After kicking off league play with 19 points in a road victory at Georgia on Jan. 7, Lacey shot just 26.6 percent (21-of-58) from the floor in the Tide’s next 10 league games. He scored in double figures just twice – 10 points each in losses to Vanderbilt and Kentucky. But against Tennessee, Lacey showed signs of revival. He still shot just 4-for-10 from the field, but he took the fight to the Vols and drained 9-for-12 from the foul line. He led Alabama with 18 points as the Tide snapped a two-game losing streak. Crimson Tide coach Anthony Grant is counting on more of the same when Alabama (17-9, 6-6 SEC) visits Arkansas (17-10, 5-7) tonight (6 p.m., ESPN2) at Bud Walton Arena. "I told him after the game, that’s what we need out of him," Grant said. "We need him to go be aggressive. When you’re a young guy, sometimes, you try to figure out, ‘Where do I fit? What’s my role? What do I do?’ Sometimes you rely on one thing."
Both Alabama (17-9) and Arkansas were among six teams within one game of each other in the SEC standings before Wednesday games. The No. 4 seed and a first-round tournament bye is the prize with the Tide sitting at 6-6 and the Razorbacks 5-7 in league play. Steele, a fourth-year junior, also recognizes the importance of the newcomers in this final stretch. "It's extremely tough for them," he said. "Coming in as a freshman pretty much every situation is new and then, by this time that you're not a freshman anymore, which is true to a certain extent. But it's still going to be half our team's first time going into a new environment like the one we will face on Thursday. It's one of the tougher environments in our conference. You can't really simulate that, you got have to go through it."
"I’ve got to get them now where they’re not thinking," Anderson said. "They’ve got to play instinctively. ... We’ve got to be a team that’s going to get after people and not let people run the offense. We’ve been playing just like other people. When you do that, you’re playing right into other people’s game — a half-court, just a half-court game."
Grant and the Alabama team probably have little sympathy for the Arkansas psyche coming off a tumultuous five-game stretch of suspensions and injuries. The Crimson Tide will still be without its top two scorers in tonight's 6 p.m. game, with Tony Mitchell suspended for the season and senior JaMychal Green at least one game away from full reinstatement. Grant, however, says Alabama (17-9, 6-6 SEC) has moved past those issues, and at least one Crimson Tide player actually put a positive spin on the situation. "I think it's forced some other people to step up and take on different roles that they might not have been used to," Tide junior Andrew Steele said on Monday. "I think it's really positive if we can get everyone to be as comfortable as they have been and stay aggressive and keep playing as confident as they have been."
Because of recent minor knee surgery, former Alabama running back Trent Richardson will not participate in drills on the field Sunday at the NFL Scouting Combine, according to an NFL Network report. Richardson, regarded as the No. 1 running back available in the 2012 NFL draft, had minor arthroscopic surgery approximately three weeks ago to repair damage that he suffered in a practice before the Jan. 9 BCS Championship Game, said the network, citing an NFL source. Richardson is expected to participate fully on March 7 at Alabama's pro day, according to the network.
Trent Richardson will not participate in on-field drills at this week's NFL Scouting Combine because of a minor knee injury, a league source said Wednesday. Richardson, the former Alabama star who's considered the top running back available in this year's NFL draft, suffered a minor injury in a practice leading up to last month's BCS national championship game, the source said, and had a "minor scope" about three weeks ago to alleviate his discomfort. Richardson has made good progress since then, but as a precaution, he'll limit his activity at the combine. He's expected to be able to participate in all on-field testing at Alabama's March 7 pro day.
