Well friends, we’re back to preview another Missouri opponent that hopefully will be our salvation from the land of losing to the land of winning! Alabama is also in the throes of a losing streak themselves having lost 5 out of their last 6, and two straight, it’s not as bad as 7 in a row but that’s neither here nor there.
Presenting the Alabama Crimson Tide
location: Tuscaloooosa, Bammer
By HHKB Chris: People, we can win this game. And Sam will get into all the numbers of why below, but you know what, none of that is going to matter. For today is National Signing Day. And in the SEC that trumps EVERYTHING else in the ENTIRE world. Aliens could visit earth and want to hang out at this game tomorrow and it wouldn’t matter, Bama fans would want to know who Nick Saban woo’ed and how they’re getting their next national Championship.
The likelihood of anyone being at this game is around 10%. There will be the players, the coaches, the mascot, the pep band and people who get lost and end up there. It couldn’t work out any better for Mizzou. It’s a neutral site game at best! When they win, you can thank me and NSD. And if we do win, it will pain me that we must hurt Anthony Grant....why couldn't we have hired him over the past three coaches...WHY?!
But forget all that, you’re here to presumably take a break from football. Let’s get to know Alabama shall we?
Alabama is a school in Tuscaloosa and they are known as the Crimson Tide and their mascot is an elephant. DAMN IT! Just once I’d like something to make complete sense. Basically, Alabama’s color is crimson and some sports writer described them as a tide washing over Auburn or something back in the early 1900s. So what do you do when your "mascot" is what can best be described as an onrushing sea of blood?
You let some other sportswriter refer to your team as a bunch of elephants (probably because everyone was super fat) and since we’ve found that things mascot related happen mostly out of laziness in the SEC, that stuck. Alabama has "Big Al", the elephant. Big Al didn’t first make his debut as a mascot until 1980. So there’s a good chance that a lot of you are older than this mascot. Really, he’s fine. Big Al, the Elephant. There was or is a place in San Francisco that has the name Big Al in the title…just check it out.
So you know about their mascot confusion, but what of the fine people who attended and graduated from Alabama? Well the internet teased me with Michael Emerson and that pissed me off since that would have been awesome. But there are real people who really attended and really graduated. The first on my list is Sela Ward. She is an actress who my wife loves and who we saw in New York once. She was on a show called Sisters where she and her sisters dealt with the problems of being sisters. I’ve never been a sister, so I don’t think I could fully relate. She also appeared in The Day After Tomorrow, about things getting cold and everyone moving to Mexico.
Also, a graduate of Alabama is a fella by the name of Jim Nabors, who played a character named Gomer Pyle on the Andy Griffith show and he essentially was a moron. Just the village idiot who eventually goes to the military to probably set the US back many years. Since this was in the 60s, you have to assume Gomer was actually some sort of Russian Spy, because that’s better than the alternative.
Finally, if you like drugs and expanding your mind, Timothy Leary went to Alabama. He didn’t start the whole LSD thing there, that was later but still he’s a part of it. So if you love LSD and you didn’t take the brown acid at Woodstock he’s probably someone important to you.
Now, don’t you feel more equipped to discuss all things Alabama that don’t relate to sport? Of course you do! But what if you’re heading down to Tuscaloosa to see where Latrell Sprewell spent two years as a player? Well head to The Houndstooth, they have lots of TVs for your sport watching pleasure and honestly some of the lamest beers on tap. But it’s near campus, has won many arbitrary awards as best bar by many periodicals, so you should go and drink plenty of beer because you will need it! If you’re not heading to or living in Alabama, the game is on the SEC Network at 8:00 pm central. So really, you have no excuse not to watch it. Dinner will be done, the dogs and cats will be watered and walked, the kids asleep, just you, a large bottle of booze and the 2014 – 2015 Missouri Tigers…good thing you’ve got that bottle!
About Their Basketball Team
By Sam Snelling: Alabama isn't a very tough team to figure out. Anthony Grant, the Tide's Head Coach, wants tough physical teams and defend, and Alabama does that. The Crimson Tide rank 57th in AdjEff on D, and play a pretty plodding pace on offense. They recently lost to Florida on a last minute dunk by Dorian Finney-Smith, and the final of that game was 52-50. So Alabama is used to playing in low scoring slog-fests. Something which should make Missouri fans feel better.
