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Bama Falls In NIT Finals

Alabama’s NIT run came to a sad end last night in a 66-57 loss to Wichita State in the tournament finals.  The Tide’s shots didn’t fall and once again JaMychal Green found himself in foul trouble.  This time, Bama couldn’t find a work-around.

“We lost to a better team today,” Anthony Grant said.  “I can live with that.  Hopefully, this experience will makes us better.”  He added: “Their depth, physicality and skill were better than ours today.  They were a better team today, but it take nothing away from the season our team had.  It’s a disappointment for our seniors, but for our younger players, it’s a building block.”

After starting the season 5-6, the Crimson Tide lost just six games in their final 26 contests.  In reach the NIT finals they also concluded a unbeaten season at Coleman Coliseum. 

Alabama’s assistants earned bonuses for their work in the NIT.  Green, Trevor Relford made the NIT’s all-tournament team.  Bama’s players will also take away some great memories from their trip to New York and Madison Square Garden.

Obviously, the NCAA Tournament is every team’s goal.  Not getting a bid on Selection Sunday was a bitter disappointment from Grant’s team.  But the coach was able to focus his team and take advantage of the opportunity they were given, albeit in the NIT. 

Expectations for 2011-12 will be higher.  And the offseason work in Tuscaloosa will likely include some form of raise or extension for the Tide’s popular new coach.

Not bad for a team off the season heading in a totally different direction.

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SEC Headlines – 3/31/11 Part One

1.  Alabama’s Anthony Grant will likely receive a pay raise this offseason.

2.  Bama and Wichita State are both on hot streaks entering tonight’s NIT championship game.

3.  Here are some Alabama spring practice notes.

4.  The new allegations made last night have Auburn on the defensive again.

5.  And they’ll likely bring the NCAA to The Plains again.

6.  In fact, Auburn has already been in contact with the NCAA’s enforcement staff regarding the new accusations.

7.  Stanley McClover’s high school coach denies his former players’ charges.

8.  Here are some Arkansas spring practice notes.

9.  The Hogs want competition at cornerback.

10.  LSU is now being lumped in with Auburn when it comes to alleged pay-for-play scandals.

11.  Before the Patrick Peterson-Willie Lyles story broke on ESPN this morning, LSU AD Joe Alleva had already declined comment regarding a former Auburn player’s claim that someone representing the Bayou Bengals gave him $500.

12.  Redshirt freshman Vincent Sanders finds an open door at receiver in Oxford.

13.  DT Shackleford is trying to resurrect Ole Miss’ defense.

14.  The injury situation isn’t good in Starkville.

15.  Chris Relf still appears to be the man to beat in MSU’s quarterback competition.

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Bama Tops Colorado, Advances To NIT TItle Game

Anthony Grant’s team relied on its defense once again last night in Madison Square Garden.  And once again, its defense came through in the clutch.

Trevor Releford hit a layup to put Alabama up 62-61 with 12.6 seconds to play against Colorado in last night’s NIT semifinal.  The Crimson Tide then held on as CU leading scorer Alec Burks missed a jumper at the buzzer.

The Tide will now face Wichita State in the NIT finals at 7pm ET on Thursday.

“Defense is what gives this team a chance to win,” Grant said after the game.  “That’s what won for us tonight.”  But Bama’s coach also credited his freshman point guard, Releford.

With leading scorer JaMychal Green fouled out, Releford cut through the Buffaloes’ defense for the game-winning bucket.  “Trevor is a playmaker,” his coach said.  “As a freshman, he’s had to grow into that.  But at the end, I wanted to have the ball in his hands.  He read the play, they were cheating to the screen so he was able to rip the baseline and make the shot.”

And the Crimson Tide rolls on.

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Source Reveals Five Names On Tennessee’s List

A source “in the school’s athletic department” has told The Knoxville News Sentinel that five names are on Tennessee’s wish list as it begins its search for a new basketball coach.

Those names:

Jamie Dixon of Pittsburgh — Dixon is this year’s National Coach of the Year according to The Sporting News.  Tennessee had better bring a big checkbook.  And remember, Dixon turned down basketball power Arizona just two years ago… and the Wildcats weren’t in the NCAA doghouse.

Jay Wright of Villanova — Wright was one of the few coaches in the country to try to defend Bruce Pearl this past season.  Would he really be interested in replacing him?

Anthony Grant of Alabama — If Grant has expressed interest as has been rumored, it’s likely a contract ploy.  Tennessee has bigger facilities, but you don’t make a lateral move to land at a school where you’ll be saddled with probation and sanctions.

Mark Turgeon of Texas A&M — Turgeon makes sense.  He’s had success at Wichita State and A&M and his current salary is around the $1.5 million mark.

Gregg Marshall of Wichita State — And Marshall is the perfect fallback candidate for UT, if it can land him.  Marshall interviewed for the UT job years ago while coaching at Winthrop.

That’s a good looking list, but is it realistic?  We’ll see.

If Tennessee has crunched the numbers and projected what kind of financial hit it might take from a decrease in baskeball attendance (and parking, merchandise, concessions, etc), then the Vols might view a $2 million (or more) investment in a new coach as a sound financial move. 

When Nick Saban signed a $4 million per year deal at Alabama, the world gasped.  A couple of years later when the Tide was adding 10,000 seats to its stadium it became clear that Saban’s price tag was actually a steal. 

So if — if mind you — UT officials believe spending $2.5 million per year might save the Vols — spit-balling here — $4 million per year in basketball revenue, wouldn’t that investment be worth it?

All that said… we still expect the Vols to land a mid-major coach.

