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The case for and against Anthony Grant

  • Lots of discussion on here about our basketball program. Thought it might be good to take an objective look at where the team stands and where CAG stands as our head coach. This isn't a "Fire Grant" thread, nor is it a "He's doing a good job" thread. Just a list of pros and cons to date and a discussion point.

    Pros:
    1) Our defense has improved tremedously under CAG - Mark Gottfried's Achilles heel at UA was that we couldn't defend to save our lives, and routinely got run out of the building away from home because we'd have cold shooting nights but couldn't stop anyone. CAG has created an environment of discipline defensively, and while our press hasn't been overly effective this season, our halfcourt defense has consistently been stellar since he arrived. Our defense is typically at or near the top of the SEC and nation year after year in most major categories.

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    2) He has recruited guards well - for all the issues we've had on the recruiting trail, he's landed perimeter players and has multiple ball-handlers he can turn to at any time. We have no fewer than 6 players who can bring the ball up the court and (theoretically) run the offense. This is huge, especially late in the season. Releford has become one of the better PGs in the league, Lacey has the potential to be an elite player, and we have 3-4 other serviceable guards who can play in this league. Few teams can say that.

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    3) By all accounts, we seem to run a clean program - we've not run afoul of the NCAA, our players seem to be good guys off the court and represent the university well, and we've incorporated discipline into the program when it was needed. It wasn't popular to suspend Releford, Green, et. al during the stretch run last year, and it certainly was bold to kick Tony Mitchell, the most dynamic player on the roster, out of the program entirely. The things that were permitted under CMG have been shut down by CAG. This team knows it has a strong leader, and they set a good example as student athletes for the most part.

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    4) We've been dominant at home - the old adage is that you have to win your home games and steal half the ones you play on the road. We've not been roadkill by any means, but we're especially efficient at home. I can't remember the last time we lost a home conference game.

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    5) We've competed this year despite being young and banged up - blame our thin roster on Grant if you will, and I agree he shoulders some of the blame for our depth issues, but we have one senior on the team and even he's been hurt much of the season. The good news is that we return basically everyone and will add two more post players next season. So hopefully this year is just the start of good things to come. We've taken our lumps at times but have positioned ourselves for a shot at a league title if we win out until we meet Florida.
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    Cons:

    1) Our fans seem apathetic - call it a general lack of concern because we're a "football school," blame it on the style of play...whatever. The fact of the matter is that our fans are not engaged with this team. This team is, by and large, not that likeable or marketable. Case in point - we played a team that was once our chief rival in the league at home last night, playing with our NCAA lives on the line and for a right to be a game out of first in the league, and we had 7,000 people show up. Those who were brave enough to venture out all seemed like they'd rather be home watching QVC. CAG isn't a master marketer like a Calipari or Pearl, he's not especially media savvy, and he's not the type of guy who is going to try to change a culture of a fanbase.

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    2) Our post players are beyond bad - we have a 7-footer who can't or won't dunk the ball, a 6'8 player who lolligags half the time, and has exactly one move on the block, and another project player who's been hurt all year but more than likely would've only provided another warm body. We have two guys signed up, but we simply haven't developed these guys at all....and the lack of any inside threat kills us on nights when we can't shoot from the outside.

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    3) We don't develop players offensively at all - name one player who is significantly better now than when he arrived on campus? Releford has had flashes of brilliance this year, but he had flashes of brilliance his first week on campus. He's a great finisher around the basket, but he's always been a great finisher around the basket. Aside from him, what other player is noticeably different under CAG (for the better, anyways)? Lacey was regarded as a lottery pick when he came out of HS. Kentucky and Kansas wanted him. But aside from pullup jumpshots late in the shot clock and and the occasional drive to the basket, he's not become a better shooter and he's not become a tremendous leader of our offense. Cooper and Levi are wildly inconsistent. They both wind up bailing us out more times than not, but you can't rely on either one to be a contributor on a given night. Gueye and Jacobs are just dreadful right now, and it's not all their fault. Pollard, who was a can't-miss 5-star type guy out of HS, seriously looks like he's going to injure someone in the crowd, himself, or the backboard every time he takes a shot.

