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Jumbo Package: Women’s Basketball Knocks Off Vols

It’s always a good day to beat Tennessee.

Happy Friday, everyone. The big news of the day is the women’s basketball upset of fifth seeded Tennessee in the conference tournament, Alabama’s third win over the Vols in the past two seasons:

Meoshonti Knight scored 16 points and 12th-seeded Alabama made 10 of 14 free throws in the final minute to upset fifth-seeded Tennessee 72-64 in the second round of the Southeastern Conference Tournament on Thursday.

The Crimson Tide (19-12) won its third straight over the Lady Vols (19-11) after losing 42 straight in the series and also ended Tennessee’s 23-game winning streak in SEC Tournament openers.

The Tide will attempt to continue an unlikely run today as they face Kentucky in the quarterfinals. The game is at 1:30 CT and will be televised on SEC Network.

If you’re in town, softball has another event going on:

Patrick Murphy’s squad will entertain Jacksonville, Drake and Stanford over the course of the five-game tournament.

The Easton Crimson Tide Classic represents the final non-conference weekend for Alabama before the start of SEC play next weekend. The tournament is also part of a season-high 12-game home stand.

While Alabama is 14-2, the 12-game home stand affords the team an opportunity to establish an impressive resume while giving a young team confidence going into the SEC schedule.

The ladies are off to a great start, unlike their male counterparts. We won’t talk about that.

Moving on....

Collins has made an impact in his short time in the Tuscaloosa community. During his limited spare time, the High Point, N.C., native has volunteered to help locally at food shelters, spending time to help the less fortunate. He has also become a regular with local elementary schools, where he has read to the children and talked about the importance of education. Just recently, Collins spent time at a local hospital visiting with cancer patients.

Collins will soon leave Tuscaloosa with a Master’s in sports management. This young man has a bright future.

Another Tide graduate looks to be moving on:

Simply put, you don’t request a release unless you are looking to move on. Falkins has earned his degree without catching a pass in crimson, so it makes sense. Good luck to him, and expect a few more of these in the summer.

The basic structure of the offense New England ran, in many ways, was similar to the one Alabama executed in 2016. During the first 12 games this season, the Tide lined up in "11" personnel 64 percent of the time. Alabama favored a formation that included three wideouts, one running back and one tight end.

Nick Saban explained why last August.

"One of the strengths on our team, I feel, is the receivers, and we want to continue to try to have an offense that can create explosive plays through those guys," Saban said.

Yes, New England uses similar personnel groupings, but there are far more differences than similarities between the strategies deployed over the past few seasons, not the least of which is New England’s heavy usage of the tight end in the passing game.

Run blocking is another contrast. New England primarily utilizes a “man” (or “power”) blocking scheme in the run game vs. the zone blocking Alabama has used almost exclusively since 2013. To be sure, the Tide will still mix in some zone to keep defenses honest - it can be difficult for a defensive tackle to tell which way you’re trying to move him when you mix both concepts - and to take advantage of the read option potential of the QBs, but look for significantly more designated gap running that features pulling guards with lots of down blocking and pre-determined double teams inside.

Arriving at Alabama weighing less than 275 pounds, Williams is now closing in on 300, and his development is still in the early stages. With spring, summer workouts and fall camp ahead of him, there’s plenty of football left for the rising redshirt freshman to improve, flash his versatility and continue to reel in attention.

“He’s coming along well,” defensive line coach Karl Dunbar told BamaOnLine in Atlanta. “He’s doing a great job of understanding what we do and how we do things, and he’s a quick study. From learning how to use his hands, flip his hips, and he’s a good athlete.

“I mean one day in practice, he went against the tackle, the guard, the center, the other guard and then the tackle in pass rush because we just wanted to see if he could move around, and he has that kind of potential.”

Williams has been getting a ton of praise from players and coaches. Keep an eye on him.

Ponder, a native of Fairhope, Ala., spent the past 2 seasons as the Crimson Tide’s associate director of football operations. In his role as director of football operations, Ponder will be tasked with overseeing the operational and organizational aspects of the Crimson Tide football program.

Congratulations to Ellis on his promotion.

Alabama has yet to extend an offer to the Tide legacy, but that doesn’t mean the staff isn’t highly interested.

“I would say mostly the fact that I’m 6-4, 210, pocket passer,” Tyson said of what Bama likes about him. “That’s what they like to do especially with Coach Daboll. He’s been coaching Tom Brady, and I’m just that type of quarterback, a pocket passer, that can drop back and throw it.”

Tyson has been to Alabama home games more often than not growing up, but Saturday marked the first time he’s had a one-on-one with Saban.

Paul is an incoming junior. If he continues to develop, it’s hard to imagine he winds up anywhere but Tuscaloosa. What a story he could be.

Basketball futures:

As expected, Alabama’s incoming class is making some noise in their respective state tournaments:

Mr. Basketball John Petty scored 36 points with 10 rebounds and seven assists in Jemison’s blowout semifinal win over Sylacauga. He will play for a state title at 10:45am (?) at the BJCC. His semifinal highlights:

Collin Sexton scored 29 of Pebblebrook’s 60 points in a quarterfinal loss to a powerhouse Norcross squad that has two senior four-star bigs who have signed with Georgia and Louisville, plus a sophomore point guard that already holds several P5 offers. He has a game highlight video from HoopDiamonds, who has been following him all year:

No video available, but Herb Jones will also play for a state title with Hale County High, after filling the box score with 14 points, 14 rebounds, four blocks and three steals in the semis.

The future is bright, indeed. #BuckleUp

That should do you for today. Have a great weekend.

Roll Tide.