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SEC Headlines 12/19/2010 Part One

Georgia 58 – Arkansas State 49. Georgia goes to 7-2 on the season.

Texas A&M 71 – Arkansas 62 (OT). Melee leads to ejections and Aggies rally from 9-point second-half deficit.

Ohio State 79 – South Carolina 57. Both of South Carolina’s losses have come at the hands of Big 10 opponents.

Ole Miss 71 – East Tennessee State 50. Reginald Buckner delivers career highs in points, blocks and minutes.

Florida 57 – Kansas State 44. Gators rally from 12-point first-half deficit.

Oklahoma State 68 – Alabama 60. Cowboys make 14 of 18 free throws down the stretch.

Wichita State 70 – LSU 69. Tigers lose in Bossier City.

Presbyterian 62 – Auburn 59. Tigers drop to 3-7.

Vanderbilt 85 – SE Louisiana 52. Commodores hit thirteen 3-pointers.

Virginia Tech 88 – Mississippi State 57. Bulldogs lose in the Bahamas.

Kentucky 85 – Mississippi Valley State 60. Cats roll, Calipari tossed.

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Top 5 remain unchanged on my ballot

Content provided by Jerry Tipton on UK basketball.

The top five were easy again to fill in on my top 25 ballot this week for The Associated Press.

After that, it was a case of many coin flips and hopes for the best.

Note that the ballot was turned in prior to Texas playing Southern Cal.

1. Duke
2. Ohio State
3. Pittsburgh
4. Kansas State
5. Kansas
6. Connecticut
7. Michigan State
8. Syracuse
9. Illinois
10. Villanova
11. Texas
12. Georgetown
13. Missouri
14 San Diego State
15 Kentucky
16 Minnesota
17 Vanderbilt
18 Memphis
19 Purdue
20 Baylor
22 Tennessee
23 Wichita State
24 North Carolina
25 Cleveland State

* If Texas loses to Southern Cal, move Texas down to No. 20 and move everyone up one.


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How good is UConn’s Kemba Walker?

Content provided by John Clay’s Sidelines.

(AP photo/Eugene Tanner)

(AP photo/Eugene Tanner)

Connecticut’s Kemba Walker has taken the Maui Invitational by storm, scoring a combined 61 points in wins over Wichita State and then No. 2 Michigan State.

Walker’s Huskies meet Kentucky in the Maui finals tonight at 10 on ESPN.

In the two games, Walker has made 18 of 35 shots from the floor, including five of 15 three-pointers. He has made 20 of 22 from the foul line. He scored 31 against Wichita, and 30 against the Spartans.

Mike Anthony of the Hartford Courant:

Then Walker answered with his fadeaway and UConn had the lead for good. ”We had Kemba Walker,” Calhoun said. “And Tom didn’t.” And Walker had help. Giffey grabbed the rebound of Walker’s missed free throw seconds before Walker hit his decisive shot. Napier hit the three at the end of the half, was disruptive defensively and handled the ball, which freed Walker.

Chad Ford of writes:

After scoring 29 in the second half against a good Wichita State team on Monday, Walker has now scored 59 points in the past three halves. Remarkable. Walker scored from everywhere in this one. He hit four 3-pointers, drove to the basket at will and was relentless in pushing the ball on the break. Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo threw a number of different defenders at Walker. No one, but Walker himself, could slow him down.

Jason King of Yahoo Sports:

Connecticut guard Kemba Walker played the first two years of his college basketball career with a constant smirk. He demanded the ball, taunted his opponents and talked trash whether he was making shots or missing them. Finally, as a junior, Walker is backing it up. The 2010-11 season is only two weeks old, yet after only four games, Walker has become a national story.

Andy Katz of

Kemba Walker wasn’t ready to assume the role a year ago. He didn’t want the job of leader. And he wasn’t asked to take it, either. But Connecticut could have used his personality on a team that never seemed to find its footing. The Huskies were erratic throughout the season, knocking off Texas, West Virginia and Villanova and yet stumbling to subpar teams like Michigan and Providence and never grasping the urgency of the moment. UConn’s season ended in the second round of the NIT.


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Calhoun: Michigan State is Maui favorite, UK talent rich

Content provided by Jerry Tipton on UK basketball.

It was hard to tell if Connecticut Coach Jim Calhoun was kidding entirely or not. But he tabbed Michigan State as an overwhelming favorite to win this year’s EA Sports Maui Invitational.

The Spartans are one of the few veteran teams in this year’s field.

“Obviously, Michigan State should win going away,” Calhoun said at a Sunday news conference for this year’s coaches. ” Calhoun said. “Tommy (Izzo, MSU coach) has one of the best teams I’ve seen in 20 or 30 years.”

Then Calhoun offered a thought on the Kentucky team assembled by Coach John Calipari.

“John’s got more talent than the Celtics,” the UConn coach said. “The rest of us scrap for the pieces.”

Besides Michigan State, another veteran team to watch is Wichita State. The Shockers’ nine seniors or juniors caused Tournament Chairman Dave Odom to advise reporters to keep an eye on Wichita State.

“Not having to teach a lot of young kids the system and throw them into a tournament like this is nice,” Wichita State Coach Gregg Marshall said. “We hope to handle the pressure.”


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Early Signing period begins today

Content provided by Alabama Basketball Blog.

We are expected to sign 4 players this week. Also, we will be playing in the 2011 Puerto Rico tip-off tournament Nov.17,18, and 20 of 2011 along with Purdue, Temple, Maryland, Colorado, Iona, and Wichita State. Puerto Rico tipoff.

Alabama Hoops Feed. FEED ME!
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