(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
University of Alabama basketball coach Anthony Grant made headlines Wednesday with his desire to see the Crimson Tide play at a faster tempo. The Vanderbilt Commodores would probably be glad to oblige. "I think Vanderbilt is a team that will take advantage of whatever they can get, whether it's in transition or the half-court," Grant said. Commodore coach Kevin Stallings, in his press conference this week, seemed content to play at any pace required. "As good a defensive team as (Alabama is), it wouldn't surprise me to see a low-scoring game," Stallings said. "But they had a great defensive team last year, and we ended up with a high-scoring game. We've had some wild games with them the last few years."
Grant said the team needs to figure out its identity after reverting back to some of the bad habits experienced when losing three of four games in December. "There's a point in time when winning needs to take a priority over any individual things," Grant said. "And I don't think we understand that all the time. Give Mississippi State credit, I think they played well. But I think we did some things in the game that were really disappointing."
Key to Destruction: Put the pressure on the perimeter. In their losses to Dayton and Mississippi State, Alabama went just 5-23 from long distance. This low-efficiency output isn't all that uncommon for the Crimson Tide - they're shooting just 27.1 percent from three-point range for the season so far. Vanderbilt will need to focus on stopping Alabama's scoring around the basket - something that guys like JaMychal Green and Trevor Releford excel at - and force them into long baskets. Kevin Stallings has shown that he can effectively switch from man to zone coverage in order to force a cold-shooting team to jack up deep shots. That's something that could pay dividends against a team that lacks a consistent three-point threat.
For the Commodores, the offensive game plan is simple: move the basketball and get the trio of junior guard John Jenkins, senior forward Jeffery Taylor and redshirt senior center Festus Ezeli involved early and often. As long as Vanderbilt is able to limit turnovers, the Commodores have the potential to do some serious damage to the Alabama defense by forcing a half-court game and spreading the floor. In order for this to be completed, a lot of pressure lies on Commodore point guards Brad Tinsley and Kedren Johnson. "We're going to have to be real sharp offensively, take care of the ball and hope we have very productive possessions," Stallings said about his team's strategy against Alabama's defense.
Lacey came off the bench in each of the first 11 games, but hasn't left the starting lineup since the Dec. 21 win over Oklahoma State. He didn't play more than 29 minutes as a backup, but has seen fewer than 32 minutes only twice since then. "Coming off the injury, I tried not to force things and try not to rush back into the way I know I'm capable of playing," Lacey said. "The team and coach has been patient with me and I think I'm coming along quite well." Through 17 games, he's averaging 7.5 points paced by a 19-point night in the SEC opener at Georgia.
The next question: Can Yeldon convince Hueytown quarterback and Florida State commitment Jameis "Jaboo" Winston to join him at the University of Alabama, where Yeldon has already enrolled? "We text and stuff," said Yeldon, who received 187 points in the voting by the ASWA's preps committee to edge Winston, the runner-up with 173 points. "We're good friends. I thought he was going to win it because quarterbacks always win it."
The University of Michigan Athletic Ticket Office will begin taking orders for tickets to the 2012 football season opener against defending national champion Alabama over the course of the next month. The Cowboys Classic against the Crimson Tide will be played on Saturday, Sept. 1, 2012 at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
The road to redemption has been and will continue to be long and strenuous for Johns, but now that he has a second chance, he’s not going to let it slip. That starts with his relationship with his 5-year-old son, Jimmy Johns, Jr. "The biggest thing was being a father and learning how to love someone and show affection," the elder Johns said. "I was so selfish as a person prior to going in. I didn’t see family and friends the way I do now. I want to teach him how to be a champion."
McDonogh #35 QB Jyron Walters committed to Arkansas State in August of last year but was informed today that the Red Wolves don't have a spot for him. When Arkansas State lost head coach Hugh Freeze to Ole Miss, Jyron Walters apparently lost his scholarship at the same time. "I hadn't talked to the coaches since Christmas Break and my dad got in contact with them today," said Jyron Walters. "They said they're not going to honor the scholarship. "It's very disappointing for them to pull it away at the last second. I've been committed to Arkansas State since August and other schools shied away because of that."
(ed.- wake me up when the national media shows as much outrage over this kid getting completely and totally screwed over by Gus Malzahn as they did over Nick Saban greyshirting a kid for four months...)