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Jumbo Package: Friday, 11 March 2016

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Your daily dose of news and notes...

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Happy Friday, everyone. Huge win for the Tide last night, knocking off Ole Miss for the first SEC Tournament win in three seasons: instant analysis: 3-point shooting lifts Alabama to 1st SEC tournament win since 2013 |

Standing in a hallway near Alabama's locker room, Avery Johnson paused briefly after talking about the Tide's defensive approach against Ole Miss before smiling and saying, "And who would have ever thought we'd score 80 points?" An Alabama team that had been limited to 65 points or less in seven of its last eight games beat No. 7 seed Ole Miss, 81-73, Thursday night in the second round of the SEC tournament, the Tide's first SEC tournament win since 2013 and a victory that sets up an SEC quarterfinal matchup against second-seeded Kentucky on Friday.

Alabama's NCAA tournament chances pretty well went up in smoke with the loss at UGA in the season finale, but should they manage to pull an upset over Kentucky, they would not only be in position to potentially win the conference but would have to be back on the bubble for an at large bid. Stranger things have happened, but it will take a Herculean effort and, to be frank, a substandard performance from the opponent. Hope for the best.

Alabama men’s wheelchair basketball advances to semifinal

The third seeded University of Alabama men’s wheelchair basketball team (18-9) has advanced and will play in the semifinals of the national tournament in Edinboro after defeating sixth seed Southwest Minnesota State University 66-44 on Thursday. Freshmen Michael Auprince led the Crimson Tide with 18 points, followed closely behind by Jordan Bartley, who had 14.

The wheelchair basketball program has been something of a juggernaut, with four national titles between the men's and women's teams. Good luck and Roll Tide, men.

Spring position battle preview for Alabama football: Free safety

Safety is in a similar situation as cornerback this spring at Alabama. It will return an experienced starter in Eddie Jackson but will look to replace a multi-year contributor in Geno Matias-Smith to its starting lineup.

There is plenty of young talent, however, that will compete for the vacant spot opposite Jackson, with a rising sophomore with playing time under his belt leading the way in the hypothetical, day-before-spring-starts rankings.

Let's just say that I think the transition from Geno to Ronnie Harrison should be very smooth.

Alabama football announces '16 homecoming game

Alabama's 2016 homecoming football game will take place on Saturday, Oct. 1, when the Crimson Tide plays host to the Kentucky Wildcats at Bryant-Denny Stadium, UA Athletics announced Thursday afternoon. Details about homecoming weekend activities, including a kickoff time for the game, will be released at a later date.

Did this have to be announced right before we play them in hoops? All-Access: Where will AJ McCarron play in 2016? |

Denver Broncos: Brock Osweiler stunned most observers when he signed with the Texans on Wednesday, leaving the defending Super Bowl champions in the lurch at quarterback. Would the Broncos be willing to trade for McCarron, or would they rather deal for Kaepernick or sign a free agent such as Fitzpatrick or Griffin?

Eh, I don't know. The Broncos need a player who has experience moving the chains, protecting the football at all costs, and playing to a dominant defense. Oh, wait...

Who knows if this might actually happen, but can you imagine AJ McCarron starting for the defending Super Bowl champions, who just embarrassed Cam Newton on the national stage, next year? Lee County might burn to the ground.

Former Alabama QB Luke Del Rio turning heads at Florida |

Granted, it's only one day of spring practice, but Luke Del Rio appears to be the talk of the Florida Gators. The former Alabama quarterback, who transferred to Oregon State before moving to Gainesville, hit the field Wednesday after a year on the scout team.

"He looked natural and very comfortable," linebacker Jarrad Davis told the Florida Times-Union. "He's not a guy that's really going to panic. He's real laid back, and he's dropping back in the pocket real smooth with everything that he does. His reads are perfect. He does a lot of things to separate himself from other guys on the team."

It was a winding road that brought Luke to Gainesville, but it sounds like he might just be the starter down there next season.

More Pro Day stuff:

How did players fare at Alabama Pro Day? Phil Savage weighs in |

Savage: "Cyrus Jones had a terrific workout. He stood on all his numbers (from the combine), but his position workout was very good — his footwork, quickness, ball skills. I think if he can prove to people that he can play in the nickel, which he didn't really do here, I think he's got a chance to be a solid middle-round pick, third or fourth round.

Alabama football: Jake Coker tries to boost draft stock at Crimson Tide pro day -

Coker said he has worked hard throughout the pre-draft process to dispel some of the knocks against his game. "I feel like my feet are pretty quick and I tried to come out here and make them as quick as possible," Coker said. "Hopefully the right way. But yeah, the motion was definitely something I've been working on. It's just one of those things that we really focused on and hopefully I got better. And I think I have. Hopefully they see it."

Why Reggie Ragland didn't run 40; Mike Mayock's review of Alabama linebacker |

"Coaches said I really didn't need it," Ragland said. "I just went by what they told me. I felt like I didn't need it and they didn't think I needed it." Ragland did do the bench press during Pro Day after skipping it in Indianapolis. He said he put up 13 reps of 225 pounds which would have been the second worst result of any linebacker at the NFL Combine. That number won't help his draft stock -- it's believed he's been dealing with an injured shoulder -- but he looked fluid going through other drills.

Cyrus's little man syndrome should serve him as well in the NFL as it did in Tuscaloosa. Jake Coker seems to have a real chance to hear his name called on draft day. Hopefully Reggie's shoulder is OK. I'd hate to see his stock fall because of a bench press.

Lastly, Roger Island will be happy to see me report that last night's baseball game against Oregon was rained out. Just as well - who wants to play in wet conditions against the Ducks?

That's about it for today, folks. Have a great weekend.

Roll Tide.