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

Tide basketball the real deal

Alabama is a football school. There is no doubt about that and no point in arguing otherwise. Each year, the expectations just get higher. A down year is a ten-win season and a blowout in a big bowl game. A good year is possibly losing a game and competing for a national championship. An expected year is an undefeated season and a national championship.

Such is the life of the modern day Alabama football fan: overinflated expectations and overwhelming energy leading to big games.

Throughout the course of my life, Alabama basketball has never had that luxury. Sure, there was that time many years ago we made an incredible run in the NCAA tournament into the Elite Eight. That amazing accomplishment was only followed by regression and mediocrity in the dwindling years of the Mark Gottfried era.

Then came Anthony Grant. It may have taken him a few years, but he finally has the world recognizing him. After one game in the 2011 season, expectations may be the highest they have been since the Wimp Sanderson era of the ‘80s.

The Tide, led by three returning starters and a flurry of dynamic freshmen, is currently ranked No. 16 in the nation, according to the Associated Press. What Grant has done in his third year coaching the team is turn a program in the doldrums into an early SEC contender.

Gone is the anemic Gottfried high-post offense. Gone are the inconsistent lineups and attitude problems that Tide fans have grown accustomed to.

The 2011 team is by no means polished, but they are hungry and willing to put in the effort to become a tournament-ready team. While the team loses two senior starters in Chris Hines and Charvez Davis, they return the core group of a team that went undefeated at home and made it to the NIT championship in New York.

Back is JaMychal Green. The former McDonald’s All-American has had a roller-coaster career at the Capstone. Finally in his senior season, Green seems to have developed the maturity and discipline to lead a team to its first NCAA tournament since 2006.

Trevor Releford and Tony Mitchell also return. Mitchell is one of the more athletic players in the SEC. He also provides a substantial mismatch to many teams, as there are not many players that can contain his 6’6 frame, along with his jumping ability and speed.

Releford’s ball control and awareness is what separated him from most freshmen in the SEC last year. Grant has “given him the keys” to this year’s team, and he will be called on to lead a backcourt that predominantly consists of freshmen.

This team is the real deal. Coach Grant pulled in possibly the best basketball recruiting class this university has ever seen and each of them is prepared to compete.

The only things missing are the fans. This team feeds off of crowd energy. They proved that last year with their stunning undefeated record at home. It is up to the student body to rally around this team and make Coleman Coliseum a truly difficult place to compete.

If the student section in Bryant-Denny Stadium can be completely full two and a half hours before a football game, there is no excuse for Coleman to not be filled every home game.

As Grant says in every pregame video, it is time to make Tuscaloosa one of the hardest places to play in the country. This team has the leadership and talent to bring Alabama basketball to a level it has never been before. All it needs is the support.


Jake Gray is a senior majoring in economics and journalism. His column runs on Tuesdays.

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