Will Johnson succeed? I have no idea, but I like what I’m hearing

ITKI have no idea if Avery Johnson will succeed as the new men’s basketball coach at the University of Alabama, but I like what I hear so far.

Wednesday, with my own ears, I heard Coach Johnson say that his goal is to get Alabama to the Final Four. Like many Auburn fans hankering for just one National Championship in their lifetimes (before Gene Chizik brought one to them in 2010), for just once in my life I’d love to see an Alabama basketball team advance to the game’s biggest stage.

Right now, I’d settle for an NCAA appearance. Even a play-in game would be a step in the right direction. But Johnson used the “C” word when describing his goals. “Championship” hasn’t been muttered around these parts in some time.

In Wednesday’s press conference, Johnson said that Duke University was the standard for how he plans to build the Crimson Tide basketball program. That thought may be as absurd as Duke University’s David Cutcliff saying the University of Alabama is the standard for how he plans to build Duke’s football program. But to his credit, at least Johnson said it. At least he believes it, or at least wants it to be.

photo compliments of UA athletics
The Bama basketball program has been taking on water for years. Many changes are necessary to make Coleman Coliseum a formidable place for opponents to try and earn a win, with leadership being at the core of the problem. I so wanted Anthony Grant to be the answer, and was stoked over his hiring. But Grant was a corpse who refused to promote his program…a necessary evil at a place like Alabama. Had Grant won, promotion wouldn’t have been necessary. But with one radio interview Wednesday, Avery Johnson matched such interviews by Grant in his six years at the Capstone.

In terms of personality, Johnson is everything Grant wasn’t. He says all the right things, has charisma, and possesses some semblance of a pulse. Can he coach? Well, at one time he was the NBA coach of the year. And contrary to the contrarians out there, many of the rules are the same on the college level. Free throws are 1-pt., the goal is 10 feet high, and the ball is inflated to 8 psi.

Right now Avery Johnson sounds like a coach feeling his way along, but elated at the chance to get to do so. If you’re a Tide basketball fan, you have to be equally excited that Bill Battle swung for the fences in the hiring process. Johnson may prove to be a home run hire in the long run, but even now, with where this program is today, he is at worst a stand-up triple.

Not to be missed also is the University of Alabama hiring its second consecutive African-American head coach, a move further distancing the University from its well-earned racial stereotypes from the 1960s. While it’s a hope that one day this isn’t a matter of importance, it still is today, and no doubt recruits (and their families) should and will take note. In particular, the “one and dones” Johnson announced in his opening presser he wants to land. “If you want to get to the NBA, I’m your guy.” Spoken like a true 1999 NBA Champion.

Avery Johnson also appears to be a man of high moral character, outspoken in his faith and faithful to his wife of 24 years…two more pluses when dealing with kids and their families trying to make a decision about college. With no Bruce Pearl-like greasy skeletons in his closet, Johnson’s image is as squeaky clean as his voice.

Johnson gives life to a Bama basketball program on life support off and on for the better part of two decades. Will he turn the Tide into a contender? I have no clue. But he believes he can, and will, even chiding coach Battle in his press conference that it wouldn’t take the full six years of his contract to do it. Notions thought to be long extinct on the hardwood in Tuscaloosa: Enthusiasm, and ambition.


(Follow ITK on Twitter for Bama news, commentary and smack.)

11 Comments

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  1. 4
    finebammer

    “Not to be missed also is the University of Alabama hiring its second consecutive African-American head coach, a move further distancing the University from its well-earned racial stereotypes from the 1960s.”

    you would think so, ITK. then there’s this:

    http://youtu.be/u7Zmz3rw0Yo

    we make a coach that’s never recruited a player or coached a college game the third highest paid coach in the SEC.

    we’re living in a world standing on it’s head.

    • 5
      Hunter Ford

      Dissing Alabama’s basketball program

      Complaining that Shaka Smart is not getting paid enough at Texas?

      Whatever

      I’m still excited about having AJ at Alabama, and believe he well.

      Keep pushing for more student-friendly policies at the games! I’m with you on that. I really feel Alabama basketball is about to make a big leap forward

  2. 7
    finebammer

    and this:

    http://www.al.com/sports/index.ssf/2015/04/an_alabama_trustee_interviewin.html#comments

    “Is anyone bothered that Alabama trustee Finis St. John worked alongside AD Bill Battle as the two-man search team that landed Avery Johnson?”

    now keep in mind that Bill Battle’s plan to hire a coach was to have someone leak to Kevin Scarbinsky (who’s been carrying Blazer water since it was announced the Ala/B’ham football program would be axed) that he would be throwing millions (swinging for the fences) at the next coach.

    (1.) we currently play Ala/B’ham in several different sports other than football and basketball. this should stop immediately.

    (2.) the next person who gives an AL.com broom pusher the time of day should be fired on the spot.

    were I in charge of that athletic dept., the first time i heard an AL.com reporter or columnist was on campus they’d be removed by the campus police.

    for the scumbag who was given that story to now try and equate Finis St. John being a part of that bumbling search team to the Jetgate scandal (where Auburn sought to interview a football coach for the head coaching position before they had fired their current coach) is nothing more than scandal mongering.

    this is a Ala/B’ham sympathizer doing nothing more than throwing shit against the wall to see what will stick in an attempt to embarrass (or worse) the University over a perceived sight in this Blazer football thing.

    free UAB??? God, were I in charge. I’d separate them from that hospital and they’d be free alright. play football now you green and gold pukes.

    fuck AL.com.

    fuck Kevin Scarbinsky.

    fuck Steve Herlihee. (and yeah, Stevie boy, i know how to spell your name, you puke. fuck you)

    and last but certainly not least, FUCK UAB.

    • 8
      finebammer

      and furthermore,

      (1.) i’d like to use this time to lobby for an edit function on the response to commentary here. i need the ability to go back and refine my poignant and scathing posts from time to time 😉

      (2.) were I in charge, AL.com would not get one word from my athletic dept. short of a court order under a Freedom Of Information Act charge, and then ONLY after a full and vigorous litigation. it occurs to me that this would be an appropriate use of the attorneys the University has employed rather than attacking longtime and loyal friends of the program like Daniel Moore.

      #FUCKUAB

      #ROLLTIDE

      • 9
        Hunter Ford

        Scabro should point out that his publication lists UAB sports under “other colleges”

        Anyway, A-Day football is coming up. I hope the weather is nice.

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