Can Alabama take down Kentucky? Hope comes from unlikely source.

hunter fordAlabama hasn’t defeated a number one team in men’s basketball since 2004 when the Tide defeated Stanford in the NCAA Tournament.

The Crimson Tide has not defeated a number one ranked team at Coleman Coliseum since Arkansas, the eventual national champion, was vanquished 66-64 back in 1994.

Now, the number one Kentucky Wildcats come to town with a slew of NBA prospects, a couple of seven foot players, and a deep bench.  The Wildcats usually have at least two 6-10 players on the court at all times, and even their outside guards, at 6-6, are big.

Kentucky is 16-0 and has mauled many of its victims, including last Tuesday, an 86-37 win over Missouri.   Still, Alabama has hope.  The Wildcats are big and deep, but young.  Most of Kentucky’s roster is filled with freshman and sophomores.  Alabama has some four-year veterans in Levi Randolph, Rodney Cooper, Ricky Tarrant, and Retin Obasohan.

Alabama head coach Anthony Grant, has had trouble winning road games in the past, but his squads are 31-4 in SEC play at home since 2011, and 11-0 overall this season.  Saturday’s game against the Wildcats has been a sell-out for several days.  The home crowd could make the difference in what should be a close game.

Perhaps the most encouraging words for Alabama, concerning Kentucky, came from Auburn coach Bruce Pearl.   At a recent press conference, Pearl said Kentucky was good, but vulnerable, while the SEC as a whole, is better than it has been since he has been involved in the league.  Pearl is in his first year at Auburn, but spent several seasons at Tennessee.

“We have 12 teams with RPIs inside 100,” Pearl said.  “From top to bottom, the league looks stronger than at any other time I’ve been involved in it.”

Pearl said he believed five or six teams from the SEC could make the NCAA Tournament this season.  He cited the conference’s overall efforts to improve non-conference scheduling as a reason the SEC is getting more respect.  While not addressing the Alabama game specifically, Pearl said Kentucky is good, but can be defeated.

“They couldn’t dominate two middle of the road SEC teams,” Pearl said.  Kentucky is 3-0 in SEC play, but was taken to overtime in Lexington by Ole Miss and to double overtime on the road versus Texas A&M.

After just three conference games, only two teams, Kentucky and Florida, sit at 3-0.  Out of 14 teams, 11 SEC teams have at least 10 overall wins.  Alabama is fourth in the league in overall wins, sitting at 12-4, and 2-1 in SEC play.

That’s a little bit better than “middle of the road.”  Hopefully with the help of a vocal crowd, and its usual stingy defense, the Tide can take down a number one team again.

 

 

37 Comments

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  1. 1
    finebammer

    Hunter, the real question is does Alabama have the coach that can take down UK??

    and the answer to that is not in his road record or his home record. the answer is in his record against proven, successful coaches. without a doubt, Grant has built that home record in the lowest point (coaching and talent-wise) for the conference since I started following Alabama basketball nearly 40 years ago.

    how many times in Grant’s tenure have we seen a situation like Tues. night at Columbia where Alabama fought their way back in a hostile road environment, put themselves in a position to win the game and needing some direction from the bench, were let down by the head coach due to his incompetence??

    people who are a hell of a lot smarter about basketball than me say Grant is a horrible in-game coach. people who are a hell of a lot smarter than me question his substitutions.

    i don’t have to have anybody tell me that the last thing Alabama basketball needs is a coach on that bench that has a personality slightly less interesting than a carrot.

    all of that leads us to today. since the Elite Eight run in ’05 under Gottfried (and isn’t it just wonderful to see Gottfried doing so well at NC State??? sarc/off) Alabama’s basketball program has been adrift. fans have shown up for big games, like the one today, and been sent home with a bad taste (losing) in their mouths. Grant’s wet blanket personality notwithstanding, fans and students have shown up to support a team that let them down, time after time after time. you can’t build a program on losing, and certainly not on losing games at critical times.

    today, again, is one of those times. want to see a full house for the Florida game?? beat Kentucky.

    want to gin up interest for the rest of the conference home games?? beat Kentucky.

    want to make the Big Dance??? BEAT KENTUCKY.

    yes, a lot of things will have to happen for Alabama to win this game. ‘Bama will have to make this caveman basketball. Kentucky will have to play down to that level. (which they have shown a propensity to do this season) ‘Bama will have to keep it close and, like the S. Carolina game Tues., give itself a chance to win late.

    but no matter the situation, Alabama CAN NOT win this game without coaching from the bench that meets or exceeds John Calipari.

    folks here love to pick at Bruce Pearl. (and, make no mistake, i am NO advocate of bringing Pearl to Coleman Coliseum) but the plain fact is Alabama’s chances of winning this game today would be improved exponentially if Pearl was court side. he’s a greasy, cheating, lying bastard but he knows basketball.

    I’ll be there today. (taking a customer to the game) i hold no illusions of Anthony Grant showing me anything he hasn’t already.

