... and we owe them for 2006. 

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Pachyderms send Pitino Packing, Alabama 68 Iona 55


As expected, Iona was well prepared and had a good game plan for us.  Their big did a good job of protecting the rim when our guards beat their slower men off the dribble.  Instead of collapsing, they stayed with our shooters, forcing us to take fewer threes than normal.  In a nod to historical Hinkle arena, they even successfully ran the picket fence on us in the first half.  Our wings were not finishing at the rim, and they kept the pace slower than our liking.  The game was a back and forth slog, until a couple of 3s by Alex and a steal and dunk from Herb broke it open midway through the second half.  

I was disappointed with the way we finished the first half.  We had a 6 point lead late, and I was thinking we might be able to push it to double digits.  Instead we had a couple of costly turnovers that allowed them to get within a point.  We made an adjustment at halftime and started using our size advantage on the wings to post them up, but I thought this took us out of our tempo.  We had some success in the halfcourt when we spread the floor and let JQ take it on the dribble drive, as he was the only one able to finish at the rim.  

Defensively we were fantastic.  We controlled the boards and altered shots at the rim.  This is what allows us to be competitive when we are off of our game.   Regardless, at some point we are going to have to make a lot more than 5 threes, and shoot more than 16 of them, if we are going to make a deep run.  We also left a lot of points at the line, uncharacteristically shooting only 13 of 23.    We desperately need Petty to get out of his offensive funk, but give him credit for continuing to play great defense.  It's the reason we've got another game Monday night.  

Herb had 20 points and 6 rebounds.  JP and Shack both scored 10 each with JP pulling down 7 boards.  Q was also in double figures with 11.  Juwan Gary gave us 6 points and 4 rebounds in 20 minutes, and I thought he was a big factor with Jordan still appearing to be limited.  

Survive and Advance, that's what it's all about this time of the year and we accomplished that.  I was very fortunate to be one of the 1,300 or so fans allowed in to see this game.  Going to a game at Hinkle scratched an item off of my bucket list, and it did not disappoint.  This place is the Wrigley Field of college basketball.  It's a national historic landmark, and while it's seen many renovations over the years it still has that old school feel and charm to it.  Coleman Coliseum was actually based on the design of Hinkle, and you can see that somewhat with the barrel shaped roof that runs opposite of the court direction.  Hinkle now only holds around 9,000, down from it's original 15,000 capacity.  As you can see from my pics, even in the 300 level you weren't too high, though we were a little farther off of the court than we would have been in a more modern arena.  I really liked how the windows provide a lot of natural light, and they block the ones that would be in the eyes of the shooter.  The brick work and detailed architecture is amazing.  I suspect the concourses and restrooms/concessions might be a nightmare if it was at full capacity though.  

Unlike previous tournaments, tickets are only good for one game instead of two game sessions, and they spend a little over an hour cleaning the arenas between games.  As soon as our game was over they asked everyone to leave and started spraying everything down with disinfectant.  I do think we benefited from having 95% of the crowd cheering for Alabama, as in normal times all of the fans of the teams not involved would have been rooting for the underdogs.  

I will have more about the Indianapolis bubble experience when I recap the Maryland game.  I left Birmingham at 6 am Saturday morning and drove straight to Hinkle, so I really haven't explored the city much yet, but so far it's been a positive experience.

Up next, we go to Banker's Fieldhouse, home of the Indiana Pacers to play the Maryland Terrapins in the second round Monday night.  Tipoff is set for 8:45 pm EDT and will be televised on TNT.

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Game Preview: (2) Alabama vs (15) Iona

 Let’s dance! Alabama’s NCAA Tournament run begins this Saturday as the Tide will come into Hinkle Field House as the undisputed SEC Champions having won the regular season, the SEC Tournament and therefore earning a 2 seed. Alabama will meet the Iona Gaels of the MAAC coached by the legendary Rick Pitino. Tip is set for 3:00 Saturday on TBS. 

The Opponent:  Alabama comes in to this match up the prohibited favorites with a spread of 17. That doesn’t mean Iona should be taken lightly, however. They have championship pedigree with Pitino at the helm, but the Gaels have also reached the Dance for 4 consecutive years. Though Alabama is the more talented and athletic team, it’s possible that Iona could have an advantage in the mental preparedness department. Having said that, it’s hard to gauge Iona due to the mountain of cancellations brought on by Covid that the program faced this season. They did perform well against subpar competition in the MAAC and rank inside the top 3 of the conference in most offensive stats. KenPom paints a different picture, however. The Gaels have hovered around 200 in both the adjusted offense and defense categories all season. Scoring should not be an issue for Alabama unless it’s just an ice cold day from the field. 

Players to Watch: Iona is led by Senior G Isaiah Ross who scores about 18 PPG. That’s nothing to scoff at. He’s capable of carrying the team offensively so Alabama will have to keep Ross in check. 

Though the offense of Jahvon Quinerly and the leadership of Herbert Jones have been key to Alabama’s success of late...I have to go with John Petty. Bama is perfectly capable of making to the Sweet 16 with an average John Petty, but the team simply can’t perform near its ceiling unless Petty is scoring at a high level. His debut against Virginia Tech in the NCAA Tournament was one to remember. The Tide will need something similar to that John Petty if it has any aspirations of reaching the Final 4. Iona could be just the tune up he needs to get it going if things go the way they should. 

My Thoughts: Strictly from a talent standpoint, Iona may be the worst team that Alabama has played since East Tennessee State. This is still the NCAA Tournament and that man is still named Rick Pitino, however. Iona has seniors that have played good basketball this year. They’re not scared of this moment. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a somewhat close score at half. Ultimately, Alabama’s seniors will pull the team together and steer them in the right direction. I could see the Tide coming out and making a bold statement. As soon as the nerves settle, I believe that’s what we get. Bama advances

Prediction: Alabama 85, Iona 68

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Final Four guess

Here is mine:

West- Gonzaga
East- Alabama
South- Villanova (I still don't think Baylor is what they were earlier in the season)
Midwest- West Virginia (I can see the UTK/OK St winner taking out Illinois)

I won't go further as getting to the Final Four is all I ever wanted... everything else is gravy.

Sunday, March 14, 2021

UNDISPUTED "Championship School." Bama 80 LSU 79


To quote the great Coach John Doe, "I KNOW you missed me!"  I attended my first game of the season today to watch our team win its first SEC tournament championship in 30 years.  On a personal note, in the grand scheme of things I've been very fortunate throughout this pandemic.  I haven't caught the corona virus, haven't lost employment or significant income, and haven't lost any loved ones to illness.  However, not being able to attend Alabama basketball games has probably been the most difficult part.  The is the first season since I was in high school that I did not attend a regular season game.  I grew up in the days of the SEC tournament being known as the "Wimp Sanderson Invitational," and there was no way I was missing this.  

It was a physical, scrappy game between two teams that obviously didn't have their legs 100% under them.  I'm glad we don't play again until Saturday.  

