Former Alabama basketball coach and SEC legend C.M. Newton spoke to WIAT about the Alabama basketball program. Newton praised Alabama’s basketball coach and talked about his time as a coach and athletic director in the SEC.
Newton said Grant’s work this year was “borderline miraculous” considering the discipline issues the team faced. Grant’s leadership in recruiting also drew praise from Newton. Newton said Grant has recruited quality players and people.
“Anthony has really put the stress back on the student athlete,” Newton said.
“This is a very solid basketball team right now,” Newton said.
As for the team’s chances in the NCAA Tournament, Newton said
“I don’t like who they drew,” Newton said. “Creighton is a very solid team as well. Alabama, I think, will win the game. They have too much defense.”
In the video, Newton said he thought Alabama should have been seeded higher, and the 8/9 seed is difficult since the team must play the number 1 seed in the region.
For longtime fans of Alabama basketball, Newton talks about his 1976 Alabama team. Newton said of that 1976 team, “It was the old team that I had that was good enough, I thought, to win a national championship. I had other teams that could compete for it, but that team that particular year was good enough and playing good enough.”
Newton explained how the 1976 team that was ranked seventh in the country played the second ranked team and the first ranked team two weeks in a row. The Crimson Tide won over North Carolina and then lost to eventual national champion Indiana.
“That 76 team was a tremendous basketball team and one that I am proud of,” Newton said.
Newton, the former Kentucky athletic director, discussed hiring Rick Pitino at Kentucky.
“I felt like the most important decision I would have at Kentucky was the naming of the basketball coach,” Newton said. “Rick (Pitino) was the perfect guy… He is without a doubt the best coach I’ve ever been around.”
The excellent video interview from WIAT contains much more including a discussion of this year’s Vanderbilt basketball team and his thoughts on the NCAA Tournament selection process.