Wednesday, February 15, 2012
Gators rip 'Bama to shreds in 2nd half
After working to a 26-26 tie at the half, Alabama proceeded to allow to Florida to hit their first 3 shots en route to a 16-0 run that put the Tide away on Tuesday night and in the process, possibly ended any chance for a 2012 NCAA Tournament bid.
The Tide went without a field goal for the first 8+ minutes of the 2nd half while the Gators exploited the inside of the Tide defense, constantly running high ball screens and getting open drives or dishes to the basket.
Now Alabama limps into the last 5 games (literally, Trevor Releford supposedly was using walking canes today), losers of two straight, not sure what the future holds for this current edition of Tide roundball.
Andrew Steele and Trevor Releford returned from suspension, but it wasn't enough to stop the Gators. Jaymicahel Green and Tony Mitchell are still absent and one has to wonder if they are permanently gone. Amazingly Anthony Grant's suspensions have drawn so much national attention and praise that it was a feature story on ESPN's Outside the Lines on Tuesday. Now I'm a huge supporter, fan, of Alabama Basketball and love to talk up the good stuff, but is the rest of the country really intrigued to get such a feature story?? I say probably not, this was probably designed to draw more ratings for a Tuesday Night, Valentine's Game.
So at 5-6 in the SEC and 16-9 overall, Alabama's firm lock on an NCAA Bid has slipped away. A team that seemed destined for atleast a Sweet 16 appearance now is headed towards a bad NIT bid. Amazingly, because UA's strength of schedule and RPI numbers have been strong, they could still probably get in the tournament with just an 8-8 SEC record. On the other hand, do we really need to visit Dayton and lose in a 12/13 game or whatever takes place up there on a Tuesday night???
As for Anthony Grant, he received a standing ovation when he entered Coleman on Tuesday night. The fans support him, he is well liked, he's brought some exciting basketball back to Tuscaloosa and the fans believe he can achieve great things. But alot of questions are swirling as to why in year 3 is Alabama still having these problems with discipline (3 of the 4 are holdovers from the Gottfried regime).
I feel the support for Coach Grant is there, but if this team nosedives down the stretch and they don't make the dance, all the goodwill and energy built off last year's 12-4 SEC record will start to disappear. The fans want to win and they want to win the right way, but are they willing to suffer through losses in what is the third year of Coach Grant's tenure?
Failure to secure an NCAA bid will ramp up the pressure to achieve one in year four in 2013. Failure to go dancing, not even getting into the whole how far can we advance, etc., would probably bring some major pressure from a fan base that is hungry for success.
Of course, the Tide could rebound and make all this speculation a mute point, but time will let the scenarios play out over the coming weeks and year as to where this program is at. Right now, their are alot of questions and very few answers for the current team that is seeing its potential dream season continue to drift away.