Thursday, March 24, 2011
Empire State of Mind... 'Bama dismantles Miami
Making the most out of a bad situation. Its a life lesson that most of us could learn to use. Its a point that Anthony Grant has obviously gotten across to his Alabama Basketball team after a disheartening Selction Sunday less then two weeks ago.
It would have been easy for the Tide to pout and sulk about being snubbed by the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee and watching the likes of UAB, USC and UGA embarrass themselves last week. They could have complained about being 12-4 (13-5) in the SEC and being left out, or its two wins over torunament bound Georgia in 6 days.
But Grant and company did none of this. Instead they manned up, said this is the hand we've been dealt, let's play it to the best of our abilities. And that Alabama has done with 3 convincing wins in front of national tv audiences on the worldwide leader, high profile recuits and raucus crowds.
Last night's game was simply a great experience in the friendly confines of Coleman Colesium. Spurred on by an extremely boisterous crowd announced at 8,612 (as a frequent vistor of Coleman, I think their were atleast 11,000 their last night, maybe not all paid due to the free student tickets, but their were then 8600 at that game), 'Bama came out with some intense full court pressure defense that punched Miami into an early hole, building a 24-10 lead 9 minutes into the contest.
Thanks to general admission, first come, first serve seating, a loud/younger crowd accounted for the seats near to the court resulting in waves and waves of noise raining down to the court. Despite a nice run by the 'Canes to start the 2nd half and make ita 42-41 game, Alabama never blinked. Poised and patient, the Tide worked the lead back to 15+ in the clsoing moments behind some great defense, steals that led to transition situations where Trevor Releford ochastrated a master piece resulting in lay up/dunk after lay up/dunk.
Also a special mention for Senario Hillman's effort, by far his best offensive game in 2 years for the Senior from Georgia. The all time steals leader in Alabama Basketball History ran the point for crucial moments in the 1st half and had several key baskets when Miami was making their run at the Tide.
Now its on to New York where fellow NCAA snubb Colorado is waiting in what should be a very competitive, down to the wire game. An impressive Wichita State team is on the other side facing Washington State. At this point, whether Alabama wins or loses, they carved out their own unique place in Alabama Basketball History, as an undermanned, hard working but greatly appreciated bunch by the knowledgeable home fans who have come out in force this year to support Alabama Basketball. Thats all the hard core fans want, is a team that gets after it on defense, plays hard, is well coached and reaches its potential which is what this team has done. Do those things and you will be showered with support. Its something that some might argue has been missing in Coleman for nearly 20 years, but now its back.