Wednesday, February 16, 2011

state of Bama basketball, per coach Heath

With Alabama's feet now planted firmly on the NCAA bubble, it seems like the right time to bring back my brother Whit Heath, aspiring basketball coach and avid watcher of hoops around the world (be sure to check out his upcoming book, "I'm Thinking Seriously About Murdering Everyone in Mark's Madness"). For perspective, be sure to check out Whit's posts (here and here) from around this time last season. And as always, feel free to join the conversation at any point by commenting here or by finding me on Twitter.

will: How nit-picky are we allowed to be with a team that's 8-2 in conference, 1st place in the SEC & 2-3 plays away from being undefeated?
Whit: I don't know that we, as Alabama basketball fans, are ever able to be "nit-picky." I do think that I have been a little critical over the past few years, but don't find myself doing that this year. The only reason that I can find for not being so critical this year is that this team will play hard every game, and they will not give up at any point. I think in prior years I have been very skeptical of the Alabama program because they seemed to not show up for a few games, but that hasn't happened this year. They have been in every game that they have played, and they have been fun to watch.

will: Why do we continue to go to Jamychal in crunch time, even though he's clearly terrified?
Whit: I don't think JaMychal is terrified by any means. I do think that he is trying to do too much in those situations. In the Vanderbilt game, for example, he ran a pick-n-pop with Tony Mitchell. JaMychal received the ball just inside the three point line, and he then chose to drive it in and got forced out-of-bounds. I like the play call because it gives Mitchell the option and he made the right decision because both defenders crashed on him which left JaMychal open. I like everything about the play except JaMychal's decision to drive (note: not dribble-drive, just drive). He had a great look at the basket when he received the ball. The shot is well within his range. I would've much rather seen him take the wide open jump shot with his body squared towards the basket than drive the ball towards all of the defenders.

will: What would you have said to the SEC had you been coach Grant after the Vandy game?
Whit: Whatever my thoughts, I'm sure that they wouldn't have been politically correct. To tell you the truth, I probably would've lost my mind long before the end of that game. I do think that Coach Grant did a wonderful job of showing me that he is awake, alive, and passionate about what's happening during the game, unlike his predecessor.

will: Give your assessment of Trevor Releford, good and bad.
Whit: Releford is amazing in the open court. I love watching him. I do think he tries to do too much at some times during the games, but those are the times when Alabama is tired and have very little movement in their offensive sets. I think he's going to be a great player if he will allow Coach Grant to coach him and mentor him much like Grant did for Eric Maynor at VCU.

will: Is this really happening?
Whit: Yes, it is really happening.

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