19 August 2011
The University of Alabama men's basketball team released its 2011-2012 schedule on Thursday.
More after the jump:
Nov. 11 North Florida Tuscaloosa, Ala. TBA
Nov. 14 Oakland Tuscaloosa, Ala. TBA
Nov. 17 vs. Maryland San Juan, Puerto Rico 4 p.m. ESPN2
Nov. 18 vs. Colorado/Wichita State San Juan, Puerto Rico 5:30/8 p.m. TBA
Nov. 20 vs. TBA San Juan, Puerto Rico TBA TBA
Nov. 23 Alabama A&M Tuscaloosa, Ala. TBA
Nov. 27 VCU Tuscaloosa, Ala. TBA
Dec. 1 Georgetown Tuscaloosa, Ala. 8:30 p.m. ESPN2
Dec. 7 at Dayton Dayton, Ohio TBA
Dec. 11 Detroit Tuscaloosa, Ala. TBA
Dec. 17 vs. Kansas State Kansas City, Mo. TBA
Dec. 21 vs. Oklahoma State Birmingham, Ala. 8 p.m. ESPN2
Dec. 29 Jacksonville Tuscaloosa, Ala. TBA
Jan. 3 at Georgia Tech Atlanta, Ga. TBA
Jan. 7 at Georgia* Athens, Ga. 6 p.m. FSN
Jan. 11 LSU* Tuscaloosa, Ala. 8 p.m. CSS
Jan. 14 at Mississippi State* Starkville, Miss. 3 p.m. SEC Network
Jan. 19 Vanderbilt* Tuscaloosa, Ala. 6 p.m. ESPN/ESPN2
Jan. 21 at Kentucky* Lexington, Ky. 11 a.m. CBS
Jan. 25 at South Carolina* Columbia, S.C. 7 p.m. SEC Network
Jan. 28 Arkansas* Tuscaloosa, Ala. 12:30 p.m. SEC Network
Feb. 4 Mississippi* Tuscaloosa, Ala. TBA ESPN/ESPN2
Feb. 7 at Auburn* Auburn, Ala. 8 p.m. ESPNU
Feb. 11 at LSU* Baton Rouge, La. TBA ESPN2
Feb. 14 Florida* Tuscaloosa, Ala. 6 p.m. ESPN
Feb. 18 Tennessee* Tuscaloosa, Ala. 12:30 p.m. SEC Network
Feb. 23 at Arkansas* Fayetteville, Ark. 6 p.m. ESPN/ESPN2
Feb. 25 Mississippi State* Tuscaloosa, Ala. 5 p.m. ESPN/ESPN2
Feb. 29 Auburn* Tuscaloosa, Ala. 7 p.m. SEC Network
March 3 at Mississippi* Oxford, Miss. 3 p.m. SEC Network
March 8-11 at SEC Tournament New Orleans, La.
All times are central.
The final 2010-2011 RPI Rankings for Bama's non-conference schedule this year were: North Florida #149, Oakland #53, Maryland #98, Colorado #65, Wichita State #60, Alabama A&M #308, VCU #49 (Final Four team), Georgetown #13, Dayton #70, Detroit #143, Kansas State #23, Oklahoma State #61, Jacksonville #142, and Georgia Tech #168.
So that's 12 of Bama's 14 non-conference games against team with an RPI better than #150, and nine with an RPI better than 100. You never know with mid-majors, and Detroit could end up in the 300s this year. But Georgia Tech and Maryland could both end up in the 20s. The bottom line is that the Alabama A&M game is the only one against a team that had an RPI in 2010-2011 that would hurt the Tide by just playing in the game. Of course, if LSU (#227) and Auburn (#256) don't play a little better, that number jumps from one to five. There will be an additional game in Puerto Rico, but the opponent will be determined by the way the tournament plays out. If Bama wins one of it's first two games (something they could not do in a holiday tournament last year), the opponent should be another good RPI team.
Why all of the RPI talk? Most analysts felt that Bama's RPI of #80 in 2010-2011 is what kept the Tide out of the NCAA Tournament, despite winning the SEC West. Your RPI is affected by your own record, but also heavily by your strength of schedule. According to realtimerpi.com, Bama's strength of schedule last season was ranked at #114. That should be massively better this coming season. As long as the mid-majors on Bama's schedule have seasons in the same ballpark as last year, Bama's strength of schedule should rank in the top 50. Maybe even the top 25 if the SEC West can actually manage to field a competitive team.
While that is an extremely tough schedule, Bama should be good enough to play it and top last year's 21 wins.
Getting word that Trevor Lacey is qualified is huge for the Tide, as the true freshman could very likely wind up starting alongside Trevor Releford in the Tide's backcourt. The University has yet to announce that he is 100% cleared and ready to play, but all signs (word from him and his high school coach) indicate that he is in.
Bama will be relying heavily on Lacey, as well as newcomers Levi Randolph, Rodney Cooper, Nick Jacobs, Retin Ojomoh, and junior college 7-footer Moussa Gueye. It's far easier for guys to make an immediate impact in college basketball than it is in college football. Rivals.com had Lacey as a five star and the #26 overall player in the country. Randolph, Jacobs, and Cooper were all ranked as four stars, and many considered Gueye to be the top Junior College player in America. Ojomoh was a late signee, and will be Bama's first player from Belgium. Not much is known about him at this time.
JaMychal Green is having a great tournament for the USA in the World University Games, averaging 13 points and 5.6 rebounds though five games. He's doing that in about 15 minutes per game. Green will be Bama's go-to guy down low, and if he continues to develop the type of toughness that he showed in Bama's last dozen games, he'll be in the running for the SEC Player of the Year. Throw in Releford, who had a great freshman season, and Tony Mitchell, who seems to get better every game, and Bama has a solid core returning.
The problem for Bama is that other than those three guys, the official roster on rolltide.com lists just three more players - Ben Eblen, Charles Hankerson, and Carl Engstrom. Engstrom played an average of 5.3 minutes per game in the 21 games he played in, averaging a whopping 0.4 points per game - last on the team. Eblen was the primary back-up point guard, but he averaged just 0.6 points per contest. Hankerson averaged 11.2 minutes and 2.3 points per game in the 26 he played in, though he did have a strong finish to the season.
So other than the three starters returning, Bama has a combined 3.3 points per game coming back. So when I say that Bama will be relying heavily on newcomers... I mean it.
The good news is that those newcomers are good basketball players, and Anthony Grant and staff (Dan Hipsher, John Brannen, Tony Pujol, and Antoine Pettway) have proven to be very good coaches. We saw significant improvement from several guys during the season last year - most notably Hankerson and the toughness in Green.
Bama will likely be picked to finish in the top three or four in the conference, and will likely be ranked in the pre-season top 20. I know football is just around the corner, and that makes it tough to focus on basketball. But the team Bama fielded in SEC play in 2011 was not only a good team... it was also fun as hell to watch. That's only going to get better as the team gets better, and this team should be better. If the newcomers are as good as advertised, this year's team should be way better.
It's nice to be talking with excitement about Alabama basketball in August.
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