Bruce Pearl vs. Anthony Grant: Rocky Road vs. vanilla

hunter fordIf Alabama basketball coach Anthony Grant went to Baskin-Robbins, he’d probably get a scoop of vanilla in a cup.

Auburn coach Bruce Pearl would more likely have two scoops of different exotic flavors, with swirls and nuts, in a waffle cone, with sprinkles.

The coaches couldn’t be more different, personality-wise.  They both have one big thing in common, however.  They each need a victory in Saturday’s Alabama-Auburn basketball game in Tuscaloosa.

Grant’s Crimson Tide is 12-6 and 2-3 in SEC play.  Pearl’s Tigers are 10-8 overall, but have an identical 2-3 conference record.  Grant is in need of a win in the worst way.  In his sixth season at the helm, Grant has only taken Alabama to the NCAA Tournament once.  Many Alabama fans have been vocal with their feelings that Grant should have been fired after last season’s losing record.

One scoop, vanilla, in a cup.
One scoop, vanilla, in a cup.

Grant’s 2015 Tide will enter the Auburn game with an RPI of 53 and a plausible chance to make the NCAA Tournament if it can win the majority of its home games, plus pick up a few road wins, which have been elusive for Grant.  Alabama did win its first road game of the season, against Tennessee, and it has played scrappy in last-second road losses to South Carolina and Arkansas.  Losing to Auburn, in Tuscaloosa, would put a big stick in Grant’s spokes.  Losing at home to an Auburn team with an RPI of 139 would cause the Tide’s NCAA stock to plummet, and erase what little good will still exists amongst fans.

Grant has what some have called an “even keeled” personality.  He shows little emotion on the sidelines, and his interviews are succinct and absent rhetoric.  Nobody would care, if he just won more games.  He would be “intense” instead of “boring” and “focused” instead of “clueless.”  Grant has pulled together the pieces of last year’s disaster, added some key new players, and has the Tide in a decent position.  Losing to Auburn melts all of that.

Pearl doesn’t need to win tomorrow as badly as Grant.  Pearl is in his first season at Auburn, and has energized his fan base.  He’s hasn’t made any outrageous guarantees of Final Fours or anything, but he has said that Auburn will not be a pushover under his leadership.  Who knows whether his “colorful” personality will make a difference at Auburn in the long run?  But Pearl has been a consistent winner at other programs.   He took Milwaukee to two NCAA Tourneys in four years, and made the Big Dance each of six seasons at Tennessee.

Today, he’s talking up the Alabama-Auburn rivalry.  In an interview with the Montgomery Advertiser, Pearl said he believes rivalry games are important.  At Tennessee, some games, like Vanderbilt, Kentucky, and Florida had a little extra meaning.

“I just know the games mattered more to our fans, they mattered more to me,” Pearl said.  Now Alabama matters more to him.

“You want to win them all, but there’s no team I want to beat more than Alabama in the SEC because I’m Auburn’s coach, and that’s how I feel, that’s how our fans feel,”  Pearl said.  “We’re going to have a rivalry with them on the court; we’re going to have a rivalry with them in recruiting because both Coach Grant and myself are committed to recruiting the best local players in the state.”

Two scoops, in a waffle cone, with sprinkles
Two scoops, in a waffle cone, with sprinkles

Pearl has time on his side.  His team is not as talented as Alabama, and he will have the rest of this season and the off-season to polish his act.  If he is able to beat Grant on the court tomorrow, however, he’ll make a big statement to those recruits he’s talking about.

If Pearl wins, it will seem that his approach to the game is better than Grant’s.  Auburn fans, and potential basketball recruits, will eat it up.

Grant needs to beat Pearl and Auburn tomorrow, and find a way into the post-season.  If he can do that, his bland personality will still be palatable to most Tide fans.  Winning spices up everything.

