Sophomore point guard Trevor Releford said having to admit a team outworked or outhustled Alabama was particularly tough to take. "I mean, that’s our identity," Releford said. "That’s what Coach (Anthony) Grant is about. He preaches that every day. We’ve got to work harder than our opponent each time we step out on the floor. "We lose a game like that, it hurts him, it hurts us, the players, too. I think we learned from it and we’ll be ready to play."
The Southeastern Conference doesn't give an award for the most profound understatement at the SEC basketball tournament, but South Carolina coach Darrin Horn would be a viable candidate if there was such a trophy - even if he was saying more than he knew. "They're a team that's a much different team than the first time we played them," Horn said when asked about Alabama. The fact is, Alabama isn't just a different team since then. It is a different team every time it takes the court, so much so that it is surprising there has been enough continuity for the Crimson Tide to have reach the cusp of an NCAA Tournament bid, probably secure already and sure to be forthcoming if UA reverses its earlier defeat against South Carolina in this afternoon's game.
It all boils down to one question, the question that is undoubtedly on every Alabama fans mind: which Alabama team will show up on Thursday afternoon? Will it be the team that showed so much promise against Tennessee, Arkansas and Mississippi State? Or will it be the frustrating team that lost to South Carolina and Ole Miss? The answer could go a long way in determining Alabama’s fate in the postseason. The Tide looks to be a lock for the NCAA tournament and deservedly so. But it’s called March Madness for a reason, and if a few teams make a run in their conference tournaments and steal a bid from a bubble team, anything becomes possible. Beating South Carolina is paramount. For that to happen, Alabama needs the right team to show up come game time.
"I don't think we necessarily have something to prove," Tide forward Andrew Steele said. "Obviously, we want to get them back because they beat us, but we are more focused on how we can improve as a team."
"We're going to have nights when we don't shoot the ball well," he said. "We may turn the ball over more than we need to, but the thing to me that's got to be consistent is your effort, your passion that you play the game with. That needs to be consistent, and when we don't have that, we're just not very good."
Is it realistic to think Alabama can win four games in four days? Different sport, but the credo remains the same for the Crimson Tide in New Orleans: D-E-F-E-N-S-E. Simply put, UA's work on that end of the floor will go a long way in determining the Crimson Tide's length of stay in the Crescent City. Unfortunately for this Alabama team, Jordan Jefferson doesn't play point guard for Florida or Kentucky.
Alabama and Mississippi State. Anthony Grant's Crimson Tide rebounded nicely from a mid-January swoon; they lost four in a row, including an awful loss at South Carolina, but they finished winning seven of ten and solidified themselves as a tournament team. Granted, they are probably destined for the 8-9 game (unless they chose to lose to South Carolina again on Thursday), but they are in. Meanwhile, Mississippi State has benefited from the simple fact that very few bubble teams have gotten hot recently. But the Bulldogs lost five in a row in February, a typically deadly slide. They rebounded to barely avoid disaster in Columbia (they beat South Carolina, 69-67, in overtime), and they pummeled a fading Arkansas squad at home to finish 8-8 in conference. According to Pomeroy, their three best wins were against Vanderbilt, Alabama and Tennessee, and they suffered a series of bad-looking losses (Georgia, LSU, Auburn), but somehow they are probably still safe. I wouldn't recommend losing to Georgia on Thursday, however.
The No. 1 ranked Alabama softball team capped off its homestand with a 7-3 victory over instate foe Samford, Wednesday night at Rhoads Stadium. With the win the Crimson Tide remains perfect with an 18-0 record. Senior Cassie Reilly-Boccia tallied two hits and drove in three runs while freshman Leslie Jury struck out seven in six innings to improve to 6-0 on the season. Alabama outhit Samford 9-6 with freshman Jadyn Spencer coming off the bench to collect two hits and two RBI.
