As some have complained about having to climb the wall of my posts, I will keep this short and too the point: I appreciate the student fan base, alumni, and fans who continue to support the basketball team and Coach Grant. Coach Grant has a very successful history and that is easy to find in his Bio.. there has been talk of the close games and the difficult loses and the difficulty for fans, going into this season as a season that would reap the benefits of a program rebuilt.. however, the finished product was not meant to be, and in fact this year to date has strayed from Coach Grant's W-L record and near misses of the NCAA Tournament the past two years.. Yet, I remain VERY optimistic. Here are.. The 10 Reasons Alabama still has game, and, will be NCAA Tournament Bound Next Year!!!:
1) Coach Grant and his staff have been successful and are working towards more success
2) The last two years the teams production had the pundits bracketology predicting them in, on the bubble (in), or on the bubble (out) throughout the season (e.g. Joe Guinardi had Alabama as in all last year until the final few weeks with an on the bubble in/on the bubble out in those final weeks) (in part due to Alabama's success in the SEC; yet the lack of overall strength of schedule, and lack of overall strength in the conference, thus diminishing the values of their wins).
2) The Alabama Basketball Coach did what the NCAA asked following their 20+ win seasons and not being selected.. they toughened their schedule.. This season Alabama had a pre-conference ranking as the 14 toughest schedule in the country.
3) Unfortunately, the UA Basketball Team, while still very talented, lost Trevor Lacey, Moussa Gueye, and Devonta Pollard prior to the season.. Lacey was a scorer and had developed a reputation as a go to guy with the game on the line; Moussa was developing into a dominant Big Man (Note: Moussa is currently the leading rebounder and shot blocker for Valparaiso); Pollard was another huge talent that would eventually be a very integral part of the offense and defense (Pollard is currently averaging 12 points and close to 6 rebounds a game now for East Mississippi Community College). I believe all 3 of these players would have started this year for Alabama (so basically 3 lost starters prior to the season beginning).. Bama has forwards who can do amazing things.. but there are no dominant Big Men... Moussa and Devonta would have played that role..
4) The result has been a great number of games where Coach Grant, his staff, and the talented players (minus 3 starters) have time after time showed the basketball audience they can play with practically anybody, yet don't have the BIGS to help them finish. Just look at these games:
1. 21 Oklahoma up 16 at 12:30 mark; down 1 with 6:07 left
2. 10 Duke up 7 at 12:11 mark; down 6 with 2:42 left
3. 3 Wichita State down 1 at half; up 3 6:22; down 1 1:26 left in the game (students out on break)
4. 28 Xavier up 7 at half; up 12 at 16:26; up 10 12:26; up 3 with 5:59 left (students out on break)
5. 16 UCLA up 1 at half; up 4 at 16:04; down 1 with 56 seconds left in the game
6. 11 Florida tied or down between 1 and 12 points entire game; lost by 6
7. 52 LSU up 13 at half; up 19 at 17:04; up 11 at 10:30; down 1 at 1:10; won by 2
5) The team has been at the finish line repeatedly against these nationally ranked teams: 3, 10, 11, 16, 21, and 28.. they beat no. 52.. the problem has been finishing.. The bottom line: Alabama would have finished some of these nationally ranked teams with the 3 starters they lost; yet they continue to fight.. has the team lost some momentum.. of course.. for example, although tough competitively in the 1st half against Missouri and Auburn, the team tanked the 2nd half.. against Tennessee they didn't tank as much as just got outmuscled.. and, there in lies the repeated problem of a lack of the BIG MAN and not being able to finish.. Coach Saban thrives on backup.. unfortunately, Coach Grant lost his backup.. he has some.. yet not the muscle and point production he could have had with the 3 starters noted...
6) Alabama fans are so high on Alabama football and the athletic program in general right now.. and why not.. National Championship fever.. it spreads.. everyone needs to be a winner.. but for fans to be judging Grant on his first 5 years along the lines of this years production is an illusory correlation at best, that serves mostly those who have forgotten what it was like before Coach Saban came to Alabama.. humility was the word.. well, welcome to one basketball year of humility..
