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The problem with Avery Johnson's Alabama



Alabama still doesn't know how to play hard for 40 minutes.

About a miracle on Selection Sunday, this basketball season is just over for coach Avery Johnson's team, and his players seem to be completely confused by the energy level it is competing for the full length of a basketball game.

It is inexplicable and mystifying.

In Alabama's last chance to impress the NCAA tournament committee at the SEC tournament, Crimson Tide is instead played with the ransom and fire of matches in the rain. It was like Kentucky was the team that played for the last place in the tournament.

Kentucky had nine blocks in the first half of its 73-55 victory. Nine. Alabama wasn't just prepared for that kind of fight against a good team. I have stopped trying to get the feel of this Alabama team because it gives me headaches, but the elasticity it showed in the second half against Ole Miss on Friday here in Nashville disappeared completely in less than 24 hours.

And now Alabama has to wait to see if it can come back to the NCAA tournament. Should they sneak into field 68? A record of 18-15 overall and 8-10 conference games smell like NIT, but Alabama has won five tournament quality teams: Liberty, Murray State, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, and Kentucky.

It may all depend on how the selection committee values ​​the level of competition in the SEC this season, but damages to protecting Dazon Ingram and passing on Daniel Giddens can be a factor in the committee's decision.

If Alabama is one of the last four teams in the tournament, it doesn't do It seems like they're ready to get out of the first weekend. For four years in Alabama, Johnson has failed to create a winning culture. It's just that simple, and that's just the condemnation.

Johnson has a $ 8 million buyout, so letting him go now would do a little. Alabama is engaged in basketball, but so does a change from the table if the team does not make the tournament, according to a source of direct knowledge of Alabama's thinking.

His players like Johnson, surely but they do not consistently answer for his coaching. He is organized and professional and a better strategist than people care about, but his players have not bought what he sells.

In his post-game interview after the loss to Kentucky, Alabama senior Donta Hall was sincere in his assessment of the team's inconsistencies when he blamed them on "attitude and things like that. Commitment."

Hall has been the perfect one teammate during his time in Alabama. He bleeds crimson and white, so for him to blame Alabama's fuss on engagement is disappointing for the program's direction.

"Honestly, I waited a little more for year four," admitted Johnson on Saturday "but when you are out of position and you lose some close games, I do not know how many teams have lost as many buzzer beaters as we has lost this year and closes games and games in the last four minutes.

"Only being able to close games and learn from these situations is still a room there, but we are not as far away as many teams around the country. I think we're close. We just have to get over the bolt. "How much more time is Alabama willing to give Johnson? Patience is low in the middle of a SEC landscape where quality basketball coaching now rivals football. It is a basketball conference as well, and Alabama desperately wants to be among the league's best teams. Athletic director Greg Byrne has put great emphasis on improving Alabama Basketball, and he did not hire Johnson, a high profile coach because of his experience in the NBA, but one who has struggled to adapt to the college game.

There is no money To motivate players, so it's up to the coaches to figure it out. Johnson is not a good motivator, however, he is a high-grade trainer. In today's college basketball climate, it should mean something. Does that mean enough?

"The most important thing is that our children are amazing children, and I just think it is about the attitude towards the small, finer details of basketball, "Johnson said, trying to explain Hall's criticism of the team's commitment." ng for a loose ball, distance on the floor, just understand that you must have the right attitude. When we run a game, all five guys must be on the same page. "

Johnson then said that his team's" energy levels "were something" we have to look at. "

Take a look at? The season is over. Energy is a hard-earned and hard-to-learn skill, like shooting a jump shot. do not just look at it after being hit by a conference tournament.

Two days before the selection Sunday, I asked Johnson his big-screen assessment of his first four years in Alabama.

"I think it should continue, he said.

Maybe not.

Joseph Goodman is a columnist for Alabama Media Group. He is on Twitter @JoeGoodmanJr .


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