State of Alabama basketball update: Tide low, Auburn lower, UAB on a roll

hunter fordAlabama’s hopes for an NCAA Tournament bid took a slam dunk to the face when it lost to Florida last night.

At 13-7 and 3-4 in the SEC, Coach Anthony Grant’s Tide will have to step it up a few notches to get back in the mix for a post season bid of any kind.  The bad news is its next game is Saturday against Kentucky, in Lexington.

Winning against the Wildcats on the road is an absurd notion for a Grant squad.  The Tide will have to avoid being embarrassed to the point of no return before more manageable games arrive on the schedule.

After the Kentucky game, Alabama will return home to face a Missouri team on the lower rungs of the SEC standings.  After Mizzou, Alabama will play back-to-back road games against a good LSU team and a mediocre Mississippi State.  After that, Vanderbilt comes to Tuscaloosa.

It will be crucial for Alabama to win its next two home games and at least split the road matches with LSU and Mississippi State.

Alabama dropped into the lower half of the SEC standings with the loss to the Gators.  Kentucky is leading the pack at 6-0 while Arkansas, Georgia and Texas A&M have five conference wins.  LSU, Tennessee, and Florida are ahead of Alabama with four conference wins.

The good news is there is still a fairly narrow gap between the Tide and other SEC teams not named Wildcats.

AUBURN

Auburn followed a heartbreaking loss to Alabama in Tuscaloosa with an equally frustrating 10-point defeat by Texas A&M at Auburn Arena.  Now at 10-10 overall and 2-5 in the SEC, Bruce Pearl has to take his dog and pony show back to Knoxville to face his former employer.

Following his cook-out with the Volunteers, Pearl’s Tigers will face LSU on the road and Ole Miss at home.  The general consensus on Pearl is that his best days at Auburn are ahead of him, meaning future seasons.  Auburn is playing scrappy enough to break even this year.  Alabama’s trip to Auburn later this season will be a pivotal wrestling match for the hearts and minds of recruits.

UAB

You can call the Blazers “butter” because they are on a roll.  UAB is on a three-game winning streak and is 6-1 in Conference USA after a poor nonconference showing to start the season.

The Blazers took down Old Dominion 81-68 while shooting 70 percent from the field, 71 percent from three-point range, and 92 percent from the free throw line.

Coach Jerod Haase recently received a two-year extension on his contract, and his recent coaching efforts seem to warrant that.  If he keeps up the good job it might be easier to remember how to spell and pronounce his name.

Again, the bad news for Haase and UAB is the watered-down C-USA it is playing in.  Western Kentucky leads C-USA at 7-0, and Louisiana Tech, which beat UAB, is 6-1.

A regular season conference championship or conference tournament championship will likely be a prerequisite for an NCAA Tournament invite for any C-USA team.  The conference tournament is in Birmingham this year, which could help UAB.

The Blazers, 10-10 overall, can rise above .500 if they can defeat UTEP, 12-7, 4-3, on the road tomorrow night.

OTHER STATE TEAMS

The Alabama State Hornets may end up being the lone team from Alabama to go to the Big Dance.  ASU is 7-0 in SWAC play.  The Hornets have qualified for the NCAA Tournament four times in the past two decades but have never advanced past the first round.

The Samford Bulldogs are 9-14 overall and 2-8 in conference play.

Troy and South Alabama are trudging through the Sun Belt with little success.  Troy is 7-11, and 2-7, while USA is 6-12 and 4-5.

Birmingham Southern is 11-6, 3-3 in conference play, at the NAIA level.

48 Comments

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  1. 1
    finebammer

    as it looks now for ‘Bama:

    01/31/15 at Kentucky – LOSS – ‘Bama will play tough here.

    02/04/15 vs. Missouri – WIN – home win, bad Mizzou team.

    02/07/15 at LSU – LOSS – too much to ask.

    02/10/15 at Miss St – LOSS – could go either way.

    02/14/15 vs. Vanderbilt – WIN

    02/17/15 at Auburn – LOSS – tough road environs.

    02/21/15 vs. Georgia – LOSS – UF bad. UGA good.

    02/24/15 vs. South Carolina – WIN

    02/28/15 at Vanderbilt – LOSS – traditional problem game.

