Happy Monday, everyone. It was a successful weekend on the diamond as the ladies stayed unbeaten and the baseball team managed to pull one of three on the road against a top ten Ole Miss squad. The Gym Tide lost at #1 Oklahoma despite posting a season high score and will now move on to the SEC Championships this weekend.
Of course, we learned that the basketball team earned a #1 NIT seed and will have the opportunity to host three more games should they keep winning.
“The NIT, it gives us another opportunity to practice. It gives us another opportunity to play real games in front of a live crowd and just really grow and develop and get better, especially with our young players, specifically our point guard Kira Lewis and the rest of our guys that are going to be returning next year. This gives us a jump start on next year’s preparation. It also gives us an opportunity to take care of our seniors like Riley Norris and Donta Hall, guys who have given their hearts to the program, to give them an opportunity to continue to play ball and get evaluated because you never know who’s watching.
“But this is a situation that we don’t have anybody else to blame. We’re playing in the NIT because we just weren’t good enough during the regular season, and we weren’t consistent enough. But this is an opportunity for us to play postseason. Like I said earlier and alluded to, continue to develop better habits, better leadership, better chemistry, more discipline, more communication, work on our defense. We took a step back defensively this year. We’ve got to be a better free throw shooting team. And we’ll be in situations where we’ll some real game situations where we can work on just becoming a better basketball team.”
The Tide will face Norfolk St. in the first round, which is appropriate since the colloquial pronunciation of “Norfolk” is what Alabama fans were screaming when Belmont’s NCAA seed was announced. The Bruins’ best wins are Murray State and Lipscomb, which count as Quadrant 1 because they came on the road. Belmont has zero wins over the top 40 in the NET rankings, which exposes a flaw in the Quadrant system: home court simply isn’t worth the weight it is being given, particularly at smaller schools. In all, Belmont played a total of four Quadrant 1 games and a full half of their wins came in Quadrant 4 games.
They’ll be playing Temple, who won nailbiters over Georgia and Missouri, neither of whom made the postseason, though the Owls did manage to upset 3-seed Houston, which was apparently more impressive than a win over Kentucky.
Look, Alabama can’t say that they “deserved” to go. When you put yourself in the position of having to hope for the 68th spot, you get what you get. That said, there was a clear bias toward midmajors this year, and it’s going to make for a boring tournament. Alabama was apparently the second team left out, as the committee struggled to leave out juggernaut UNC-Greensboro, what with their big win over... Furman?
Bottom line, the committee has a fever for the upset! and is intentionally diminishing the product in hopes of creating more of them. Hopefully the bigger teams will show up and trash enough of these squads to make them reconsider in the future.
And, admit it: you’re salivating over the idea of welcoming Dayton’s Grantsketball to Coleman in round two.
“I say that for a reason: Kirby Smart beat Nick Saban in recruiting last year. And, that hasn’t happened since Saban arrived from Miami nearly 11 years ago. It drove Saban off the deep end. Now, Saban’s class was still top 5. That got followed by No. 1, then No. 1.”
That, Finebaum said, in turned caused changes.
“He reacted to it in such a way he dumped some long-time coaches. He brought in recruiters, who, by the way, couldn’t coach. Saban had to take away the defensive coordinator’s play-calling responsibilities very early in the season. A great recruiter but not a great defensive coordinator (Tosh Lupoi).
Eh, it was an overcorrection, but Pawwwl is mostly stirring the pot.
Spring practice gets fired back up today.
LT -- Alex Leatherwood
LG -- Emil Ekiyor
C -- Chris Owens
RG -- Matt Womack
RT -- Jedrick Wills
The defense has some folks to replace, particularly in the front seven, but the offensive line’s ability to allow the star-studded offense to reach its potential will determine the team’s fate. The battle up front will be fierce.
Mark Barron is now a “Stiller.”
Sunday afternoon, Mike Tomlin’s team made a critical move to add competition by signing former Los Angeles Rams linebacker Mark Barron. The Alabama product is entering his eighth season and is coming off an appearance in Super Bowl LIII. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, he will join the Steelers on a two-year, $12 million contract.
Good for Mark.
Last, just for PiperTJ, Shelby McEwen jumped very high.
The Alabama high-jumper failed on his first two attempts at last week’s NCAA Indoor Championships in Birmingham and had just one more chance to clear the bar at 7 feet, 6 inches and win a national title.
That’s when McEwen heard the voice of inspiration — from his 7-year-old niece, Faith.
“On my last jump, the crowd got real quiet,” McEwen said. “I could hear my niece. She said, ‘Let’s go, Shelby.’ So she kind of put a spark in me. So when I rocked back and I approached it, I was like, ‘Oh yeah, I got it.’”
Congrats to him.
That’s about it for today. Have a great week.