 

23 Comments

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  1. 1
    finebammer

    this will not be a game tomorrow. auburn just lost to mi$$. $t. at home. there’s just no way.

    but here’s the deal Hunter. (and i want to again state that i never and do not now advocate Bruce Pearl in tuscaloosa)

    in last night’s game and the s. carolina game our chances of winning improve exponentially if Pearl’s on our sideline. if anybody with his basketball acumen is on our sideline.

    tournament?? the big dance???

    it’s gonna take more than winning the home games to get in, especially now that everyone sees the wilted flower florida is.

    but once again, big crowd tomorrow. they need a blowout win.

  2. 3
    Hunter Ford

    Smith is as Tech right now

    He has many, many NCAA Tournament appearances on his resume with Elite Eight and even a natty

    If anyone has forgotten Tubby Smith was coach at Georgia and Kentucky so he has SEC experience

    Just throwing a name in the hat.

  3. 5
    finebammer

    i would hope we could attract a younger, more energetic individual than tubby. but i would just about guarantee we could plug him in at USCe or fayetteville and we come away w/ 2 wins.

    maybe even show up w/ a little more energy and focus against UK.

    tubby’s just out of sons w/ eligibility.

  4. 6
    Hunter Ford

    Smith is 63…..

    I haven’t seen him on TV much since Minnesota…

    Just a suggestion. I’m wondering if Bill Battle has a Battle Plan for Grant’s replacement?

    The point will be moot if Grant can win more

    Another thing about age. Battle is not sticking around too much longer? Is he?

    Anyway, I’m excited about tonight’s Mega Bowl of Ala-Auburn basketball ROLL TIDE

    • 7
      finebammer

      “I’m wondering if Bill Battle has a Battle Plan for Grant’s replacement?”

      at this juncture, i would say no. lose tonight, that could change.

      it’s really sad that the last two basketball head coach’s jobs have swung on losing to auburn. (hobbs and gottfried) grant gets swept by auburn, he’ll be gone too. (ain’t gonna happen this year)

      honestly, i don’t think he cares that much. Battle is a football flunkie. as long as Grant looks good court side in his expensive suits, doesn’t embarrass the school, makes a little money, he’s down with him.

      compete for championships??? Bill Battle could care less.

  5. 9
    finebammer

    thoughts on last nite’s game:

    when Bruce Pearl said he was gonna take this rivalry to the next level, he meant what he said. dude came in with a bunch of misfit toys and dictated the game to Grant. he very nearly pulled it off.

    i’d love to know from anyone who attended if (1.) anybody saw the SEC officials get out of the clown car and (2.) if anyone saw where they went to remove their makeup. when i start thinking these guys can’t show me anything else, i’m in for a rude surprise.

    go back and watch the officiating in the arkansas game and this one. both are called as if we are the road team. good coaches work the officials. great coaches are RESPECTED by the officials and call the games accordingly.

    as i’ve stated before, i don’t think we’ve had a coach that officiating crews respected since wimp sanderson.

    and by the by, wimp was found by the cameras in the crowd last nite. the scowl was as profound as ever. the camera stayed on him an inordinate amount of time. dude was not impressed with what he was seeing.

    the team came out of the gate unmotivated. a coach shouldn’t have to motivate his team to play our supposed rival.

    we flopped around, playing much like we did against kentucky until ricky tarrant was ejected from the game.

    and grant should thank god for that. after tarrant was ejected for his second technical foul, the team woke up and started playing like they wanted to win the thing.

    cinmeon bowers dominated us for much of the game. jimmie taylor goes from making stupid fouls and getting fouled out to playing scared like he did last nite. he’s ineffective either way.

    i was proud for the fans that showed up that they went home winners. granted, they had to sit through basketball that set the sport back eons, ‘Bama did win the game. (barely)

    when at home watching the game i always turn the sound down on the tube and listen to the alabama radio network broadcast with chris stewart and brian passink.

    if you don’t watch the game, these guys make us sound like the san antonio spurs no matter how we’re playing. last nite was no exception. chris is screaming at the officials. (i love that about him) brian is exhorting the crowd to make noise.

    chris stewart is the next larry munson. if he isn’t plugged in when eli retires, there’s no justice left in this world.

