Shane: Hiring of Grant is historic

By Shane from Centerpoint
With the introduction of Anthony Grant as the new head coach of the Alabama basketball program, the university has hired one of the best young coaches in America – at least according to most of the experts and well known basketball consultant C.M. Newton. During the process, the Alabama fan base also made major strides toward dispelling the national perception that race plays a factor in whom they want to run their basketball program. Two candidates were at the top of both the search committee’s and the fans’ minds from the start – and both were African-American. The only criteria coming from the Crimson Empire was to hire the best “proven” head–coach available. Anthony Grant met that criteria, and just happens to be black.

Alabama has finally joined a long list of major colleges who are smart enough to understand that there are some fantastic young African-American head coaches, located among the ranks of college basketball coaches, who have the potential to be championship caliber. All most of them need is a chance to lead a top–tier program. Crimson Tide basketball has taken a step towards regaining national respect by giving Coach Grant a shot.

Only Auburn, Florida, South Carolina and Vanderbilt remain as universities who’ve never had a black head–coach in either men’s football or basketball. Coach Grant is Alabama’s first.

If the truth be known, Grant was wooed by Georgia, Virginia, and probably twice by Florida. In other words, he was a wanted man. The Alabama job came open at the right time for this young, aspiring coach who appears ready to take the Tide program to a higher level than the former coach was able to obtain.

His record speaks for itself. He is 76-25 in three years as the head coach of VCU. He won the conference crown all three years and took them to the NCAA tournament two of the three. In his three seasons he averaged a 25-8 record. His stint at VCU followed ten years spent as the top assistant and number one recruiter for Florida’s two-time national championship coach, Billy Donovan. Many say he was Donovan’s right-hand man.

Grant runs a style that should fit very well with the athletes currently on the squad as well as the athletic type of player that the state of Alabama usually produces. His team runs and presses like Mike Anderson’s and plays a fast–break game like we’ve seen from Billy Donovan coached teams.

This hire gives the indication that Alabama is ready to join other major athletic programs who desire to produce championship results on the football field and the basketball court. Florida, Texas, Oklahoma, and others are signing the best athletes in both sports. Alabama can now be included in that mix.

The pundits assure us that Grant knows the game and has the ability to coach on the court when the heat is on. However, his best asset may be his ability to recruit big–time talent. That knack was never more apparent than when he was at Florida. He has been credited with signing most of the best players who lead Florida to back-to-back national crowns.

If Grant is able to lock down the State – which is loaded with enough talent every year to sustain a strong basketball program – and grab an elite player or two from the national scene, he could possibly be the man to lead Alabama to the “Final Four” for the first time in the history of the program. Who knows, he may take them farther than that.

One thing is for sure. Alabama’s basketball program has been “missing something”, a fact that has kept them mired in mediocrity for too long. Now it is time for Anthony Grant to earn his money and give the Crimson Nation a basketball team they can follow with the same legendary passion that they have for football.