Schedules can be cruel at times. In 2011, the Alabama football team faced a triple-option attack from FCS opponent Georgia Southern and gave up 21 points at home, more than it had given up to any other team for the entirety of the national championship season.
But they can also be the head coach’s best ally. The 2012 Georgia Bulldogs beat that same Georgia Southern program the week before facing rival Georgia Tech, which ended in a 42-14 blowout victory after the Bulldogs had the chance to schedule one triple-option team the week before facing another, turning one of football’s most complex offenses into just another easy week for the SEC East champions.
The latter holds true for the Alabama basketball team, as Tide coach Anthony Grant noted the incredible similarities between Virginia Commonwealth, the team that beat the Crimson Tide by 19 points on Saturday, and Texas Tech, which Alabama will play Wednesday.
“From a defensive standpoint, they play similar to VCU,” Grant said. “They’re going to press a lot. They’re forcing about 18 or 19 turnovers a game. They play extremely fast offensively: when you score, they really race the ball up the floor on you. Very similar situation to what we just faced in terms of taking care of the basketball and executing offensively.
“We’ve got to be able to get back defensively and be able to prevent easy baskets.”
However, the opponent is not the focus for the Tide for now: all attention is within the program.
“My main message has been that we have to get better as a basketball team,” Grant said. “I say this to the guys a lot: basketball is a game of habits.”
But not specific habits. While some particular defensive issues, like the Tide allowing Dayton and VCU to combine to shoot 39 percent from three-point range, Grant has his focus on the overall product over certain features.
“I wouldn’t say I’m going top point fingers and say perimeter defense,” he said. “I’d say there is a lot of things we need to do to be better to be able to win.”
There is also the possibility that the early success Alabama had has
made its recent collapse as hard as it has been.
“When we won six in a row, there were some things that winning brings in terms of a confidence level, but there are some things that get put in the shadows a little bit that you need to get better at,” Grant said. “We lose three in a row and all of a sudden, those things get heightened and you see things you weren’t aware of.”
Contributed by Brett Hudson