Anthony Grant is in his 5th season as Alabama head coach and is quite possibly on a bit of a warm seat as the Tide hasn't exactly taken off the way most had hoped under his control. He's had one notably bad season (last year at 13-19), and some solid years, but nothing that has shown that Alabama is a program on the rise, more of one that is a middle of the road SEC team. Bama had a decent non-conference schedule and largely performed well, but has hit a recent skid losing 5 of 6 which gave their otherwise promising hopes of an NCAA tournament a serious hit.
They're led this year by senior Levi Randolph and junior transfer Ricky Tarrant (who is injured and out for the Missouri game), but play 9 guys more than 10 minutes a game. So depth is not a problem for the Tide. Consistent offense seems to be the problem, and a lack of a true post presence. Jimmie Taylor is an athletic big and does a great job of affecting shots in the middle, but isn't a huge threat to score.
Now for a closer look at their basketball team, let's chat with somebody who knows them best...
Q&A With ROLL BAMA ROLL
A huge thank you to our friend BamaBrave4, staff writer for RollBamaRoll. BamaBrave4, or as I know him Parker, does great work for the folks at RBR
RockMNation: The Tide currently sit at 13-8, and 3-5 in the conference. It seems like Bama is really close to being a very good team (4 losses by two points or less, two losses to Kentucky). What seems to be the the one or two things that is missing and causing them to lose so many close games?
BamaBrave4: This is one of the main reasons why Alabama fans are so frustrated right now. It's been the same thing every year under Anthony Grant. The team will play really tough, gritty defense, hang around with a really good team, and then inevitable throw it away at the end. The main reason why is simple: offense, offense and more (or more aptly, less) offense. Alabama's offense has been atrocious over the last three seasons. Nearly every game, the Tide will go 5+ minutes at a time without scoring a single basket. If the other team ramps up the full court press late, Grant's group will start to play really tight and turn the ball over. Most of all though, it's Grant's complete inability to develop a half-court offense that has the majority of Alabama fans ready for a change
There is no clearer example of this than when the game is on the line and Alabama needs a basket to win or tie. Go back and watch the end of the South Carolina, Arkansas, or Florida game. Heck, even when Alabama beat Auburn the other week it wasn't because of a brilliantly called or executed play, Auburn just didn't block out Rodney Cooper as he went for the offensive put-back. Grant will call (another) high screen for the pick and roll, if it doesn't work, it's up to whichever guard has the ball to try and put the team on his back for the game-winner. It's like they don't even draw up another look. If the pick doesn't free up the guard or the roll doesn't give the post man an open look at the basket, then the play is over. It's insufferable.
RMN: What are the things that Bama excels at? What needs to go right for them to win more games down the stretch and get back on the bubble of the NCAA tournament?
BamaBrave4: Defense. This is the one area where Alabama truly has excelled under Grant. You have to give the guy credit for being one of the best defensive coaches in the country. It doesn't matter what kind of roster he has: tall and athletic, short yet quick, deep and diverse, or shallow but talented; Alabama will be one of the best defensive groups in the country. Grant values possessions like a stingy old man values the money in his mattress. He really does know how to slow a game down to fit his style of play, and it can really drive some high-tempo teams like Arkansas mad, especially when they come to Tuscaloosa.
As far as what needs to go right for Alabama the rest of the way, the team just needs to execute better on offense, plain and simple. To go along with that though I would say that the Tide need to rebound the ball much better than they have. Alabama is 8-1 on the year when out-rebounding their opponent. The most egregious example of poor rebounding was in the South Carolina game when Michael Carrera grabbed 5 or 6 offensive rebounds and gave the Gamecocks the extra amount of possessions they needed to keep Alabama from completing the comeback.
RMN: What is the current state of the Alabama fan base in regards to Anthony Grant? If he doesn't get them to the NCAA tournament, could this be his last season? What is your opinion of the job he's done?
BamaBrave4: Woo boy, the fans are sharpening their pitchforks right now. If Alabama doesn't turn this around and make the NCAA Tournament, it's hard to imagine him getting another year. Of course, the majority of the fan base wanted him gone last season too, and the University decided to keep him around. Look, Anthony Grant is an awesome guy. He's very nice, courteous, a class act, and everything you would want in a leader of young men. He's also a fantastic defensive coach, but his ability to create an offense is next to abysmal. The offense has cost Alabama a lot of games over the years, and on top of that, great defense and bad offense leads to really ugly basketball. The games can be really hard to watch, especially when, as a fan, you just know the Tide is going to find a way to lose the game at the end.The team is always competitive, which is great, but you can only subject your fan base to so many one-possession losses. There is just nothing to be excited about as an Alabama basketball fan right now.
