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Know your enemy- Alabama A&M Bulldogs

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Obviously most of us are still hurting from the choke job at Bryant-Denny. Hopefully this game turns out to be a good distraction.

Stats

They’re 2-1 with a loss at Western Kentucky. They have 4 guys averaging double digit scoring, Cantey and Hunter are the rebounders, and Hester and Jackson are the perimeter shooters. That all sounds nice, but IMO we shouldn’t have to worry much about any of them.

Stats:
- 40.5% FG
- 31.9% 3PT FG
- 63.2% FT
- +1.3 rebound margin

Prediction: after a miserable Paradise Jam I suspect A&M is the sacrificial lamb… I hope. Bama by 23.

Gametime is 2PM EST (1PM CST)… at the usual links.

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Recap of the Paradise Jam II

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Thanks to Delta I spent an extra night in St Thomas. I guess there are worse places to be stuck. Anyways…

DJC covered the tournament and the general suckage of our team below. I’m going to add some random thoughts.

- On the plane ride home I spoke to an Iowa media guy and asked him what did the coaches prepare the Hawkeyes for against us. His answer was to take away the inside and let them shoot. They were a bit nervous about that on the heels of the Seton Hall game, but obviously it worked out well. They primarily played a hybrid 2-3 zone, double-teaming Green and only worried about Davis from the outside. It was explained to me it was more of a 1-2-2 look with more collapsing inside. We played their game…

- I suspect EVERY team we play will implement this the best they can. We’ll have a game or two like Seton Hall, but if we don’t improve we’re not much better than the Barn.

- Iowa isn’t supposed to be very good. They lost to the LBC (Long Beach) on Monday… and thanks to Delta they (and Clemson) were stuck like me in St Thomas Tuesday.

- St Peter’s celebrated their win over us like they made the Final Four. I give them all the credit in the world… their kids never quit. IMO ours were going through the motions since Saturday morning.

- I’m not as full of BAMA as DJC is. I skipped the Iowa game and instead drank on the beach. I did go to the St Peter’s shocker with 155 of my closest friends.

- At first, I thought Grant canceling the team’s snorkeling trip was a good thing due to their play vs Iowa. I’m not so sure I believe that anymore. I saw a team sleepwalking vs St Peter’s (which Grant said himself during a TO), a team playing as individuals, very little chatter between them on the court or on the bench, and when I heard Grant said something about practice when they get back I saw their heads collectively sulk. I’m not sure the approach he’s taking with them is effective. Hell… I’ll say it… I think he’s being too much of a hardass… at least from what I saw in St Thomas.

- The kids aren’t having fun out there. Looks to me like the last thing any of them want to do is play basketball. That’s a HUGE problem as it won’t be corrected at the snap of a finger or more practice time.

- DJC and I talked about Grant’s questionable use and non-use of timeouts. We both noticed this last year too. To be honest that bothers me.

For hanging with me through this long post, here are some pics I took at the tourney. They’re iPhone quality, but you can see how close we are to the action.




- I’m really concerned about this team. Losing to the 5th, 6th, and 7th place teams is something no one expected. Obviously the season is very young, but IMO we got more than shooting issues.

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Trouble in Paradise. It’s Ebb Tide as Bama brings up the rear

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The bad news, we finished dead last in a tournament of 8 teams that did not even feature a single top 25 team. I’m trying to find some good news, but frankly from an Alabama basketball perspective that is a difficult task right now. The best I can come up with is that I’m on a tropical island typing the post while overlooking the beach, and you are not; but that probably doesn’t make you feel any better.

We had no business losing to Iowa. St. Peter’s returned 4 starters from one of the best defensive teams in the country last year, but still, they lost by 25 to Robert Morris. We had no business losing to them too.

I’ve been reluctant to post because I’m honestly at a loss for words right now. We played hard and competed against Seton Hall. I really felt bad for the guys after that game, as you could see the anguish and disgust on every player’s face after that game. We didn’t show up for the Iowa game. Coach Grant was more animated and vocal than I have ever seen him during the St. Peter’s game. Nevertheless, it was the same situation as the Iowa game, we settled for too many jump shots, played a slower place game that favors St. Peters, and ended up getting beat.

I do not know the answer. Coach Grant’s style of play requires a deep bench. We need 10-11 guys who can contribute. Right now, we have 4 players getting significant playing time who at this point in their career should not be seeing the court in a D1 game. The 7 players who are legitimate contributers are better suited to playing the type of game we are trying to run. I don’t know what we should do, if you slow it down you go away from the strength of the players in the game, but what we are doing obviously leaves us with huge liabilities. For now, trust Coach Grant and hope that he gets the horses he needs soon.

