TUSCALOOSA, Alabama — The Alabama baseball team went through its first practice Friday afternoon, the first day allowed for official practice by NCAA rules.
“Opening day of practice is always an exciting day for the players and coaches,” fourth-year Crimson Tide head coach Mitch Gaspard said. “For us, we’ve had a good fall and have been working hard the last couple weeks and we’ll start intrasquads tomorrow. We’re excited as we move forward, but we know we still have a lot of work to do before the season opener.”
The Tide will have intrasquad scrimmages Saturday and Sunday, which are open to the public and free of charge. The team will take the field Saturday at 10 a.m., with first pitch for the intrasquad scheduled for 11:30 a.m. Sunday’s practice will start at 1 p.m., with first pitch for the intrasquad slated for 2 p.m.
Alabama will have 21 practice days to prepare for the season opener against VMI on Feb. 15 at Sewell-Thomas Stadium.
Alabama’s Kaitlyn Clark competes on the uneven bars during the Power of Pink meet against Kentucky. (AP photo by Michelle Lepianka Carter of The Tuscaloosa News)
TUSCALOOSA, Alabama — After last week’s win over LSU, Alabama gymnastics coach Sarah Patterson poked and proded at her team to pick up its conditioning level.
She got just that Friday night, especially in clutch situations, as the Crimson Tide beat Kentucky 196.575-194.8 in front of 15,075 fans in Coleman Coliseum for the Power of Pink meet supporting breast cancer. The meet was the 10th sellout in program history, the ninth in the last eight years.
“As the girls said, tonight wasn’t about the scores necessarily, it was about the survivors,” Patterson said. “What touched me most was not the 17 survivors we had on the floor, but they asked all breast cancer survivors to stand and then all cancer survivors to stand. To see the number of people that have battled, I think it’s amazing.”
One key finish came from Kayla Williams on the balance beam, who saw Marissa Gutierrez fall to open the event but managed a 9.9. The routine, coming off the heels of a disappointing performance last week, was so satisfying that
she celebrated before saluting the judges.
“I went out there and I knew what I had to do,” Williams said. “We had a fall earlier in the lineup and I didn’t want us to have to count one.
“I was struggling a couple of times in my routine when I did a skill good to not smile and get excited and when I stuck my dismount, I couldn’t hold it any longer.”
In the next and final event, Ashley Sledge turned in a 9.875 to turn the momentum after Sarah DeMeo started the event with a 9.5.
The Tide ended the floor exercise with three straight scores of 9.9 or above, as Gutierrez scored a 9.9, Kim Jacob scored a 9.925 and Diandra Milliner anchored the event with a 9.9.
“I did like that tonight, we finished it on floor,” Patterson said. “Last week we had some problems and it’s great to see your athletes come and finish strong.”
Jacob finished strong as an individual also, shaking off a near fall on balance beam to win her 3rd all-around crown in as many meets. Jacob’s strong finish stemmed more from the previous six months than the two hours in front of the crowd.
“She doesn’t surprise me because what she does is the same thing she does day-in and day-out,” Patterson said. “She is without a doubt one of the hardest-working young ladies in the last three years and she doesn’t just do it in the gym: she does it in the weight room.”
Pink light illuminates the concourse at Coleman Coliseum. (Copyright photo by Brett Hudson)
T-shirts and shakers for fans tonight. (Copyright photo by Brett Hudson)
TUSCALOOSA, Alabama — No. 5-ranked Alabama will take on No. 15 Kentucky tonight at 7:30 in its ninth annual Power of Pink meet.
“This is going to be another amazing Power of Pink meet,” Tide head coach Sarah Patterson said. “To be able to look up into the stands and see everyone dressed in pink and supporting the fight against breast cancer in this way is pretty amazing. It’s something our ladies really look forward to.”
Landmarks all over campus and throughout the Tuscaloosa community have been lit in pink in anticipation of Friday’s meet, including Coleman Coliseum, Denny Chimes, the Bama Theatre and the Harrison Gallery. Inside the Coliseum on Friday night, Patterson encourages everyone to “Think pink and wear pink” in support of the cause. Before the meet, 18 breast cancer survivors will be introduced in tandem with the Alabama gymnasts, a tradition that is now in its fourth year.
“On this night, the ladies put aside their honors and accolades, and they’re introduced one at a time, with a survivor,” Patterson said. “Last year the woman who was introduced with Geralen (Stack-Eaton) said `They didn’t mention your championships.’ And Geralen said “Oh no ma’am, tonight it’s about you, you’re the champion.’ And I think that says it all.”
Kentucky is off to a strong start this season at 4-1 overall and 2-0 in Southeastern Conference competition and is coming off back-to-back wins over SEC foes Auburn and Arkansas.
