I am an Alabama graduate and fan!!! I listened to basketball games religiously on the radio when there were no sports stations and had plenty of opportunities to experience great wins and "unfortunate" losses.. I have also tracked the golf teams, softball teams, baseball teams, gymnastics, track, etc. RTR.. I am a die-hard Alabama fan..
With this comes the challenge of how to interpret the multitude of experiences of Alabama wins and defeats.. how do these experiences stack up in a sports psyche.. Well, on a personal level, I also played sports my entire life. In a particular game, I don't care where we are in the game, I never, ever give up.. fight to the end.. (whether I am playing or am a fan watching a game).. sometimes my teams are less than, out-of-synch, against all odds.. but I never quite and always bring the same attitude to the next game.. fight to the end.. tough opponent, unlikely odds.. simple: that means I have to play tougher and smarter than the opposition to win..
When I first saw Coach Grant's work with the Alabama Basketball team, I was sold.. the team the year before that at times was blown out, quit in games, seemed lost, stood around on offense waiting for something to happen.. was no longer there.. his first year influence on the team was obvious.. this team NEVER quit.. NEVER.. and, as you can see, that is one of the key reasons I have been.. and will remain.. a Coach Grant fan.. his teams never, ever quit, and, as far as my memory serves me, are always in a game.. in fact, I don't think there is one game Coach Grant has coached that his team has been blown out.. his teams are ALWAYS in the game.. and for that reason alone, I think that speaks volumes about who Coach Grant is as a coach and as a person.. and I will be a true fan for his teams throughout his tenure!
Now, Coach Sanderson did some amazing things with his teams.. and, I will tell you, his talent at times was off the roof.. Horry, Benoit, Sprewell.. (on the same team!).. NBA talent, all on the same court.. Sanderson had an ability to bring it to the Capstone.. and it paid off with the highest ever winning percentage among Alabama coaches.. by the way, those percentages over the past roughly 50 years have been: Coach Newton: 63%; Coach Sanderson: 69% (best ever at Alabama); Coach Hobbs: 59%; Coach Gottfried: 62%; Coach Grant: 62%
Each of these coaches have achieved accolades during their tenure: Newton.. 3 SEC titles, 2 NCAA's, 4 NIT's; Sanderson.. Won 4 SEC Tournaments; 8 NCAA's (including 5 Sweet 16's), 1 NIT, 3 SEC Coach of the Year, 1 National Coach of the Year; Hobbs.. 2 NCAA's, I NIT (including a final 4 in NIT); Gottfried.. 1 SEC Championship, 5 (Consecutive NCAA appearances), 3 NIT's (including one Championship game), A Number 1 Ranking in the AP Poll in 2002 (Thanks Mo Williams!), and an Elite 8 in the NCAA in 2004 (thanks Kennedy Winston!); Coach Grant..
Coming into the 2013-14 season, Grant has led his team to three consecutive postseason appearances, including a pair of National Invitation Tournament berths (2011 NIT runner-up and 2013 NIT quarterfinalist), as well as an at-large selection to the 2012 NCAA Tournament - Alabama's first NCAA appearance since 2006.
Following a 23-win campaign in 2012-13, Grant now has guided Alabama to three consecutive 20-win seasons, which is first time that has been achieved at Alabama since the 1990, 1991 and 1992 seasons - a span of just over 20 years. In fact, Grant has racked up 69 wins in the past three years (2011-2013), going 69-37 (.651) over that span. Alabama's 33 SEC victories in the past three years are third behind only Kentucky (38) and Florida (37).
In addition to leading Alabama to three straight 20-win campaigns, Grant led the Tide to a winning record in Southeastern Conference play for a third consecutive season, going 12-6 for a second-place SEC finish in 2012-13. It marked the first time since the 1994, 1995 and 1996 seasons that Alabama had three consecutive winning seasons against conference competition.