RMN: What is the one matchup that worries you about the game vs. Missouri? How can the Tigers pull off the upset and win the game in Tuscaloosa?
BamaBrave4: The one match-up that worries me has got to be JW III. I really like Johnathan Williams, he's really impressed me with how well he has developed this season. With pretty much the entire roster from last season gone, he and Wes Clark have really been thrust into roles they weren't ready for, yet Williams has done a great job, in my opinion. Grant will switch between the 2-3 zone and man-to-man quite a few times each game, but no matter what look they bring they have struggled to keep teams off of the glass. Williams is the one guy for Mizzou who could really tear the Tide up on the boards, and I think he has the ability to score at a high rate as well. Jimmie Taylor better be ready (and not on the bench with foul trouble).
RMN: Last, how does this game play out? And what is your final score prediction for this game?
BamaBrave4: As a follower of yours on Twitter (@SamSnellingRMN, people!), I can promise you that both of us will be reaching for the bourbon early and often in this one. It's not going to be pretty, but we will all get through this. Alabama doesn't lose often at home, and Missouri is too young to come into Tuscaloosa and beat an Alabama team that's desperate to keep their tournament hopes and coach's tenure alive. Missouri won't have to worry about Ricky Tarrant, which is a huge cause for concern for Alabama, but I think enough guys will make some plays on offense and keep the Tigers at bay. It's going to be close though. Write me down for: Alabama 62 Missouri 55
Again, a big thanks to Parker, BamaBrave4, for taking the time to answer my questions. He's a great writer and you should go follow him on twitter.
With all that said, how does Missouri win this game? Um. Give me a few minutes to think this over, because at first glance there's not a lot of things that Alabama does poorly that Missouri is going to take advantage of. Of all the teams to get off the schneid against Bama is probably the least of all the teams outside of Kentucky to do that against. Missouri finds success in mucking up the game, Bama plays one of the slowest paces in the league. Missouri plays well when their 3-point shots go in, Bama plays good 3-point defense. Welp...
1) Help us J3
We need Johnathan Williams III to play his best game this season. There's really just one guy who can matchup well with JW3 and that's Taylor, and he's very foul prone. JW3 is still very adept at drawing contact, even though it's slowed a bit over the last few games. JW3 has to be good for Missouri to be good.
2) Maybe some 3's will go in
Mizzou hit rock bottom against Ole Miss in this area. They got good looks from the outside, and the Ole Miss zone kept give them good looks, and Mizzou just could NOT take advantage. Bama isn't as bad as Ole Miss at giving up open looks from the outside, but Mizzou will get good looks from the outside. If they go in, at a more regular rate, say upwards up about 40% or higher, and they can hang tight.
Not to get too simple here, but it's going to be a simple game against the Tide. These are two relatively inefficient offensive teams that struggle to score on a regular basis. Who is going to score? Can Missouri overcome the Bama defense enough to win? Can Alabama score enough to separate from the Tigers? This is going to be an interesting game, maybe not fun to watch, but interesting nonetheless.
So with all that said, Missouri has obviously established how they can be successful and they've shown they can be. The system can work and has been shown to work even against good teams. Despite their recent struggles, Alabama is a good team and they're looking to get back in the win column. The Tigers have a touch of good luck in that the Tide will be without second leading scorer Ricky Tarrant, so they could possibly have even more trouble scoring than they normally do.
However I just can't feel too positive because of what I said before the 3 keys. This is a bad matchup for Missouri because Bama WANTS to do what Missouri is trying to get other teams to do. They want to play slow, they want to play D for 20 seconds or more, they want to pound the ball.
With Tarrant being out, I'm slightly more in favor of the Tigers chances, but still not where I need to be to think they can win. It's simply not the best matchup, Bama isn't a team that Missouri can twist enough to make them play ugly and pull out that close win like they did vs LSU and almost did against Arkansas. Where Missouri needs to find success is down low, and being opportunistic from outside and that's just a lot to ask in Tuscaloosa, where a LOT of teams have a hard time winning, not just young ones. Ultimately I think this falls out of the Tigers hands, and Bama takes the win. Say: Alabama 66, Missouri 59.`
As per usual leave your trifecta picks in the comments below, predictions too if you like. For the trifecta, for Missouri to be close it probably needs to be something like JW3, Shamburger and Clark.