I don’t think I have to tell you that this week begins a crucial two-game road stretch for the Alabama Crimson Tide versus its two greatest institutional rivals: Tennessee and Auburn (though, in Hoops terms, Arkansas is a greater one than the Volunteers).
We’ll get to some good ole’ fashioned hating in a minute, but let’s begin by putting a bow on two items: Wednesday night’s evisceration of the Florida Gators, and red-hot Jahvon Quinerly
Florida did not enjoy losing by 28. They can blame LSU
Nate Oats was very disappointed with the Tide’s effort vs. LSU last Saturday (and it wasn’t just him, either). Though it was a ho-hum 79-69 point affair, and yet another double-digit win by Alabama, it was the “second-worst Blue Collar” rating that Alabama had all year. As a result, players pushed themselves in practice this week and came out looking every bit the best team in the nation — or at least on the very short list of teams that can say that with a straight face.
On keys to players being locked in early, playing well against Florida’s defense…
“You know what, we weren’t happy with our game at LSU. I think guys understood we’ve gotta play better. That wasn’t who we were, and our point was two out of our last three games, we haven’t played hard enough, well enough. That game and the Oklahoma game were our two lowest blue-collar totals. We made a big point of emphasis on getting that back up. It was almost 90 tonight; they only had 60. I thought we played a lot harder. It’s just let’s get back to being who we are, who we know ourselves to be, and that’s us.
Nate sort of groused that Castleton went off for 29/10, but was he not particularly upset. As I wrote in a comment to Roger’s recap, I suspect that conceding a double-double to Castleton in order to play small ball and close-out on the perimeter was the focus of the coaching effort. Castleton’s 30 points won’t beat you. Castleton hitting 20 and kicking out for open looks will.
That turned out to be correct: the Tide learned from that Oklahoma game that it can not defend all things equally well, so you take away one, and force the opponent to be one-dimensional. Against the Sooners, it just snowballed: Alabama couldn’t defend the post entry well, and despite flailing around to prevent it, was still giving up open looks to the guards.
Pick one, stop it.
They did, and they did.
Obviously, Castleton had quite a game. We would have liked to done a better job on him. He’s a really good player obviously.
“I did think we did a good job taking away their threes for the most part. They hit that late one kind of on a kick-down that we gave up, but in the first half, they didn’t hit one. So if you’re gonna double – they do have shooters. They take a decent amount of threes. We didn’t wanna give up a bunch of threes. That’s a way to get upset.
And the bottom line?
All Jelly ery’thing
Two years ago as Alabama entered the stretch run on a tear, when Herb Jones wasn’t the best player on the floor, Jahvon Quinerly frequently was.
“He’s getting back into his groove. Me and him talked about it. He’s looked great in practice, the best I’ve seen him since last year. I thought tonight he was great. When he shoots the ball like he’s been shooting it, he’s tough to guard because you can’t sag him. You’ve gotta get up on him, and then he can get by anybody. If you have to play him as tight as you have to play him when he’s shooting like this, he can get in the lane, and once he gets in the lane, I think he’s one of the best passers, if not the best, in the country. He’s finding people. He’s getting assists. He’s looking to find guys when he’s in the lane.
Not just the coach is noticing:
With every passing game, Jahvon Quinerly looks increasingly comfortable. Running No. 3 #Alabama’s offense to perfection and creating open shots for himself at a high clip.— Mathey Gibson (@Mathey_Gibson1) February 9, 2023
He’s clicking at the right time.
“Once he gets in the lane he’s one of the best passers, if not the best in the country,” Oats said. “He’s finding people, he’s getting assists. [...] It’s nice to be able to have him.”
Quinerly’s teammates shared Oats’ sentiment.
“He gets everybody involved,” Alabama guard Mark Sears said. “It’s great to play with a point guard that can do that, with the playmaking and making everybody on the court better.”
Between Braden and Jelly, the pair had 10 assists vs. Florida and committed just one turnover. To have that kind of passing, ball security, and perimeter stroke to the Tide’s dangerous inside-out game, is almost unfair.
And for Q, we could not be happier for him. That guy has paid his dues, embraced his evolving role each season, learned to defend, been injuried and persevered, and it’s now all coming together at just the right time for him...and for the Tide.
What a luxury.
Cutting down the nets?
Alabama last night moved to 11-0 for the first time in 70 years, and they’ve been absolutely blasting teams too. The last time they did so, they won the conference.
It’s incredibly rare that anyone starts off that hot and blows people out with regularity. But when it has happened, it has been a harbinger of far bigger things:
How good is this defense on a nightly basis? They’ve not allowed any SEC team to score more than 69 points in conference play.
Alabama moves to 11-0 in SEC play.— Blake Lovell (@theblakelovell) February 9, 2023
10 of those 11 wins are by double digits.
Still haven’t allowed more than 69 points.
That is #nice
I thought about substantively covering the Auburn game in this week’s PiP. I mean, it is a big game. So big that College Gameday is going to that dump. But, then I realized that Parker will amply provide for serious coverage. Rather, today we’re going to follow-up with a beloved Iron Bowl tradition:
We’re going to talk shit about them instead.
And, buddy, this week, there has been some serious self-pwnage on the Plains. If they weren’t so dense, you might almost call it self-awareness.
tbh I’m giving Pearl props for such a wild recruiting pitch, “come to auburn because you will get to play AGAINST the best team in the country (in-state rival Alabama)” pic.twitter.com/N5ZUgoYPkI— Nate Oats Burner (@nate_oatsb) February 9, 2023
Can you imagine Nick Saban saying “the best part about the SEC Championship game is the exposure that comes from playing Georgia?” Apparently, that’s the depths to where Auburn Man has descended this week.
Unfortunate too, because the Refs are actively rooting against Auburn and trying to unseat the Blueblood Tigers.
No. This is not satire:
Gutted. But the grit showed in a 9 on 5 game can’t be overstated. It truly is Auburn against the world.— Auburn Einstein (@AuburnEinstein) February 8, 2023
It’s a big deal when blue bloods lose.
The Barn has been getting savaged this week too for embracing that self-anointed “blue blood” label without any sense of irony whatsoever.
CBS’s Hoops Guru, Gary Parrish absolutely roasted Auburn too, pointing out that yes, a school can be a winner in more than one thing and truly be elite:
Too bad Gary wasn’t talking about Auburn.
“Our sport,” my ass.
Finally, if you missed The Coach Nate Oats Show on Thursday night, here ya’ go, in all its glory:
The Nate Oats Show - 2/9/23 https://t.co/4S3ZDB3lV7— Saturday | 1 PM | ESPN (@UARoundballGuy) February 9, 2023
This poll is closed
An existential threat in every sport, and Alabama’s true archrival
#fambly, you just wouldn’t understand what it is to be a #blueblood
Like dog crap on your shoes: more obnoxious than anything, but the stink never truly goes away.
Capable of provoking incandescent fury in me at the mere mention of their name