And, in just a short week, the Robinson kiss of death takes full effect.
In my last column, I praised the recent exploits of the Alabama basketball team.
Why shouldn’t I have? At the time, the team was riding a four-game winning streak straight through the NCAA Tournament bubble. I even had the foresight to mention a loss to SEC-leading LSU was likely, but that game alone won’t shape the Tide’s round ball future.
What I didn’t count on was ’Bama losing the league’s best defender to a wrist injury in the LSU game — which led to surgery a couple of days afterwards — or the fact some mysterious gastrointestinal malady would sideline another part-time starters for an as-yet undetermined amount of time.
Those setbacks — to Herbert Jones and James “Beetle” Bolden, respectively — left Alabama with eight scholarship players available to take the court against Arkansas last Saturday. Among that octet, only one can be trusted dribbling the ball for more than 10 seconds and one of which is a true freshman who is not ready for much — if any — playing time. That’s not exactly an award-winning recipe for SEC success.
So new Alabama coach Nate Oates begins his tenure with this casualty list: Two top recruits, who both would have played good minutes this season, were lost before the team’s first tipoff to ACL injuries; a former five-star transfer was denied a waiver to play immediately because, you know, the NCAA is a moody hose-beast; and now herb Jones (wrist) and Bolden (mystery ailment) are out for the foreseeable future.
Barring some unreal shooting performances from the likes of John Petty and Kira Lewis — or horrific shooting performances from UA’s competition — in upcoming games, the Tide is unfortunately facing a losing season. Given the unlucky circumstances, it’s a forgivable sin.
However, fans aren’t generally the forgiving type. Fans judge coaches on their wins and losses. Yeah, some will understand when a player hurts his wrist or when another player tears his ACL, but, in the end, what they really expect is results and they don’t care why you didn’t achieve them. Oates is certainly not in any trouble at the moment, but it won’t take long for fans to complain about losses as they forget why those losses were inevitable.
Alabama has an uphill climb now with must-win games against Tennessee and Georgia looming. Hopefully, the Tide can keep the boat afloat while Jones and Bolden heal in time for the stretch run.