Credit: Spruce Derden-US PRESSWIRE
Alabama's athleticism and length figure to pose Creighton some problems when the teams meet Friday in a second-round NCAA tournament game. But the Crimson Tide won't be the first team to roll out a group of bigger, stronger and faster athletes at the Bluejays. Creighton has faced its share of teams with similar physical attributes, and the Bluejays have more than held their own against them. "We know we can play with those kind of guys," Creighton forward Doug McDermott said. "We just have to be a little more disciplined and a little more patient when you're facing a team like that."
McDermott crossed the 30-point barrier five other times this season including his last outing. An 83-79 overtime win over Illinois State in the Missouri Valley Conference title game involved 33 McDermott points. No opponent held him to fewer than 13 points all season, though Evansville yielded just 14 the league semifinals March 3. Creighton still won 99-71. So Grant is preparing his guys no differently than he has before. "It’s always going to be about our team versus their team," he said. "It’s not a one-on-one battle. He’s a great player. He’s got very good pieces around him, a very good system. So it’s always going to be a team game."
Trevor Lacey said Alabama’s sparing use of the 3-pointer is about philosophy and forte, not lack of shooters. And coach Anthony Grant has indeed given them launch clearance — with a caveat. "We do a bunch of shooting drills," said Lacey, a freshman guard. "We have guys who are very capable of making threes. Coach is not telling us not to shoot them, but it’s about being smart. Guys can make two threes and then the next thing you know it’s all you’re doing, you’re living and dying on the three. "Coach doesn’t want us to live and die on the three."
Compare UA's lack of big-name wins to Florida State (a recognizable football name that is also a "trendy" pick) and its multiple wins over Duke and North Carolina, and you will see why people are rushing to put FSU in the Final Four and Alabama in the ranks of the forgotten. Does it matter that America is ignoring the Alabama bandwagon rather than climbing aboard? "That was the first thing Coach (Anthony Grant) hit us with," sophomore guard Trevor Releford said Tuesday. "He said not to pay attention to what people were saying on television, that the game is going to be decided on the court."
Behind a stellar pitching performance by sophomore Jackie Traina and an opportunistic offense, the top-ranked Alabama softball team downed No. 14 Oregon, 5-1, Tuesday evening at Howe Field. With the win the Crimson Tide improve to a perfect 22-0 while the Ducks move to 18-4 on the season. Traina did not allow a hit until the fifth inning as the All-American allowed one unearned run on three hits to improve to 13-0 on the season. The right-hander struck out 10 and walked two in the winning effort.
The Horsham, Pa., native earned the honor after leading the Crimson Tide to a 197-175-195.375 win over future SEC school Missouri last Friday. Stack-Eaton won four individual titles, including the all-around with a season-best score of 39.550. She also won the balance beam with a season-best 9.925 as well as taking first place on the uneven bars with a 9.9, tying her season best, and the floor exercise with a 9.9.
"Disappointing, disastrous, whatever adjective you want to throw on it," Muschamp told the website. "There are Gator fans that could probably think of some worse ones. People want to look at our year and say you were 7-6? Really, let's look at the last two years: we're a 15-11 team. Let's be realistic here. Urban Meyer is a heckuva football coach; he won two national championships here. But there was a one-game difference from this year to (his) last year. We're in transition. Are we headed in the right direction? I emphatically think we are." Muschamp also said a lot could be learned about his team from the NFL draft in April. The Gators only had two players invited to the NFL combine. Muschamp said part of that was attributed to the fact that his team played "soft" last year, something he said was hard to admit. "It's the hardest thing I've ever said," Muschamp said. "But you go back and look at it, and we didn't consistently stop the run and we weren't able to run the ball. You can attribute it to multiple factors. We've tried to address that with our strength program, recruiting and overall numbers at multiple positions."