"That isn’t exactly our cup of tea," he said. "It’s not what we like to do, but it’s obvious that the key to being successful against Alabama is making sure you don’t turn the ball over and give them easy baskets in that regard and also keep them out of the paint. They’re very explosive going to the basket."
"Obviously, they are a very talented basketball team, in particular on the defensive end of the floor," Creighton coach Greg McDermott said. "Their defensive numbers are very impressive, holding teams to under 30 percent from the 3-point line and under 40 percent shooting for the year. They are obviously are going to provide some difficulties for us as we try to get into our offense and try to score at the rim. Anthony Grant has done a great job wherever he's been and, obviously, what he's done with the Alabama program in a short period of time is no exception."
Just as a scouting report on Alabama made its way like a fast break to Omaha, Neb., the 411 on Creighton spread. The Bluejays aren't big on the 1-3-1, or the 2-3 or any other of the zone defenses that have been a problem for the Crimson Tide. "They've been inconsistent shooting the ball from the 3-point line," noted Creighton coach Greg McDermott, whose eighth-seeded team will meet the ninth-seeded Crimson Tide at 12:40 p.m. CDT in the Midwest Regional of the NCAA tournament in Greensboro, N.C. "It appears in judging some of their league games on the Internet last night that a lot of teams have chosen to zone them. That isn't exactly our cup of tea."
"A goal we set at the beginning of the season was to put ourselves in a position where we could play in this tournament," Grant said. "To see that accomplished, as a coach, makes me very proud of our guys. "It's a great opportunity. We have great respect for Creighton, knowing what they've accomplished over the course of the year." The Bluejays will bring a 28-5 record into the game. "I've seen them play a couple of times," Steele said. "I know they are a good team. Once you get to this point, all of the teams in the field are good teams.
Smiles faded fast in Omaha, Neb., on Sunday evening. A reported crowd of 1,700 first cheered when Creighton’s name was called in the NCAA tournament selection show. Then it realized the Missouri Valley Conference champions with a 28-5 record somehow slipped to a No. 8 seed in the Midwest Region. Drawing Alabama was like Jack Lemmon moving in with Walter Matthau. The NCAA’s odd couple will create a number of matchup issues for both sides, with two completely different styles clashing at 12:40 p.m. in Greensboro, N.C.
The number one ranked Alabama softball team (21-0) will head to the Pacific Northwest for two midweek games. The Crimson Tide will face No. 15 ranked Oregon (18-3) on Tuesday, March 13 and then play Portland State (9-10) on Wednesday. First pitch against the Ducks is slated for 7 p.m. CT, while the game against the Vikings is set for an 8 p.m., start.
Alabama softball coach Patrick Murphy will follow through tonight on the recruiting promise he made to Kayla Braud. "He said he would try to play a game as close to my home as possible because he understands how much time, money, and effort it takes for my family to get to watch a game at Alabama," Braud said. "It turned out that game is in Eugene." The former Marist star will make her homecoming when the unbeaten and top-ranked Crimson Tide (21-0) face No. 15 Oregon (18-3) at 5 p.m. today at Howe Field. "It’s going to be such a great experience," said Braud, a two-time all-American. "My family doesn’t get to see me play often and some extended family has never made it to Tuscaloosa, so to show them my Alabama softball family and play in front of them will be the greatest."
"I am just completely at a loss of words," Braud said of the trip home. "It's so incredible that (Murphy) worked so hard to get us there. It's a really special experience for us and we're so blessed to have a coach that does that for us. "It's going to be a really good crowd at Oregon, and a lot of my friends and family are going to be there. That means a lot because I came here, and when I came here I sacrificed my family being at all my games. I get a couple of games in Oregon to do it, and I'm so ecstatic."
While the front seven appears to be in good shape, the secondary will be under the spotlight early in 2012. Cornerbacks Dre Kirkpatrick and DeQuan Menzie and safety Mark Barron will be missed, especially with the Crimson Tide visiting Arkansas on Sept. 15. Dee Milliner has 17 career starts and is expected to anchor one of the open cornerback spots. The other side is up for grabs, but keep an eye on junior John Fulton and incoming junior college recruits Deion Belue and Travell Dixon. This unit will eventually figure things out, but an early season matchup against Arkansas will give the secondary an early baptism by fire.
Creighton, No. 8, Midwest Region Here's your ultimate sleeper. Getting out of the first weekend will be far from a cinch, as the Blue Jays will have to not only knock off a back-on-track Alabama squad, but then there's a likely meeting with 1-seed North Carolina. But they have a balanced lineup and a legitimate star in sophomore wing Doug McDermott, who is the type of player that could carry his team through four games to New Orleans. Again this one might be the longest shot of the bunch, but don't count it out as a possibility.
Alabama Draw grade: D- Bama has an even bigger mismatch in its first game than the Gators do. The Crimson Tide is 109 in offensive efficiency and 9 in defensive efficiency; Creighton is 5 in offensive efficiency and 183 in defensive efficiency. I like Alabama's odds here, with its defense being able to slow down the Jays' shooters while its offense is scoring on Creighton's absence of defense. It will probably be close, as most 8/9 games are, but it's not a terrible matchup for Bama. The real problem comes in the next round. It will be against 1-seed UNC in Greensboro, North Carolina. UNC has never lost an NCAA tournament game in its home state, and, as mentioned above, 1-seeds are 68-1 in their home states since '85. Not only are the Tar Heels the superior team, but an Alabama win would be historic in the true sense of the word. I was thinking before Sunday that the Tide's defense might propel it to the Sweet 16, but it got buried by the committee. Bama's number of potential wins is one and only one.
Woodbury (NJ) High School athlete Anthony Averett held an offer portfolio of East Carolina, Rutgers, South Florida, Syracuse, Temple and West Virginia as recently as a few days ago. That's a nice offer list, but none of those schools are considered recruiting heavyweights or elite programs. That changed Sunday night, as Alabama elected to extend an offer to Averett. Yes, that Alabama. Assuming the offer is legitimate, Averett should expect his list to explode as other coaching staffs will scramble to pop in Averett's tape and try to determine what they missed. The logic being that if he's good enough for Alabama, he's almost certainly good enough for any program. So, what did they miss?
A San Diego area school district has agreed to pay a $4.4 million settlement to a man who suffered a head injury playing high school football and now must communicate through a keyboard, attorneys said on Friday. The agreement comes as the problem of head injuries in football has gained prominence due to lawsuits brought against the National Football League by former players complaining of ongoing life struggles from concussions.
Georgia starting cornerback Branden Smith was arrested on his way to the beach for spring break, police in Alabama confirmed. Smith was arrested for possession of marijuana shortly after being stopped on Highway 431 for following too closely and having a tag light out in Alabama’s Henry County at 11:41 p.m. Sunday, according to the Henry County Sherriff’s Office. Henry County is located near Abbeville in South Alabama along a route frequented by travelers heading to vacation on the Gulf Coast.