Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Vision in place: Anthony Grant hopes to improve through consistent play, recruiting


Alabama men’s basketball coach Anthony Grant is not a preacher. He clarified this twice over the course of 24 hours, but that didn’t stop him from sharing the good news of his vision for Alabama basketball.

Despite a disappointing season that started with the unexpected loss of three Alabama starters and ended with a 13-19 record, Grant said he remains hopeful about the future of the Crimson Tide basketball program.

“Going into my sixth year here, the vision for us is to put this program in a position where we’re a consistent participant in the postseason and the NCAA tournament, to put ourselves in a position where we can play for championships,” Grant said. “We’ve got to be consistent in terms of our approach to what we’re doing and the way we’re doing it, and not worried about the distractions or the sideshow that goes along with being where we are. We can’t control that. We’ve got to stay focused on the task at hand.”

(See also “Tide prepares for SEC tournament play“)

That message earned the backing of UA Athletic Director Bill Battle, who wrote a blog post supporting Grant at the end of the season.

“For myself and my family, we’re appreciative of the support,” Grant said. “For me, it’s about trying to get this program where it needs to be and put ourselves in position where we compete for championships. I think that’s what coach Battle expects, that’s what I expect, and that’s what our fans and supporters expect, as they should. I’m certainly appreciative of his confidence and his support. I understand what we’ve got to be able to do.”

Alabama will lose senior guard Trevor Releford, who leaves Alabama as the fourth leading scorer in program history. Along with the senior, redshirt junior Carl Engstrom will leave Tuscaloosa to pursue professional options in Europe, and junior Algie Key will transfer from Alabama to an unspecified school.

“For [Engstrom], being here for four years, earning his degree, wanting to have an opportunity to continue to pursue basketball – I think he looks at it as finding a situation professionally, being from Europe, where he can continue his development as a player,” Grant said. “We certainly are grateful for all of his contributions and all that he’s done over the course of his career.

“For [Key], I think it’s probably very similar. It’s just a situation where he wants more of an opportunity to play more consistent minutes, to play a bigger role. For these guys, you get one opportunity to be a student-athlete and to enjoy having success on the court. I completely understand wanting a bigger opportunity, and we certainly wish him the best of luck as well.”

(See also “Releford, Alabama knock out Razorbacks on Senior Day“)

In response to those losses, Alabama will continue to recruit for the upcoming season, seeking to add to an incoming crop that includes three of the top recruits in the South and the renewed eligibility of transfers Michael Kessens and Ricky Tarrant.

“We’re actively recruiting,” Grant said. “We’ve had an opportunity to go out and visit with some potential recruits, and we’re certainly looking to add some more pieces if possible.”

The status of junior Nick Jacobs remains unclear, although the forward has resumed workouts with the team. After a conference with Grant, Jacobs took a leave of absence from the team Feb. 18 and has not returned.

“Nothing’s really changed there, with [Jacobs],” Grant said. “He and I have met and talked, and I think Nick understands some of the things that we need to continue to monitor and pursue as we move forward.”

The 2013-14 season was disappointing for Grant and many Alabama fans, but the coach will not spend time dwelling on what might have been. Grant said his evaluation process is one built for constant improvement.

“Every year, every offseason, I always evaluate,” Grant said. “I think no matter where you are as a coach, I think in any sport, whether you win your last game and you’re a champion, or you lose and you’re not in the postseason, I think you always are in the process of trying to evaluate where you can get better. I think that’s a never-ending process. At the end of the day, it comes down to the results. … You’re always trying to get better. You’re always trying to improve.”

Grant broke that process down to one central responsibility.

“We have to get better,” Grant said. “That’s really what it’s all about.”

(See also “Now is not the time to give up on Anthony Grant“)

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