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Previewing Miami Basketball Vs Alabama with Roll Bama Roll

What is the deal with the squad from Tuscaloosa? And what can we expect in tomorrow's early matinee? For all that and more we caught up with Brent Taylor over at SB Nation's Crimson Tide Site, Roll Bama Roll.

Joshua Lindsey-USA TODAY Sports

Full Q&A below:


SOTU: First of all, talk to us about the dismissal of Head Coach Anthony Grant?  Was Coach Grant the fall guy for a team that was only as talented as its' record? Or did they underachieve?  Was it just one too many NIT Appearances for the Tide?  Who would you like to see be considered as candidates for the Head Coaching position at Alabama?

RTRWhen Coach Grant was hired, he felt like a mostly lateral move from the previous coach. However, in his first couple of years, his teams showed steady improvement to go along with better recruiting classes every year. However, once he reached the NCAA tournament for the first time four seasons ago, he plateaued. Despite grabbing numerous fairly highly touted recruits, the players never really developed. Many Alabama fans (myself included) have felt that Grant was holding the program back and have wanted him fired for far longer than just this season.

A lot of people have linked the Tide to former assistant coach Steve Prohm, but I sincerely hope that is not the case. I feel like he would actually be a step back from Grant. Coach Gregg Marshall from Wichita State is of my favorite coaches out there, but he is more than likely just a pipe dream. Its so early now that I haven’t heard any real names connected to the Tide, so right now its just throwing names at a dart board.

SOTU: Was the throttling of Illinois in the first round a testament to the team's loyalty to Grant, or was it a case where the team just got hot for a night? How close to that performance should Miami fans expect on Saturday?

RTR That game was something to behold. Its been a couple of years since I’ve seen a Crimson Tide team play like that. Their aggressive approach on defense may have been a testament to Grant, but the offensive explosion was almost like a slap in the face to Grant in my opinion. The offense played loose, and attacked the rim early and often, as compared to Coach Grants offensive approach of "toss the ball around the perimeter until there are 10 seconds left… then good luck."

I think there is a good chance that Grant was guilty of over-coaching, and leaving the offense scared to just do their thing. Playing without him and having a fill-in coach acting more as a cheerleader worked wonders for the offense. However, I don’t see that about of energy and shooting success being replicated, especially to that extent.

SOTU: With Alabama being a football dominated University (recent lack of success notwithstanding, UM can relate), how supportive are the locals to this program? Can they ever compete in Tuscaloosa and though out the state, with Nick Saban's program and the ghosts of Bear Bryant?

RTRThe locals have been supportive at times. A few years ago when Grant almost won the NIT and went to the NCAA tournament the next year, attendance and excitement were booming. I am a student at UA, and was having to arrive at games 2 hours early just to get a spot in the student section. Since then, however, support and attendance have dropped off of a cliff. Students aren’t filling the student section unless its a Kentucky or Auburn game, and the rest of the ticket holders are doing even worse than the students.

I don’t think the basketball will ever be able to compete with the frenzied levels of support for football here, but with the universities resources, it should be able to become a more respected program than what it is right now.

SOTU: Levi Randolph looks for real as a 6'8 wing.  Talk to us about his game.   What other players on the Tide should we watch out for?

RTR: Levi Randolph is definitely the best player on the team this year. He was a highly regarded recruit in high school, and was a great defensive/effort player as a freshman, but was timid on offense and rarely took shots. In his first three years, he never improved whatsoever from how he entered as a freshman. However, a switch flipped in him this offseason, and he’s become the do-it-all players we’ve all hoped he could be. He is a permanent team captain, and the first Academic All-American in UA basketball history. He has a consistently accurate three point shot, and at 6’8", can create his own mismatches by dragging guards in to cover him as he drives to the basket. He has a tendency to just score when we really need him to. He has great length on the perimeter, and cause a good many turnovers and steals, and typically grabs 7-8 rebounds per game too.

After that, there is a revolving door on which player performs well every game. Recently, I would watch out for point guard Retin Obasohan. The junior is from Belgium, and is easily the most athletic player on the team. Starting point guard Ricky Tarrant has been sidelined for the season to injury, and Obasohan has really stepped up in his place. He has limitless energy, and is a steal machine. Though fairly short, the guy can really jump, and has even got a couple of blocks from around the perimeter. His outside shooting can be inconsistent, but he has really become a weapon when driving the lane due to his insane speed and quickness.

SOTU: Give me your all-time Alabama starting 5?

RTR:   I have only been following since 2004, so I went to my dad for help on this one. Here is who he came up with:

Pointguard: Ennis Whatley
Shooting guard: James "Hollywood" Robinson
Forward/Guard: Derrick McKey
Forward: Robert Horry
Center: Antonio McDyess

However, if you want my All-Alabama since 2004:

Pointguard: Ronald Steele
Shooting guard: Alonzo Gee
Shooting guard: Levi Randolph
Forward: Chuck Davis
Center: Jemario Davidson

SOTU:  What match-ups/players on the Hurricanes concern you?

RTRMy biggest concern would probably be forward/center Tonye Jekiri. Alabama only has one player with a good inside presence, 6’10" Jimmie Taylor. Taylor is really good at blocking shots, but not much else. If Jekiri can overpower Taylor early and force Alabama to play the perimeter game, it could be a long night for the Tide.

SOTU: Last but not least, who wins this game and why?

RTRI am probably going to go with the Hurricanes to win this one. I don’t see the Tide continuing their one game high, and I think they regress back to normal. They’ll become one dimensional on offense, and just hope Levi Randolph can make something happen while the rest of the team just stands and stares at him. I figure the Hurricanes will get a sizable lead in the first half, and the Tide almost comes backs in the second before falling apart in the last 3-4 minutes. (It sounds specific, but thats because about 75% of every Alabama has followed that formula to some extent this year).

Thanks again to BT for working with us.  Be sure to check out all things Tide over at Roll Bama Roll.

Enjoy the game!

Alabama Crimson Tide at Miami Hurricanes

When: March 21, 2015 | 11 a.m.


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