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

Redefining Bama’s basketball program

Shannon Auvil

When college football experts are asked to compile a list of the top five programs of all time, Alabama is almost always on the list alongside a revolving door of candidates like Oklahoma, USC, Notre Dame and Michigan, to name a few.

Coming up tonight at 8:30 p.m., the Alabama men’s basketball team has the opportunity to face one of those teams in college basketball: Georgetown. Georgetown is consistently ranked near the top when looking at program history with schools like Kentucky, Kansas, North Carolina, Duke, UCLA and Maryland.

While the mystique around going to a prestigious football school is appealing to some, some students feel the same way about going to basketball schools.

“It’s not nearly as exciting as going to a football school,” said Kevin Joseph, writer for The Voice, a weekly student news magazine at Georgetown. “Every football game is going to be a huge deal, especially because [Alabama] is one of the best teams in the country. In basketball, there are more games, so you see the ups and downs more.”

Another difference is in the attention recruiting gets.

“It gets attention right around midnight madness, then again in the offseason,” Joseph said. “You don’t really follow it as much because you only follow two or three guys instead of so many other people to keep up with.”

Differences will be present when comparing sports as different as football and basketball, but there are still common points. Just like Alabama students pack Bryant-Denny Stadium for big home games, the Hoyas do the same for the Verizon Center.

“That mentality only comes out for the big games,” Joseph said. “If Duke comes to town, when Syracuse comes to town, you’ll see people camping out the night before. Then it’s a good environment.”

Alabama football and Georgetown basketball share another common link: tradition.

“Tradition has a huge presence at Georgetown,” Joseph said. “It goes way back to the John Hopkins, Jr. days, culminating with a title in 1984. The program was on the map before then. Now, going to the NIT is not ok.”

With the recent success of the Alabama basketball program under head coach Anthony Grant, the Crimson Tide has been seeing an increase in popularity. When asked if basketball will ever rival Alabama football, Joseph was skeptical.

“Football is such a beast that I don’t think it’s a realistic aspiration to have,” he said. “If you look at schools that have both big football and big basketball programs, football is way more popular. Florida is just now getting to be consistent, and it’s always football there. It’s the same at Ohio State. So few can do both at the same time. Look at Kansas and Kentucky.”

However, Joseph did give the Crimson Tide basketball program hope, if the program is able to rally behind Grant.

“It’s always in a great coach,” Joseph said. “Billy Donovan at Florida and John Thompson III [at Georgetown].”

Joseph added, “I would say [Alabama] has done it the correct way. The only thing [Alabama] needs to do is sustain success. [Alabama] has to get good recruiting classes and cannot drop out of the top 25 when [JaMychal] Green leaves.”

Looking at the upcoming matchup of the dominant power against the rising program, the Tide will have to stop one of the nation’s oldest and most effective offenses: the Princeton offense, which relies on almost nonstop off-ball screens and cuts to the basket in order to get easy lay-up chances.

The Princeton offense also revolves around having four players on the court that can do it all, ranging from making three point attempts consistently to driving the lane effectively, to the point where the differences between the point guard, shooting guard, small forward and power forward positions are almost unnoticeable.

“We’re going to do what we do,” Grant said. “Obviously they are a very dangerous offensive team. They have a lot of different weapons from the perimeter and in the post, and they have great size at every position.”

Joseph is a supporter of the Princeton offense, but said that many on campus feel like it does not utilize the superior athletes Georgetown has. However, Georgetown has seen success with the Princeton offense as of late, riding it to a berth in the final four of the NCAA tournament in 2007.


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