We've struggled at times this year with slow starts, but wasted no time today in jumping out to an early 8-0 lead.  I was thinking and hoping it may go like the two previous games against those cheaters this year, but unfortunately they were having none of that.  We had 4 turnovers in a short span and the lead quickly evaporated.  The game seemed to turn when Keon went out with an injury and LSU took a lead.  We managed to scrap and keep it close and finished the half on a strong note to take a 40-37 lead into the half.  

It was a back and forth game with neither team taking full control.  LSU would go ahead by 2 possessions and we would quickly answer.  We would gain momentum and go up by 6 or so but they would answer.  We couldn't put them away.  I thought both teams looked fatigued at times but played hard and physical.  

With Primo out, Keon really stepped up playing 25 minutes despite coming out in the first half with an injury.  He had 14 points and played adequate defense even if not quite on Primo's level against some tough matchups.  

Speaking of touch matchups, I hate the guy as much as anybody, but you have to give Watford credit for his performance today.  He almost single-handedly won the game for them, and we had no answer for him in the second half.  I thought Alex actually did the best job on him in the first half when they were matched up, but nobody was stopping him down the stretch, until we finally did on the last possession.

Shack was the leading scorer with 21 points.  A key point in the game came about midway through the second half when he missed a midrange jumper, the cardinal sin in Coach Oats' system.  We took more midrange shots today than Coach would have liked, and he appeared livid on the sideline after each one.  I think that was a symptom of playing 3 games in the 3 days.  Anyway, after getting chewed out in a timeout for missing a midrange-J, Shack responded by knocking down a couple of 3s that seemed to remove the lid from the rim.  His scoring was the offensive spark we needed when we were struggling with our perimeter shots in the second half.

Juwan Gary played tough, pulling down 8 rebounds and scoring 8 points in 17 minutes.  His game has really improved over the course of the year, and he's becoming that rebounding/second chance points guy we need in the paint.  

Q scored 14 and despite making the all tournament team, I don't think people appreciate how good he's playing right now.  I like him more off the ball, but he has good court vision and is showing some quickness, good moves, and an ability to finish at the rim.  He was a McDonald's All American for a reason and that talent is starting to show now that he's recovered from the illness that set him back earlier this season.  He is a key component to a deep run this month.

Herb had 13 points (including the game winner), 11 rebounds, and 6 assists to only 2 turnovers.  He's really taken to the point forward position and is a great leader on this team.  I loved his quote about making this a "basketball school," which is referenced in the title of this post.  

My biggest takeaway from today, and from the season as a whole, is that this team, under great senior leadership from Herb, JP, and Alex, has developed a winning attitude.  When we are on, we are capable of blowing out decent teams because we play fast, shoot well, and have great depth.  More importantly, when the shots aren't falling, we clamp down on defense, and keep scrapping for rebounds and loose balls and do the little things it takes to win close games down the stretch.  We are regularly finding a way to grind out wins that would have been losses more often than not over the last decade or so.  We could very well lose in the first round in a close game next weekend, that's the nature of the tournament, but even if that happens it won't change the fact that the culture here has changed.

JP has been in a bit of a slump, and I  wish we would run some sets to get him some more shots.  I feel like we need him to shoot his way out of this slump to be a serious contender.  Jordan still doesn't seem to be 100%, we will need him to continue to improve.  If he gets back to his pre-injury production we could hang with anyone in the tournament.

As with most things this season, it was a weird atmosphere for an SEC tournament game.  It was nice being able to park right next to the arena and grab a bite an hour before the game across the street with no wait.  It was odd not being surrounded by a sea of Kentucky blue.  They only sold about 3,000 or so tickets, and I would guess maybe only 2,000ish were used.  We had upper level seats but moved to the lower level with no problems.  Some of the unsold seats were blocked off, but oddly it was random, there were entire rows that weren't blocked off.  There was a small section of LSU fans behind their bench, but otherwise we had close to 85% of the fans.  It was relatively loud given the limited attendance, and we had several students there who led cheers that the whole arena followed along with.  I will admit I was straight up acting a fool, between (unsuccessfully) taunting Trendon Watford, missing all the previous games this season, and it being our first tournament championship in 30 years...I don't have much of a voice left.  

Up next, we go to Indy to play the Iona Gaels in the first round of the NCAA tournament next Saturday at 3pm Central on TBS.  I fear this will be a difficult game.  Whatever you think about Pitino, he can flat out coach and I openly advocated for us hiring him two years ago.  Here's hoping that Coach Oats and crew can prove me wrong once again.  I'm planning to make the long drive and will post an update when I can.

Enjoy this, fellow Bama Basketball fans.  We are the UNDSIPUTED SEC CHAMPIONS, and there's more to come.  ROLL TIDE!

SEC Tourney champs! 80-79 nailbiter

Box Score

I'll reflect more tomorrow, but this should give us a 1 seed.
End of the game Watford should have been called for a backcourt violation and those shots would have taken a few years off my life. 

Also, congrats to Georgetown and Iona... and their coaches Patrick Ewing and Rick Pitino. Good to see both in the tourney, but hopefully not matched against us.

Saturday, March 13, 2021

SECT Championship Preview: (5) Alabama vs LSU

  A day long in the making is upon us. After an exhilarating 15 point come back win over Tennessee-the SEC regular season champion and #1 seed Alabama will play LSU for the SEC Tournament Championship tomorrow. An Alabama win would earn it’s first SECT Championship banner since 91 and a potential shot at a number 1 seed for the NCAA Tournament. Tip is set for Noon on ESPN. 

The Opponent: Alabama has trounced LSU twice this season. On one hand, we know Alabama is the better team here. On the other, you have to be concerned of the galvanizing effect that embarrassing losses can have on a team. LSU is loaded with talent on the offensive end. Cam Thomas can score at will and he has plenty of teammates that can fill up the scoring column. Will Wade’s problem has been motivating his team to play defense, however. The Tigers answered the bell today in a big win over Arkansas to end the Hogs’ 12 game win streak. It’s not as easy for Arkansas when they’re  not +20 at the free throw line apparently. Imagine that. I digress. I think the Tide will need a good start tomorrow as LSU isn’t a very mentally tough team. Motivation shouldn’t be an issue for either team with a championship on the line but LSU has been know to fold when facing adversity

Players to Watch: Hard not to include the aforementioned Cam Thomas. Offensively, the kid is ready for the NBA right now in my opinion. However, like many freshman, he loses motivation on the defensive side at times. Thomas and Watford will likely get their points but Tide fans should hope for the same defensive effort that those 2 have given in the previous 2 games. Alabama had its fair shape of open layups and looks from 3 as these two lost interest. 

There are so many players playing at a high level for Alabama right now. The team has taken it up yet another notch since Jahvon Quinerly got his legs back under him after missing time with an illness. He’s been practically unguardable while reaching double digits in the last 11 games. He should have ample opportunity to get out in space to score and facilitate as Alabama has had great success with spacing the floor against LSU twice this season. Having said that, he’ll likely be matched up with Javontae Smart at times tomorrow. Quinerly’s defense will be equally important as Smart can be quite the difference maker if he gets going. 