    03/03/15 vs. Ole Miss – WIN

    03/07/15 at Texas A&M – LOSS – tough road game.

    3 – 7

    16 – 14 overall.

    in my mind, to change this outcome Grant has got to figure out how to motivate his team. for all the bitching about officiating, had not Tarrant been ejected from the game v. Auburn, they likely lose that game.

    moving forward, Grant can’t count on the refs disqualifying his players to motivate his team.

    until he shows me something different, this is how i call it.

    there are rumblings that Grant has been told, no tourney, no job. i don’t know that i believe that.

    for sure, after the “Battle Plan” that infuriated a segment of the fan base last year, there’s pressure to validate Battle’s decision to stick with Grant, especially in the wake of Pearl’s hiring at Auburn.

    but if Grant’s team continues to dig itself holes it can’t get out of due to lack of motivation, there may just be too much egg on Bill Battle’s face not to pull the trigger.

  2. 2
    Hunter Ford

    Finebammer,

    My gut feeling is that Bill Battle took “one for the team” and has guided Alabama athletics in the absence of the late great Mal Moore.

    I don’t believe that Coach Battle, and he was a coach too, and a distinguished one, wants to leave a legacy of hiring or firing anybody… unless it is a slam dunk

    If there was anybody out there right now to replace Grant

    A slam dunk

    Bill Battle would do it

    Maybe he is working on it

    If I were Bill Battle I would not hire anybody who couldn’t do better than the last two coaches Gottfried “Got Fired” resigned whatever or Grant Unless I really believed it was a slam dunk.

    Bill Battle did not get where he is by being a huckleberry

    He did not need the hassle of being Alabama’s AD

    I believe he has been the right man for the job at this moment in time

    I am an Alabama fan and I support Alabama

    ROLL TIDE

    • 3
      finebammer

      after slap Sanderson,

      after Hootie Ingram, Gene Stallings and Antonio Langham,

      after Dumbose,

      after Mike Price,

      after Mark Gottfried and Ron Steele,

      after everything we went through to rid ourselves of Mike Shula and hire Nick Saban,

      I am an Alabama fan and I support Alabama, too. but i also know Bill Battle pulls his pants on just like we do.

      i like the old Reagan line in how to deal with the Soviets:

      “Trust but verify”.

      • 4
        Hunter Ford

        It’s time’s like these that really put a fans loyalty to the test

        where to draw the line at a healthy loyalty and a healthy discontent and call for change????

        there is still a lot of basketball ahead this season

    • 6
      finebammer

      “It’s all a part of the process.”

      funny he would use Saban’s line.

      there’s no doubt in my mind Nick Saban, having never coached a basketball team in his life, could take that program and turn it around.

      • 7
        Hunter Ford

        Finebammer,

        I Saban would just come sit on the bench, we might win more BBall games…. I’m with you on that

        Grant’s teams have been frustrating in the way they tantalize fans with come-from-behind efforts that fall short and short-lived success like the early road victory over Tennessee

        To quote Charlie Brown

        aaaaarrrghhhh!!!

        and
        Good Grief!

  3. 8
    finebammer

    what frustrates me is the difference in the effort you see in road games vs. home games. and this went back into the Gottfried error too.

    we get a crowd there, a chance to create positive buzz, and we come out flat. games we win it seems as if we lose. and then there is Tues. night. yeah, we lost the game at Fayetteville, but the players looked as if they actually gave a damn.

    you’re not going to get many return customers with efforts like we saw against Auburn, Florida and certainly not Kentucky.

    but you watch Saturday. they’ll give UK a game.

    at Rupp.

  4. 9
    peachy

    Alabama’s trip to Auburn later this season will be a pivotal wrestling match for the hearts and minds of recruits.

    Im sorry but no. Alabama and Auburn recruiting in basketball couldnt be further apart right now.

  5. 12
    finebammer

    Ok. Writing this to report on two conversations I had with the individuals on WJOX’s “Opening Drive” radio show this week concerning Alabama basketball.

    The first thing I’ll say is if you call in and are critical of the University of Alabama and the way they do things, you’re not going to be speaking to a friendly audience. And that’s probably rightfully so considering they work for the University’s radio network flagship.

