Sunday, February 6, 2011

Ahead of schedule

Year 2 of the Anthony Grant reclimation project at The University of Alabama has quickly moved from being competitive against the upper echelon of the SEC, to actually putting itself in a position to win an SEC title and force the NCAA selection committee to atleast discuss the Tide for an at large bid.

How did this happen and who saw it coming, so quickly? Most hardcore Tide hoops observers, (there are more of us out there then you actually think) realistically believed 2011would be worst then 2010 for 'Bama Hoops. Alabama won 6 SEC games in 2010, but have already eclisped that mark at the half way point with 7 wins this season.

There were signs of improved play in 2010, but Alabama blew huge leads in games against ranked opponents. Add in the attrition of big men in the program (how has that worked out for Yamene Coleeman, Justin Knox?), freshman point guard, etc., etc., you had the makings of a .500 season at best.

Bottom line is Grant has the Tide believing in the two D's, Defense and Discipline. 'Bama competes on every possession on the defensive end of the floor and its a thing of beauty to watch. When he gets a full compliment of players, Grant will unleash the hounds and go with constant full court pressure, but he just doesn't have numbers to do this now. Every SEC opponent has scored less then there average point total against the Tide.

But the discipline in the program is a huge improvement from the Mark Gottfried era. There have been growing pains and suspensions, including Jaymichael Green early in the year. But the message has been sent, if you don't do right, you're not going to play or be a part of the program. Tony Mitchell was late for the team breakfast yesterday, and he did not start. Mitchell didn't pout, instead he went out and scored a career high 24 points.

Now that the Tide has conquered Rockytop and is sitting atop the SEC standings at the half way point (including 3-0 vs the East), the Florida-Alabama game in a few weeks is looming large in Gainesville. Still a ton of work for Alabama to get to that point, but you can bet they will be in every game thanks to their consistent defense.

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