Friday, November 20, 2009

basketball-blogging, whit-heath style (with apologies to my wife)

Editor's Note: Because basketball season has officially started, and our beloved Crimson Tide is set to host a big game tonight vs. Providence, here's a basketball-related q-and-a with my brother Whit, aspiring basketball coach and currently the live-in interim youth minister at Trinity UMC in Tuscaloosa. You may remember him from such earlier blogs as Mark Gottfried Makes Me Angry and Wow, Does Mark Gottfried Make Me Angry. Hopefully if this works, we can arrange a similar running feature throughout basketball season (by the end of the season, my wife may have her own running feature entitled, "This Week's Version of Why Basketball Pisses Me Off"). Also, once the season begins in earnest, bear in mind that the definitive 'Bama bball blog is the aptly named Bama Hoops.

Before we go on, here's some Anthony Grant love, via commercial:

Q: In your opinion, what was Mark Gottfried's biggest undoing as 'Bama head coach? What would you do to correct that undoing if you were new head coach Anthony Grant?

A: I think that Mark Gottfried's biggest undoing while at 'Bama was his personality. I thought that he was a great recruiter and an average motivator (remember his really awkward fist pumps?), but I got the feeling that he was far too nice to be a successful coach. From what I understand, the players basically treated him like one of the guys and walked all over him. Do I think that Coach Gottfried could have won at Alabama? Sure. Unfortunately, for Mark G, he had a team of players that didn't seem to respect his decisions or play calls. We both know that a situation like that can do nothing but get worse with time. It was clear, at the end of last season, that something was wrong. It took me until this past summer to fully understand how serious the problem was. Good friend of mine has been working with the basketball team since the summer practices started. I'm pretty confident that Coach Grant will not have the same problem that Mark G had. The team went through some pretty serious workouts this summer, and I was able to watch the team practice at the rec center a few times. Their workouts were pretty intense from what I could tell, and each player had to hit a certain number of shots at different spots on the floor before they could leave. I will say that I don't expect too much from 'Bama Basketball this season, but I doubt there are many teams that could run with Coach Grant's boys if they find the right rotation of players.

Q: Who's the most important player on this 2010 squad, if we have any chance of being successful?

A: I think the most important player for this year's squad is Mikhail Torrance. He is the senior point guard who will be running the show for Coach Grant this year. He handles the ball well and makes some pretty good decisions, but he has been known to get tunnel vision when he drives (the majority of the time to a left-handed, fall away, banked layup). Another aspect of the game that 'Bama has got to improve - rebounding and outlet passes. They're not overly intimidating in the front court, but if Bama can learn how to get position and box out - and from there get the ball up the court to the guards who should be breaking towards half court as the rebound comes off the glass....I think they can do well. I know I'm asking a lot by saying that a group of college basketball players should revert to the fundamentals that they learned in high-school, but a guy named Vince Lombardi once said, "Excellence is achieved by the mastery of fundamentals," and that guy ended up being reasonably successful sticking to the fundamentals.

Q: In your opinion, what would make this season successful (and don't say: "Receiving the ODK trophy at halftime of the AU game in February")?

A: I think that 'Bama will beat some teams that they shouldn't beat this season. I'd love to see the guys win a game or two in the SEC tourney, but with the way the SEC West is stacking up...that might be a little too much to ask. This year is considered a success if Bama can win about 70 percent of their games, and keep people healthy.

Q: Realistically, what can we expect from 'Bama basketball this winter?

A: Realistically, I think you can expect Alabama to continue the trend of playing people close in the first half like they did for the majority of their games last year. I think Coach Grant's conditioning and workout programs could make it possible for our guys to play teams tough throughout the entire game. That would be nice.

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