My Thoughts: Alabama is 23-6 with a chance to be both SEC regular season and SEC Tournament champions. That’s an incredible thought to process and you know the players are channeling some strong emotions. The team will have to channel those emotions in a positive manner . Alabama doesn’t need to come out overly aggressive on the defensive end and find itself in foul trouble due to reaching or over the back rebounding, etc. The Tide has to keep the pace up, make shots, turn defense into offense and force LSU to try and keep up. I have a feeling that LSU comes out hot and leads a big portion of this game. That could spell trouble if the Crimson Tide have another cold day from the perimeter. But Alabama has begun to thrive in that challenging position. The Tide eventually gets a lead and LSU won’t be able to fight off the familiar sense of dread. I think we see another net cutting ceremony for Alabama. 

Prediction: Alabama 84, LSU 72

Survived! On our way to 1st SECT Championship in 19 years- 73-68

Box score

Defense saved the day... horrible from beyond the arc and forced a lot of bad shots on the offensive end.
Herbert had a double-double (20/13), but also forced quite a few shots.
Quinerly was the star of the game with his dribble drive and smooth stroke.
FT shooting was also the star (everyone was perfect except Herbert who was 8/11)... 16/19

Next up... the winner of LSU and Arkansas. 

Friday, March 12, 2021

UTK game open thread

I think this will be another asskicking as I think this team is on a mission to DOMINATE!
Bama by 15 on our way to the 1st SECT finals since 2002.

Mi$$ St game open thread

Posting for comments.
Prediction... PAIN!

As we stroll to the finals of the SECT.

Saturday, March 06, 2021

Big 2nd half propels Tide to 16-2... and an 89-79 win @ UGA

Box score

I cannot comment on the game as I did not see a minute of it... weather outside was too nice so played golf instead.

Anyways 16-2... what an incredible season! Next up... SEC Tournament.

Post made for comments section.

Wednesday, March 03, 2021

Defense stuffs Tigers- Bama wins 70-58

Box score

Yet another bad shooting night for the Tide, but the defense came through and held Auburn to under 40% from the field and caused 23 turnovers. 

Despite a bad shooting night (Shack and Petty hit 8 of our 10 3s) and getting outrebounded by 12, we did score when the game got to 5 and never really were threatened. Herbert had a 10/9/6 game and seemed to be more in rhythm than the previous couple of games.

Next up... @ UGA. It would be nice to close out the season 16-2 in conference.

As for NCAAT seeding, here is how I see the possibilities:

1 Seed- Win out including SECT (we'd get the bump over the 2nd place B1G team)

2 Seed- Win to SEC Semis

3 Seed- lose last 2 games

Arkansas has an outside shot at a 1 if they win out and beat us in the SECT. I can see them also as a 2 seed if they make it to the SECT Finals.

Soooo... I REALLY WANT the 1 seed. Not because of any advantage (it's not one this year), but just to say we are the first 1 seed outside of UF/UK in the SEC since 1999.

Monday, March 01, 2021

Game Preview: (5) Alabama vs Auburn

  “How does this sound; The Alabama Crimson Tide are the SEC CHAMPIONS!” That was the call from Chris Stewart Saturday night. It feels pretty good doesn’t it? Alabama will finally hang another banner. I could write about it forever, but I’ll move on to the preview. Alabama faces Auburn in its final home game. Tip is set for 6:00 on ESPN 2. 

The Opponent: Bruce Pearl’s Tigers come in to Coleman Coliseum having had a miserable season at 12-13. Even if Auburn were eligible for the postseason...they wouldn’t be. They’ve shown flashes of being a solid team, however. Auburn upset #25 Tennessee at home Saturday behind another solid game from Allan Flanagan and surprising stability from Jamal Johnson at the point. Tennessee has been abysmal offensively though. The test from Alabama will be a bit more complex. G Justin Powell has been ruled out while future lottery pick Sharife Cooper is listed as questionable. Coach Oats (along with the rest of Alabama’s fanbase) laughed at Pearl’s insistence that Cooper may not lace up. 

 Auburn scores 10 more points per game with Cooper in the lineup so he obviously improves the offense. Interestingly enough, Auburn also gives up 10 more points per game with Cooper. This leads us to conclude that Cooper flat out loses interest on the defensive end on a regular basis but it’s also proof of just how much his presence changes Auburn’s pace of play. 

Players to Watch: For the obvious reason listed above, eyes will be on Cooper if he plays. However, the most dangerous Tiger in my opinion is Flanagan. Cooper will get his and Alabama can live with that to an extent. The Tide could be in trouble if Flanagan has a hot night from the perimeter while Cooper is driving and kicking to him. Herb Jones or John Petty will likely draw that assignment. Closing out and extending the defense beyond the perimeter without fouling will be the recipe of defensive success for Alabama

 Jahvon Quinerly has been on a tear for the Tide recently and it’s been a welcomed sight. You just never quite know what you’re going to get from Herb Jones as the primary ball handler so it’s imperative that Quinerly plays at a high level if Alabama is going to be anywhere near its best. Watch out for James Rojas and Keon Ellis though. These two have come off the Bama bench multiple times in clutch situations this season and gotten the job done. Ellis doesn’t the recognition he deserves on the defensive end and Rojas has a tendency for the big play. I expect at least one of them to reach double figures in scoring tomorrow night

My Thoughts: It’s sobering to think that this is the last time that John Petty, Herbert Jones and Alex Reese will suit up inside Coleman Coliseum. Words can’t begin to express the impact these 3 (along with their walk-on classmates) have had on this program. All 3 could’ve thrown in the towel after lackluster seasons and coaching changes but they stuck with it and brought a SEC Championship to Tuscaloosa. I don’t think they’re interested in losing their last home outing. Alabama’s defense finally got back to the intensity it had when it was #1 in defensive efficiency in KENPOM about a month ago. I think the offense finds its rhythm again tomorrow. I expect the 3s to rain and Auburn’s season will end with a the SEC CHAMPIONS

Prediction: Alabama 84, Auburn 74

Sunday, February 28, 2021

SEC CHAMPS! $tate succumbs to Shack... Bama holds on 64-59

Box score

It was an ugly game... a 2nd straight game where we struggled from beyond the arc, but Q and Shack covered the scoring (over half our points) while Jones cleaned the boards en route to a closer than expected win.

I said our win over Vanderbilt last week was the type of bad game win we needed... did not expect a repeat performance so soon. It is a bit troubling...

Positives- FT shooting (15/17), +5 on the boards, defense

Negatives- shooting woes continue for Petty and Jones

First SEC title in 19 years... enjoy it.