"It may sound funny to some people, but I have to get better in the run game," McCarron said, outlining his priorities this spring. "I want to get my steps down where my handoffs look the same as my play-action. I want to work on my stance under center and get that down. Those are two of the biggest things. I know I can make every throw on the football field. Practicing against Coach [Nick] Saban and Coach [Kirby] Smart every week, you see every defense in the book, even the ones that aren’t in the book yet and they’ve made up. "I feel like I have a good grasp of the game from that sense. I just want to focus on myself a little and just try to get all my steps down and get them to where everything looks the same. That’s going to help our running game and help our whole offense."
The cornerback ran the 40-yard dash in 4.66 seconds at Alabama's Pro Day. That still is far from getting Menzie into the Olympics, but it was a decent improvement over the time of 4.74 seconds that he ran recently at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. "At the combine, I wasn't relaxed," Menzie said. "I was feeling so much pressure. Here, it was like I was at home, and I could release the pressure and run my best 40." Menzie might have raised his NFL draft stock. He came out of the combine rated the 20th best cornerback available by nfldraftscout.com, which projected him as a fourth- or fifth-round pick. Now if some teams still think he's too slow to go man-to-man against elite wide receivers, they might consider him as a free safety. "Because he's a good football player, I think people are going to find ways to use him," Alabama coach Nick Saban said Wednesday.
Hightower is the best Buck ILB in the draft class and would provide the perfect replacement for Ray Lewis. He comes from the powerhouse that is Alabama and has four years of experience playing in a 3-4 defense. He is one of the safer prospects in this class.
Upshaw finished second in the SEC with 18 tackles for loss and tied for third in the league with 9.5 sacks. He was third on Alabama's team with 52 total tackles and led the Crimson Tide with 11 quarterback hurries. He also forced two fumbles. Upshaw earned All-America honors from the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and was a finalist for the Rotary Lombardi Award, which goes annually to the nation's top interior lineman or linebacker. He was also a finalist for the Butkus Award, which is presented annually to the top linebacker in college football.
Nine former Alabama football players were invited to the recent NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. That should have been at least 10, former Alabama center William Vlachos said Wednesday. "If you look at the top five consensus defensive tackles in the draft, I blocked all of them and blocked them well," Vlachos said Wednesday after participating in Alabama's Pro Day.
"I think he's done it all here. He's got a lot of diversity as a player because he's played a lot of different positions. He's going to offer the same thing at the next level - inside backer, nickel backer, defensive end, odd rusher, so there's not very many other things you can do. He does all those things very well, he's very smart and has leadership qualities. I think people are starting to recognize that the more they are around him." - Saban on Hightower.
The perseverance of Kevin Turner is and SHOULD be an inspiration to anyone that has had to deal with a terminal diagnosis. He also has taken the time and efforts he has remaining bringing awareness about not only ALS and CTE but also concussions. When listening to a person that has dealt with the effects of brain trauma and eventually ALS it takes your breath away, especially how to the point and profound he is.
Kevin Sumlin, the Aggies' new hope to resurrect a proud football program that, truth be told, stopped being a powerhouse before the old Southwest Conference went belly up some two decades ago, sits tipped back in front of a long, rectangular board table in a room littered with maroon leather swivel chairs. To Sumlin's left are staffers Justin Moore, an associate AD for football who came with the head coach from his previous job at Houston, and Matt Watson, the Aggies long-time equipment man. Across the table are two men in sport coats. One looks to be in his late 30s. The other in his mid 60s. "The reason you guys are here is we gotta do something about the feel of this building," Sumlin says, as he glances around the room and pauses for a few heartbeats. "This feels old and stiff and cold -- everything is dark. I'm always going around flipping on lights. This has to reflect that we have a younger staff. This building should be a tool for teaching and recruiting." Both men across the table smile, nodding their heads with a look of understanding. "Oh, we get it," says the older man, who heads a Tulsa-based architecture firm that has done branding work for major college programs. "That's all what the West End Zone project [at Oklahoma State] was all about -- getting good coaches and players, and keepin' 'em."
At its spring game April 14, Mizzou football will unveil new uniforms and helmets, which will ditch the block "M" that has adorned the headgear for 40 years. Without giving details on the change, which Mizzou was studying before the SEC move, coach Gary Pinkel said the uniforms are "off-the-charts" and have resonated with recruits.