Well are you excited we got into the Tourney? Are you dancing in the streets figuring we will smash Creighton and UNC to the Sweet 16? Well pardon me if I’m only mildly pleased.
To begin with I like Alabama Basketball...a lot. It is not football, and I don’t like it as much as football. But, I really like our basketball program and follow it as faithfully as Football (well almost.)
I began following Bama Basketball seriously around 1971-72. CM Newton was our coach and he was really putting something together in Tuscaloosa in some ways thanks to Coach Bryant. At any rate in 1976 we actually had a team capable of winning the NCAAT (that 76 team was probably our best shot at a National Championship to date and we finished #6 in the final AP.) In 76 we beat UNC in the tourney and then lost to the eventual champion, Indiana, and we were the only team in the tourney to give them a game. I still think if we had won that game with Indiana, a game we could have won (losing by 5), we would have won it all. That would have put Bama on the map in BBall.
At any rate, after Coach Newton, Wimp took over and we had what I think was our best run. We went to the Sweet 16, 6 times in 12 years, and had 10 tourney appearances in Wimp’s 12 years. I know some about why they fired Wimp, but I’ve always wondered what the whole story was.
Well, then we had Hobbs and Gottfried who were only so-so in my mind. Sometimes we had success but we seemed to be inconsistent. In the end both of these guys really failed to even elevate Bama back to the level we had known under Newton and Sanderson, much less take us to the next level.
And, for those that don’t know it our basketball program has been very good over the years. We still have the second most SEC Tournament Championships, we are third in SEC regular season championships (LSU is 2nd.) Furthermore we have an all time winning record against every school in the SEC except UK and Arky (and we are only 2 down to Arky all time.) Although UK is clearly the all time best SEC school, and probably always will be, I think a strong argument could be made that Alabama has the 2nd best SEC Bball tradition.
And, that brings me to our current situation. To begin with we have made progress each year since Grant has arrived. That is encouraging. And I totally support him in the suspensions.
However, I don’t want to see our program just get back to the tourney, or win 20 games, or even get to where we were with Sanderson. I want to see us go to the next level. A level where we are going to the final four every once and while. A level where we actually win the championship a time or two before I die. I want us to be on the same level as teams like Michigan St. or UF. I realize that the top level will always be Duke, Carolina, Kansas, and UK (maybe UCLA or UConn.) I don’t know if we can get to that level because they have such an advantage in recruiting. But we can be on the level right below.
However, to go to the next level, we are going to have to get some guys who can shoot jump shots, especially 3 pointers. There is just no way we are going to go any further without at least 2 really good outside shooters, which would be two more than we have now.
The big question is can Grant bring them in? I thought we had two in Lacey and Randolph. But, I wonder what happened? Now we have no commits for next year yet and apparently just one scholly to give anyway.
Personally I wish Mitchell would go play in Europe and open up another scholly. Then I wish Coach Grant would find someone, somewhere (Europe, S. Amer., Alaska, anywhere) who could really shoot. I know we lose our inside threat with Green leaving, but I’d rather get a real shooter and let the 3 bigs we have now handle it underneath.
But, if we don’t bring in a real jump shooter before next year, with or without Mitchell, I think we will be right where we are this year. A good team, but not a great team. I so want Lacey, or Randolph or Copper to prove me wrong and shoot 40 % from 3 next year and for us to average 9, 3's per game as a team ...I just wonder if we can do it?
And, if we don’t do it next year...shoot better that is...when will do it? This game Friday really will tell us more than who gets to get beat by UNC. Can we score with a mid major team that can actually shoot the basketball? I hope we can. However, if we go “one and done” at least we will know what we must do and must do quick...find two 3 point shooters.
So, how do you feel about this dance to which we have been invited? Is this the coming out party of a future power or just a random invite to someone who really doesn't want to dance anyway?