Friday, February 26, 2021

(8) Alabama at Mississippi State

  Maybe we’ve all had enough time to get Wednesday’s debacle out of our systems. Alabama now has 3 more games to earn a win and clinch the SEC Championship after the announcement was made that the team will play at Georgia on March 6 for a makeup game. First crack comes in Starkville, however. Alabama edged out Mississippi State in Tuscaloosa 81-73 in the first meeting. Tip is set for 5:00 on SEC Network Saturday evening. 

The Opponent:  We were able to learn a great deal about Mississippi State in the first contest. They’re still a well coached program with a great backcourt and a big frontcourt. The Bulldogs were able to get to the rim regularly in Tuscaloosa and their length on defense forced Alabama into some untimely turnovers that nearly blew the game. State will likely start two big twin towers that can both play the C position along with a Power Forward. Ben Howland simply hasn’t bought into the modern “position-less basketball “ trend. Having Jordan Bruner and Juwan Gary healthy for this game should be huge for Alabama, but State doesn’t defend that well beyond the perimeter due to their size. If Bruner and Alex Reese can make some shots, it would certainly help to pull some of the weight from the paint for the Bama Guards to penetrate

  Players to Watch: Anyone that remembers my preview from the first matchup will remember how scared I was of DJ Stewart. I love this kids game. Stewart was unstoppable in Tuscaloosa and he can score on all 3 levels. Alabama will need to something it hasn’t been able to do in quite some time...defend without fouling. While the officiating was completely atrocious in Fayetteville, Alabama’s defense was just as bad-and quite frankly has been for almost a month. Throw the top 3 defensive efficiency KENPOM ranking in the garbage. Alabama has given up way too many layups, dunks and free throws during this most recent stretch. If Stewart has a big day in the paint and/or at the stripe, Alabama may be in trouble again

 For Alabama, the choice has to be Herbert Jones. Jones was on the receiving end of a brutal attention grabbing session from Doug Shows. Having said that, he simply hasn’t been playing his typical, smart brand of defense. He has reached when he should know that his length and athletic ability are enough. Alabama needs more than 20 minutes of Herb Jones defense if it is to perform anywhere near it’s peak on that end of the floor.  

 My Thoughts: It’s easy to tell the team is feeling the pressure of being this close to the SEC Championship. The emotions were riding high in Fayetteville and Alabama simply couldn’t channel them in a positive manner- Especially when the shots weren’t falling early and the questionable whistles started to mount up. The Tide will need to take a business approach tomorrow. Prepare for the opponent, formulate a game-plan and stick to it. Someone will need to come out and set the tone and I think it’s time for the seniors to do just that. Alabama needs a good start tomorrow. If the Tide can protect the ball, stay out of foul trouble and knock down some early shots...maybe we can finally celebrate. 

Prediction: Alabama 75, Mississippi State 69

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Hogtied... Hogs bludgeon Tide 81-66

Box score

Refs were bad, but shooting was worse. We reverted to our losing formula from Nov/December where we'd chuck up 3s when behind without getting the ball inside first.

While I am glad Bruner is back, I think in the 2nd half he hurt us more than helped as he was overconfident with his 3 straight 3s made to end the first half. Also, he should not be the one taking the most shots (14) in this offense.

Herb was mostly bad yesterday as his 5 TOs led the team (and most of them were really bad).

Gary was the highlight as his 9 boards was a team high... and he seem to have the most energy last night.

Oh well... can't win them all... just need to knock off $tate for our first outright SECT in about 20 years (2002 season).

#1 seed is probably out of reach now... want to defend that 2 seed though and need to win the last 2 games to sew that up. 

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Game Preview: (6) Alabama at (20) Arkansas

  With LSU’s loss at Georgia, Will Wade’s squad can no longer win the SEC outright. Tomorrow night’s matchup between Alabama and Arkansas now becomes the first potential SEC title game for Alabama. This is what we’ve been waiting for, everyone. Tip is set for 8:00 on ESPN2. 

The Opponent: Arkansas is now a different squad than what Alabama destroyed (90-59) in Coleman Coliseum last month. The Hogs have won 7 straight and have knocked off Missouri, Florida and others in the process.  The one glaring difference is the effort that Arkansas has consistently brought since the loss in Tuscaloosa. Eric Musselman has demanded his team play hard and the kids have responded. I won’t bore you with the fancy stats this time...this won’t be nearly as easy as it was for the Tide the first time around. The only stat that matters to me in this game is home and away. Arkansas is 13-1 at Bud Walton arena this season and Alabama has struggled there for years. 

Players to Watch: This is a no-brainer as it pertains to Arkansas. 6’5 G Moses Moody is NBA ready in my opinion and quite frankly could’ve scored as many as he wanted in the first matchup. Luckily, Alabama’s nearly perfect play on offense seemed to kill his motivation in the 2nd half. Moody and Notae combine for over 80% of offense for Arkansas when you factor in both points and assists. Alabama MUST defend without fouling. If the referees begin to control this game in the manner that Pat Adams and his crew did last will be detrimental to the road team

 Alabama is starting to get healthy again and the Tide offense has proven it. Jahvon Quinerly and Jaden Shackleford have particularly been impressive of late whereas John Petty has cooled off a bit. I expect a big game from 23, but I think the player to watch this time is Jordan Bruner. In his first game back against Vanderbilt, Bruner provided excellent minutes although he only managed a single point. The defensive effort and rebounding will always be there for Bruner, but Alabama is nearly unbeatable when he is able to provide points in the paint while the Guards are shooting well from the perimeter. 

My Thoughts: This is it, friends. The game we’ve wished, hoped and prayed would happen for nearly 2 decades. Alabama is a win over Arkansas away from being crowned SEC Champions and hanging a new banner. The team has played extremely well on the road this SEC season save for a miserable first 35 minutes at Missouri. We can only hope that the much maligned SEC officials actually allow the players to determine the outcome tomorrow night. If that is the case, AND the culture has truly shifted to the point that Alabama brings the energy and effort into a big game on the road...Bama will win the SEC Championship tomorrow night

Prediction: Alabama 79, Arkansas 74

Saturday, February 20, 2021

Shack stymies Stackhouse's Squad... 82-78 Bama squeaks out a W

Box score

This is the type of game we need to play... horrific from 3 and found a way to win against an improving Vanderbilt squad.

Shack was the hero today with 27 points... most of them driving to the hoop. Q and Reese made half of our 3s today (5 of 10).

Good to see Bruner back... as he gets his hoops legs back under him and with Q getting better (best 3 point shooter today) I really am liking this team to make noise in the NCAA Tournament.

Next up... @ Arkansas who is a much different team than the one we curbstomped earlier in the year.

Friday, February 19, 2021

Game Preview: (8) Alabama vs Vanderbilt

 It seems like an eternity since we’ve watched Bama Hoops take the court. A postponement of the Texas A&M matchup offered Alabama some extra, perhaps unnecessary time off for an offense that has regained its rhythm, but it also provided time for the likes of Herbert Jones, Juwan Gary and Jordan Bruner to heal up a bit. As per usual Vanderbilt has gotten hot in February just in time to visit Tuscaloosa . Alabama will be looking to place itself on the doorstep of clinching the SEC title with a win. Tip is set for 11:00 on SECN. 

