Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports
Anthony Grant was hired on as Alabama’s head basketball coach in 2009 after serving three years in the same position at VCU. During his short stint at VCU, Coach Grant carried the Rams to the NCAA Tournament in 2007 and 2009 and the NIT in 2008. Grant also led VCU to three straight Colonial Athletic Association conference championships, a conference that features former NCAA Tournament teams like Old Dominion, George Mason and Drexel. Before his time at VCU, Coach Grant was considered one of the best assistant coaches in the nation during his time under Billy Donovan at Florida.
Although Grant had a great track record coming into Tuscaloosa, many believe that he has underperformed during his time at the Capstone. Anthony Grant’s record at Alabama stands at 76-46 (.623), but he hasn’t been able to win the big games.
Take this year for example. Although Alabama lost their top two scorers from last year, there were high hopes coming into the season. Let’s not write off Alabama’s chances for making the tournament, but home losses to both Mercer and Tulane haven’t helped the cause. Keep in mind, the 2012-2013 season only marks Coach Grant’s fourth year at Alabama. He was able to take the Tide to the NCAA Tournament last year and to the NIT Championship Game in only his second year, but once again, he hasn’t been able to win the big game.
Many would label Alabama’s basketball program as a rebuilding team, but should this be the case in a coach’s fourth year? Coach Grant has been able to recruit the type of players he has wanted and has had great success on a national level. He has brought in talented recruits like Trevor Lacey, Levi Randolph, and Trevor Releford just to name a few.
But many would say that he hasn’t been able to adapt his system to the SEC’s style of play. Alabama constantly plays in a four-guard rotation with Moussa Gueye or Nick Jacobs down low. This has proven to be a limiting factor for the Tide on both sides of the ball. Simply put, Alabama needs a big man that can control the paint and compliment their scorers and great defenders at the guard position.
This is my biggest issue with Anthony Grant during his time at Alabama. He has converted the Crimson Tide over to a play style similar to the style he played with at VCU. Although this brought him success in the CAA, it hasn’t always worked in the SEC. Grant must do a better job recruiting inside players if he is going to put Alabama in the position to play for conference titles year in and year out. If Anthony Grant can somehow venture away from a VCU type play style and recruit players to fit a system like the one he ran at Florida, the Tide will be in a much better position in the long run.
Next, Coach Grant lacks signature wins. Sure, he was able to knock off then-12th ranked Kentucky in Tuscaloosa during his second year at Alabama. The Crimson Tide was also able to knock off a weakened Kentucky team this season, and end a horrendous losing streak to Vanderbilt in Memorial Gymnasium. Yet Grant is 0-2 in Alabama’s biggest games. The Tide lost in the first round of the NCAA Tournament to Creighton and lost to Wichita State in the NIT Final in 2011.
Anthony Grant was named to Forbes’ The Most Overpaid College Hoops Coaches in 2011. Forbes’ Sports Business Reporter, Tom Van Riper writes:
"He may well take off, but right now Grant brings a thin résumé alongside many longtime proven coaches that earn less. Grant was the prototypical “hot assistant” a few years ago after helping Billy Donovan lead Florida to the 2006 NCAA title. A terrific three-year head coaching run at Virginia Commonwealth (76-25) landed him the Alabama job."
So, is Anthony Grant on the hot seat? Although many fans haven’t seen the expected success over the last three and a half years, Coach Grant hasn’t been a failure. He has taken the Tide to the postseason two out of his last three years and could be on the way again this year. He has recruited very well nationally and is beginning to steal some of the top players from surrounding states.
But it’s no secret that Grant has had his struggles while in Tuscaloosa. Although Coach Grant isn’t on the hot seat just yet, he better watch out. The seat is getting just a little warmer and Alabama still has their two biggest conference games left to play. Will Anthony Grant be able to prove himself and be able to add to his signature wins, or will he sink?