What's Wrong with Basketball in the State of Alabama?

Stacey MicklesCorrespondent IIJanuary 20, 2010

KANSAS CITY, MO - NOVEMBER 21:  Chris Massie #4 of the Memphis Tigers shoots over Reggie Rambo #4 of the Alabama Crimson Tide during the Guardians Classic at Kemper Arena in Kansas City Missouri on November 21, 2001.  Alabama won 81-70. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images

I was going to focus my article on University of Alabama basketball and what’s wrong with it, as I look around my state; it’s not just the Crimson Tide struggling, but the whole state in general.


For years the state of Alabama had two seasons to look forward to; football and basketball. Now, it looks as if we basically skip over basketball for football recruiting, baseball, and softball. Basketball in our state, barely exist any more.


People like SEC basketball announcer Joe Dean Jr., says it’s because we in this state pay too much attention to football, therefore we lose out on great players like Eric Bledsoe of Kentucky who was a great high school player here, that none of the schools had a chance of getting.


First of all this is a football state and it will always be that way, but I think a lot of it has to do with coaching and the product. Kids not coming to big schools in this state has never stopped us before. Sonny Smith, Gene Bartow, and Wimp Sanderson, still got quality players and most of them were from this state.


Alabama grab Robert Horry and Gerald Wallace from small towns in Alabama; Charles Barkley came from the Birmingham area and Chuck Person is from the state too.


But we also got kids from out of state as well such as Latrell Sprewell who was from Wisconsin. So, don’t tell me it can’t be done. There are quality athletes from our state that choose to stay home and play basketball.


A lot of the failures in this state is do to poor coaching. As I watched the Alabama game last night, I noticed that we didn’t have a three-point threat on the floor. We didn’t have one guy who the other team was afraid of making that big shot to win the game. I wondered to myself, how did this happen?


It became obvious to me that Mark Gottfried left the Alabama basketball program in a mess. Gottfried was never known as a great coach, but a good recruiter. He got Gerald Wallace into the program for at least one year. But apparently along with his coaching, his recruiting reminds me of the mess Tommy Tuberville did to Auburn football. Oh there are one or two quality players, but quite frankly the rest probably wouldn’t start in the SEC.


Don’t get me wrong, I see improvement at least defensively and saw a lot more heart out there last night which says a lot about new Alabama head coach Anthony Grant and the job he is doing there. If he can get the players in, that team could be contending in a year or two. He already has good victories over Baylor and a ranked Michigan team, so anything is possible.


As far as Auburn goes, haven’t we been hearing for years that Jeff Lebo was going to turn their program around? Auburn fans are asking WHEN? Lebo basically has skated in this state because of the troubles in Tuscaloosa, the fact that he has beaten Alabama a few times the last few years and losing close games like the Kentucky game the other night.


Most Auburn fans are sick of this. They want a good team to go along with that new arena they are building down there and if Lebo doesn’t get it together, Auburn will be seeking a new head coach for 2011.


UAB has probably been playing the best basketball in the state; problem is they are like a tree that falls with no one there to hear it; no one cares. The greatest day in UAB history was the day John Calipari went to Kentucky.


That was also the worse thing that could have happened to UAB because quite frankly, that made Conference USA weaker. Despite UAB’s recent success, they will probably have to still win their conference tournament to get into the NCAA’s this year and if history is any indication, they won’t make the tournament again this year either despite their overall record.


So what’s the solution to all of this? Well, I think for Alabama get better players in there. They already have the right coach in place. For Auburn, basically start over. Get some new blood in the program. As for UAB, keep winning and win big. This state use to be a haven for great basketball, let’s just hope our best days are ahead of us.