    Understand that the University uses access to their athletics like a billy club. Speak or write sentiments that don’t tow the Capstone line and you risk your access to the program. So it’s in the best interest of the hosts to aggressively defend the University. I’m good with that.

    Naturally, after the basketball team’s loss to Florida Tues. night, head coach Anthony Grant’s continued employment has been a topic of discussion. For the most part the callers have just about seen enough of Grant and are ready to move on, myself included.

    Where I differ from most others is how the athletic dept. handles basketball. I made this the topic of my call Wendsday.

    I believe that Tide Pride is strangling the program. If you watched the game Tuesday, you saw that approximately half the lower section seats, held by Tide Pride ticket holders, was empty. If there was anything that team needed that night, it was a loud raucous crowd to energize them. The kind of crowd you see at Florida’s “O” dome.

    The kind of crowd you now see at Auburn. Since building the new arena, Auburn has aggressively courted the student body to attend the games. They have given them the courtside seating. They have exclusive access to the seating, their own concessions and the coaching staff has gone to the frats and sororities to ask for their support.

    This kind of atmosphere affects the opponents, the home team AND the officiating. Of course the hosts were having none of my argument. Tony Kurre, who i noticed does most of his talking after a caller is cut off, dug up some statistics trying to show the advantage ‘Bama gets at Coleman from the zebras.

    Of course what they don’t understand is there’s more to the story than just the number of fouls called. Who are the fouls being called on? What time during the course of the game are they being called? Are they calling a tight game or are they “letting them play”?

    One example of this is in the first half against Auburn, the Tigers guard broke to steal a pass and in the process bulldozed Ricky Tarrant. No call. The Auburn guard raced down court and scored. There are some things cold stats on a computer screen just don’t tell you. You have to be there.

    All of this led to a second call today (Fri.) to their guest, Joe Dean Jr. Coach Dean, son of the late great Joe (string music) Dean is an SEC basketball analyst, coach and AD at B’ham Southern.

    Coach Dean and I agreed that having the students court side affected the game and used Auburn’s situation as an example.

    That was where the call got squirrelly. When I started in on Alabama not giving it’s basketball coaches this vital tool to be successful he started crawfishing with all the same tired excuses I’ve been hearing for years about why they just CAN’T.

    He had been PRAISING Auburn for the commitment they made to their students AND THE PROGRAM to get them to their games but when it came time for the same sentiment about Alabama he actually stated the Alabama students needed to commit themselves to the basketball program IF THEY WANT BETTER SEATING.

    Let’s go over that again: He praised Auburn for it’s commitment to the students……….

    but then said the same should not be expected of Alabama.

    As my time was nearing it’s end, I didn’t have the chance to call him on that but I did make my feelings known that I just didn’t think it was fair to judge Grant without giving him all the tools he needs to be successful.

    But it should come as a surprise to no one the contradiction in Coach Dean’s argument. He’s got that next interview at Coleman to think about. Can’t afford to get cut off or offend over some candid remarks to a critical caller.

    Of course after I was cut off again Kurre again embarrassed himself with his ratchet jaw.

    But it was an interesting look into the politics around ‘Bama basketball and how it’s choking the program like it has for years.

    And if the fine folks on the “Morning Drive” don’t believe me, just ask Wimp Sanderson.

    I won’t hold my breath for that one.

  6. 13
    finebammer

    here is the WJOX podcast page. click on Coach Dean’s podcast and listen.

    At about the 10 min. mark, he starts talking about Auburn’s basketball effort.

    Give it a listen and ask yourself why not us.

  7. 15
    Hunter Ford

    Good stuff Finebammer

    I’m watching St. John’s vs Providence right now.

    I don’t know if is just the perception, because it is on national broadcast TV from Madison Square

    But this just looks like basketball at about three times the level Alabama plays it

    I’m with you on the points you made about Alabama athletic administration needing to give basketball more help, involve students

    good stuff

    • 16
      finebammer

      yes. we play caveman basketball in the SEC.

      when you watch bball from other parts of the country or try this, i watched a Dale Brown coached LSU team play a Rick Pitino coached UK team on SEC rewind the other day.

      gives you the same effect. overall, the conference talent level is as low as it has been since i’ve been watching SEC hoops.