  2. 2
    finebammer

    well, the crowd showed up today. the team didn’t. that team needed a coach today. 17 points at the half. 17 points. Kentucky is the number one team in the nation but they weren’t world beaters today.

    the team we beat by 21, Tx A&M, took them to double OT. we get blown out.

    and the real losers once again: the fans.

    • 3
      finebammer

      just watched a replay:

      too many unforced errors. thrown away passes. dribbling off feet. stupid fouls.

      tarrant: playing hurt. limping most of second half.

      obasohan: sophomore slump. bigtime.

      kessens: horrible game.

      give calipari credit. he knew what he had to do in the second half. alabama made a run. grant subbed in taylor for kessens. calipari ran dakari johnson at him down low and taylor made a stupid foul. a stupid fourth foul. crippled him and the team the rest of the game.

      did not set a single screen for riley norris to launch a three until it was too late.

      again, calipari saw a flaw in our zone and rotated booker to the corner and killed us with open threes the entire game. we never adjusted. those threes absolutely deflated us.

      once again, no home cooking for the home team by the officials. we got mugged with no calls while UK got ticky tacks
      the whole game. it’s what number one gets.

      that 17 point first half was devastating. the only player to show up at the tip was levi. didn’t play as a team. no communication.

      rather than showing up looking to cut down a big tree, we had our eyes all full of big blue.

      they didn’t even have to work that hard for the win.

      this was a huge game for the program. again, for years now the fans have been showing up for these kind of games looking for something to hang on to. as bad as i hate to make a football analogy, charlie brown wound up flat on his back again.

      we can blather on and on about how great the other team is but at some point you have to win an important game.

      next up, arkansas on the road. this will be a tougher out than UK. auburn and florida at home.

      auburn: the fans will be there. (for the first half) it’s the football trophy game.

      florida? if ‘Bama bounced back and won two in a row, they’ll be back. florida is beatable. georgia did it.

      again, here’s another opportunity.

      how does grant respond.

      • 4
        Hunter Ford

        Finebammer,

        I had a late invite to the game and saw it in person.

        I agree with all of your above assessments, unforced errors etc etc.

        Kentucky made it look effortless. That is the mark of a good team and good coaching. I really believe Kentucky could have beat us worse. The Wildcat fans were cool. They made some noise at times and would have done more if they had to. I would have loved to have seen a decent game. With opposing crowds going at it.

        Anyway, we still have the POSSIBILITY of a decent season.

        What would it take for Alabama to hire a truly top notch coach? Not just a guy who did well in mid-majors a year or two, and not just an assistant from another program?

        I’m glad my crowd didn’t get on the High Five Cam, we prolly would only have had a “one” to hold up. But seriously, at what point do fans have to begin taking action and become more vocal about wanting a better commitment to basketball?

        And a better question. how many Bama fans care all that much? As long as the football team is doing well?

  3. 5
    Jeff

    We have no real quality wins so far this year to impress the committee. Grant has been to the tourney 1 time in five years With ZERO wins. Unacceptable!!!

    Like I have said before Bill Battle should have met Grant at the airport to fire him after the Cocky game like USC’s AD did to Kiffin. A 5-6 year old rec league coach could have drawn up a better inbounds play than Grant did.

    Grant should have been fired last year. I am not saying we should have hired Pearl, but by not making a move when it was needed has now put us squarely behind Aubie. It’s time our administration started taking bball seriously. UA is much more than a football school!

    • 6
      finebammer

      “A 5-6 year old rec league coach could have drawn up a better inbounds play than Grant did.”

      did the same thing before the half.

      what’s bad is this could have easily been a forty point loss. calipari didn’t want to lay that on grant. he wants grant to stay right where he’s at.

  4. 7
    Hunter Ford

    Jeff,

    What really good coach could come to ALabama and elevate it to relevance in basketball?

    And I give you credit for taking a strong stance.

    It is looking like a mistake to get rid of Gottfried.

    RTR

    We still have a chance, a CHANCE, for a tourney run. Should Grant be fired whether or not he maybe squeaks in the NCAA this season?

    • 8
      Hunter Ford

      Oh, yeah, you said he should have been fired last week. Okay, who could do better? I think that’s the best discussion to have.

      RTR

      • 9
        finebammer

        “Okay, who could do better? I think that’s the best discussion to have.”

        hunter, there are any number of coaches that could do better. at two mill a year, grant has been clear failure. at two mill a year, we can get a competent coach in here.

        i heard this same question asked before Shula was canned.

        think if Mal had listened to those who said we couldn’t do better than Mike Shula.

  5. 10
    finebammer

    and another thing that disgusted me yesterday, the money being spent on new facilities for baseball.

    baseball will never make a stinking dime at alabama. football money will ALWAYS carry baseball.

    basketball has before and does now carry it’s own weight despite anthony grant. but they continue to have to play in a facility that is not a basketball friendly situation.

    i mean we can’t even seat the students where they can affect the game for the sake of a bunch of season ticket-holding blue hairs that won’t get off their asses and make noise.

