Wednesday, August 24, 2011

It was bound to happen....

The writing was on wall last year, even though I didn't want to believe it. Steadily as the calender flipped from January into February and February into March, the demand for Alabama Basketball tickets suddenly began to go through the roof of Coleman Coliseum as the Tide ran to a perfect record at home. All the while 'Bama sold out 6 of its last 7 SEC home games boasting raucous crowds of 15,383 on a nightly basis.

Following the disappointment of not reaching the NCAA tournament, Alabama hosted 3 straight NIT games at home and the crowds continued to grow for each successive game. I don't think it would have mattered who Alabama was playing, but people were having such a fun time that I think they could have continued playing Sisters of the Poor in the middle of April and another huge crowd would have come out to see the Tide.

So with a preseason top 15 ranking coming for the Tide, the return of the three headed monster of Trevor Releford, Tony Mitchell and Jaymichael Green, a highly touted incoming freshman class, Alabama is poised for another break out year. Expectations are high, but so is the demand for tickets, so much so that I was unfortunately told that my current seats are now being put into the Tide Pride program for basketball.

What this basically means is I will have to give a $100 donation for each of my current seats and then buy my season tickets at $200 for each set of tickets, bringing the grand total to $600 for this season. Some may say that is a high price, but it includes almost 20 home games, which basically puts the cost of attending games as being the same price and if not cheaper then attending a movie.

Trust me, I'm not complaining about the increase because it didn't take a rocket scientist to see this coming, but it is disappointing. I've had season tickets for Crimson Tide hoops for almost a decade now, even kept them when I lived in Atlanta. We had great seats in about row 25 right behind the basket and by the Alabama bench. I gave those tickets up when we had our first two children, but still attended several home/road games a year & SEC Tournaments over that time. When we purchased our seats again in 2006, the demand for season tickets reached an all time high as Alabama was pre season top 5 team, much like this year. We were stuck up pretty high in the nosebleeds as a Tide Pride for basketball was instituted at some point during our 2 year season ticket hiatus.

But as Alabama Basketball floundered to a disappointing end of the Mark Gottfried era, fewer and fewer people renewed their tickets and we kept moving lower and lower to the point that we sit on the foul line, directly across from the Tide bench. There great seats and have been there for 4 straight years going on 5 and we know all the regulars/loyal supporters around us.

Its disappointing that our loyalty of buying tickets during those awful campaigns under Gottfried are not being rewarded, that we have to pony up more cash to keep our seats. But its understandable and good for the program that there is such a buzz about Alabama basketball in a football crazed state.

Several years ago at an important SEC home game for Alabama that had NCAA tournament/SEC Title implications, I was complaining about the lack of a big crowd on a Wednesday night when there needed to be a huge crowd there. A wise man told I wouldn't complain about the lack of a crowd, because its that kind of fan apathy that let's those who really love 'Bama hoops to continue to not have to fight for tickets to big games, etc, etc. Its nice too not always have to fight crowds for concessions, parking etc.

You know what, he was right. It was a different take in regards to basketball at the Capstone. Those who go to the games know how much fun the hoops games can be, their isn't a drunk sitting behind me calling for the back up quarterback or other yahoos there. Its not too hot or too cold, its not sitting out in the rain like a football game. Its having a cushioned seat and being with knowledgeable basketball people who like the sport and Alabama, who enjoy the games and thats that. Its our secret and so I stopped worrying about the importance of basketball at Alabama and just enjoyed it. Since that point, I never worried about the crowd size at Coleman. If it was huge, great, if not, I'm having a good time with my family and we're enjoying what we do together.

Its great that basketball at Alabama is getting the attention it deserves. For the fans that have stuck through the thin years, its a fun time. But in a way its somewhat bittersweet from the ticket standpoint and that my family's little secret of fun times & enjoyment might be somewhat threatened.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Its Prediction Time....

With just two weeks till kick off, time to make the yearly prediction on Alabama Football. Of course the Tide is in position to start pre season top 5 in almost every major poll, so the expectations are in place to make another run to the BCS Title Game. Of course, 'Bama plays in the SEC West, which is more competitive and tougher then the NFC West, so even a 1 loss SEC team like an Alabama or LSU could make it to New Orleans in January. Alabama should be loaded on Defense as the biggest questions surround the D-Line and the who will be the quarterback. If qb questions linger into SEC play, that could be a problem.

Game 1-Kent State- the most competitive thing about this contest will be to see how many fans can withstand the 11:21 am kick-off and not dehydrate on a hot Labor Day weekend morning/afternoon. Bama wins easily but Saban won't run the score up on the alma mater, 34-7.

Game 2-at Penn State- The Lions have a white out planned (ask Georgia & Mississippi State how they're gimmick colored shirt things worked in 2009??) to help their team to victory. Alabama is a 9 point favorite on the road in State College but the bigger issue here is how will either of Tide's new quarterbacks handle their first road game. Despite reports that say PSU is going to be horrible, I refuse to buy that and believe this will be a nail biter, Alabama 17-16.

Game 3-North Texas-another no contest, 'Bama 41-6.

Game 4-Arkansas- The Hogs had Alabama dead in the water until Ryan Mallet self destructed and Mark Ingram saved the day. Everybody is in love with Arky's QB because he threw a couple of TD against Auburn to keep them in that game, but all I see is another Garret Gilbert from Texas when I watch him. Meaning he got lucky and hit a couple of deep routes as freshman pressed into action, but is still a very unproven commodity. 'Bama 24-14.

Game 5-at Florida- Road game in the Swamp on a Saturday night has the makings for upset potential. But unless Steve Spurrier is coaching or Tim Tebow is playing at Florida, and neither of those are happening so the Gators won't be winning this game. 'Bama 20-13.

Game 6-Vanderbilt- If this game was played at Memorial Gym, Vandy would win, but its in Bryant-Denny. Alabama 38-10.

Game 7-at Ole Miss- The Rebels always give Alabama fits in Oxford, but unless Archie or Eli Manning is the quarterback, they have a hard time beating Alabama. Tide sweats out a close one, 24-20.

Game 8-Tennessee- The Vols will be improved but Derek Dooley is still a year away from being competitive against the SEC heavyweights. Make it 5 in a row over the Vols, 'Bama 27-10.

Game 9- LSU- after a bye week, the most physical game on the schedule takes place. Alot of people have LSU playing for a National Title, but I don't see it. Alabama 20-10.

Game 10-at Mississippi State- This game has upset written all over it as MSU is improving quickly and gets 'Bama & LSU at home this year. This will be a difficult task for the Tide to win this one a week after LSU. Miss State 24-16.

Game 11-Ga. Southern- a win but closer then expected due to GSU's offensive system. Alabama 38-17.

Game 12-at Auburn- The Tigers will struggle this year to have a winning season, but they'll be "all in" vs Alabama. Close game but 'Bama escapes 27-23.

11-1 when we're all said and done. As for the SEC West, I believe Miss. State is a real player in this race along with LSU and 'Bama. The Penn State game scares me as that could go either way but won't affect SEC play though. Should be a fun season as 'Bama tries to rebound from a "disappointing" 10-3 season.