Happy Monday, everyone. It was an ugly weekend on the hardwood, but things looked much better on the diamond. As Roger already told you, baseball took two of three in its opening series, and the softball team is off to a roaring start.
GAME TWO: ALABAMA 6, ARIZONA 1 Facing its first ranked opponent of the season, Alabama defeated ninth-ranked Arizona on its home field, defeating the Wildcats in Tucson for the first time in program history. The Tide capitalized on four fielding errors, with three of its six runs coming as unearned. Alabama’s offensive production came from the middle of its order, including a pair of RBIs from freshman Skylar Wallace on a sixth-inning double. Freshman Montana Fouts (4-0) continued her impressive rookie campaign in the circle, going the distance with eight strikeouts and no walks with one unearned run allowed on six hits.
Arizona clearly helped here, but whipping them 6-1 in their home tournament is a nice early season feather in the hat. The Tide have allowed one run or less in seven of the ten victories, including five shutouts. It’s a long season to be sure, but tough to script a better opening act.
As mentioned, the basketball teams played poorly this weekend, and Cecil Hurt lit into the men’s team.
As a columnist, I don’t spend a great deal of time dwelling on whether a team should be playing a 2-3 matchup zone or running back-door cuts off the high post. That is best left to coaches. But when Johnson said in the post-game that “in video session this morning, our energy level was low,” that’s a different matter.
How can the energy level be “low” before a crucial home game? If for some inexplicable reason the “energy” is low, how much does video study matter? Isn’t there a point where you turn off the video, throw the laptop against the wall, and declare a two-minute, no-whistle scrimmage in which the last five guys standing will be your starters? If not that method, then don’t you find some other way of finding five players with a bit of fire?
Perhaps that’s not Johnson’s style. If it’s not, that’s the root of the problem. He at least hinted that he’d look at things differently going into the final six games.
Avery has tried to build depth all season and keep legs fresh by playing lots of bodies, but I think this has also kept his best unit from jelling. The best chance this team has at making a run is for the three most talented offensive players - Kira Lewis, John Petty, and Tevin Mack - to feed off of one another. Those three guys should be on the floor together for at least 30 minutes a game, along with Donta Hall. Tighten up the rotation, Avery.
In football news...
“They lost seven players that left early for the NFL Draft, a program-high. They’ll have 11 at the NFL Combine, more than anybody in the country. As far as the coaching staff, Nick Saban has to replace seven assistant coaches. Last year, he had to replace six assistant coaches. This will be the third consecutive year Alabama has to replace its offensive and defensive coordinator.
”And their last two games on the field against Oklahoma and Clemson, they allowed more than 30 points. That’s the first time since 2013 Alabama allowed more than 30 points in two consecutive games. I think Alabama is going to regress slightly, again, it’s not like they’re falling out of my Top 10 or Top 15, but I do think Clemson is clearly a better team and I think Georgia has a stronger team coming back. They know how close they came to beating Alabama the last two years. I give Georgia the slight edge over Alabama for the No. 2 spot.”
Yes, yes. “Clearly a better team.” Play that on loop, Cochran.
Cole Cubelic has an interesting point on Sarkisian.
The two concerns with Tua have been durability & getting the ball out on time. With what Sark brings & will place an emphasis on I believe Tua has a chance to be MORE effective in this offense.— Cole Cubelic (@colecubelic) February 15, 2019
While Sarkisian has certainly evolved with the game, some of those West Coast principles remain and could be good for Tua. With the weapons at his disposal and opposing DCs sure to copy some of the strategies used by late season foes in keeping safeties back to force him to stay patient, becoming a little less greedy and more of a distributor will be paramount.
Last, we have a nice list of the top 2020 recruits to know.
SAV’ELL SMALLS, 5-STAR OLB, SEATTLE (WASH.) GARFIELD
The Tide has hosted the nation’s top outside linebacker twice already despite the distance from Seattle to Tuscaloosa. Tosh Lupoi left Alabama squarely in the mix for Smalls’ signature. New Tide offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian will be tasked with the job of landing Smalls.
The dude is named Smalls? Come on, Coach, we have to have this guy, just for The Sandlot jokes.
That’s about it for today. Have a great week.