    “It’s time our administration started taking bball seriously. UA is much more than a football school!”

    no, Jeff, it’s not. why? because they don’t want it.

    and Bill Battle doesn’t give a flying fuck what you or I or anybody else thinks about it.

    • 11
      Hunter Ford

      I also saw cranes above Bryant Denny

      I would love to see all sports treated well

      The Aquatic Center is as old or older than CM Newton???

      Just asking….

      I heard people

      Yep

      I did

  6. 13
    Jeff

    Great question…and not sure who we could hire. After seeing the Saban effect I now subscribe to the Clay Travis back up the Brinks truck philosophy. At the time he was hired I thought Grant would do great, but time has proved it wrong.

    It was obvious to anyone watching after last year it was time to make a change. I don’t ever expect Bama to be an elite basketball program, but we are a much better program than the results Grant has generated! I will still be pulling every game for us to succeed, but I have zero confidence on the programs leader.

    • 14
      nope

      Why not?

      Why can’t the University of Alabama have an elite basketball program?

      Everyone knows the football, but Alabama wins championships in plenty of other sports. It’s part of the cultural mentality at the University of Alabama and I don’t think the titles are a coincidence, so why not basketball too?

      I don’t know enough about the sport as a whole to say who would be better, but I don’t think any coach gets a job at the Capstone to strive for anything less than a title. It can’t be as simple as a coach, and we’re talking about a sport where the best don’t have to play college ball at all regardless.

    • 17
      Hunter Ford

      Alabama has a chance tonight topic up a quality win vs. Arkansas.

      It’s the kind of game Alabama must win.

      Both teams have a two game losing streak, so both teams have a lot to play for.

      We’ll see

  7. 18
    finebammer

    bad spot for ‘Bama, long trip. (fly to Little Rock or Tulsa then drive??)

    arky just coming of a butt whooping’ in front of the home crowd by ole miss. i’m sure they’re wanting to make amends.

    of course we all know ‘Bama’s road woes.

    one silver lining, turn on the radio and listen to chris. i’ll guarantee you he’ll be yelling at the officials tonite while calling the game!

    RTR!

  8. 20
    finebammer

    whale of a game.

    so many questions:

    where has justin coleman been?

    why can’t we play with this much fight at home??

    • 21
      nope

      Brutal game. Great drama.

      I am not a huge basketball fan but I watch a good bit of Alabama b-ball every season and get out to a few away games.

      This year though, I’ve just had a lot more fun. This year’s Alabama team is certainly not boring or uncompetitive.

      Fight on, men. Roll Tide.

      • 22
        finebammer

        well, i guess “fun” is in the eye of the beholder. to me, there’s no fun in losing.

        attending that game saturday was not fun.

        being told its ok to lose to kentucky is not fun.

        i remember at time when Alabama won 3 SEC championships in a row.

        i remember expecting to beat kentucky

        expecting to not only make the big dance but thinking this year could be the Final Four year.

        expecting my team to be one of the top teams in the nation.

        that was fun.

        it also seems so long ago.

  9. 25
    Jeff

    Good team…yes. Fought hard…yes. Again Grant can’t get a quality W…yes. Grant has had 5 1/2 years, and has yet to do anything!

    Also why does the “Captain” of the team pass up an open 3 at the end of regulation? Again a cluster f*** play call at the end of the game!

    • 27
      finebammer

      yeah, they were damn lucky to get it to overtime. with the way that game was called, i was shocked the refs gave kessens the “and one” opportunity to tie the game at the end.

      i think that eventually played into the traveling no-call at the end of OT.

      i wouldn’t mind home cooking if we actually got some at home. i haven’t seen us benefit from a home court advantage from the refs since wimp was there.

      i think it boils down to respect. i don’t thinks the officials have respected a coach there since wimp.

      i know grant is perceived to be weak when it come to working the refs.

        • 29
          finebammer

          i’m ashamed to say, i remember thinking towards the end of sanderson’s tenure that alabama needed to go get a coach that could get past the sweet sixteen as i was beginning to believe wimp was incapable of doing it.

          i remember the loyola-marymount tournament game. LMU was averaging 120 pts. a game. AVERAGING.

          wimp held them to 62 points in a 2 point loss. probably the best coaching job of his tenure.

          • 30
            Hunter Ford

            Finebammer

            I know, right? I remember thinking with the talent Wimp assembled at one point, we should have cracked Sweet 16 more often.

            And if I remember the Loyola-MArymount game, Robert Horry missed a midrange jumper at the buzzer that would have sent that game to OT

    • 34
      finebammer

      that would be correct. Paul Westhead.

      dude coached the Oregon women’s team this past season.

      remember the old Joe Diffie song??

      “prop me up beside the jukebox if i die………”

      dude is 75.

      (his 401k must have took a real hit in ’08!)

  10. 37
    finebammer

    i heard some knuckleheads on the radio today thinking that the celtics might be a bit tired of brad stevens.

    our basketball program’s Nick Saban???

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