    which leads me to my last observation. one of the glaring things that tells me alabama doesn’t care about winning basketball is how we treat the students.

    watch a game at cameron indoor. the “o” dome. hell, auburn has figured it out. they put the students in the first rows near the court. my understanding is that in auburn, they have set up a special entrance for the students to get to their seating.
    it’s a game changer. this is gonna upset some blue hairs. they’ll get over it. and if they don’t, nobody will miss them as they sit on their asses the whole game anyway.

    we cannot expect to have an intimidating atmosphere for the opposing team (and the OFFICIALS) if we don’t get the students involved.

    piss and vinegar. they got it, we need it.

    RTR.

    • 10
      Hunter Ford

      Finebammer

      I was not at the Auburn game…. but at the Kentucky game, I noticed what you are talking about with the student “section” looks to me they pile them up in a corner of the floor where they have to stand up….whether they want to or not… do they like this?

      And I like Chris Stewart also

      Anyway not a great win but it counts as a W I don’t like our chances against Pearl at Auburn

  6. 15
    finebammer

    it makes me physically ill to watch trevor lacey play for you-know-who at NC State.

    remember the voices telling us what a mistake lacey was making and what a prima donna he is and the bad advice he’d been given??

    for this alone grant should be perp marched out of coleman and thrown to the curb.

  7. 16
    nope

    On this, the anniversary of Bear Bryant’s death, I just want to enjoy beating Auburn in both men’s and women’s basketball for the day. That is all.

    Roll Tide.

  8. 17
    finebammer

    in October 1982, Coach Bryant was leading the #2 ranked Crimson Tide into the game with Tennessee.

    three months later he was dead.

    on the day he died, Wimp Sanderson went to Pauley Pavilion and knocked off the #1 ranked UCLA Bruins.

    Roll Tide.

  9. 18
    Hunter Ford

    Coach Bryant did beat Penn State his final year and PSU went on to win the national championship with Alabama as its only loss.

    I remember the BB game with Alabama wearing black armbands

    RTR

  10. 19
    finebammer

    thoughts on last nights game:

    ten in a row. we have now lost to florida ten times in a row.

    third game in a row we have come out of the gate playing uninspired basketball.

    empty seats. i’m sure due to the late tip last night (8:30p CST) the football flunkies didn’t show up. for some reason i’m sure i don’t know, but i’ll bet i could hazard a reasonable guess, the ushers didn’t let the folks sitting in the upper seats come down and fill them. embarrassing.

    another game where we don’t get any home cooking from the officials. i’m convinced this is due to the lackluster crowd. until we get the students involved, get them out of that corner where they can affect the game, home court games called like we’re the road team is all we can expect no matter who’s the coach.

    as much as we need a leader on the court, as much as we’d love for levi randolph to be that guy, he’s just not. he shows up some games, others, not so much.

    again, grant was out-coached last night. donovan’s time out’s were perfectly timed. our last defensive and offensive sets were horrible. the winning basket was that individual’s only points.

    this team can still make the tournament. the season of our Elite Eight run we were in this exact spot at this exact time. we were 17-12 in that regular season but rolled into the post-season on a roll.

    wolves are at the door.

  11. 21
    Hunter Ford

    aaaaaaaarrrrrrggghhhh!!!!!!!

    “Again Grant was out-coached”

    Alabama will get schooled again by Kentucky, then have a game against a Mizzou team that has been terrible

    not so sure about LSU

    Losing to Gators at home was a big set back

    But you are right, season’s not in the tank just yet

  12. 23
    RollTide

    Well, things looked hopeful when we were 12-3 and had a road win against Tennessee. Now it’s looking…not so good.

    Prediction for the season:

    17-14, 7-11 in the SEC

    SEC Tournament-One And Done
    Ole Miss 77, Alabama 64

    NIT
    1st round against Wabash. We are favored by 20 points.
    We lose 87-62 with some player for Wabash hitting 10 of 12 three pointers.

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