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Does Anthony Grant care about Alabama basketball?

  • There is no doubt in my mind that Anthony Grant is a man of high character. I also think he has the potential to become a solid basketball coach in time. But, for me, the lingering question is whether Anthony Grant really cares about Alabama basketball. I am not speaking of wins and losses but instead whether he is here to build back a program or whether being a program-builder is in his DNA as a college basketball coach.

    Program Builder or Program Sustainer?

    It has been mentioned many times that there are coaches who can build athletic programs and there are coaches who can sustain athletic programs. Four years into his tenure, I think Grant may prove to be the latter of those two. If Billy Donovan had bolted for the NBA several years back, I am fairly confident that Anthony Grant could have stepped in at Florida, with some expected hiccups given the transition, and continued their run as a Top 15 program in college basketball. Grant is a good enough recruiter and a good enough gameday coach to at least sustain what Billy Donovan built at Florida.

    The Alabama job, when taken by Grant, was not one that needed to be sustained but one that required rebuilding. Moreover, and unlike its counterpart of Alabama football, the Alabama basketball program was not one of the 10 or so programs nationwide which sells itself (see Kansas, UCLA, Kentucky, etc.), a quality that obviously lends great assistance to the rebuilding project at hand. As such, the job description for the Alabama basketball coaching position accepted by Anthony Grant should have made very clear that he was coming to Tuscaloosa to sell (and thus build) our program as much as he was coming to coach X's and O's on the court.

    Coach First, Salesman Second

    Given the tradition of its program, UCLA basketball does not need a salesman -- UCLA football, on the other hand, needs a salesman (insert Jim Mora). Alabama is a good comparator for the inverse of this proposition. Nick Saban is not wired in this fashion but he could likely spend 365 days a year coaching X's and O's in his office and maintain our football program in the Top 10 year in and year out. Instead, Saban, although it is certainly not his favorite part of the job and his job security clearly does not depend on it, is the consummate promoter of Alabama football from speaking engagements to media opportunities to just generally promoting our University as a whole. How many times do you hear Nick Saban deflect credit to the University, its leadership, and even the fans when accepting praise? It is all part of SELLING the Alabama football program and the University of Alabama.

    Anthony Grant, for four years now, has ignored any responsibilities related to SELLING the Alabama basketball program much less any responsibilities concerning selling our University as a whole. I have heard UAB Head Basketball Coach Jared Haase on sports talk radio in Alabama promoting his program far more than Anthony Grant, which is embarrassing in and of itself. In fact, I cannot recall the last media appearance of any nature by Grant. I tuned in to the weekly Alabama Coaching Show on the radio four times this season -- Anthony Grant was on once and his assistants were on for the other three occasions. Have you ever seen Nick Saban send Kirby Smart to do his weekly radio show?

    When you fail to promote your program, it affects recruiting, it affects fan support, and it affects the general perception of Alabama basketball within the State and across the country. There is probably as little excitement about Alabama basketball today, four years later, than there was the day Mark Gottfried was fired. While you can blame everything from a stagnant offense to a fickle fanbase, the reality is that the majority of the blame falls on Anthony Grant's inability to promote our basketball program. Winning is a part of building excitement around the program and it will surely cure a lot of ills but it is just that, a part of the overall picture in building the program.

    Blueprint to Build a Program

    To be clear, I like Anthony Grant and hope he succeeds. But, the reality is that, if Grant continues the self-serving approach he has maintained over the first four years, the upcoming season will be his last. Grant's approach will get us in a Tournament game every few years but we will never have the long-term success we desire until Grant steps outside of his comfort zone and begins promoting this program. Fortunately for Grant, there is a blueprint to be followed in building the program.

    One example, although he is not the man of character that Anthony Grant is, would be Bruce Pearl. When he took over Tennessee basketball, the fan support was putrid. Pearl worked night and day though promoting Tennessee basketball from media appearances across the state to attending women's basketball games shirtless. Does Anthony Grant need to go shirtless to promote our program? No, but there are a lot of lessons to learn from Pearl (and some mistakes to learn from as well) in how to build a program.