The Opponent: Vanderbilt comes into the contest sitting at 114 in KENPOM and sporting a 6-11 record. Having recently won tilts against South Carolina and at Mississippi State, the Commodores have looked solid as of late. It’s all started on the perimeter for Vanderbilt as the recipe is fairly simple for Jerry Stackhouse’s club; If the 3s are falling, they compete. If the Dores can’t consistently hit from the perimeter, they’re usually in for a long 40 minutes. 

 Vanderbilt is also at the bottom of the SEC in 3pt defense and that doesn’t bode well against a team like Alabama. 

Players to Watch : Much to the delight of Alabama fans, the Tide won’t have to contend with the likes of Saben Lee tomorrow as he is currently a member of the Detroit Pistons program. Lee dropped 38 in Tuscaloosa last year and singlehandedly decimated Alabama’s hopes for an at-large bid. However, his partner in crime Scottie Pippen Jr has taken the reigns and is beginning to lead the program nicely. Pippen is one of only 2 players in the league averaging 20+ points and 5+ assists per game. One would expect Herbert and JP to spend the majority of time defending Pippen who is most dangerous in the half court set. Bama will want to make Vanderbilt try and run with them in order to keep Pippen and his pals out of sync in the half court. 

 It’s once again difficult to point the finger at only one Alabama player as 5 men in crimson and white reached double figures last weekend against Georgia. Herbert Jones displayed on of the finer games you’ll ever see played on the collegiate level and proved that he is simply a different animal when he’s healthy. His back has been given an entire week of rest this time so one would only expect Jones to continue to improve. I’m also going to have my eye on Joshua Primo. The super freshman didn’t score a single point in the first half last week, yet ended with 19 in only 11 minutes of work. Again....Vandy’s perimeter defense has been suspect. Primo, Petty, Shackleford and Quinerly could all have big days behind the arc. 

My Thoughts: I simply don’t believe Vanderbilt can score enough in this game. The Alabama offense is returning to form and the guards are shooting with confidence again. Defense has slipped a bit as of late-enough to drop the Tide out of the top spot in KENPOM’s defensive efficiency stat. Vandy will score at times but Bama will likely have a few too many offensive spurts to allow the Commodores to keep it very close. The SEC Championship is so close that the Tide can taste it. I expect them to be hungry and show it. 

Prediction: Alabama 82 Vanderbilt 72

Nate Oats gets contract extended and nice raise to boot


Generally I am against doing this sort of thing early on in a coaching contract (got burnt by Grant and Gottfried before), but in this case I get it. Oats would be a highly sought after coach and extending him with the payraise ($3.225 mil/yr) makes poaching him less obtainable unless it was a Kentucky or North Carolina type school calling.

Being honest, I was iffy about him being hired as more often than not the mid major coaches flame out at Power 5 schools, but I admit I was wrong. 

Hopefully this turns into a bigger investment into basketball itself (maybe a new arena down the road).

Friday, February 12, 2021

Game Preview: (10) Alabama vs Georgia

  Find a way. It’s what good teams do in the worst of times. Alabama’s offense was back to its ripping and running ways at South Carolina and it was a relieving sight. Yet the creeping February dread I mentioned in my last preview still lingered due to an early injury to F Juwan Gary and South Carolina’s offensive output. Alabama sealed the victory with help from a brilliant defensive strategy implemented late by Nate Oats by which the Tide D baited SC into taking a wide open layup for 2 while Bama was up 3. CHEF’S KISS! James Rojas subsequently made a couple of FTs to ice the game away. Unfortunately, Alabama will be without the services of Gary for up to 2 weeks as the team will welcome Georgia into Tuscaloosa tomorrow. Alabama enters the game leading the conference standings by 3.5 games and only needing 3 more wins to clinch the SEC title. Tip is set for 2:30 on SECN. 

The Opponent: Georgia comes into Tuscaloosa with a 12-7 overall record (5-7 in SEC play). Tom Crean has struggled to field a tournament quality team regardless of having Anthony Edwards. Part of that is due to Bruce Pearl curiously raiding the talent of the Atlanta area right underneath Crean’s nose. I digress. This year’s Bulldog squad is no different. A decent preseason start has given way to a lackluster conference performance but the Dawgs have still shown potential at times. This matchup favors Alabama, however as Georgia is dead last in the conference in scoring defense giving up about 83 PPG. The Bulldogs score close to 75 PPG. Georgia does most of its damage in the paint and is actually 2nd in the league in FG% at 46%. This makes it head scratching when considering they convert FTs at a 67% clip-good for next to last in the conference. 

Players to Watch: It’s hard not to like Georgia PG Sahvir Wheeler’s game. He leads Georgia in PPG (13.5), minutes per game and APG (7.5). The only G in the league with better vision is Sharife Cooper in my opinion. The only negative to Wheeler’s game is that he can occasionally be prone to turnovers when he tries to do too much. 

 Alabama’s John Petty Jr seems to be rounding into offensive form again for the Tide and that’s a very good sign. I expect a big game from him again tomorrow but I’m gonna have my eyes on Jahvon Quinerly. He seems to finally be back to pre “medical condition “ form as he contributed 13 big points against SC and protected the ball much better in the 2nd half. His role as primary ball handler becomes more vital as Herb Jones has simply become a liability on the offensive end at times as he’s been unable to practice due to a back injury. Fortunately, Herb hasn’t let any of those issues hurt his performance on the defensive end. 

My Thoughts: This matchup looks great for Alabama on paper. To put it simply, Bama takes this one easily IF IT BRINGS THE NECESSARY EFFORT. Having said that, the injuries have actually seemed to add a bit of a chip on the Tide’s shoulders . The team loves to be doubted and there are many that wonder if Bama can continue to find a way through the mounting injuries. One thing has remained a constant for Alabama and its defense. Alabama is now currently at the top of KENPOM’s adjusted defense stat. While some may choose to point out South Carolina’s 78 points, they neglect to note the inflated possessions that are a direct result of Alabama’s blistering offensive pace. I expect Alabama to be productive turning defense in to offense tomorrow. The magic number should decrease to 2. 

Prediction: Alabama 84, Georgia 69

Tuesday, February 09, 2021

Bama stunts the Cocks 81-78

Box score

I can't really give a wrap up as I did not watch (followed on my phone while watching HS Lacrosse), but it seems like GOOD Petty showed up and bailed us out.

Posted this for comments...

Monday, February 08, 2021

Game Preview: (11) Alabama at South Carolina

  It seems as though this game can’t get here fast enough as Alabama will look to erase the negative emotions associated with Saturday’s events. In a game in which the SEC title could essentially be clinched, a projected 1 seed on the line and televised on the worldwide leader of sports-Alabama looked inexplicably horrid and flat for 34 minutes...yet still could’ve pulled out a miraculous comeback if a less than 100% Herb Jones doesn’t run into his four year issue of not being able to finish point blank layups. Nonetheless, Alabama holds a 3 game lead in the SEC standings as we head into the homestretch toward the SEC regular season title. Tip is set for Tuesday at 5:30 CT on SECN. 

