Archived Story

Tide B-Ball may need new leader

Published 12:02pm Tuesday, January 29, 2013

There are a lot of reasons Alabama lost to Tennessee in an important basketball game last Saturday afternoon.
Usually dependable free throw shooters laid bricks in crucial moments.
The ability to box out seemed foreign to Bama big men late in the game.
The referees swallowed their whistles on what should have been a foul resulting in UA free throws on the game’s last shot.
But those types of things happen, especially on the road in a conference game.
Alabama fans should be much more concerned about several issues that seem to be a result of bad coaching.
I suppose a Bama basketball apologist could rattle of a cornucopia of excuses for this team’s seven losses.
There are been a few injuries and some bad luck, no doubt.
But it is year four in the Anthony Grant regime and it’s time the word “excuses” was substituted for “patterns.”
So much of Grant’s tenure can be summed up by last weekend’s contest.
Initially, Alabama’s talented starting five races out to a nice, but not comfortable lead.
As the game progresses, Tennessee — a team which is not having a banner year mind you — begins to chip away at the Tide’s advantage.
It becomes increasingly clear that Alabama is lacking in depth and specifically in the form of post players.
Eventually, Tennessee takes the lead late and holds a one-point advantage with 11 seconds to play and with Alabama’s taking the ball in bounds at around three-quarters court.
Instead of racing up the court to get a quick but solid shot, the Tide threw the ball in bounds even further in the back-court (probably costing themselves at least a precious second or two).
Then, Bama only lightly jogged the ball forward (costing another couple of seconds).
Finally, after some discombobulating, guard Trevor Lacey was forced to take a deep jumper from the corner as time expired.
Yes, it does appear as if the ref missed a foul that should have been called on the Tennessee defender, but officials sometimes miss calls.
Human error is a part of this game.
The real concern isn’t the refs — it is why didn’t Alabama players understand the urgency of the moment?
11 seconds is ample time to get the ball in bounds, run a play and even have a shot at an offensive rebound should the shooter miss.
However, the Tide seemed to treat their 11 seconds as if it were 30 seconds or more.
By the time the players figured out that a shot must be taken before the buzzer sounded, the opportunity at an open look had passed them by.
When players aren’t prepared or don’t realize the situation, that is a direct reflection on coaching.
When Grant was hired four years ago, my optimism was sky high.
He had an impressive resume` and brought some fantastic publicity to a proud program that had fallen on hard times.
But in year four, Alabama should not be struggling to make the NCAA tournament field.
There is enough talent in and around this state for the Tide to be very competitive on a national scale.
Fans can blame hostile environments, young players, lack of depth or bad officiating all they want, but the true problem appears to be at the top.
Robinson is a columnist for The Outlook