Three All-SEC performers returning. A top-5 recruiting class. A top-20 preseason ranking. A 7-0 start that included neutral-court wins over two projected NCAA tournament teams. A #12 national ranking four weeks into the season. All was right in the Alabama basketball world.
Or at least it seemed that way. Even during the 7-0 start, there were warning signs. The freshmen perimeter players, who came touted as capable perimeter shooters--and actually looked the part in early games--slowly began to lose confidence in their outside shots. Trevor Releford's outside shot never seemed to improve, and at times he seemed hesitant to attack and create. Then, seeing these things, teams learned how to effectively shut Bama's offense down.
That's when the losing started. Three losses in four games to be exact. It started with a heart-breaking buzzer-beating defeat at the hands of #16 Georgetown--the Tide's first loss in Coleman Coliseum in 25 games. Fans who chalked that loss up to a bad night and/or a fluke buzzer-beater were slapped with a cold reality when Bama came out with its most underwhelming performance in at least a year in its next game, losing handily on the road against a mediocre Dayton team. An extremely ugly home win over Detroit didn't do a lot to instill confidence, and whatever was instilled was quickly erased with a second-half collapse on the road against Kansas State.
Now, Bama fans are left wondering where this season is going. No one can now deny that this team has serious flaws. The question is, are they fixable? And to the extent that they aren't, can the team learn to win--as they did last season around this time--despite those flaws?
A huge indicator of where the season is heading will come tomorrow night. The Tide will play a virtual home game in Birmingham's BJCC Arena on Wednesday night against Oklahoma State with a chance to pick up a major non-conference win on what will hopefully be very much a home court with plenty of crimson in the arena.
With that big game set for tomorrow night and only two more non-conference games on the horizon, there are a lot of different ways this season could go, and suddenly expectations have become quite varied depending on which Bama fans you talk to. With that said, we'd like to know where you see this season going at this point.