Other than the horrible basketball, it’s been a great trip. The U.S. Virgin Islands are beautiful. We took a ferry to St. John’s a couple of days and had a great time. There are some beautiful beaches on St. Thomas, and a fun bar scene at Red Hook. We met Bryan Passink and his wife, and they are great people who love UA even more than we do, which I didn’t think was possible. The arena here is small, much like Maui’s, and would pass for an average at best high school arena back home. That being said, you can get much closer to the action with a general admission ticket than anywhere back home. Furthermore, the concession stand people were the most quickly efficient, friendly, and reasonably priced of anywhere I have been. Outside of people connected to the program, we did not have much of a following at all. Iowa brought a fair number of folks, as did Seton Hall. Outside of St. Peter’s, we probably had the smallest crowd here. I was surprised at how many people Long Beach State brought, and Clemson also had a few. Iowa and Clemson were both on our flight back home, which got cancelled.

On the downside, it’s much more humid here than it was in Maui, and parts of the island are somewhat run down. Not surprisingly at all, Delta screwed us and the the flight home got cancelled because they apparently weren’t competent enough to adequately maintain the plane. Nevertheless, there are worse places to be stuck an extra night than St. Thomas. Up next, Alabama A&M saturday night at Coleman. Hopefully it being Iron Bowl weekend will draw a decent crowd. Below are a couple of pics, showing a view from the beach on our condo and at the game.


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Watching St Peter’s game with 115 in attendance…

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1 pt lead at the half. During a TO Grant lit into the team for sleepwalking. I thought that might fahr them up, but for the most part we’re playing St Peter’s game.

Settling for jump shots again. Ugh.

More to come later.

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Playing for 7th

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Our apologies for the lack of updates. Internet access has been limited. In a nutshell, we just haven’t played very well. In the Seton Hall game, we had too many turnovers at key moments in the game. It was a strange game in that we shot 71% from 3 point range, but Seton Hall shot about 75%. Our free throw shooting was horrible as usual. The officials were calling the game extremely tight, and we were slow to make the required adjustments. Still, we played hard and came back and cut the lead to 3, and had the ball with a 3 point deficit with around 15 seconds to play. I like a lot of things Coach Grant is doing, but at times I think he went to the Les Miles school of clock management. We turned the ball over and never got a shot at tying the game. We should have called a timeout to draw up a play for a 3 point shot. Nevertheless, that is not why we lost the game, the aforementioned turnovers and missed free throws did us in.

The Iowa game was an unmitigated abortion of epic proportions. Cully Payne and 4 other unathletic crackers took it to us. After shooting over 70% from 3 point range against Seton Hall we apparently thought we could keep that up. The difference is we went inside out against Seton Hall, but in the Iowa game we seemed content to pass the ball around the perimeter and jack up 3′s. We seemed to get overconfident with an early lead and blew it in a slow paced, half court game.

From what I understand, Coach Grant kept the team in the locker room for an extended period of time after the Iowa game, and cancelled all of the fun/touristy activities scheduled in favor of more practice time. It’s disappointing and frustrating, but this is a young team that is playing hard early in the season. Don’t give up on them yet.

Up next, we take on the St. Peter’s Peacocks to avoid last place in the tournament. Tip off is 2 pm Atlantic, noon Central.

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Recap of Seton Hall loss

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- turnovers killed us. The team seems to have a problem helping out on a double team.
- shot lights out from 3. Too bad Seton Hall did the same.
- Green has got to stop the tic tac fouls.
- regarding fouls, I thought the refs called the game tough on us, light on Seton Hall. My proof is FT shooting difference.
- when Theodore got his 4th foul we did a poor job trying to get his 5th. I can’t remember us making him play the ball.

Sorry for the bullet post…. Posting from iPhone. Hopefully we get the innernets fixed at the condo.

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Paradise Jam Preview

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Here is the bracket. We have a tough draw, as we play arguably the best team in the first round. The Seton Hall Pirates are 1-1, losing by 6 on the road to a good Temple game and easily defeating Cornell at home. They barely missed the NCAA tournament last year, and are picked 11th out of 16 in the super-competitive Big East. They are in the first year of new coach Kevin Willard, but they start 3 seniors and 2 juniors. If we win we won’t play again till Sunday night, but if we lose, we play again Saturday. It would be nice to have that day of rest before facing either Iowa or Xavier.

Iowa is also in the first year of new coach Fran McCaffery. He is in the process of trying to implement a more up-tempo style of play similiar to what we run. Cully Payne, former Alabama signee, is their starting poing guard. Payne signed under Gottfried but asked for his release when Gottfried was let go. Iowa is 1-1, bouncing back from a loss to the South Dakota State Jackrabbits to beat La-Monroe 68-40. Iowa returns most of its team from last year’s disappointing 10-22 season.

