|Final - 11.14.2011||1||2||Total|
|Oakland, Mich. Golden Grizzlies||30||27||57|
|Alabama Crimson Tide||41||33||74|
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This is an Alabama program that has gone five consecutive seasons without a trip to the NCAA tournament, and it was supposed to be challenged by a team that has made two consecutive March Madness appearances. So much for that challenge. "I was very, very impressed with their length and athleticism," Oakland coach Greg Kampe said. "Offensively, they were a little better than I thought they were going to be. Those other kids can make some jump shots now."
"I was very impressed with their length and athleticism," Kampe said of Alabama. "We made some big errors when it was a one-point game in the first half, and it steamrolled on us. "We knew they would be good defensively, but they were a little better offensively than we expected. Green and Mitchell were good, but I think some of those new guys can make some jump shots. "Their freshmen were good. (Grant) must have recruited well, because I know I can't teach freshmen to play defense like that in a month."
Alabama coach Anthony Grant thought his 16th-ranked Crimson Tide were a different team in the second half against Oakland. "We played with great focus and great intensity, especially in the second half," Grant said of Alabama’s 74-57 victory over the Golden Grizzlies. "Offensively we got in a better flow tonight. The guys understood their jobs more, of what we’re trying to do from an offensive standpoint."
"I thought it was an outstanding effort," UA head coach Anthony Grant said. "You look at the defensive numbers and they're really impressive. When you talk about a team like Oakland, they've got a lot of weapons in terms of guys that can score the basketball. They came in obviously shooting the basketball very hard, getting about 90 points a game. I thought our guys did a very good job throughout the entire game of keeping the focus on the defensive end." The suffocating Crimson Tide defense held Oakland preseason mid-major All-American guard Reggie Hamilton scoreless in the second half after allowing him 16 points in the first half. As a team, the Grizzlies connected on just 8-of-23 shots (34.8%) in the second half as Alabama built a commanding 23 point lead. Oakland was held to its lowest point total in its last 24 games and it marked the 28th time in the Anthony Grant era the Tide has held its opponent under 60 points.
On the rest of the team’s response to the absence of JaMychal Green in the second half: "It was good to see. We are obviously a better team with him on the floor, but I was really proud of the way our young guys responded. I think we had to go to a make-shift line-up when they went to five guards and really started shooting the basketball. We ended up going small and I thought the guys did a really good job. It was good to see us be able to not only defend them with that line-up but also to be able to run offense and convert and do the things that we needed to do with guys playing some unfamiliar positions."
The No. 19 Crimson Tide suffocated the Grizzlies in a 74-57 pounding after leading by as many as 23. Alabama coach Anthony Grant, however, wasn’t hanging any banners after the 22nd straight home win. "The mistake sometimes you make is to blow things out of proportion," he said. "This is one game. Our guys played well tonight, but we have to understand we have good signs with our team. But I don’t think this team has scratched the surface with how good we can be."
Randolph’s highlight moment came after Oakland had cut a 15-point deficit to eight with 15 minutes to play. Releford made a nice inbounds pass to him from under the Alabama basket. The freshman saw the lane open and his dunk brought the crowd of 9,876 at Coleman Coliseum to its feet. "Anytime there’s a big play it brings a lot of energy to the team," said Randolph, who finished with nine points. "It started with the pass from Trevor Releford and JaMychal Green’s great screen inside." "It was a great play," Releford said. "It made the game more exciting."
"We really got in a flow tonight," Alabama head coach Anthony Grant said. "Our guys understood their job more in terms of what we’re trying to do from an offensive standpoint." Grant added, "I think our focus, our intensity tonight was really good. Anytime you have that, good things are going to happen."
"This is probably the best football team this school has ever faced in its 30-year history," Monken said. "We’re going to have to coach our guys to be ready to play our very best football just to have a chance to not be embarrassed. (Alabama) is a great, great football team. I’m not delusional. But it’s exciting for all of us."
The Eagles run the triple option, a variation of the old wishbone offense that relies heavily on a running quarterback to make the decision to hand the ball off to the fullback, keep it himself or pitch it to one of the wing backs. The team is doing extra preparation this week because of the different offense, and the focus has been on discipline. "You’re going to get a lot of cut blocks, a lot of different blocking schemes," said senior nose tackle Josh Chapman, who will play a pivotal role in stopping the run. "But it’s about going out and doing our job, watching film and watching the path of the running backs."
Asked when he last faced the triple option, Saban thought a moment and concluded, "A long time." "We played Army (and) they used to run the wishbone, when I was at Michigan State as defensive coordinator in the ’80s," Saban said. "We played Navy when I was the head coach at Toledo. That might be the last time." As spread offenses continue to grow at the high school level, even players haven’t seen much of the triple option. "Watching film, it looks different to play against, but it’s all about guys going out and doing their keys and doing their job," senior nose tackle Josh Chapman said. "You’re going to get a lot of cut blocks, and lot of different blocking schemes. … It’s about everybody going out and doing their job."
Saban’s not exactly holing up in his office trying to figure out the calculus of various BCS scenarios that might put Alabama in New Orleans vying for its second national championship in three years. He insists his focus is on defending Georgia Southern’s triple option, not the BCS. "I don’t really care about that," he said. "I’ve been sitting in that room for two days now trying to get enough guys on the pitch guy. You figure it out and come tell me what it is, because I don’t know — and don’t really care. All’s I know is we just need to take care of what we control, and what we control is how we play. My contribution to that is how do we get the team ready to play? I could care less about that, because I don’t understand it to start with."
"He was able to practice a little more last week than he had (previously). That's why we've not played him as much in games, to just spot-play him and hope he gets seven, eight, 10 carries at the most and only play so many plays," said UA coach Nick Saban. "So that we don't take one step forward and two steps back in terms of him continuing to improve. That's frustrating for him because he's a competitor and wants to play in the games."
"DeQuan went through spring practice, so he has a much better understanding of what he's supposed to do and how to do it," Alabama coach Nick Saban. "He's very instinctive. He works really hard most of the time in practice. I think the biggest difference is mentally -- he's a lot more confident and he's healthy this year so he's able to practice."