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Jumbo Package: Sad ending for a special team

Your latest Crimson Tide news and notes.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-UCLA at Alabama Doug McSchooler-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Monday, everyone. Well, as happy as it can be anyway, following the Tide’s heartbreaking loss to UCLA in the round of 16 last night. Cecil Hurt has the postmortem.

No one is saying that any team, player or coach is above criticism. But two things about a player like Herbert Jones: First, no one will feel worse about his three late free throw misses in regulation; Second, they are a single chapter in a long career legacy in which Jones exemplified what a school and a program should want a college athlete to be.

So there is that pain, and also the pain of seeing a special season end, on the floor but away from it as well.

“This is by far the closest team I’ve been on,” John Petty Jr. said. “Off the floor, we were always together, always bonding. It was always one man down and the next man up. After all my experiences, good and bad, that’s what I will remember.”

This was a special group. Nate said that thirty years from now he would still remember this team for changing the culture of Alabama basketball, and they have.

Watching them go out simply because they couldn’t make even half of their foul shots was excruciating. This team shot a nice 69% from the line this season. Had they hit that number in regulation, they win by at least six despite poor three-point shooting that we all feared would happen in a tournament game. Alas, they did not, and are thus finished for the season.

At least Alex Reese got to have a moment.

Alex’s journey in Tuscaloosa has been one of perseverance, and it was great to see him get that exclamation point.

Of course, Herb Jones will be remembered as the leader of this bunch.

“He’s always been defensive minded,” Butler said. “He always shared the ball. Sometimes I’d have to say, ‘Now Herb, you are the best player on the team, now shoot.’ It was always defense first.”

It doesn’t matter where Jones lands in the NBA, everyone who knows him best has every confidence the Alabama star will find success. You can bet he will work hard to make that happen.

“I wish I could take credit,” Jones Sr. said of Herb’s work ethic. “I guess it was just me and his mom getting up and going to work on days when you don’t feel like it. You still have a job to do and there is no use in complaining about it. If you say you love to play, prove it. You got to show it every day and not just game time. It’s practice and doing what you are supposed to do.”

He still has plenty of work to do on the offensive end, but the way he approaches the game, don’t bet against him.

Bryan Hodgson shared an amusing note on Nick Saban.

Podcast host Jeff Goodman asked Hodgson, “Does Nick Saban know who you are? If you walk by Nick Saban, does he have any idea who you are? Or does he think you’re like the equipment manager? Honestly, be honest.”

“I’d like to tell myself he does,” Hodgson said jokingly. “But more than likely, the equipment manager.”

Hodgson then talked about how he helped Alabama football with some recruiting in the past year for Terrion Arnold and Ga’Quincy “Kool Aid” McKinstry.

I have a feeling that Nick knows exactly who Bryan is.

Evan Neal and Jordan Battle spoke about the incoming talent on the football field.

The mindset of a true freshman stepping into a program like this creates a challenge, especially for those who entered with high recruiting grades. Safety Jordan Battle explained what he’s seeing from the newcomers at this point in the spring.

“They just understanding the difference between high school and college right now,” Battle said. “From being big dogs to freshman again, they have to learn the role. They have to look up to us and see more what to do and we have to be leaders and not only say the things we need to do but also show and do the things we need to do.”

As always, it will be interesting to see which freshmen make the leap to significant playing time in the first season.

BOL has some highlights of spectacularly named Alabama commit Walter Bob.

“First off he’s a tremendous football player,” McCullough said. “He’s 6-5, about 250 right now, but has a lot of growth potential to put on more weight. He can run. He’s extremely long. He does a great job of playing with a motor. He’s been a tremendous player for us and will be next for us next season, but I think he’s got even bigger potential at the next level.”

McCullough says Pete Golding and members of the Tide staff had been in contact with him throughout the season keeping tabs on Bob, as well as 2022 defensive back and now LSU commit Laterrance Welch, who also holds a UA offer. Golding called McCullough on Monday to extend an offer to Bob.

“I just think they really liked him and Walter decided that’s the place he wants to be,” McCullough said.

That man looks like a phenomenal pass rusher.

The San Francisco 49ers made a big move up last week, ostensibly to grab a QB, and word on the street is that they are looking at one Mac Jones.

Most observers presumed the 49ers were looking to draft Justin Fields or Trey Lance with the selection they acquired in a blockbuster trade with the Miami Dolphins this week. But NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah said Monday that other teams believe otherwise.

“The majority of people around the league believe this is for Mac Jones,” Jeremiah said on “The Athletic Football Show” podcast.

He added: “Of the people that you would want to believe and put your faith in, the overwhelming majority of them believe this is going to be Mac Jones with that pick. So that’s what’s so shocking.”

Wouldn’t it be something if Mac ended up getting drafted even higher than Tua after coming in as an afterthought in the same recruiting class?

Last, this is the most Auburn thing ever.

Sometimes the jokes write themselves.

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

Roll Tide.