02 March 2010
This past weekend brought February to a close for the Bama athletic department. Here's what you need to know:
--- ESPN will once again be televising Alabama's A-Day Game. The end of spring practice scrimmage will be on April 17 and is once again expected to be free of charge.
--- After recieving the ODK Trophy at half time of the basketball game against Auburn on Saturday the football team will prepare for a quick road trip. The Tide is visiting the White House and President Barack Obama on Monday.
--- Former Alabama offensive line coach Jim Bob Helduser passed away this past week. An assistant under Dennis Franchione who was critical of the way the head coach handled his move, he lost a prolonged battle with cancer.
--- The battle for the kicking jobs this fall gets tougher each week. After signing Cade Foster and Jay Williams to scholarships in early February, Bama quickly added Sam Buckingham back into the fold. The Tide also took UAB transfer Jay Benson. Now chrissailerkicking.com is reporting that Cody Mandell will pass up his scholarship offer at Tulane to walk on at Alabama. Mandell was ranked the #5 overall kicker in the nation by Chris Sailer's group, and they claim he has the best kickoff leg in the country.
--- The men's basketball team is continuing a rough stretch where they are losing not only game, but players. They lost close games at Georgia and at home to Ole Miss, with the latter game seeing Sernario Hillman suspended for a violation of team rules (we hear an in practice heated argument with an assistant coach). Now JaMychal Green has been suspended indefinitely for what is rumored to be an academic issue. Bama plays at South Carolina on Wed. night at 6 on ESPNU, and Green did not make the trip.
Despite that news being poor, there is some good news. Saturday's matchup with Auburn is a sell out. That's likely due to the football team's presence at half time, but it should give the team an added boost. That is, of course, if the crowd doesn't empty out after the half time presentation.
--- The women's basketball team capped off February with a big road win at Florida. It was the 4th conference win for the ladies, which is the most they've had since 2002. When you consider that three of those wins came after the Tide lost leading scorer Varisia Raffington to a knee injury, it's clear that Wendall Hudson is building some momentum. With 11 players returning in 2010-11 and a top 10 national recruiting class set to join them, the rebuilding of the women's program seems to finally be making progress. They close the regular season on the 4th at Georgia.
--- The baseball team appears to like playing for Mitch Gaspard. Bama improved to 5-0 on the season, winning three games over Illinois-Chicago by a combined score of 38-8. It's been a balanced offensive attack that has three guys (Taylor Dugas, Brett Booth, and Clay Jones) all batting over .400, with Jones also adding a team high three homers. Five different pitchers have the wins for Bama as the Tide looks to build pitching depth.
They have a big test coming up on Wed. night when they play Georgia at the Hoover Met (I don't care who sponsors the stadium, it's still the Hoover Met to me). First pitch is scheduled for 6:35. They'll back that up with a trip to College of Charleston for a three game set over the weekend, before a matchup with Auburn in Montgomery on next Tuesday and a home game with Michigan State the following day. Remember that pitching depth they are trying to build? Six games in eight days requires that you have it.
--- The gymnastics team put a whipping on Kentucky in Lexington, beating the Cats by over a point and a half. Their score of 197.225 was enough to propel them back into the #1 spot in the nation. They travel to Oklahoma for a big road meet this weekend, before taking a week off and facing Michigan at home on March 19.
--- The women's softball team had their 12 game win streak snapped by a close 3-2 loss at Central Florida in the NFCA Leadoff Classic in Columbus, GA. The young Tide squad has faced a brutal non conference schedule that has seen them defeat Missouri, Ohio State, Maryland, Michigan, and Nebraska. Their next home game is a rematch with Michigan on Friday in their first game of the Easton Challenge. The Tide will also play DePaul and Liberty during the four day tournament.
--- The men's golf team finished 4th among a loaded field at the John Hayt Collegiate golf tournament in Jacksonville, Fl over the weekend. They now have two weeks off before traveling to Stateboro, GA for the Schenkel E-Z-Go Invitational.
--- The men's tennis team has rebounded nicely from a rough stretch at the ITA National Indoor Team Championships. Bama came home from that tournament a disappointing 0-4, but has come home to win three straight matches. They start conference play this Friday when they host Georgia.
--- The women's tennis team has now won four straight matches to improve to 6-3 on the season. They also open conference play on Friday against Georgia, but they will travel to Athens to play. Their next home match is March 12 against South Carolina.
--- The men's track and field team finished 7th at the SEC Indoor Championships this past weekend. That might not sound like a great finish, but the Tide was one of 7 top 25 teams in the field. The big news was freshman Kirani James. The 17 year finished 2nd in the 400 meter dash, setting a new junior world record with a time of 45.24. That automatically qualifies him for the NCAA Championships in two weeks. Before then the Tide will travel to Notre Dame for the Alex Wilson Invitational.
--- The women's track and field team finished 8th at the SEC Indoor Championships. Kim Laing won the SEC Title in the 60m hurdles with the ninth fastest time run in the nation this season. Krystle Shade earned All-SEC honors by finishing 2nd in the high jump. They will send a split squad to the Alex Wilson Invitational and the Last Chance Meet held at Virginia Tech this coming weekend leading up to the NCAA Indoor Championship.
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