The Opponent: South Carolina will be the first opponent Alabama has faced in 12 games that isn’t ranked inside KENPOM’s top 60. The Gamecocks currently sit at 84 and sport a less than stellar overall record of 5-7. South Carolina averages about 73 PPG while also giving up nearly 76. Frank Martin’s club is dead last in the SEC in FT% and 315th nationally. OOF. This doesn’t mean they aren’t dangerous, however. This is a team that went on the road to beat Florida in Gainesville at a time when the Gators were #22 in the land. Alabama can’t afford to overlook anyone right now-especially in a road contest in which the Tide could be without 2 key players. 

Players to Watch: South Carolina has 3 talented scorers that each average double figures. F Keyshawn Bryant is a worker in the paint. He scores 14.5 PPG and also leads the Gamecocks in blocked shots. It’s G AJ Lawson that can fill it up, however. Lawson averages 17.5 PPG and has been even better in SEC play at 18.5 PPG

The news has broken that Coach Oats could choose to sit Herb Jones tomorrow to give the senior wing an opportunity to heal his ailing back which has caused him some issues with being able to finish. It’s only my opinion but I think it’s past time to do just that. While Alabama has ascended to 2nd in KENPOM’s adjusted Defense since Jones began running the point, Alabama’s offense has gone down a click to 33rd in KENPOM’s adjusted offense. The trend coincides with the injury to Jordan Bruner and Jahvon Quinerly’s medical issue, however. This could be an opportunity to allow the Tide’s better offensive players to regain some rhythm and confidence. Jones is Alabama’s heart on the defensive end and there is no denying it. However, the Alabama offense can NOT reach it’s peak unless John Petty and Jaden Shackleford are shooting with confidence. Shackleford has shown signs of re-emerging of late while Petty has not been his usual self offensively. The horrid South Carolina transition defense could be just the remedy needed for 23, 11, 5 and 14 if the Tide protects the ball themselves. 

 My Thoughts: To put it simply, Alabama has to bring the effort night in and night out if it wants to close out the regular season with the SEC title. The schedule lightens up drastically for the Tide going forward but it can’t afford to relax. Saturday had an all too familiar feel for scarred Alabama basketball fans. Completing the comeback would’ve came with a feeling of destiny and a magical moment to talk about for years. Instead the creeping dread of “here we go again” whispered to us yet again even though the stats and analytics scream that this Alabama team is genetically different. That demon must be exorcised. Going on the road and beating an inferior opponent would be a great start. Especially considering Missouri has to travel to Oxford to play a hot Ole Miss squad. Bama will miss Herb on defense a bit but it’s offense explodes in the 2nd half behind hot shooting from the guards. 

Prediction: Alabama 90, South Carolina 75

Sunday, February 07, 2021

Undefeated dream over. Mizzou hangs on 68-65

Box score

Cliff notes- we could not overcome (but almost did) a REALLY BAD 34 minutes with an exceptional final 6 minutes of the game. We had 2 chances to take the lead, but Herb missed a bunny and on the next possession was blocked (foul clearly not called) and at the end a 3 missed the mark to tie.

Also... a putrid day from the FT line (12/21) highlighted by Rojas missing all 3 of his FT after being fouled on a 3 pt attempt.

When you shoot 33% from the field (Ellis only player to shoot better than 50%) you probably should not win, but defensively we held Mizzou to 3-20 from 3. The issue all day was Mizzou in the paint... they ate our lunch there.

We are missing Bruner in there and need him back.

On to SC Lite who got curb stomped by Mi$$ $t yesterday at home.

Friday, February 05, 2021

Game Preview: (7) Alabama at (17) Missouri

  I’d like to begin by apologizing for not providing a preview for the last game. My mother was having a rather important surgery. For those interested- I do provide a tweet summarizing my thoughts on the upcoming game when I know I’ll miss a preview. If you wish to follow me for that and other Bama Hoops news, my Twitter handle is Now on to the game!

 The clear cut heavyweights of the SEC will meet tomorrow with massive conference ramifications. Alabama travels to Missouri with a 4 game lead in the standings. A win would all but clinch the SEC regular season title for the Tide. Missouri needs the win in order to take a big chunk out of the gap. Tip is set for 11:00 CT Saturday on the worldwide leader. 

 The Opponent: Cuanzo Martin’s squad is coming in to the matchup with Alabama as winners of 4 of their last 5. That includes a 75-70 home win over Kentucky earlier this week. Missouri features 4 players that score in double figures and are led by Xavier Pinson and Dru Smith. Pinson is a legit NBA talent...more on him later. Missouri rebounds well as they have beaten opponents on the boards by about 3 RPG. The Tigers outscore opponents by 5 PPG and are 3rd in the league in scoring defense. 

Players to Watch: The aforementioned Xavier Pinson is the obvious choice here. Though G Dru Smith is an excellent leader and scorer, Pinson can be an X factor. Proven by the massive game he had against TCU in the SEC/ BIG12 Challenge. The kid is a legitimate NBA prospect and his stock can only rise as he develops a consistent 3. Petty and Herb will likely draw minutes guarding Pinson. He will eat at times but Bama simply can’t let him take over

 It was good to see the offense speed up again wasn’t it? Alabama is at its best when it holds opposing offenses to single shot possessions, rebounds and then gets into its rip and run game. Jaden Shackleford is a key factor in that. There may only be 2 or 3 teams in the nation that can outscore Alabama when Shack and Petty are scoring it. The Bama guards will need to beat their defenders and get into the paint to initiate the drive and kick game

My Thoughts: The Missouri offense is a potent one indeed, but the Tigers have only shot 30% from the arc in conference play. I believe the 3 will play a huge factor in this game. Alabama needs to defend the perimeter and keep Missouri at or below its conference average. Having said that, I don’t think the Tide will have such an easy time getting into the paint as it did against LSU. When they do, ball handlers HAVE TO see the kick out if the layup isn’t there. Decision making will need to be at its best. 

 Motivation certainly shouldn’t be an issue for Alabama tomorrow. I’m sure Coach Oats has reminded the team of the sluggish start it had just last weekend in its last 11:00 AM start. It won’t happen again. One also doesn’t have to be an analytics or math expert to know that a 4.5 or 5 game lead in the standings this late in the season likely means hanging a new banner. That’s exactly what you sign up to play for. Bama wins a back and forth affair. 

Prediction: Alabama 74, Missouri 71

Wednesday, February 03, 2021

10-0 in SEC. Bama bludgeons LSU again 78-60

Box Score

Let me start off by saying that OU loss might have been the best thing to happen to us this year as the previous few games we were not playing well, but still won. This is a good rebound from that close loss in Norman.