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    4) We lack mental focus, toughness, and desire at critical moments - this team has no killer instinct. At Auburn, we led them by 10-15 points early in the game and had at least three or four straight possessions where we could have taken away their will to compete. But we crapped around, showed little aggression, and somehow let a 23-13 lead slip away to a runaway loss. In our past two games, we've built 15-20 point leads against the two worst teams in the league and seen them both dwindle down to 4-6 point margins. If we were playing anyone else in our conference, both could and probably should have turned into losses because we don't finish well. We just don't put together entire games. I think that a team reflects the menality of its coach. When you see a team getting run off the court by Mercer, Tulane, Auburn, etc., and its coaches are sitting on the bench staring blankly into space, its not surprising why our players act like they don't care at times.

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    5) We've not become a program that expects to make the NCAA tournament - in year 4, this is a concern. We are clearly on the outside looking in right now, and in a league as bad as ours, it's unacceptable for a team with our talent to not be a slam dunk to make the Field of 68. Another NIT this year would be a major step back, but even if we make the Dance, do we have any faith in this team that it will make a run. Not to be a Debbie Downer, but if we play the brand of offense we're playing right now, it will be a tall order to not get beaten soundly by a 6-8 seed. We almost certainly need to win at Florida now that OM is tanking. Our two quality wins are against teams (Villanova and UK) that are bubble teams, at best. Our stellar SEC record hasn't helped our RPI tremendously because the wins haven't come against good competition. Our 10 wins in the SEC, when factoring that we've beaten MSU twice, come against teams who are 52-76 in the SEC and 129-123 overall. Without a win at UF or a run through the SEC tournament that includes 2-3 wins, that's probably not enough at this point unless we win every other game aside from UF and teams ahead of us on the bubble implode, which is possible.

    This post has been edited 3 times, most recently by NashTide 14 months ago

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  • Brian Henry

  • rolBAMAballs

    I think the 2 biggies are pathetically atrocious post play and a horrendous offense

    This all equals out to a chance to win the conference which is great but the conference is terrible and even then we may not even make the tourney

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  • crimsonbleeder

    Agree. But #3 in the "Cons" category trumps everything for me. A coach is not a "coach" without being able to develop and improve players. Unless/Until I see that happen, I simply do not think CAG is "the one"...

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    1960 Les Paul

  • Good analysis........here's a negative you didn't point out as well.......

    We run a system with pressing that is dependent on having multiple bodies out there to interchange. While you can't fault Coach for the injuries, you can call into question his decision to be 3 people (basically 20%) under in scholarship count. That's either being too narrow (not putting the work in) or being able to deliver. Even if we had 3 OK 3* type players in positions 11-13..we could press more consistently...leading to more cheap baskets.

    So...with his position that it's better to have no one than someone he may not want long term...he has no one in those slots. Mistake in my opinion...this could have cost us 2-3 December games and the tourney bid.

  • scottchap

    How many teams have an inside game that you would be happy with?

  • Any team who has a post player that can consistently convert touches to points when they're within 2 feet of the basket....

    In our league, Kentucky (Cauley-Stein and Noel pre-injury), Florida (Young), Ole Miss (Buckner), Arkansas (Powell), Mizzou (Oriakhi and Bowers,) UT (Stokes and Maymon when he comes back from injury,) all have frontcourts that are better than ours. In some cases, significantly better.

    Obviously we beat UK and Arky and split with UT so there's more to basketball than having forwards who can score the ball, but post players can help take a lot of pressure off guards when they're not shooting well, and they can also free up shooters to get better looks.

    To act like we wouldn't trade frontcourts with half the teams in college basketball is laughable and barely worthy of a response if you've watched us play at all this year.

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  • Great post! Wimp would almost always have a very good JUCO guy come in and play very well. With our depth issues and room to spare, I wonder why Grant didn't go this route?
    Also, most people want to get excited and hear exciting things from our coach and litterally be, or feel involved with the team and coach. Something is really missing here and the turnout is proof.
    I don't know that we can do anything now, but the student seating is horrible! Something has got to be done in order to get our students more involved. They really can make a difference, but not the way they are set up at Coleman.

  • Some good points. I think you went overboard on a few, but good talking points none the less.

    I think Cooper has improved. He has been in double figures 17 times this season and has really won several games for us lately. And Lacey was never regarded as a lottery pick. I think the expectations on this kid were way too high. Levi was ranked higher by some publications coming out of high school.