    Even closer, take a look at how Patrick Murphy has built the softball program. Murphy developed fan support, and more importantly fan loyalty, long before this was a championship program. The softball players became an integral part of the Tuscaloosa community from service projects to something as simple as players delivering season tickets to fans door to door. Patrick Murphy has built a softball program with far less resources than Anthony Grant has at his disposal. Like with some of our basketball players on the court, it is not always a matter of the resources available (ie, talent) as it is with giving effort.

    If he cares, and I would like to hope he does, there is still time for Anthony Grant to build this program. At a minimum, he will have another year. One thing is for certain though, the Alabama basketball program is not going to build itself.

    This post has been edited 4 times, most recently by CrimsonKat 13 months ago

  • CAG needs to understand that he doesn't know offensive schemes and needs a good offensive minded coach. This has been pointed out a lot by experienced analysts (i.e. Coach Knight) during the year. If he can swallow his pride and understand that he needs help, he can turn into a truly great coach and BUILD a successful program.

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    The Dynasty is Here! Roll Tide

  • I agree. There are a lot of areas where Anthony Grant needs to check his ego at the door -- offensive coaching philosophy is one of those areas.

  • MrGold

  • BB2One

    OK I'm sorry to be the contrarian....but, we can question his x's and o's, question his offense, question his in game strategies, question when or when he doesn't call time outs, question whether he should be here or not, heck even question his ability to recruit and GET the right players.....

    But, to even wonder for one second if he cares is way off (trying to say it in a nice way) (g) The man cares at least as much as we do and I bet even more than most (and he isn't a life long BAMA man). Does he show it always like we all would like? No. But that doesn't mean its lacking in any way.

  • I am sure you disagree, Mr. Gold. I know you like Grant and believe he is doing a good job. As I mentioned in a thread yesterday, I always respect your opinion on basketball matters BUT we will disagree as to whether Grant has promoted Alabama basketball. There is as little buzz around this program right now as there has been since David Hobbs was here. It has shown up in recruiting, game attendance, and the perception of our program on a national level. Alabama basketball is irrelevant.

  • Gold
    I'm assuming you disagree with the OP. But he makes some good points. And the attendance at games this year (or lack thereof) suggests op is correct.
    Bama hoops these days does require an advocate (or salesman) almost as much as it does a technician.
    IMO, I think that may be a mistake made in the hiring process. I'm not sure our athletic dept fully realized the fog hanging over it.
    If the product itself doesn't render immediate results and generate excitement for itself, the coach need not be afraid to help generate excitement with fans and students.
    Grant has failed at that.
    While there are certainly a pocket of hoops junkies like yourself, the long term success of this program, required engaging the casual fan.
    That's why I've always thought the condescending elitist attitude that some hoops purist takes towards the casual fan is a bad move. This program needs those fans as much as much as it needs the hoops junkies.

    This post was edited by Bama_Lefty 13 months ago

  • Whose actions do you think display a greater passion for building their respective athletic programs at the University of Alabama? Patrick Murphy or Anthony Grant.

    Anthony Grant is a good man and an above-average coach. He has not expended the effort though that coaches like Patrick Murphy and Nick Saban have in promoting the Alabama basketball brand. Because of that, I believe there is a lack of good will among the fanbase. I know some will disagree.

  • Very well said and in about 500 less words than I used.

  • MrGold

    No problem with the promoting Bama basketball stuff... but whether someone cares about the school that he/she is trying to build is a little much. You get a lot of things from Grant when he talks, but not caring about Bama is not one of them, not even close. And hearing Gottfried talk about bama a few months earlier,,, Grant passion about Bama seemed obsessive..