As an athlete, Barron is very fluid with excellent body control. He has a low pedal, turns smoothly and has no wasted movement in transition. He is effective in zone and man coverage. He will often line up on a slot receiver in man and shows very good mirror skills. He has the long speed to stay with them deep and the body control to play versus moves. He is very instinctive and alert in zone and has the range to get to the sideline from the center of the field. In the first LSU game he broke on the ball from the middle of the field to get the pick and then return it to inside the 10-yard line. In other games he has shown the range to get to the sideline to make a PBU. One of the best aspects of Barron’s game is his run support and tackling. He is very instinctive and reads run quickly. He comes up aggressively, can shed and is a very good tackler. I didn’t see a miss in 4 games viewed. Overall, in my opinion, Barron is a better player than any safety in last year’s draft class. He has all the tools to start early in his career. He has size, speed, strength, ball skills and instincts. While you don’t see many safeties get drafted in the first round, Barron has a strong chance of that happening this year. This guy is a player.
Hightower plays both up and down in Alabama’s defense. On run downs he lines up as an inside linebacker, while on passing downs he plays from a 3-point stance at left end. He is a quick reactor with good instincts. He has no problem finding the ball. He can be stout at the point of attack and seldom gives ground to blockers. He has good hand use and can shed quickly. While he comes up with some big plays, I am concerned about his overall consistency. He doesn’t play hard down after down and after watching tape you can honestly say to yourself that he doesn’t make enough plays. He seems to play to the level of comp, playing good in big games and average in others.
Class of 2013 outside linebacker Dillon Lawson, who is currently on ESPNU’s 150 Watch List, committed to Florida on Saturday but now tells ESPN that his dream school is actually hated rival Alabama. "I mean I was born and raised in Alabama," Lawson said. "I have an Alabama tattoo on my chest. That’s the reason why. I’m just an Alabama fan. That’s all there is about it. I mean Alabama is my dream school, off the top, No. 1. I told coach Will [Muschamp], ‘Coach I was a Gator fan when I was in Alabama, they were like my second favorite team. But when I moved to Florida I saw how cocky and crazy these Gator fans where, so that kind of turned me away from Florida.’ I told him that."
Sledge was named a Scholastic All-American her freshman year and made the SEC Academic Honor Roll as well as the Dean’s List her freshman and sophomore years. She said academics is an important part of being a student at Alabama, and her planner helps her stay organized. "I came in my sophomore year and I was like, ‘I’m making a change this year. I’m not going to be up all hours of the night trying to finish something and then try to go practice,’" she said. "That’s just not conducive to what we do. Outside of the gym, making the right decisions has helped me inside of the gym."
Rumors began circulating earlier this evening that LSU defensive backs coach Ron Cooper would be joining the Bucs, and while that still hasn’t been formally announced by either LSU or Tampa, Randy Rosetta of TigerSportsDigest tweeted tonight that he received confirmation from LSU spokesman Michael Bonnette that Cooper is in fact leaving. Cooper had been with LSU since 2009 and previously served on staffs at South Carolina, Mississippi State and Wisconsin. What role he’ll play in the coaching staff at Tampa remains to be seen.
This, apparently, is how transfer decisions will be conducted until the schools alter the ridiculous NCAA rules that give vagabond coaches the power to block players from accepting scholarships at certain schools when the players are doing exactly what the coaches have done: seeking a better situation for themselves. We saw the same thing in January when Tennessee coach Derek Dooley blocked receiver DeAnthony Arnett from transferring to Michigan State or Michigan. Tennessee brass questioned the motives of Arnett, who said he wanted to be closer to his sick father. Arnett's motives shouldn't have mattered, though. No one questioned Dooley's motives when he left Louisiana Tech for Tennessee. Plus, why should Dooley have cared where a player buried on his depth chart went? If he isn't good enough to play at Tennessee, why does it matter where he goes?
Last fall, more than 300 major college football and men's basketball players called on college presidents to set aside an unspecified amount of money from new TV revenues into an "educational lock box." Players would be able to use those funds to help cover educational costs if they exhaust their eligibility before graduating, or could receive what's left of their allocation with no strings attached after graduating. If these sound like radical ideas, it's probably because the public has become so jaded to how money shapes the "non-profit" world of college sports. By all means, give us a football playoff. Just be willing to put your money where your mouth is.