    The mental toughness factor is strange to me. We don't do a good job putting teams away when we have them down, but we have been pretty good at end of game situations. It comes back to that killer instinct you brought up. It really isn't there and I think it really is a leadership issue. We don't have "that guy". It should be Releford, but that just doesn't seem to be his personality.

    The no post player is my biggest gripe. There really is no reason we should be stuck in the situation we are in. If we had a real guy to go to down low we would have a max of 2 losses right now. Only games we would have lost are VCU and Missouri. And maybe not even those. It amazes me that we are where we are this season without somebody to count on down low. That does say something for our guards because that has to be rough on them knowing they can't really trust the guy they are throwing the ball to.

  • RMFT81

    Solid post Nash, can't argue with any of that.

  • Good job Nash

    Player development, especially post player development is my chief problem with Grant. Second is roster management, i understand not wanting to sign kids just sign them. But if we had signed a juco big last year that could rebound and play some D. We would be sitting with at least 5 more wins and be argueing over what seed we were going to get and not arguing if we will or not make it to the Big Dance as a bubble team.

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  • Nashtide, I am just curious, but what do you think a top tier coach such as Coack K, Izzo, Calipari would do differently that would develop our players offensively (beyond having a different offensive philosophy?

  • I would disagree on the player development to some extent. You are right our post players have not improved offensively. But our guards I would disagree. Take out of your mind how players were viewed coming in...is Trevor Lacey better this year than last, yes. Is Rodney Cooper better this year than last, yes. I think the same for Levi and Releford as well.

    2012 stats
    PPG. Fg%. 3p%
    TR. 14.5. 46.6. 39.2
    TL. 11.9. 42.1. 38.1
    RC. 11.1. 43.2. 30.3
    LR. 7.7. 40.0. 32.3

    2011 stats
    PPG. Fg%. 3p%
    TR. 12.0 48.2 27.3
    TL. 7.3. 41.4 30.1
    RC. 5.1 38.4 29.0
    LR. 6.5 38.5 26.8

    They all nearly improved in all 3 offensive categories from 2011 to 2012. I picked those 3 categories because those are the main 3 that show offensive production. Doesn't include assists, rebounding, etc. Which most have improved also. Sometimes perception isn't always reality.

    This post has been edited 2 times, most recently by UAgrad09 14 months ago

  • Gueye was a JUCO guy and was rated highly, but after his injury when he got here it just seemed like he never really developed into the guy they thought he was.

    I actually think he plays hard and wants to be good. I like him. He's just not mentally assertive when it comes to wanting to dominate in the post. He just seems tentative like he's afraid to make a mistake or get hurt again.

    He's offensively challenged and doesn't rebound well for his size but is a defensive asset.

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  • We're 10-3 in the sec and will likely for the second time in 3 years play a game against the Gators for a share of the Sec title. Only Florida and Kentucky have more sec wins than Bama over the past 3 years. And our fans constantly tear down our program. The game threads should carry the title "come here to b!tch about Bama basketball".

    Our fans are trash. There are mid majors that have ten folds the support that we give Bama basketball. It's pathetic. We are lucky to have Grant. I can't believe people really want to get rid of Grant and start all over.

  • With the exception of Cooper, even in those stats I don't see significant improvement. The only #'s that are notably better are their 3-point pcts, but we were historically abysmal shooting the 3 last year. Literally one of the 5 worst teams (out of 320+) from 3 last year. It was almost impossible for those numbers to go anywhere but up, even shooting against air.

    TR's overall pct has dropped.TL's overall pct is negligably better. LR's is barely higher as well. A player improving his overall shooting percentage by 1-2 percentage points year over year could arguably be achieved by that guy putting in a basic amount of work in the gym on his own, but it's tough to make the case that he was developed considerably when the margins change so little.

    The ppg improvements are nice, but you could make a case that with the number of touches going up for everyone after Green left, they had no choice but to score more points. We had to find around 15 additional ppg to cover what was lost when JG left, and the improvements made above barely cover that number. From an efficiency standpoint, we're just moving points around to account for what we already had.

    Use a football analogy. It would be like an Auburn QB throwing 5 touchdowns against 10 picks for 1,500 yards one year and then throwing for 8 touchdowns, 8 picks and 1,700 yards the next and saying "see....told you he'd get better." It's still not efficient.

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  • No one in this thread WANTS to see this staff or group of kids fail. If anyone does wish ill will on the program, to hell with them.

