Columbia, SC – The Alabama Crimson Tide basketball team continued its downward spiral Wednesday night with a 56-54 loss on the road at South Carolina, a team that had not won an SEC contest until sharing the court with Alabama.
It would be Alabama’s fourth consecutive loss as Bama’s once promising 2011-2012 season continues its progressive derailment.
“From my vantage point tonight – you had a team, in South Carolina, that played inspired basketball,” said UA head coach Anthony Grant. “They played as a team. We didn’t. It’s been an issue for us and it continues to plague us.”
But perhaps the most telling moment of the night came in Coach Grant’s next words:
“We play an entitled brand of basketball that is very frustrating as a coach. For me, right now, I have to self-evaluate what I’m doing as a coach when it consistently feels like winning is not the priority that it needs to be on our team, so we’ve got to re-evaluate what we’re doing as a coaching staff.”
An “entitled” brand of basketball. I could not think of a better word.
Because if I see Tony Mitchell walk around, not play defense and pout one more time, awaiting his next opportunity at an electrifying dunk, I am going to puke my guts out.
Never have I seen a more gifted athlete squander what he has over an apparent horrible, selfish, me-first-team-last attitude than in Alabama’s number five.
And I hope what Grant means when he says “we’ve got to evaluate what we’re doing as a coaching staff” actually means “We need to sit Tony Mitchell until April, when he realizes he isn’t ready for the NBA and does actually have to contribute on plays other than dunks.”
But Mitchell isn’t alone. Is there a center in all of college basketball softer than JaMychal Green? There are newborn bunnies all over the planet more fierce and intent on taking away the lane than Green.
The game was lost over the course of 40 minutes when Bama…again…couldn’t score. But the ultimate daggar came when the Gamecocks’ Bruce Ellington drove untouched to the basket for his only points of the 2nd half, giving South Carolina the lead with one second remaining.
There are matadors in Spain who could not have let Ellington waltz right past them better than Tony Mitchell did on the play, and JaMychal Green offered about as much opposition on the play as a fat kid’s will-power to turn away after eyeing a piece of cake.
JaMychal Green is the anti-Anthony Davis, the Kentucky center who defends his basket like his life depends on it. Green gives scores on his away like a pimp trying to make a living.
But in the epitome of softness, the Tide actually had the chance to score just before the fateful South Carolina possession. But in predictable fashion, Alabama didn’t get so much as a shot off before turning it over. Hence, giving a team 8-10 on the year (0-4 in conference play) its first win in front of a home crowd that would’ve made UAB football attendance counters blush.
“You can’t turn the ball over in those situations. I have to look at it on film, but we’ve got to be able to get a shot at the rim.”
I’m no expert, but you don’t have a chance to score if you don’t shoot the basketball toward the basket.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Anthony Grant is a fantastic basketball coach, and this Alabama team is chocked full of young players capable of creating a force in Tuscaloosa.
But there were literally times Wednesday night when I thought I was watching a church league basketball game. No intensity. No urgency. No togetherness. No fire. Just people wearing the same crimson uniform standing around, making occasional outstanding individual plays, but getting beaten (again) in the end.
The only thing more funny than believing this team can and will make it to the NCAA Tournament (which amazingly I still hear people say they will do) is expecting different results in the remainder of the Tide’s basketball season. I believe someone coined that logic as the definition of insanity.
But maybe “re-evaluation what we’re doing as a coaching staff” finally means what I hope it does: Sitting a couple of “entitled” upper classmen who provide highlights but zero leadership in favor of younger players that will become something if they stick together.