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Rue's Rant on College Sports in Alabama


November 30, 2009 7:48 PM

Alabama basketball team showing early prowess

jamychal green old-spice photo.jpgIt's still early, but Alabama men's basketball team is on the verge of becoming relevant again.

 

With their 68-66 upset victory against No. 15 Michigan on Sunday, the Crimson Tide finished third in the Old Spice Classic in Florida and served notice they could be better than expected this season.

 

"When you get a game that's highly contested during the month of November that speaks volumes about college basketball," first-year Alabama head coach Anthony Grant said in media reports after the victory. "I'm really proud of our guys and the effort they put forth. Our guys had to stay together and stay the course and we overcame some things that was a great growing experience for our team."

 

Alabama went 2-1 in the tournament with a 79-76 opening-round victory against Baylor and a 60-51 second-round loss to Florida State.

 

 

 

Alabama forward JaMychal Green (32)

blocks a shot by Michigan guard Darius

Morris during the first half of their game.

(AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)


The Crimson Tide enters December with a 4-2 record. Their other loss was 71-67 to Cornell, the defending Ivy League champion, in their season-opener, but that is balanced by their 84-75 win against Providence.

 

Of the Tide's next eight games before Southeastern Conference play begins, six fall into the "should win" or "sure win" category. The notable exceptions are against Purdue at home on Dec. 12 and against Kansas State on Dec. 19 in Mobile. The Tide could have at least 10 wins, heading into their SEC schedule in January

 

Alabama appears to be getting comfortable in Grant's up-tempo style of play, especially on defense where the Tide is holding opponents to 42.7 percent field goal shooting and forcing 12.8 turnovers per game.

 

Sophomore forward JaMychal Green is flourishing. He was named to the Old Spice Classic all-tournament team after averaging 17.0 points and 7.0 blocked shots in the three games. Against Michigan, he had 20 points, seven rebounds and four blocks, and clinched the victory with a put-back dunk with 5.4 seconds left and then blocked a game-tying shot attempt as time expired.

 

Senior guard Mikhail Torrance also is off to a good start, averaging 15.8 points.

 

After three consecutive seasons without a NCAA Tournament appearance, two consecutive seasons without a postseason berth other than the SEC Tournament and the midseason resignation of former head coach Mark Gottfried during last season, the Tide should contend in the SEC West, which, unlike the SEC East with Kentucky and Tennessee, doesn't have a dominant team.

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