Crimson Tide basketball team lacks leadershipBy Jake Gray | 02/13/2012 11:10pm
Nearly three months ago, I wrote a column devoted to the Alabama Crimson Tide basketball team. Being the football fanatic I am, I seldom devote my space to the basketball team. In the column, I praised them, accusing the students of not showing them the attention they deserve because of the lack of attendance at games.
I am here today to admit I was wrong. The basketball team many projected at the beginning of this season is not the team we see today. What was then youthful energy and inexperience is now immaturity and incompetence. What was then untapped potential is now sheer disappointment.
While this season is not yet over, something has clearly gone wrong for the Crimson Tide.
There were many question marks going into this season. What freshman will step up as real contributors? Who will emerge as a legitimate 3-point shooter? Who will replace the rebounding void left by Chris Hines?
One question very few had leading into this season is the performance of Tony Mitchell. He was unquestionably the most dynamic and electrifying player leading into this season, and all fans expected him to be called upon to lead a young squad.
Mitchell was brilliant at times, but he never failed to disappoint. For every highlight-reel dunk Mitchell had prior to his Feb. 6 suspension, he took multiple plays off. He was always there to add points onto a rout, but miraculously disappeared when the team needed him most.
According to many NBA scouts, Mitchell could have played his way into the first or second round of the 2012 NBA Draft this season. Now, it appears he has played his way into the Turkish Premier Basketball League, possibly never playing another Southeastern Conference game.
JaMychal Green, another player whose poor attitude and multiple suspensions will forever overshadow his high level of play, is also indefinitely suspended. His work with Team USA in the offseason gave many cynics indications that he had finally matured. This was his senior year. This was supposed to be Green’s chance to lead his team back to the NCAA tournament.
Instead, here we are in February, and JaMychal Green is indefinitely suspended. Again.
The Crimson Tide is currently relying on a flurry of talented freshmen, two shockingly uncoordinated foreign centers and two more “veteran” guards who are fresh off their own one-game suspension for “violating team rules.”
Thanks to a difficult schedule and a few “good” losses, the Tide still has a strong RPI and remains in decent position to make it into the NCAA tournament. (I’m still not sure how good losses exist, but we’ll take what we can get.)
If Alabama rallies and salvages what is left of this season, it will take a reemergence of leadership. The freshman must step into new roles and grab hold of this team. Coach Grant put it best when announcing the suspensions of four players Saturday: “Talent is a gift, but character is a choice.”
While Tony Mitchell and JaMychal Green may be the most talented players on the team, they have proven they lack the character needed to win consistently.
This season is not over, but the next few games will be a big character test for Alabama’s freshmen. Hopefully these talented players make different choices then their older counterparts and Alabama basketball can be once again relevant.
Jake Gray is a senior majoring in journalism and economics. His column runs on Tuesday.