  • crimsonbleeder

    YES...! you have articulated what I have not been able to do, CrimsonKat. I've seen this from CAG from the beginning of his tenure here, and it, combined with the boring play style (at least on offense), lack of consistency, lack of tourney success, and lack of progression, has led Alabama Basketball to a place it has not been since the Hobbs days. Fans are now mostly apathetic, or worse---want Basketball to fail, for lots of reasons (some being sociological, sadly). Not that this hasn't always been the case, but I sense that the apathetic fans have dramatically increased in number over the last 4 years instead of decreasing, which is what a program SHOULD be doing, if the Coach is doing his job.

    And this is the #1 reason I'm soured on CAG. I haven't seen ANY "building". None. Zilch. In fact, this program is worse off from a fan interest point of view than it was 4 years ago.

    And that is as precarious a position as a Coach can be who is finishing his FOURTH (not 1st, not 2nd) year entering a FIFTH, and getting paid 2 mil/year.

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    1960 Les Paul

  • I am not questioning whether he cares about the school. Better said, the question is whether he cares about building the Alabama basketball program. Grant's actions thus far suggests he cares about Alabama's on-court performance. That is just a piece of the puzzle in making Alabama basketball relevant again on a national level and, perhaps even more importantly for our purposes, to the businessman in Birmingham trying to decide whether to leave work early and make the hour drive down to Tuscaloosa for a Tuesday night tipoff.

  • MrGold

    "If" you are referring to me, having condescending elitist attitude is the last thing I am trying to do... which I stay away from certain post. (too hard to stay away from sounding condescending).

    I've tried to give "MY" X and O perspective and tidbits about players that I noticed, on Bama's team or recruits.

    I was not a fan off the triangle offense for College teams.. And I really like Grant's scheme.. And it's a commonscheme in college basketball.. So i do struggle to respond when folks criticize the scheme.. IMO, the scheme is definitely not the issue.

    Iand "offensive coordinator" is not a basketball thing... Unless something has changed. If you need to hire a "offensive coordinator" you need to be fired.

  • I do not have as much problem with our scheme as with our offensive philosophy. If you summed up our offense in a word, it would be Tentative. Our offense often gets us good looks which are passed up in favor of running another 15 seconds of the shot-clock for a desperation heave. We have athletes suited for a transition game and one of the best finishers in college basketball in Releford who are saddled with a slow-down style of play. Aside from the scheme, offense is about playing with confidence and in rhythm -- those are not characteristics which have been associated with our team under Grant.

  • MrGold

    well. I am a basketball guy.. coach it, teach it, train watch it, etc..... So the on court stuff is more important to me.. Not saying you are wrong about "promoting Bama",,, If he has a good product on the court, i could care less if he was on the radio everyday pumping Bama fans... But as someone stated earlier, that would be good/great for the casual fan. Not disagreeing at all.

    I know this coaching staff makes does not make it easy for the staff to put out good articles to promote the Team... I get all of that. But part of your original point that he is being self serving and doesn't care seemed a bit much

    This post has been edited 2 times, most recently by MrGold 13 months ago

  • MrGold

    98% agree,,, But Grant has talked about shooting with confidence and taking the shot the defense gives you.. and the trap is the speed the game up.. And there have been times when the balled was outlet to push a fast break and if the ball was in anyone hands, except Releford. they would back it out. RO has been willing to attack off the rebound the last few games...

    When your PG is the best finisher, you will have problems run the break.. and when we had Tony mitchell, you did not see the team stop and pull the ball back out as much.. So Releford was move to the 2G,, i think to have a finisher on the wing.. Would you want Cooper, Randolph, and lacy trying to finish from the wing on the fast break?

    anyways,, good conversation

  • Nope. Not you. Most recently, it was teddy doing it. All the " if you don't know basketball then shut up/ this program doesn't need you" comments are counterproductive imo

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  • Theta

    He appears weekly on bham radio FWIW

    Ive heard him several times Plus I see Aaron Jordan tweets about him doing live interviews.