I want to highlight Juwan Gary off the bench with 12 points, 7 boards... and an energy that really helped push this game to blowout city in the 2nd half. 

Despite a bad day from beyond the arc (25%) our defense once against was stifling and LSU really had no answers in the 2nd half as we took it to the basket almost at will. BTW we were + 16 on the boards... 

Next up... at Mizzou and this might be our toughest conference road game of the season. Win that and we can start thinking about being undefeated in conference.

Saturday, January 30, 2021

10 game streak... OVER! Sooners bully on glass.. 66-61 loss

No box score as I am too lazy to link right now.

I guess we all should have seen this coming... this is 3 bad offensive games in a row and in this one our failure to rebound probably cost us the game.

Reese played well on defense, but IMO took WAAAAAY too many shots (led team in that). Being honest EVERYONE has a bad game except Ellis. Which is crazy as even with a lack of production from any of the starters we still almost won (and should have if we make just half of the bunnies missed inside).

Don't get down Bama fans... we are still on 🚀🚀🚀 to the 🌑 with 💎🙌

If you don't get the above references it is okay... it made me laugh and that is really all that matters :)

Friday, January 29, 2021

Game Preview: 8 Alabama at 24 Oklahoma

 In its last 2 games Alabama put in their worst efforts of the past month...yet the Tide is still undefeated in SEC play. A poor defensive effort against MSU followed by a poor offensive effort against Kentucky has had the good guys sweating at times, but the guys have found a way-as winning teams are supposed to do. Bama will now travel to Norman to kick off the SEC/BIG12 Challenge. Tip is set for 11:00 CT on ESPN. 

 The Opponent: Oklahoma comes in to this matchup on quite the hot streak that includes wins over West Virginia and Texas. They’ve done it behind a balanced effort on both sides of the court as well as some timely leadership. The Sooners are out scoring opponents by nearly 11 PPG while shooting a very efficient 75% from the charity stripe. Everything began to click for Oklahoma after Coach Lon Kruger made the switch to a 4 guard lineup by inserting Elijah Harkness. Three point efficiency increased on offense and the turnover ratio nearly doubled for the Sooners after the shake up. The only blemish in the armor seems to be some vulnerability to the dribble drive-which is good news for the Tide if it can protect the ball and finish at the rim or find the open kick out. A win for Oklahoma would make them the only team to win 3 straight top 10 meetings since the 2013-14 Michigan Wolverines. 

 Players to Watch : Oklahoma has plenty of players that are capable of scoring the ball in a myriad of ways. This is a high IQ club led by senior Austin Reaves. The 6’5 G averages about 16 PPG and 5 APG. He’s one of those players that seems to make the right decision almost every time he has the ball in his hands. 

 Everyone remembers what happened the last time Herb Jones played Oklahoma. One could argue that this was the day that Herb’s legacy began to take shape as he locked down Trae Young to help Alabama earn the W. Jones will come in to this matchup as a senior and a completely different offensive player than he was on that day. He leads Alabama in nearly every defensive category and is 3rd on the team in scoring. Most impressive is the fact that he leads Alabama in both FT % and 3 PT %. I won’t lie to you faithful years past I literally cringed when Herb would pull up for 3. When he went to the line I’d pray for 1/2. This development under Oats has been nothing short of remarkable. Alabama will need Herb-esque effort on D all the way around to come out of Norman with a win. 

My Thoughts : I predicted a loss to Kentucky Tuesday night. I knew Alabama was the better team but I was also convinced that Kentucky would simply be desperate. They’d get the foul calls and Bama would be cold from the field . All of which happened and yet there was one facet of the game I ignorantly ignored. Alabama just wants it more. The DNA has mutated within this program. Oklahoma’s experience at the Guard position scares me. The Tide probably loses if it’s as cold from the perimeter as it was against Kentucky. But Bama loves to play on the road. The chip on the shoulder will still be there. I expect a solid shooting performance to be just enough for the streak to continue...and talk of a potential 1 seed to commence

Prediction: Alabama 84 Oklahoma 76

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Even a bad game is still too much for the Wildcats- Bama sweeps Calipari

Box score

We got bad Petty, crappy 3 pt shooting, missed a half dozen bunnies, AND STILL WON BY DOUBLE DIGITS!

Defensively we put on a clinic IMO... Kentucky never could get any sort of flow or rhythm out there.
Herb with a great game... dabbling with a triple double (11/8/7), Shack getting the ball to the rim late, and BTW... FREE THROW SHOOTING WAS AWESOME!

That is 2 bad offensive games in a row and we are still UNDEFEATED in conference play.

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Game Preview: (10) Alabama vs Kentucky

  Alabama survived a bit of a scare from Mississippi State who brought it’s best effort Saturday evening. We all expected it to be a trap game and for State to bring it-but as Bobby stated in our recap...their best wasn’t enough. The Tide will next welcome Kentucky into Coleman Coliseum for a rematch of the manhandling Alabama handed the Cats in Rupp. Tip is set for 6:00 Tuesday night on ESPN2. 

The Opponent: Up until this past weekend, Kentucky just hasn’t been a good team offensively. They’ve exhibited very little threat from the perimeter and haven’t yet developed a go to guy when a bucket is needed. Enter the abysmal LSU defense to provide a remedy and allow for Kentucky to find some offensive rhythm just in time for the trip to Coleman. Freshman Brandon Boston came out of his shell a bit to rack up 18 points against LSU. Calipari has stressed the importance of rebounding and limiting teams like LSU and Alabama to single opportunities on offense. Freshman and former Bama recruit Isaiah Jackson responded like a champion with 15 rebounds Saturday. Rest assured that Cal and the Cats will be set on that same mentality. Defense and rebounding will be the focus for Kentucky as they simply can’t outscore Alabama unless it has a very off night...or the Coleman officiating plague creates extra opportunities for Kentucky  at the stripe. 

Players to Watch:  The 2 Cats mentioned above will be key to Kentucky having success against Alabama, as will Olivier Sarr. It’s freshman PG Devin Askew that I’ll have my eyes on, however. Calipari has stated that he will put a minutes cap on the talented freshman whom has seemed to struggle a bit once he reaches the 20 minute mark. Askew is a talented scorer and I expect he and Boston to try to go right at the Tide defenders in order to possibly create some foul trouble for an already thin Bama frontcourt. 

 Alabama will need contributions from the usual suspects but this will be a leadership and effort game. John Petty and Herb Jones will need to stress to their younger teammates just how important effort and energy are here. Having said that, Jaden Shackleford has been somewhat quiet of late despite having made some clutch shots. I expect him to be back to his hot handed ways Tuesday. 