  8. 17
    Hunter Ford

    It will be interesting to see how many teams from SEC besides Kentucky make NCAA a how well they perform

    listened to Joe Dean Jr he was talking about Andy Kennedy averaging 21 wins per year at Ole Miss but only making NCAA once when Rebels won the SEC Tourney

    SEC doesn’t match up well with ACC or Big East I’m sure

    But one bad thing about NCAA Tourney is it has automatic qualifiers from crappy leagues

    Sun Belt and Ohio Valley don’t really need a representative in the Big Dance if they aren’t really worthy

    I’m sure Alabama’s NIT teams were better than a lot of teams that made the Big Dance over the past few seasons from other conferences

    But, really Alabama is has the potential to be sooo much better. Those of us who are old enough to remember have seen it

    And its sad you have to be a certain age to know that

    Who do we play today? Oh yeah arrrrghhh good grief

  9. 19
    finebammer

    yeah, mids in the tourney is all about tv ratings. everybody wants to see a George Mason chop down a Syracuse.

    but remember the game that got Pearl the job at Tennessee??

    or Grant the job at Alabama?

    have you watched Gonzaga this year?? i’d love to have their talent in Tuscaloosa. Mark Few has a reputation for choking in the Dance but he better do something with this team. Calipari does not want to draw the Dogs.

    the hottest player in the Association right now?? no, not Lebron………. Steph Curry. from???

    Davidson.

    what is the saying??? it’s not a conspiracy if the threat is real???

  10. 20
    finebammer

    another flat start. got ourselves in a hole out the gate and despite playing reasonably well in the second half, the hole was just too deep.

    i said they would play better at rupp than they did before the home crowd and they did.

    this part of the schedule is why that win they didn’t get at wichita was so important.

    the one they missed at USCe.

    the one at fayetteville.

    florida.

    three of those four games in the win column and a NCAA tournament bid is a reality.

    as it is now, if Grant can’t figure out a way to get his guys out of the gate running, they’re not gonna make the NIT.

    4 assists. 13 turnovers. 10 in the first half.

    i’ve always said a team is a reflection of it’s coach.

    did you see those cold fishes flopping around in the first half??

  11. 21
    Hunter Ford

    Is the NIT good enough to save Grant’s job?

    Bama has manageable games coming up and it needs to win most if not all of the next few games to get back into NCAA contention

    I think you made this point, Finebammer

    There was a time when Alabama fans could reasonably expect to beat an other team, Kentucky in the SEC or some good team in the NCAA Tournament

    I really did not have a glimmer of hope for this team to play Kentucky an have even the smallest chances of winning unless half the Wildcats got measles and had to sit out and that would have been iffy

    As a fan, and I love college basketball and Alabama, I’m trying to keep a positive attitude but is harder and harder all the time

    Is there a football game on today? Oh yeah!

  12. 22
    finebammer

    you have the best running back in the game and you’re on the one and you throw……….

    shades of ‘Bama/TAM from a couple of years ago.

    to a degree, i think the touchdown Seattle scored w/ 6 seconds to go before the half made Carroll over-confident. not only was a pass play stupid, THAT pass play was INCREDIBLY stupid.

    and yeah, it’s easy to Monday morn QB, but some things are just obvious.

    and this bolsters my point about the so-called experts/professionals screwing up.

    (yeah, i’m talkin’ about you Bill Battle)

    • 23
      nope

      Johnny Manziel won the Heisman after beating Alabama because of play calling just like the final Seahawks interception against the Patriots.

      But Alabama won the national championship that season.

      I thought it was a great Super Bowl. And the better team won.

    • 25
      finebammer

      i quit keeping up with names, heights, weights, times in the 40 and such many moons ago.

      but i know this: you may be able to win super bowls without 4 and 5 stars but not college national titles.

      Roll Tide.

      • 26
        nope

        @finebammer

        Well, just don’t tell that to Dont’a Hightower who stopped Lynch at the one-yard line the play before the infamous interception.

        Last year’s Alabama class was ridiculously stacked. This year it’s a little less top-heavy, but it adds even more depth to the massive talent pool from the last two classes.

        Frankly, the depth leading into 2015 is more extreme than it’s ever been at Alabama (not just under Saban). You’d need SCUBA gear to navigate the kind of depth Alabama is dealing with.

