Sunday, January 31, 2010

basketball-blogging, whit-heath style, part iii

Editor's Note: With the basketball team coming off a stinging loss at Auburn on Saturday, now seems like the right time to renew basketball thoughts with my brother Whit, aspiring hoops coach, all-around hardwood junkie and current youth director at Trinity UMC in Tuscaloosa. As always, feel free to add your own thoughts in the commentary section below.
Just a reminder: the boys are at home Thursday against Florida, coming off its own stinging road defeat. Tip is at 6.

1. We've been playing basketball for more than 2 months now, and we've played 6 SEC games (SEC record: 2-4). What are your impressions of the product you currently see on the floor? What are our strengths? Our liabilities? Anything surprise you? And what are your impressions of Grant, from a pure Xs and Os standpoint?
I've been very impressed with the product that Coach Grant has put on the court this season. I honestly didn't expect too much for this season because I don't know that it would be fair of me to expect a lot from a coach in his first season. I've been consistently impressed with the defensive effort that the team has put forth thus far. I understand that we're leading the SEC in defense and holding teams to 30% of what they usually score which is impressive no matter how many games you've won and lost.
I would say that defense is the biggest strength that this team possesses. It's a lot of fun to watch our guys press teams and have turnovers turn into easy layups and dunks. That kind of basketball is tons of fun to watch. If our guys start to hit together at the right time, they could make a run at the SEC tourney....until they have to face a team that plays good zone defense.
Against Auburn, Jeff Lebo put his team into a great situation towards the end of the game by running a 2-3 zone instead of the man defense that they had been in the entire game. I have watched a lot of bama basketball this season, and I have yet to see the Alabama basketball team consistently beat a zone defense. That is a huge problem, and the lack of production against zone D is directly related to the fact that Bama does not have a pure shooter. Charvez Davis, Anthony Brock, and Mikhail Torrnace can shoot the ball well sometimes, but they're not consistent enough to beat a zone defense, and surely not consistent enough to hit three pointers with the game on the line. There are guys in the recreation center on campus who could walk on and be the best three point shooter on the team.
As for Coach Grant, I'm mildly impressed. I love the different presses that we run, but I still don't get to see many offensive sets that impress me. We do run plays to get the ball into the hot players' hand, but it's not very impressive to see 3 guys running an offense and have the other two standing still. Most of out offense comes from fast breaks and off of I suppose that the fast break points will come as long as the defensive intensity is still there.

2. As I'm typing this, I'm looking at our field goal percentages as a team, as well as the percentages of the entire league. And, um, they're not good. As a team, Alabama currently shoots just over 45 percent from the floor (6th best in the SEC), and just over 33 percent from 3 (9th in the league). Statistically, the best 2 shooters not named Andrew Steele (who, in keeping with family tradition, is out for the season with an injury) are Mikhail Torrance and Anthony Brock, neither of whom shoot even 40 percent from 3.
All of that to set up the question: who gets the ball for us in crunch time? And is there any reason to believe we should have faith in that person?

Mikhail Torrance definitely gets the ball in crunch time. He is by far the person that I would trust the most with the ball in his hands. He can create for other players, has a wonderful left-handed finish at the basket, and can shoot the ball off the dribble well enough...I don't think I can explain anything more than that. I wish I could, but I can't.

3. We know by now that Kentucky is awesome. Any teams outside of Kentucky that might surprise some people this winter? And where do you see 'Bama fitting into that picture? What do you think we have to do to make some noise come tournament time?
Don't ask this question...I have no idea how to answer it any further than I already have.

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