    This thread is here to discuss, objectively, the direction of this program. Those of us who love Alabama basketball are tired of settling for making the NIT and losing to most decent teams we play. We are tired of playing in front of half-empty arenas.

    It's painfully obvious that certain things need to change if we want to compete nationally again. That doesn't mean canning CAG and starting over. If you want to measure this program against a bunch of other shatty teams who have no chance of making the tournament, then I'd contend that YOU are the one running this program into the ground. DEMAND BETTER.

    When was the last time this program was ranked for more than 2-3 straight weeks? When I was in school, not long ago, Alabama achieved it's first and only #1 ranking in school history. We made 5 straight NCAA tournaments. We made our only Elite 8.

    THAT is the type of program we should demand, and CAG may very well be the guy to get us there. I'm not making an assertion one way or the other. But ignorant fans who are content because we barely beat other awful teams who don't care about winning big embarrass me. People point to a 10-3 record in the SEC, but guess what? If we don't beat Florida, we'll be in the NIT again. I'm tired of having to back-door our way into the big tournament when the at large field is more watered down than it's been in 20 years.

    This post was edited by NashTide 14 months ago

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  • You say you are being objective but other than your "5 pros" in the 1st post every point you make is negative. And even some of your pros had a negative twist to them. If you don't want to can Grant, then what do you propose we do? I also believe if we win out in the reg season and lose to Florida we will be in the field.

  • I added stats to support that in my opinion the guards have shown some improvement. No they are not drastically better, but it is better than staying the same or going backwards. The 3 point % could have been horrid again, but its not. In your opinion I guess there hasn't been improvement. But can you honesty watch TL this year and say, nah he is not any better than last year?

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  • There's not a lot any of us as individuals can do right now - right this second - other than support the team. And I personally am doing what I can. I've been to games and practices this year. I've already got tickets to a road game coming up in Oxford and I traveled up to Vandy. That doesn't make me special - but I'm not just some schmuck griping behind his keyboard either.

    But from a big-picture perspective, there needs to be a groundswell of interest in this program - legitimate interest. With that, in my opinion, comes discussion about the direction we're heading. If we as fans aren't interested and passionate, we shouldn't expect Mal to be passionate.

    I'm just generally tired of watching our games and having to labor through them, and I'd like us to make the NCAA tournament and have a puncher's chance of advancing. Eeking out games against abhorrent competition doesn't inspire me that we're primed for any kind of run in the postseason.

    I'm not trying to be an azzhole about it - I just want to see improvement because I, and many others, care about this program. Re: my positives being somewhat negative...I'm doing my best. Aside from being on the bubble and having a shot at winning a league that will probably only get 2-3 teams into the tournament, I'm struggling to find much else.

    Let's flip it - what positives and negatives do you see?

    This post was edited by NashTide 14 months ago

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  • The thing that bothers me about Jacobs is how soft he is; he gets pushed around way too much for a 260 pounder.

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  • The "Fire Anthony Grant" push is pretty dumb. At least this season. If we fire Anthony Grant for finishing 2nd in the league (assumption), then who in the world are we going to convince to come here to attempt to build something long term? If the product on the court isn't substantially improved next season, then by all means let's look for other options for our program. I personally have faith in Coach Grant. Our wins aren't always pretty, but we are still in a much better position than most other teams in the SEC.

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  • 1tide

    Right now it doesn't matter what the fans want. I'm not a huge fan overall. But even I can see he's done nothing that warrants losing his job imho. & if he does. We should bend over & take the bad press that would result should it happen.

    New Member of The 247 Crew!

  • I'm not trying to be a @$$ hole either. I appreciate your care and enthusiasm. I am right there with you about wanting to have a bball program to be proud of. I just am going to hold off judgement until we get some legitimate post players. ( I know it's his 4th year yada yada). But Moussa and Jacobs were suppose to be better than they are, so between those 2 not living up to their 4 star grades and Carls injury, the staff is really handcuffed down low. I will criticize the fact that they have not forced NJ to develop a right hand. That's junior high school crap that is fixable and at a college level is inexcusable. I agree with your pros and I think that R cooper will really be a weapon fr us this year and down the road. When he moves back to his normal position (3 guard) next year, he can really be a match up problem for defenses. I have been VERY pleased with his progression from year 1 to year 2

  • If he just gave out scholarships to meet numbers, then he would be faulted for that.

    I would hate to see the criticism if the team had a losing record.