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After Alabama basketball closed out a tumultuous season on a buzzer-beater win against Georgia, the Crimson Tide are now preparing for their SEC Tournament game on Friday against an opponent they won’t know until less than 24 hours before the game. Many believe that Alabama has to at least make it to the conference championship game on Sunday to have a shot at making the big dance. Obviously, it would be a blessing for the Coach Anthony Grant and the Crimson Tide just to make the field of 68.
It’s becoming harder and harder to judge this team based on this season, however. On one hand, Alabama could be playing a lot better than they have been this season. There is a whole lot of talent on both sides of the ball that hasn’t been utilized to their fullest this season. And maybe that’s partially Grant’s fault. But we all know he’s not going anywhere. We’ve seen shades of the talent this season, with Trevor Lacey knocking down threes like it’s his job and Trevor Releford becoming an offensive workhorse late in the season. But there’s a lot more talent there besides the two Trevors.
On the other hand, however, this has been a “blah” college basketball season overall. I say blah because that’s really the only way to describe it. It’s not just the SEC that is down: virtually every conference has been dragged down by middle- to lower-tier teams putting out bad season records. Even some of the traditional basketball superpowers – like last year’s national championship team Kentucky – are struggling to stay relevant enough to make the tournament.
For Alabama to get 20 wins overall, go 66 percent in conference wins and grab a four-seed in the SEC Tournament is relatively pretty good when you compare it to the other teams. Teams in the current AP Top 25 have as little as 21 wins overall. This season has been marred by upset after upset, week after week. And yet, according the ESPN’s Joe Lunardi, this still puts Alabama out of the tournament. Why? Because their losses are bad losses. A non-conference loss to Mercer, along with a completely embarrassing loss to Auburn, has put that wall between it and the NCAA Tournament.
Because Alabama is a football school – and we all know it is and always will be – and the football team has found recent success in winning three of the last four championships, it’s natural to expect the other sports like basketball to uphold that high standard and compete against the best. That’s why Alabama fans find this season very disappointing in a lot of ways. And that’s okay for that reason. It’s never bad to expect success from a team.
It’s a problem, however, when you call a team disappointing and terrible when, especially this season, there’s no standard to base it all off of. Sure, there’s great teams out there. Just not as many as we are used to seeing in college basketball. So, why hold Alabama to a standard that doesn’t exist? It’s okay to expect your team to play better, but playing better doesn’t always translate into wins.
Maybe next season, there will be standard to where Alabama can reach for. And maybe, just maybe, Alabama will meet or exceed that standard.
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