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.