Last season's Alabama game was one of the most fun of the season. We went into a charged atmosphere, especially after Mark Ingram won the Heisman, and fell behind big before making a dramatic comeback to pretty much rip out a team's soul. There were tons of Kramer Moments in the game. There was even a fan ejection from the student section. Since it was out first true road game of the season, it set the tone for our hard earned road wins in Big Ten play.
This year will be a little different. There is no Kramer or Hummel, but Alabama comes in worse thant hey were last year. Last season they were a tad snakebitten. They lost a ton of close games, often to very good comeptition. As long as the Crimson Tide has played in the continental U.S. this year they have been fine. Unfortuantely, the only real competition they have played was outside the continental U.S. when they lost all three games in the Paradise Jam to Seton Hall, Iowa, and St. Peters.
I guess that is what happens when you concentrate on football and lead in college football picks.
2009-10 Record: 17-15, (6-10 SEC)
Postseason Result: none
2010-11 Record: 4-3
Blog Representation: Roll Bama Roll
Series with Purdue: Purdue leads 4-2
Last Alabama win: 85-77 2OT on 3/23/01 at Purdue (NIT quarterfinals)
|Charles Hankerson Jr||7||12.7||1.4||3.1||45.5||0.6||1.7||33.3||0.3||1.0||28.6||0.3||1.3||1.6||0.7||0.9||0.7||0.0||0.4||3.7|
Many of the same big names from last year's team return. JaMychal Green and Senario Hillman are back as two of their three leading scorers. Green had 16 points and eight rebounds agaisnt us, while Hillman had a more quiet five and one. Tony Mitchell had seven points against us, but is a developing 6'6" sophomore forward. I really expected more out of Alabama this year. All three of these guys saw a lot of minutes last season. Not only did they play us close, but they played Kentucky, Cornell, Kansas State, and Tennessee close. All five of those teams reached at least the Sweet 16, so they played well against good competition.
Green, Hillman, and Mitchell may still be putting it together. The four wins have come against Florida A&M, Troy, Alabama A&M, and South Alabama. Those aren't great teams, but the trip to the Virgin Islands was a disaster. Seton Hall and Iowa are going to finish near the bottom of their respective major conferences, and St. Peter's is a bad, bad loss. Because of this, we're the toughest team they have faced so far. The Paradise Jam was a winnable tournament for them, possibly springboarding them to an at large NCAA bid and boosting our schedule. Now they have a big hole to dig out of.
This needs to be a game in which we work on rebounding, especially with the Hanson Brothers. JaJuan Johnson will have a size advantage against everyone except 7'1" Carl Engstrom, but Mitchell, Chris Hines, and Green are good rebounders. It was disturbing to see how many box outs we missed last night. That is 75% of rebounding, and we can greatly improve in this area if we just start boxing out. It surprises me that we have this fundamental flaw on a Matt Painter coached team. Mitchell, Green, and Hines are particularly solid on the offensive glass.
Fortunately, this is not a high scoring team. They rank 212th nationally in scoring and they shoot only 46% from the floor. Our defense is capable of hassling them into worse numbers. They do take care of the basketball fairly well, and they have more than 100 team assists.
Ultimately, nothing really stands out on this team. They are easily the best team we're going to face until hosting Northwestern to open conference play, but they still aren't exactly an NCAA Tournament team. This is a critical game to improve on our offense and work on rebounding. I have no doubt that the ability to develop a third scorer is there. We looked too good in the first four games to tell me otherwise even if it was against poor competition. The rebounding can be worked on as well. We have to decide we want to do it. I think we work on these things and win a lot more comfortably than we did last year.