Xavier, our other possible second round opponent, is 2-0 but has not been overly impressive so far. They needed overtime to beat IPFW (Indiana Purdue Fort Wayne) and beat Western Michigan 68-65. They lost their final exhibition game to Bellarmine. They were 26-9 last year, and one of only two teams in the sweet 16 the last 3 straight years. They have been to the NCAA tournament 5 years in a row. They return 11 players from last year’s team, including 3 starters. Despite their slow start, I suspect they would be a difficult matchup for us.

The other side of the bracket features Clemson, Long Beach State, Old Dominion, and Saint Peters. Clemson is also in the first year with a new head coach. Last year they lost in the first round of the NCAA tournament. They return 12 players from that team. The Tigers are 2-0 with wins over Western Carolina and Wofford.

The Saint Peter’s Peacocks are 0-1, losing 55-30 to Robert Morris. I think it’s safe to say they suck.

The Long Beach State 49ers are 1-1, losing their homecoming and season opener to San Diego State, but bouncing back to beat San Francisco State. They made it to the Big West Championship game last year, return 4 starters, and are picked 2nd in their conference this year. Snoop Dogg’s hometown team will play Clemson in the first round, an interesting rematch of a 10 point Clemson win on a neutral court last season.

Old Dominion is 1-1, losing to Georgetown by only 3 and beating High Point convincingly. Coach Blaine Taylor is in his 10th year at ODU where he has won fairly consistently. They return 4 starters from last year’s CAA Championship team that was eleminated in the 2nd round of the NCAA tournament. While not a big name school, the Monarchs are definitely a team to watch in this tournament. They are a very good team, and they essentially get a first round bye against St. Peters.

I predict we make it to the championship game and lose a close one to Old Dominion. Our first game is Friday afternoon at 7pm Atlantic time (5pm Central) against Seton Hall. No television coverage as far as I know. Bobbyjack and I will be there, and will try to post updates depending on a number of factors including, but not limited to: available time, sobriety, and internet access.

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Also…..

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for the basketball junkies out there, the annual ESPN 24-hours of basketball begins tonight at 11:00 Central with Miami playing at Memphis. Then….

1:00AM St. John’s at Saint Mary’s (I’m sure bobbyjack will stay up for that)
3:00AM Central Michigan at Hawaii
5:00AM Stony Brook at Monmouth (crickets chirping, but hey, they’re on tv)
7:00AM Robert Morris at Kent State
9:00AM Northeastern at Southern Illinois
11:00AM Oral Roberts at Tulsa
1:00PM La Salle at No. 17 Baylor
3:00PM No. 24 Virginia Tech at No. 3 Kansas State
4:30PM Marist at No. 7 Villanova (ESPNU)
5:00PM No. 5 Ohio State at No. 10 Florida
6:00PM Detroit at No. 11 Syracuse (ESPN3)
6:30PM Miami (Ohio) at No. 1 Duke (ESPNU)
6:30PM Saint Joseph’s at Penn State (ESPN3)
7:00PM No. 18 Butler at Louisville
7:00PM North Dakota at No. 25 Wisconsin (ESPN3)
8:30PM Belmont at No. 23 Tennessee (ESPNU)
9:00PM South Carolina at No. 2 Michigan State
10:00PM San Diego State at No. 12 Gonzaga
10:30PM Nevada or Pacific at UCLA (ESPNU)

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Tide trounces Trojans 79-60

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Box score

A thorough asskicking from beginning to end…. this game was never in doubt. Green was unstoppable in the 1st half, Hillman with a monster dunk, and Tony Mitchell solid throughout.

Only sore spot is 3 point shooting… and it was fine in the 1st half. We destroyed a team I thought would give us trouble.

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Know your enemy- Troy Trojans

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They come in confident after devastating Huntington College 100-59 in their season opener. They hit 13-27 from beyond the arc in that one. I suspect CAG has preached covering the perimeter already.

Here’s a link to their roster. Funny that most of their team originated somewhere else… either the JuCo route or transfer (2 from my almost alma mater UCF… which stands for U Can’t Finish).

Anyways, guys to watch… Regis Huddleston and DeAndrae Ross from outside, Will Weathers at the point, and former Arkansas player Levan Patsatsia on the boards.

Prediction- A high scoring game that we pull out in the end. Troy will be tough… and while I believe we win by double digits (12) the final score will not tell how competitive this game will be.

Game time is 11/15 at 8PM EST (7PM CST). Not sure if the video feed is free or not, but feel free to use the link by the schedule to try. If not, there’s always the audio streaming or you can pay.

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