    Twitter: @ProducerAP

  • To answer the subject line of the OP, I don't think there's any doubt that he does. He spends countess hours in the practice gym, film room and recruiting trail. To suggest he doesn't care is unfair.
    However, to question whether he is willing to advocate for the program is a fair topic and may very well end up being the crucial issue that decides his future here. Engaging the casual fan must occur to fill the seats in Coleman. There simply aren't enough basketball purists in this state to fill the arena. Casual fans and general UA sports fans are what make Bama basketball go.
    The relative absence in the media has been fleshed out. As has his unwillingness to otherwise promote the program.
    Now it has begun to creep into other arenas - his "silent" approach to refs during and between games.
    And don't be surprised to see his quotes from yesterday get some media play (the ones where he said he's not "that guy" to lobby for an NCAA bid). All of that begins to mesh into a common theme of him not being willing to go outside his comfort zone, principles, whatever to go the extra mile to help this program enjoy success.
    It's all very baffling to me and somewhat disappointing.

    This post was edited by Bama_Lefty 13 months ago

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  • Thanks for bringing up the point from yesterday regarding his refusal to address whether we deserve consideration for the Tournament. I actually intended to address that in my original post. It is perhaps admirable from a principles standpoint but, taken in the whole, it is another example where he is unwilling to take a stand publicly for the program. I am not saying that Grant should beg for a spot in the Tournament, as to be frank this is not a tournament team, but how about taking stock of where we are as a program and acknowledging what the players accomplished this season: "That is outside of our control but our team has done some nice things this year in winning 21 games and 12 games in this league. We have fought through adversity with injuries to some guys we were counting on to contribute. We are not where we want to be yet as a program but certainly it would be a nice reward to make the Tournament."

    We all saw how uncomfortable Nick Saban was in that role two years ago when it came down to us and Oklahoma State for the final BCS Championship Game slot. But, Saban stood up for his players and said they belonged in the Championship Game.

    I cut Grant some slack in that this really is not a Tournament team. But, when you take it in the totality of his tenure here along with his statement that "he is not that guy," it is just another opportunity lost.

  • Alabama Basketball Fans need to be patient and stop putting the five year gauge on when the program starts to make the NCAA tourney on a yearly or semi yearly basis. I think coach Grant has tired to sell the program to recruits, on a national basis more than any previsous Alabama Coach I can remember. In doing so he has come up short in the recruiting battles to some morw powers. If you look at the recruiting history of Alabama Basketball, The recruiting radius has been the State of Alabama, Miss, Georgia, for the most part. How many5 stars have come out of Alabama in the last 10 years, and with the telivision exposure and kids more likely to leave their State more basketball recruiting can be difficult for a program like Alabama. I recall a young man out of Birmingham, a
    few years back leaving the state to play for UCONN instead of Alabama, Auburn, or UAB. Big time high school basketball talent is located in Cities like NY, Chicago, Detroit, New Jersy, Etc. Alabama is currently limited to the recruiting radius mentioned earlier, and at one time in its its history that was good enough, but this State is not producing, Bobby Lee Hurt, Enis Whatley, Buck Johnson, Charles Barkley, Chuck Person type Talent. IF those guys were coming out of high school today there is a good chance one of the national, more traditional basketball schools would get one or more of them. Florida and Kentucky have a much wider recruting base in fact nation wide. This is Ole Miss first appearence since 2002 and I recall Kennedy under fire at one point not to long ago. I recall attending Alabama Games during Coac Grants 1st couple years and the Fans would stand and applaud when he wouls enter the arena. Alabama fan base is going to have to be much more patient and not put the same time frame on basketball that it would.on Football or it will be changing coaches every four to five years. the freshmen and Soph that dominated the playing minutes will be soph and.juniors with the addition of inside players signed NCAA tournement should be reached. Last year tourney with rhe Greene and Mitchell circus was a bonus. THIS IS ALABAMA BASKETBALL at this time.

    Florids' and Kentucky's recruiting base is nation wide

  • The problem now is we don't have any quality big men.

    If we did, this team would be much better and a tournament lock.

    Is the big man deficiency CAG's faulty?

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