        • 27
          finebammer

          forgive. for some reason i was thinking Dont’a was a three.

          regardless, dude gave it all this season. i guess i’ve never seen more players playing hurt than this super bowl.

    • 30
      finebammer

      the dude came in second in the 1500, but he dictated the race to the point his competition fell out after the race while jenner trotted around the track seemingly effortlessly in victory. (he won the gold in the decathlon)

      i’ve worked a bit in cali. the folks i encountered there are the same hard working people found here.

      i blame the disappearance of jenner on the kardashians.

      • 31
        Hunter Ford

        I’m surprised…no shocked.. that Bruce Jenner was caught smoking a cigarette!

        The world just keeps getting stranger all the time!

        And I remember Bruce back in the day, Wheaties box Gold medals

        At least Evel Knievel never disapointed

  13. 32
    finebammer

    ‘bama wins a road game tonite.

    auburn beats lsu at BR, loses to ole miss at home.

    miss. st. beats lsu at red stick, loses to ‘bama at home.

    go figure.

  14. 33
    Hunter Ford

    It should be an interesting stretch run

    Hope Bama can finish with its ears up!

    (horse racing term I heard recently)

  15. 34
    peachy

    Like two ships passing in the night. Auburn has been very impressive considering what Pearl has to work with. Next season he will have his players in there and it will really start to take off.

      • 39
        peachy

        Really? This article has about 40 responses including yours. The reason you pretend not to care is the two programs are heading in completely different directions and the program you support aint the one heading up.

        • 40
          nope

          Clown.

          Peachy, it’s the last article ever here. That’s why it’s got 40+ comments, especially ones unrelated to the story.

          Heading up?

          Arkansas. There.

          It’s not Alabama basketball I don’t care about.

          It’s you and your selective trolling.

          Oh, I’m just kidding. I love you peachy. Never change. Did you have fun in Auburn yesterday at the planting ceremony for the new trees?

          Oh, you didn’t go? Aw, man. Shucks.

          Well, anyway, you left out the baseball, softball, and gymnastics from Alabama this weekend. Sensational.

          Ah, now I see. I guess it is fun to be selective after all.

          It’s even more fun to be Alabama. Roll Tide.

          • 41
            peachy

            Im sorry I didnt talk about baseball, softball and gymnastics in an article about basketball. And here you are responding again because you dont care.

  16. 42
    finebammer

    http://www.al.com/sports/index.ssf/2015/02/anthony_grant_needs_a_sweep_of.html#incart_related_stories

    well, it’s now time for the local sports media to rally the troops to the defense of a local coach:

    “It’s fair to say that, when they met for the first time as head coaches in the Alabama-Auburn rivalry, Anthony Grant outcoached Bruce Pearl.”

    when nothing of the sort happened. at all.

    Pearl came into our gym and dictated a pace of the game that gave his team of scrubs the best chance to win. and he almost pulled it off.

    “Down the stretch Jan. 24 in Tuscaloosa, Pearl slowed the game down and Grant fired his team up, and Alabama overcame a nine-point deficit in the final 9 minutes and change to win 57-55.”

    Grant couldn’t fire up a BBQ grill. that game turned on the refs chucking Ricky Tarrant from the game. had nothing to do with anything Grant did. nothing.

    but that shows you the fool Scarbinsky will make of himself to prop up an embattled coach and assure himself that next interview.

    and don’t kid yourself. for these guys, access is the game. they know it and the athletic dept’s do too.

    • 43
      Hunter Ford

      Grant id his payers didn’t ha any urgency and he hopes hey realize he opportunity they wasted against Vandy at home?

      Nice…..

      But the kind of thing you tell them BEFORE the game…Not after….. COACHING

  17. 44
    Hunter Ford

    He hopes they realize the opportunity they wasted

    Things to coach BEFORE the game…..

    I do not like Tide’s chances at Auburn

    • 45
      finebammer

      well, here’s the thing, if you have a coach court side that’s a wet blanket, it should come as no shock to anyone that the players come out and play as if they are wrapped in wet blankets.

      the team is a reflection of it’s coach.

      as to tomorrow’s game, neither team has been able to win a home game of late. but you can bet the zebras won’t dare give the road team 18 more free throws than the homies in that arena!

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