 My Thoughts: It’s very hard to beat a good team twice. Kentucky will be the first team to get a crack at Alabama after having a chance to see themselves on film against them and make adjustments to counteract the things the Tide does so well. It’ll be up to Alabama to respond to those adjustments the best way possible-energy and effort. If Alabama does manage to come out and control this game then it’ll be official...the DNA has changed permanently. Alabama is much better and more experienced than Kentucky but the streak can’t last forever can it? I just have an awful feeling that we get an anomaly Tuesday night. Kentucky will shoot way over their heads and get as many trips to the stripe as they want. They’ll be desperate and playing to win whereas Alabama could find itself in a mindset of playing not to lose. KenPom only gives Kentucky a 19% chance to win. All of this gives me an eerie feeling. Let’s get it out of the way and regroup in time to face what will likely be a ranked Oklahoma team.  We’re a better road team anyway.

Prediction: Kentucky 74, Alabama 73

$tate's best was not enough- Bama 81-73

Box Score

As commenters said in Double Ts preview, this was a great win considering $tate played well, we were not on fire, and still won comfortably. While it has been fun beating the tar out of the previous 7 opponents (ok, Auburn was a close one) havig these type of grind it out games is good preparation for the tournament.

Five guys with double digit scoring, Herb and Jaden being the stars of the game, again with the GREAT 2nd half defense (35.5% for $tate), and overall a game we won without too much sweating. We all know in years past this is one we would have lost.

The fun is in the winning... and MAN ARE WE HAVING FUN! I hope the NCAAT in Indy allows for fans, but I have read more than likely it will be kept to friends and family. Bummer as if this team advances to a Final Four I might have to fake being a long lost 3rd cousin of Pettway (or something) to get in.

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Game Preview: (16) Alabama vs Mississippi State

  Alabama heads back home having completely dismantled #22 LSU and reached its highest point in the NET so far at 10. The program is getting consistent national recognition now and deservedly so. Can the Tide stay level headed, ignore the rat poison and maintain its level of play? We’ll find out when Alabama faces Mississippi State Saturday at 5:00 CT. 

The Opponent : Mississippi State will come into Saturday’s matchup licking its wounds after failing to reach 50 points in a loss to in state rival Ole Miss. Head coach Ben Howland and G DJ Stewart offered a troubling admission after the loss stating Ole Miss simply out-hustled the Bulldogs in the Egg Bowl of basketball. That’s not a statement that MSU fans ever want to hear...especially when the most rippin’ and runnin’ team in the SEC is the next opponent. 

 State is 9-6 overall and 4-3 in conference. They’ve been a bit of an enigma of late after beating Florida only to put up a root canal of a performance against Ole Miss. My guess is that the Tide will see the Bulldogs’ best effort Saturday as they seem to play up to the level of competition. 

Players to Watch: Mississippi State features an extremely talented backcourt that includes the man that leads them in practically every category with the exception of rebounding- Iverson Molinar. Molinar averages 17 PPG and 3 APG for Ben Howland. He won’t leave the court much, if any Saturday. It’s DJ Stewart that impresses me the most, however. Briefly recruited by Bama, Stewart chose the Bulldogs and has been playing well this season. He also averages 17 PPG and has a high basketball IQ. John Petty will likely draw the assignment of keeping the talented redshirt sophomore in check.

 It’s hard to identify a single player to watch for Alabama as it has truly been a case of everyone in crimson and white contributing to this recent scorching run for the Tide. There may be one player in the country that can guard John Petty when he’s playing this well. The problem for opposing teams is that said player wears #1 for Alabama and is named Herb Jones. Petty, Primo, Herb, Shackleford and Quinerly are all capable of going off on any given night. Having said that...I’m choosing Alex Reese. The 6’9 senior has accepted his role off the bench and has made the most of his opportunities of late. .I think he has a big day Saturday. 

My Thoughts: This is the perfect recipe for a letdown game. Alabama is coming off of its best performance of the season and Mississippi State its worst. Coach Ben Howland has certainly let his players know that their collective effort against Ole Miss can’t be repeated. If it is...they could lose by 40 or more. Mississippi State will bring it’s best effort in the first half , but Alabama is playing too well right now and is simply the better, deeper team. The streak continues.

Prediction: Alabama 79, Mississippi State 66

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

TOTAL ANNIHILATION! Beatdown in Baton Rouge... Bama 105-75

Box score

Negatives- we got loose with the ball the final 8 minutes and allowed LSU to trim the lead to 28 near the end.

Outside of that... that first half was THE BEST first half of hoops I ever watched as a Bama fan. I am dating myself back to 1989. Right out of the gate we hit our first 6 3s and the game was over. Literally we were up double digits 3 minutes in and never looked back.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Game Preview: (18) Alabama at LSU

  What’s normally a clash for the SEC West in football turns out to be a battle for top dog in SEC hoops as Alabama travels to Baton Rouge on a mission to extend its win streak and retain the conference lead. Tip is set for 8:00 on ESPN. 

The Opponent: LSU comes in to this contest at 10-2 overall and playing very well themselves. The Bayou Bengals also like to play with tempo so I don’t expect them to be shy about running with the Tide. LSU can score with anyone as they average 86 PPG. Good for 10th overall in the country. They do it efficiently also, with 51% FG conversion rate. That’s 29th best in the country. These guys can play. As they should considering the odd number of 5 stars and sons of NBA legends that seem to be so interested in playing for a middle tier SEC basketball school. Curious indeed

 Players to Watch: Everyone in Alabama will obviously be paying close attention to Benedict...ummm...Trendon Watford and rightfully so. Watford is averaging 18 PPG and 7 RPG. He has an NBA future and is playing well for Will Wade. However, it’s PG JaVonta Smart that makes LSU go in my opinion. He leads the Tigers in 3Pt FG made per game and APG (4) as well. He’s one of those players that has a knack for making the right play when it matters.

 Alabama will have to slow down one of those 2. Petty and Herb will likely draw those 2 the most tonight . Both will need to be at the top of their defensive games and continue to contribute on the offensive end to boot. Not an easy task, but Herb and Petty have shown remarkable leadership of late. While LSU has the talent and depth to score with anyone, the egos tend to show up the most on the defensive end. 

My Thoughts: The Tigers don’t communicate well on D and seem content with that with the way they score. They haven’t yet faced on offense like Alabama though. If the shots are falling and Petty is hot, Alabama could flirt with 90 again. KenPom predicts a one point loss for Alabama tonight and Vegas has the Tide as a 1 point favorite. This is a game that could come down to late mistakes and/ or FTs. I’m gonna take Alabama to pull this one out with its relentless defense. Clutch FTs from Quinerly and Shack seal the W as the insufferable Will Wade fouls to the very last second. 

 Prediction: Alabama 84, LSU 78

Tide ranked 18th in AP, 16th in Coaches poll


I don't think we have been ranked this high in either poll in about 13 years. Win @ LSU and this might turn into a magical season as IMO this first stretch of 8 SEC games was what I thought would be the toughest part.

Lunardi has us as 3 seed now in his Bracketology. Assuming we don't do a February failure (which sadly we have done pretty much the last 5 years) this might be the first time in a long while since we were not sweating the bubble.