TUSCALOOSA, Alabama — Stretches of the basketball season have seen the Crimson Tide go 14 days without a win, notably the beginning of December (0-3 in 19 days). Now that the Tide is riding a four-game win streak, all against SEC teams, Alabama has a different challenge: playing the same team twice in two weeks.
“We just played Tennessee two weeks ago, a game that came down to the wire, that we were really fortunate to win,” Alabama coach Anthony Grant said at a news conference. “We’re dealing with a team that, for lack of a better cliche, is kind of a wounded animal right now walking into their own building.
“It’s different, because we’re both familiar with each other. Obviously, we can both look at that game and I’m sure they’re looking at it thinking, ‘If we did A, B and C a little different, the outcome could’ve been different.”
Alabama’s home win was diluted by junior guard Jordan McRae‘s performance, scoring 21 of Tennessee’s 65 points and shooting 57 percent from the floor.
“I’d say right now, he’d be among the leading vote-getters for player of the year in the league,” Grant said. “He’s just a really good player. They put him in a lot of spots — sometimes he’s at point, sometimes he’s at the wing.”
McRae’s breakout season means nothing to the Tide, as it hopes nothing can reverse the positive trend it has enjoyed in Knoxville recently.
“We haven’t lost there since I’ve been here, so I fully expect us to go in there and try to get a win,” Tide redshirt senior guard Andrew Steele said. “It’s a great arena. It’s always a great atmosphere.
“No matter how loud the crowd will be, they can’t come out and control what happens on the court. That’s where our focus has to be.”
Alabama head coach Anthony Grant’s team hasn’t practiced lately the way he would like. (AP photo by Al Behrman)
TUSCALOOSA, Alabama — Crimson Tide basketball coach Anthony Grant never has been one who doesn’t get to the point. But his thoughts on the way his team has practiced since upsetting Kentucky on Tuesday had a little more direct punch to them than usual.
“Honestly, based on yesterday’s practice, we didn’t handle it very well,” Grant said today during a news conference. “We’ve got to be able to lock in and understand what we’re walking into and who we are as a basketball team. We’re dealing with a basketball team that’s eager and hungry.”
Redshirt senior guard Andrew Steele added, “We can’t get satisfied by winning those games. We have to realize there’s a big goal ahead of us. There’s a process and we have to stay committed to it.”
Staying committed to said process is more difficult now that wins are coming along, and Grant recognizes that.
“I think it’s human nature, and sometimes we have to fight that,” Grant said. “As a coach, do I like it? No. Do I understand it? Yeah. We’ve got to fight that and we’ve got to understand what we’re walking into (at Tennessee).”
Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel participated in a neat trick shot video that’s sweeping the web. Lots of folks are talking about this, and I figured you might want to see what’s causing so much conversation.
Although this is an Alabama-specific blog, I’m posting the Johnny Football video because he’s a Tide rival, was very public in his support of Alabama in the BCS National Championship Game, and has developed friendships with Crimson Tide players such as Robert Lester and AJ McCarron. It seems as if anybody who meets him winds up liking him just about right away.
The video is nearly six minutes, but watch to the end. That’s the best trick shot.
Alabama guard Daisha Simmons (0) shoots against Auburn center Peyton Davis (34) during the first half. (AP photo by Michelle Lepianka Carter of The Tuscaloosa News)
TUSCALOOSA, Alabama — Alabama’s Shafontaye Myers poured in a career-high 23 points to lift the Crimson Tide over rival Auburn 61-51 on Thursday night.
Her two 3-point shots sparked a 17-5 run in the last 7:53 of the first half, giving Alabama a 30-20 halftime lead and propelling the Tide to the win.
“I came in with confidence, I felt good like I do before every game,” Myers said. “I was like ‘If you get me the ball, I’m going to knock it down.’ ”
The run saw Alabama’s Alicia Mitcham come down with six rebounds, one on the offensive side that resulted in two second-chance points. Auburn’s biggest threat, Blanche Alverson, was limited to 1-of-4 shooting in the same span as Auburn scored a season low in points.
“On the defensive end of the floor, I could feel it from the beginning of the game,” Alabama coach Wendell Hudson said. “We did a good job of making the extra pass.”
The Tide had to fight through a severe shooting drought early in the first half, making only three of its first 17 field goal attempts. Correcting those mistakes helped Alabama tie its season high for 3-pointers by making nine on 27 attempts.
One of Auburn’s leading scorers, junior Tyrese Tanner, was contained to seven points, which is six below her average.
Alabama (12-7, 2-4 SEC) will make a return to trip to Auburn (13-7, 2-5 SEC) on Feb. 17, a game set to be televised on ESPN2.