Alabama: Road Woes Continue

Ingram WorleyCorrespondent IJanuary 30, 2009

Alabama interim head coach Philip Pearson opened his seemingly short stint at the helm much the way his predecessor left, with another road loss. 

The 89-80 loss to Arkansas marked Alabama's 15th consecutive SEC road loss, and dropped Alabama to 2-4 within the conference.

Like the road games before, Alabama was somewhat competitive throughout.  There were some bright spots.  Front-court mates JaMychal Green and Justin Knox combined for 36 points on 15-21 shooting.  Alabama shot 80 percent from the free-throw line, albeit on only 10 attempts. 

The reasons for the loss, however, were nothing new.

  Alabama shot a pitiful 22 percent from three-point range, including a variety of shots that brought to mind Woody Harrelson from "White Men Can't Jump", when he described a game that featured so many bricks that he thought he was at a "masons' convention."

Due to Alabama's ineptitude from distance, Arkansas was able to stay in a sagging 2-3 zone that clogged the interior.  Without having to respect Alabama's shooters, Arkansas managed to force several wayward attempts and maintain rebounding position that resulted in numerous fast breaks and easy baskets.

As with the games before, one could not find fault with Alabama's effort.  They fell behind by double-digits numerous times, and fought back in each instance, keeping the game close.

A particular stretch early in the second half probably sealed the game.

Alabama was down by 12 with about 16 minutes to play.

Mikhail Torrance connected from three-point range, cutting the lead to nine.  Alabama came up with a stop, and Senario Hillman hit a jumper from the baseline, trimming the lead to seven.  On the ensuing inbound, Alonzo Gee intercepted the pass and laid it in to cut the lead to five. 

Alabama's defense was strong again on the next trip, forcing an errant shot and an Anthony Brock rebound.  Brock was stripped in the open court, and Arkansas hit a three to squelch the run.  Alabama would get no closer.

One can look back in nearly every Alabama road loss and find a similar turn of events. 

When you add that to the fact that Arkansas shot 35 free throws to Alabama's 10, you can surmise that Alabama would have no chance.  Couple that with Arkansas 80 percent success rate on those attempts (as a team, they have shot free throws at a 65 percent clip for the year) and Alabama was completely buried.

Unfortunately for 'Bama fans, there isn't much relief in sight, at least not in the short run.  Alabama needs a quality ball-handler, and without Ronald Steele, the roster doesn't include one.  Obviously, they need someone who can shoot the ball from the outside as well. 

See the previous statement about Steele, it applies here also. 

Green and Knox have showed steady improvement, but without a legitimate outside threat, their attempts will get more and more contested.  The good news is that if Alabama can fill the needs in the offseason, Knox and Green will be seasoned players by next year, and things will hopefully open up for them a bit. 

As an Alabama fan, it pains me to state the obvious: we are in for a long year. 

Wins will be few and far between. 

As long as the team continues to play hard, I will continue to support them.  The guys on the roster have been through the gauntlet this year, and they haven't laid down.  As long as they give the effort, they deserve our support. 

In a weak SEC, you never know what can happen.  While the regular season looks to be a lost cause, one can look back at Georgia's performance in the SEC tournament a year ago and see that every team in Atlanta has a chance. 

It is difficult for me to imagine Alabama putting it together enough to run off four wins in a row, but stranger things have happened.  

Alabama's bandwagon is as empty as it has been since David Hobbs left Tuscaloosa.  There's plenty of room up here if anybody wants to join me. 

Roll Tide (anyway).