Happy Monday, everyone. The Tide basketball program is getting all kinds of love this morning following Saturday's big road win at Florida:
Through it all, Johnson never stopped teaching. He reminded his players not to forget mothers, grandmothers and aunts on Valentine's Day. He sent Shannon Hale out to apologize to fans who he'd been jawing with during the game -- Florida is one of the league's rowdiest home courts and students are, well, interactive. The game was a small bit of history. Maybe this team has more history ahead although there is too much basketball to be played to proclaim Alabama as an NCAA lock, or anything like it. But there was also a symbolism to Saturday's win -- one that a grateful Alabama fan base understood only too well.
Alabama continues to improve its chances of playing in March. A 61-55 win at Florida was the fifth in the last six games ― significant beyond breaking the 21-year losing streak in Gainesville. It further enhanced an NCAA tournament résumé in a season that wasn't supposed to include such talk. Alabama's projected RPI rating is as high as No. 34, according to one calculation. -- No. 34 ESPN -- No. 37, Yahoo -- No. 37, CBSSports
Look, you don't want to over-emphasize a single conference win over a good-not-great team that is also playing under a first-year coach, but getting the Florida monkey off the back has to feel good for the upperclassmen. As Cecil notes, the Florida program is the model for Alabama: a basketball program that can thrive alongside a dominant football program that will always be king on campus. At this point the team has put itself in position to go dancing. With only six games remaining including home dates against floundering teams in Arkansas, Auburn, and Mississippi State, it seems likely that Avery Johnson will accomplish the unthinkable in his first season.
The Tide has two four-star signees in guard Ar’Mond Davis and forward Braxton Key, and one commitment in five-star shooting guard Terrance Ferguson in its 2016 class. The trio of future Tide hoopsters weighed in with reaction to BamaOnline following the victory. Terrance Ferguson, SG, Dallas (Texas) API -- "Another tough and well fought out on the road win for the boys," Ferguson said. "It was also nice to know we snapped an eleven game losing streak versus them. I think the boys have been ready for people to start giving them more respect."
Emphasis mine on the "we." Thought that might ease the mind of a few who have been concerned about the fact that T-Ferg never sent his letter. He seems to be all Bama at this point. There is no doubt that Retin Obasohan and Arthur Edwards will be huge losses, but imagine next year's roster: Dazon Ingram comes back from injury, Avery Johnson Jr. and Nick King will be eligible, and Ferguson, Key, and Davis will come in to join those three plus returnees Shannon Hale, Donta Hall, Jimmie Taylor, Riley Norris, Michael Kessens, and Justin Coleman. Folks, that is one deep and dangerous basketball team.
Not sure what prompted it, but Cam Robinson sent out an amusing tweet over the weekend:
If there is a "DBU" out there I guess we haven't played them yet.— Cam. (@crobinson_68) February 12, 2016
Considering the fact that CamRob hails from Louisiana and undoubtedly gets plenty of ribbing from folks back home, it isn't hard to figure which self-proclaimed "DBU" he is referring to. Here's a fun fact to make you smile on a winter Monday: no returning member of the football team has ever lost to LSU.
In what's becoming an increasingly popular second recruiting avenue, Alabama got a commitment Saturday from Bowling Green receiver Gehrig Dieter. At 6-foot-3, Dieter appeared to split out wide at the MAC school, but the best opportunity would be in the slot. Mullaney had almost identical size and he became an integral part of Alabama's passing game. And with the transfer backup slot receiver Chris Black to Missouri, this could be an ideal landing spot for Dieter.
Dieter is a big possession receiver and red zone weapon with excellent hands who will add another dimension to an already scary offense.
Previously, the defining moments of the season were identified by players involved. They also spoke about misconceptions outsiders have of the program. For this edition, we'll take a look at a few superlatives as identified by teammates. Who's the fastest? Who hits the hardest? And who's the smartest guy on the field? Each had a consensus pick from players interviewed at the national championship and Senior Bowl media days.
Unsurprisingly, Reuben Foster was the consensus pick for "hardest hitter" and Ryan Kelly for "smartest." Bradley Sylve seems to be the consensus choice for fastest player, but want to know how you know your team is fast? When Marlon Humphrey, a junior national champion in the hurdles as a teenager, doesn't even warrant a mention.
"You can never be complacent or satisfied," Owens said on National Signing Day. "You just have to always want to get better. Even if you do win a national championship, celebrate for a little and then get ready for the next season, because everyone else is coming at you because you have a target on your back."
Someone has been processed already.
Alabama got a commitment from the four-star tackle before his junior season and now the challenge will be to keep it as many schools are after Leatherwood. Auburn, USC and Miami have offered lately, but Leatherwood has a good relationship with Alabama coaches and plans to graduate early.
Alabama offered the five-star defensive tackle ranked No. 4 nationally in the 247Sports overall rankings early, and he visited for a game last season. Wilson said earlier this year that Alabama coaches are looking for the next A'Shawn Robinson, another star recruit from Texas. Alabama has had success getting top defensive players out of Texas. Texas, LSU, Texas A&M and Baylor are other schools to watch.
Come on down, Marvin. As an elite defensive lineman, you know where you belong.
The frustration bubbled when Lynch went to camps and still received little attention. It didn't help that he bruised his knee before his senior season and missed time, but that didn't explain it fully. He was a three-star Rivals prep and his only interest, he says, came from Bethune-Cookman, Florida A&M and Florida Tech. "We went to the camps," says Paxton's father, David. "Everyone had a chance to see him. They were just worried about the small school."
Recruiting is certainly an inexact science, particularly where quarterbacks are concerned. Think 2015 Florida and Florida State could have used a future first-round QB who played his high school ball just outside Orlando?
Fifth-ranked Alabama softball wrapped up opening weekend at the UCF Knights Invitational with an early-morning matchup against Liberty. Stingy pitching and steady offense throughout the game helped guide the Crimson Tide to a 10-2 victory in six innings over the Flames. Alabama (4-1) has now won four or more games on opening weekend every season since 2011.
Nice to see that the softball team is off to its customary fast start. Talk about conference dominance: The Tide is ranked fifth in the country, but three SEC teams are ranked ahead of them. Altogether there are five SEC teams ranked in the top 8, six in the top 12, and seven in the top 15.
That's about it for today, folks. Have a great week.