NO doubt, there are plenty of reasons to be a proud Alabama Basketball fan! AND Plenty of reasons to not throw in the towel yet on this season or on Coach Grant! Plenty of reasons to pack the house and go for another winning season with the perception of what can be.. Plenty of reasons to not be grappling over several early losses.. Plenty of reasons to be proud Alabama fans and to cheer this team louder than ever come January.. Are you a Tide fan or not.. are you an Alabama student or not.. are you an Alabama graduate or not.. One for All and All for One!! Please, starting in January.. bring it to the coliseum!
If you have played sports and been a sports fan your entire life.. then you know, this is ABSOLUTELY.. NOT the time to be tanking it.. this is a time when THE ALABAMA BASKETBALL TEAM NEEDS YOU NOW MORE THAN EVER!!
I had a chance to see an Alabama basketball game for the first time in over a decade and I saw two tough, well coached, talented basketball teams play down to the wire.. Alabama and Wichita State.. either team could have won that game.. The Alabama fans were very good... not great.. but very good and lent a great deal to support the team.. (on a personal note, I am very proud of the CHAOS group of students.. they multiply the crowd noise X 2.. however, they can only provide just so much).. Unfortunately, the student body had just finished exams and were on vacation at their respected homes, so, in my estimation, what would have been a packed house in January, allowed an undefeated Wichita State team to get of very, very easy..
I could be wrong about this.. but a packed house of Alabama students and Alabama would have won that game.. (with a few more referee calls simply due to crowd noise they would have won by 5 or 6 points).. truthfully, the same goes for the Xavier game.. a few plays here and there, crowd noise, etc. and instead of Alabama fans gripping about our record, we would be thinking NCAA already!
Please, Please, Please.. don't turn into a fair weather fan.. not now.. not ever.. historically, when the well began to go dry.. we have blamed it on our coaches (sometimes it was inevitable.. sometimes it was a call on the fence.. sometimes it may have been too early).. the coaches in turn often resigned, with the "crowd noise" being at a decibel that was too loud to ignore.. that blaming included Sanderson (well, really his own doing), Hobbs (could never match up to Sanderson.. ring any Bryant bells Coach Perkins, Curry, Dubose, Shula?), and Gottfried.. all went out as soon as their teams went South.. Now, that is also the nature of sports fans.. our selective memories are only as good as the last win or last season.. and, true to the murmurs, there have been times when our Alabama team became stagnant and change was necessary..
But that is not the nature of this current season or basketball team.. not even close! This team has a great, great deal of promise.. and they have an even higher upside next year (with 3 big time recruits).. and, by the way.. ALL OF THEM CAN SHOOT... a necessary prerequisite to the current need for more offense.. obviously, we need offense.. well, offense it is... Hello Christmas.. Your wish has been "GRANT"ED, is here, is coming, and is going to continue to get better.. just look at Shannon Hale's performance in the Xavier game.. the new recruits CAN ALL SHOOT... and, if allowed time, this team will score and score big.. all within the confines of Grant's tough defensive system.. you just have to gear your selective memories as true Alabama fans to ride the course a little longer.. Grant's system will be in place next year (personally, I wish Trevor Releford had the chance to be a part of what is about to happen.. yet, he can still be a part of something special this year)..
BOTTOM LINE: Do we sit around and complain about the football season that could have been; tune in periodically to the basketball team and say whoa is this team and me.. just a bad year.. or do we choose to, as those who have played the game.. never say die fans.. bring our bodies and voices to the games starting in January.. and help this team make this a good or even great season.. Another strong SEC performance at the end of the year, coupled with a so, so initial part of the season against NCAA bound teams, playing in close down to the wire games.. along with a surprise, yet capable SEC Tournament finals game.. will put us in the NCAA!!!!!!!
Bottom Line (2): Wichita State could be in the final 4 again this year.. we took that undefeated team down to the wire on a 1/2 packed house without most of the student body.. this team is biting on the bit to be good.. I am reaching out to the true Alabama fans.. bring it to the coliseum.. show this team how proud you are of them and help them.. don't bring them down.. Push them through this difficult time and let's give them all we've got.. Bring very, very loud and permanent voices to EACH and EVERY game.. I am one fan who will never, ever quit.. and I hope you are too!..
ROLL TIDE ROLL!