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Jumbo Package: Women’s basketball rides a four game streak into SEC Tournament

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NCAA Womens Basketball: Alabama at Tennessee Saul Young-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Monday, everyone.

Women’s basketball did it again, taking down Mizzou to finish the regular season with four consecutive wins, capping off an incredible 6-2 February with the only losses at #15 Kentucky by four points and the OT heartbreaker in Athens. This team is as hot as anyone in the SEC right now. What the NCAA committee will do is anyone’s guess, but it seems likely that Wednesday’s game between the 8th-seeded Tide and 9-seed Georgia may serve as a play-in game, with the winner dancing and the loser NIT-bound. Unfortunately #1 South Carolina and their 29-1 record await in the following round, so 19-12 is the best case number. Hopefully they get that done and it will be enough.

It was a solid weekend overall:

Speaking of Cecil, he has the right perspective on the basketball season.

It’s also a long-term situation, which is why Oats made the drive to Birmingham, not once but twice last week to see the state’s top junior prospect, ultra-athletic guard J.D. Davidson of Letohatchee, in action. (If you haven’t seen Davidson, he was well worth the drive, right up to the game-clinching shot that gave his Calhoun team the AHSAA Class 2A state championship in dramatic fashion.)

The outer fringes of the NCAA bubble are like the planets beyond the asteroid belt, cold places that require a tremendous rocket boost to escape and find sunlight. Right now, Alabama’s fuel supply is limited. The short-term answers are hard, but that is why Oats is out trying to refuel for a long journey.

While Alabama still has a very realistic chance at a NCAA tournament berth, 76% according to TeamRankings that rises to 94% if they can get to 19 wins, this season is all about building a foundation. In short order, Nate Oats has these guys playing fast and scoring tons of points. Another year of refinement should have this program solidly on the map.

New Alabama strength coach David Ballou has a nice feather in his cap in OL Simon Stepaniak, who put up the second most bench reps at the combine.

Imagine 225 lbs. of weight, and pushing it up from your chest 37 times with no rest.

Clemson LB Isaiah Simmons was easily the big winner of the Combine and will now almost assuredly be taken in the top five, but Ruggs did well for himself too.

Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama: A 4.27-second 40 is hardly disappointing; the time is tied for the fourth best of any player since 2003, when the combine first began tracking data. Yet Ruggs had an even loftier goal: breaking Bengals receiver John Ross’ record of 4.22 seconds. Though he fell short of that mark, the 5-11, 188-pound speedster was clearly one of the biggest standouts in Indianapolis, as he also posted a 42-inch vertical leap and 10-11 broad jump.

“He’s not going to show emotion,” Ruggs said of Saban. “He’s just going to tell you good catch, good job and give a you a little pat on the back and tell you to just keep playing.”

With the context of Ruggs’ 40-yard-dash time, that explains why he appeared to be ultimately discontent with his 4.27-second split. Despite blowing draft analysts such as NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah away, Ruggs wanted more.

”It just makes you better because you know everything is magnified,” Ruggs said of playing at Alabama. “When you’ve got guys like that, you might have games where you might have one catch, you might have games with 10 catches, but you never know.

”You’ve got to just be prepared for every opportunity and that’s one thing that will always make you better.”

There seems to be little chance that Henry makes it out of the first round at this point.

Last, Marlon Humphrey expects the Lane train to roll.

We will check back in the fall to see just how prescient young Marlon turns out to be.

That’s about it for today. Have a great week.

Roll Tide.