7) Coach Grant has another super recruiting class coming in next year .. much of this years talent will return next year, along with the 3 new recruits (all scorers).. "After struggling to make jumpers the past few years, the Crimson Tide put a premium on finding shooters. Coleman is small but he is jet quick and a combustible scorer from deep. Norris can spot up and hit jumpers while Mitchell is an off guard with a pure shooting stroke" - See more at: http://alabama.rivals.com/content.asp?CID=1574326#sthash.7A6SM3DV.dpuf
8) I liked Coach Grant coming in and I liked Coach Gottfried coming in.. however, Coach Gottfried offense basically stood around in many (especially later) years and waited for something to happen.. not Coach Grant.. he has those guys.. regardless of who they are missing and the early frustrations of not scoring.. hustling and fighting and keeping themselves in the game, regardless of the lack of a Big Man.. the LSU and Florida games show what this team is capable of doing offensively now that they are gradually coming together.. it is most likely to little to late.. but these are the challenges to a team that loses 3 starters.. And, you don't have to look back to far in history to see that Coach Grant had a situation earlier when losing Green and Mitchell probably cost them a win, 2, or 3 at the NCAA tournament.. Also not that far back in history, Coach Gottfried went through similar times.. Mo Williams and Gerald Wallace were NBA talent contributors that left early.. who knows, if his NBA players stayed a couple of more years he might still be here instead of at NC State..
9) Yet, winning is contagious and winning football brings expectations.. and, Alabama's history in basketball speaks to a winning tradition.. sometimes some suggest they were spoiled by Wimp and where are Sprewell's and Horry's kids.. good question.. well, I will at least partially answer that.. where do you go when you want a career playing basketball? Syracuse, Kansas, UCLA, Duke, North Carolina, Alabama.. well surely Alabama.. not.. we get great Alabama basketball players and the state has many.. but we are not going to get many kids from the northeast, west coast, or even Texas for that matter.. the hype of basketball during the Sanderson days is not close to what it is today.. ESPN 300; drafts; youtube clips of your accolades; intense recruiting wars.. still, Sanderson was able to get a couple of kids from Mississippi (even Georgia is a stretch)..
10) Last but not least.. The 100 Top Basketball Coaches EVER... EVER.. were of no surprise at the top:
Wooden, Krzyenski, Knight, Dean Smith.. I could go on but these top 4 will serve the point. For all of our Alabama fans who are up in arms about the wins and losses this year. Please take a moment to reflect on these facts:
Coach John Wooden-Unarguably the best basketball coach ever.. during his 1st 13 years coaching college, he took his team to the NCAA tournament 3 times (again.. 3 times)
Coach Krzyzewski-The modern day best basketball coach ever.. During Coach Krzyzewski's first 8 years of coaching college basketball, he took his team to the NCAA tournament ZERO times (let me repeat ZERO times).. during his first 3 seasons with Duke, 2 of those seasons were losing seasons (10-17; 11-17).
Coach Bobby Knight-Mr. Indiana.. Coach Bobby Knight took 8 years before he took his college basketball team to the NCAA tournament. (let me repeat 8 years to even get to the NCAA tournament).
Coach Dean Smith-Mr. North Carolina.. Dean Smith's first 5 years at North Carolina he went 66-49 with no NCAA tournament visits.. including an 8-9 season and a 12-12 season..
Now, I can't really be hard on these legends of basketball.. they are LEGENDS and the BEST COLLEGE BASKETBALL COACHES OF ALL TIME...
So, in summary, I now leave you with this... 1) Look over Coach Grant's bio.. 2) Take a look at what has happened this year to a very important part of his team.. then 3) Take one more look at the BEST 4 COLLEGE BASKETBALL COACHES EVER.. Don't we as Alabama fans need to consider this year as one of initial promise, along with an already established history of progress (again, Look at Grant's successes to date); a building program that was on the rise with an improved schedule (not to change anytime soon so more established progress there), and a complete squad of excellent talent... ready to take on some of the nations best; only to be challenged by the loss of 3 key players.. .. rather than a reflection of Grant's coaching ability.. History suggests with Wooden, Knight, Krzyzewski, and Smith all needed 5 to 8 to 13 years to settle in before developing their legend as a coach..
I have been listening to and watching Alabama basketball since Leon Douglas, Charles Cleveland, TR Dunn, and Reginald King were playing.. over the years I have seen the good, the bad, and the ugly.. and, I know when people's minds are made up.. we search high and low for reasons to support our cause and tend to minimize others considerations (we all do it).. Yet, if you want to be different.. start by imaging yourself as someone who is considering the possible alternatives..
And please, regardless of what you might think of Wooden, Krzyenski, Knight, and Smith based on their history.. imagine for just a few seconds, what would have happened if their football teams were winning national championships (or some other correlated phenomenon was occurring in sports at that school during their early tenure), and because the basketball team didn't match up, that school sent that coach packing.. what a huge mistake that university would have made.. (and I know for those of you questioning Coach Grant, you certainly are using SEC success over the past 4 to 5 years to compare.. who Florida or Kentucky maybe, but certainly not any of the other 9 teams.. Alabama has had better success than the others)..
I for one am going to fight with this team throughout the season.. I was so impressed with the LSU and Florida games.. this team will have the potential to make some noise at the SEC tournament this year if they keep improving
Roll Tide and Looking forward to some more wins this season, a good SEC tournament, and a fantastic year of basketball in 2014-2015... RTR