I want to apologize for disappearing last night. By the time I got home my internet decided it wasn't going to work anymore (shout out to Todd), so I had to get it fixed today.
Anyway, here are a few initial impressions from the game:
- First order of business: remain calm everyone. This was an exhibition game with a trio of brand new players. I know that whenever you need OT to beat a bad DII team there is cause for concern, but back up off that ledge friend. Remember that UAH gave us all that we could handle in a very similar fashion in both 2010 and 2011. Those seasons ended in an NIT Runner Up and an NCAA Tournament birth. So put those pitchforks down. Reserve your judgment for the regular season.
- Trevor Releford is really good y'all. He definitely looks the part of our best player and senior leader, and we will need it. He finished with 27 points (7/16 from the field) and went 11/12 from the free throw line, sinking two to send the game to OT (yikes). The fact that Releford played 42 minutes worries me, we really shouldn't need him out there that long to finish off these kinds of games. Hopefully that won't wear him down as the season progresses.
-Jimmie Taylor looked very impressive. He didn't make a major impact on the offensive side of the ball, but he finished with 6 rebounds (all on defense) and 7(!) blocks. Taylor was physical, played with a force, and looks to be a very promising young player. I'm really excited about him. He was downright disruptive on the defensive end, and was a lot more polished than Moussa Gueye ever was. Hopefully he will get more opportunities on the offensive end in the future.
-Speaking of emerging big men, Nick Jacobs looked every bit the part of what we have been hearing. A leaner, quicker Jacobs is a very good thing. Jacobs finished with 12 points (5/8 from the field), 9 rebounds, and looked very good on defense. He had two steals and a block, and only commited two penalties.
-I saw somewhere that SoGlad mentioned the new officiating rules for this year on foul calls. I regret that I didn't mention this before, but basically the officials have been told to be VERY quick to call fouls on the defense this year. Flops and hand checks will be called on the defense nearly every time. This new ruling is supposed to help clear up iffy calls and lead to more scoring to stimulate fan interest. I have my doubts about this new enforcement of foul-calling, but these are the rules we are playing with. Considering the Tide finished with 13 total fouls and no one in foul trouble, even with an extra period, I am very encouraged by the team's ability to adapt Grant's hard nosed style of defense to these new rules.
-Rebounding was bad. Last season, rebounding (or the lack of) really killed us. We got out rebounded by a margin of 49-40. Against West Georgia. That's definitely a cause for concern. Fortunately, rebounding is 50% effort, and clearly there was a lot more effort from the DII team's side than the team playing a glorified scrimmage's side. But guys, this has to improve. West Georgia was getting way too many second chances. I know they got quite a few from blocked shots, but the Wolves ended with 19 second chance points on 22 offensive rebounds. That just won't cut it. As Carl Engstrom continues to get his legs underneath him and Taylor starts to really come into his own, I have hopes that this will turn around, because it has to.
-As has become way too common under Grant in recent years, the ball movement needs some serious improvement. There were way too many situations where Releford just decided that nothing was doing and he might as well drive to the rim himself. Which is fine if you have guys there to grab the rebounds, but as I addressed already, that can't be counted on right now. Alabama finished with 6 assists. That also will not cut it.