Happy Monday, everyone. We got the news last night that Alabama men’s basketball will be playing at home in the first round of the NIT:
Alabama, the No. 3 seed in the eight-team Iowa quadrant, will play Richmond at Coleman Coliseum on Tuesday at 8:15 p.m. The Spiders will travel to Tuscaloosa with a 20-12 record in tow.
Last year, during Avery Johnson's inaugural season with the program, the Crimson Tide lost to Creighton in the opening round as a No. 5 seed. But Johnson wasn't about to turn up his nose at another berth in the NIT.
Richmond will not be an easy out for the Tide. The Spiders have a very similar RPI - 80 vs. Alabama’s 78 - and have been very competitive in several games against NCAA tournament teams including a win over 11-seed Rhode Island, the A10 champion, and an OT loss to 10-seed VCU in the conference semis. The name to know is 6’8” senior PF T.J. Cline, who earned A10 Player of the Year honors after averaging 18.0 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 5.7 assists per game. Fun fact: I actually coached Richmond coach Chris Mooney’s nephew for several years in youth travel ball. Great family.
Moving on to the diamond, Roger has you covered on the baseball team’s series win over Arkansas-Pine Bluff, and the ladies took care of business again:
Alabama (24-2, 3-0 SEC) trailed early in Sunday's first game to Arkansas (19-4, 0-3 SEC) before rallying to tie it in the seventh and eventually win it in the ninth on a walk-off home run by Chandler Dare, celebrating her senior day on Sunday. Facing a 5:15 p.m. CT drop-dead time in the final game of the day due to travel considerations, the teams played 6.0 complete innings as Alabama won, 5-0. The weekend sweep stretches Alabama's current winning streak to 17 games.
I mean, I guess winning 17 in a row is pretty good. Osorio is a machine, notching the win in all three contests while striking out 21 in 12.2 innings of shutout ball.
With spring ball approaching, the writers are itching to preview:
Alabama linebacker --Butkus Award winner Reuben Foster is gone, as are multi-year standouts Tim Williams and Ryan Anderson. With Shaun Dion Hamilton laid up for now with a knee injury, young players will be the story of the spring. Mack Wilson and Rashaan Evans seem likely to win starting jobs somewhere, but what about 2016 redshirt Ben Davis, promising pass-rusher Anfernee Jennings and incoming freshman Dylan Moses?
Who’s Going To Catch The Ball?
After Calvin Ridley, there’s no wide receiver that has much experience, as both Ar’Darius Stewart and Gehrig Dieter are now gone.
A couple of players that could come up big and make the passing game dangerous are Jerry Jeudy, a true freshman that has great hands, and Trevon Diggs, who as a freshman 11 passes for 88 yards and a touchdown.
Then there is Robert Foster, a senior that hasn’t lived up to his ability yet. Could this be the season that he breaks out?
Mack Wilson should have an opportunity to shine with Hamilton on the shelf in spring camp. His hard-hitting style has reminded many of the departed Foster. Linebacker is one position that Tide fans should not have to worry about for the foreseeable future. Receiver will certainly be interesting. Robert Foster is a huge wild card. If he is finally healthy, he is more than capable of being a major contributor. He literally could fall anywhere from starting to transferring out before the season.
Freshman RB Najee Harris is already making a contribution to the community:
His friendship with Tua Tagovailoa is well publicized, and both young men appear to be special humans as well as football players. We are fortunate to have them in Tuscaloosa.
“I can go the whole day here [in Boca Raton] and get stopped maybe by two people who say something,” Kiffin said this week on “The Herd,” according to coachingsearch.com. “If you’re in more of a football driven place like Alabama, I don’t think I even went to a grocery store, because you’ll be there for two hours, a line of pictures and stories. …
“[It can be] great, because they’re so passionate about the football program and places like that, but you’re not going to be normal, so it is what it is.”
Interesting how life can change one’s perspective. A few years ago, Kiffin was a brash young hot-shot who seemed to seek out the limelight at every opportunity. He now appears to be quite comfortable in the shadows.
The Bears will host Allen on March 20, Allen told the Alabama Media Group, while his visit to the Jaguars will come in early April. The Bears hold the No. 3 overall pick in the NFL draft, and the Jaguars own the No. 4 selection, and that's certainly within the range of draft possibilities for one of the NFL draft's elite defensive line prospects. Allen has been projected to be the Bears' selection in the latest mock draft by NFL.com analyst Daniel Jeremiah, and no lower than No. 8 overall in any of five NFL.com mock drafts.
There was some concern about Allen’s shoulders, but it’s not keeping him from being one of the first few prospects off the board.
In an effort to return to the consistent excellence of his collegiate days, Warmack used free agency to reunite with his Alabama position coach, Jeff Stoutland, who's the offensive-line coach for the Philadelphia Eagles.
"That influenced my decision every much," Warmack said during a press conference in Philadelphia on Friday afternoon. "He's a guy who helped me a lot in college, took me to the next level. ... I feel like coach Stoutland, he's going to take me to the next level in terms of our communication, and I honestly feel like this was the best option for me.
I’ve heard that a few Tide fans miss Stoutland too, Chance. Good luck in your new home. Fans can be a little rough up there.
Ho, hum. More national titles:
Alabama's Lakan Taylor won the NCAA women's pole vault championship on the final day of the 2017 NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships on Saturday at Texas A&M University's Gilliam Indoor Track Stadium.
The senior cleared a school-record height of 14-7 1/4 (4.45m) to defeat 15 other competitors and earn Alabama's first national championship – indoors or outdoors – in the women's pole vault.
UA defeated the University of Texas at Arlington 57-48 at the National Intercollegiate Wheelchair Basketball Tournament, avenging a 72-49 loss at home in February.
UA (16-6) held UTA's leading scorer Rose Hollerman to 14 points and no 3-pointers. Hollerman scored 39 points against UA in the previous meeting.The University of Alabama women's wheelchair basketball team won its fifth national championship on Saturday.
Alabama women’s sports are taking over the world. Track and field had perhaps its best overall season, with the ladies finishing #3 while the men finished #8.
Lastly, Eryk Anders beat some poor guy to a pulp Friday night, winning by TKO in 1:30:
I think I’d have cried uncle, too. Eryk remains undefeated in his young career.
That’s about it for today. Have a great week.