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Jumbo Package: Tide Hoops looking for the three-ball to return, Saban complains about schedule

Your latest Crimson Tide news and notes.

NCAA Football: Sugar Bowl-Kansas State at Alabama Andrew Wevers-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Monday, everyone. It was a mixed weekend overall. The good news is that both baseball and softball decimated inferior competition. The baseball team swept UIC and looked strong in all facets of the game, while softball swept five thanks to dominant performances from all four pitchers.

The Gym Tide had a rough outing in Missouri, failing to touch 197 for the first time in a while. They will look to regroup in this week’s Senior Night matchup vs. Boise State. Men’s basketball dropped a meaningless game to Texas A&M and will await their opponent on Friday as the top seed in the SEC.

It was good to see some of the nonsense start to die down around Brandon Miller. It appears that Alabama had to “certify” him for the Wooden Award, and it wouldn’t be surprising if he and the administration just decided to opt out and keep things focused on basketball. Brandon will likely speak to media at some point in tournament play, and will undoubtedly be coached on the art of “no comment.”

As Joey Blackwell notes, Alabama will make things harder than usual on themselves if they can’t find the three point magic again.

As mentioned earlier, Alabama has proven that it can win even when the shots aren’t falling at a high clip. However, the Crimson Tide certainly hasn’t made things easy on itself when it struggles from deep.

Alabama proved over the course of the season that it is one of the most dangerous teams in the country when it is consistently hitting shots from beyond the arc. However, the Crimson Tide struggled down the stretch and while it was able to salvage wins at South Carolina and against Arkansas and Auburn, poor shooting was a large reason behind the team’s loss at Texas A&M.

Hopefully they got the bad shooting out of their system and will light it up for nine straight games. Wouldn’t that be grand?

Nick Saban was grousing about Alabama’s proposed permanent opponents.

Per Saban, the SEC has considered a 10-year analysis to address scheduling balance in a nine-game model. He thinks a deeper dive would present a better picture.

“Look historically over a 25-year history, and the three best teams in the East are Georgia, Tennessee and Florida. You look historically at 25 years, Alabama, LSU and Auburn are the three best teams in the West. So we’re playing them all,” Saban said.

Auburn, Tennessee and LSU have all had some disappointing seasons over the years, but they also invest in football success like few others. Over time, that has a way of helping a program surface and stay strong for the long-term.

Many Alabama fans complained about losing Mississippi State, as the two geographically closest schools in the conference have played one another over 100 times, more than Alabama has played anyone else in the league. Realignment is going to cause some loss of tradition however, and the fact is that most Alabama fans don’t want to lose any of the aforementioned three opponents. It shouldn’t cause much of a disparity anyway, as three strong permanent opponents simply weakens the pool of 12 that are left for your six rotational games each season.

Of course, Georgia is proposed to get Kentucky as an annual opponent which likely contributed to the bee in Nick’s bonnet.

Bryce Young did measure well below the six foot mark, though he is somehow 204 lbs.

“I’ve been this size, respectfully, my whole life,” Young told reporters at the combine Friday. “I know who I am. I know what I can do. For me, I think it’s fair; everyone can speculate and ask whatever questions are necessary. I’m going to continue to control what I can control. I’m going to keep working my hardest to put myself in a good position. I’m confident in myself. I know what I can do. I’m just excited to get to that next level.”

Young will reportedly not throw at the combine but instead will wait until one of Alabama’s two pro days.

Anthony Richardson, CJ Stroud and Will Levis all participated in workouts and acquitted themselves well, so we’ll see how it all shakes out. NFL teams tend to fall in love with measureables.

Jahmyr Gibbs can fly, y’all.

He beat Bijan Robinson by a full tenth of a second and undoubtedly raised his stock in the process.

Alex Scarbrough thinks that, outside of QB, Alabama’s offensive skill players will be the key to the season.

Bryce Young wasn’t the reason Alabama’s offense struggled at points last season. Sometimes the offensive line let him down. Sometimes the running game went missing in action. And a lot of the time it was the receivers who didn’t live up to expectations. With Young gone and a new quarterback getting ready to take the reins, it’s the receivers who need to show the most growth. They can’t fail to create separation, as they did last year. There’s a reason a running back — Jahmyr Gibbs — led the team in catches. And they can’t drop 25 passes — second most in the SEC. Jermaine Burton, Ja’Corey Brooks, Isaiah Bond, Kendrick Law and Kobe Prentice are back. But JoJo Earle and Tyler Harrell are gone. Someone needs to step up. Perhaps it will be tight end CJ Dippre, who transferred from Maryland and could figure prominently into new coordinator Tommy Rees’ offense. — Alex Scarborough

FIrst off, Tyler Harrell? LOL

Seriously though, Alabama should benefit from returning so many guys. Both young QBs have had at least some reps with all of them and will get a ton more this spring. Not mentioned here is Malik Benson, though he is mentioned by Chris Low and Harry Lyles Jr. as a newcomer to watch.

One of Steele’s priorities will be creating more negative plays on defense after the Tide finished next-to-last in the SEC last season in forced turnovers (14). Alabama will also be looking for a finisher on defense with Will Anderson Jr. heading to the NFL. Enter Dallas Turner as the top candidate to fill that role.

Newcomer to watch: Alabama was missing a deep vertical threat in its passing game last season, and junior college transfer Malik Benson has everything it takes to fill that void after showing great speed, sure hands and sound route-running in the practices leading up to the Tide’s bowl game last season.

More havoc on defense would indeed be lovely.

Last, AJ still slung it well but his team came up short this time.

St. Louis quarterback AJ McCarron threw four touchdown passes, but the Battlehawks’ bid for third consecutive double-digit comeback was short-circuited by a sack in Week 3 of the XFL season.

The D.C. Defenders emerged with a 34-28 victory on Sunday after surviving another improbable rally by St. Louis at Audi Field in Washington.

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

Roll Tide.