Toughness, Defense and Winning: Alabama Basketball Is Demanding Your Attention

Damon YoungCorrespondent IIFebruary 6, 2011

NASHVILLE, TN - MARCH 12:  Jamychal Green #32 of the Alabama Crimson Tide posts up against the Kentucky Wildcats during the quarterfinals of the SEC Men's Basketball Tournament at the Bridgestone Arena on March 12, 2010 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Don't look now, but at the halfway mark of the men's SEC basketball season, it's not Kentucky that is in first place.

It's not Tennessee, Florida or Mississippi State.

It's the Alabama Crimson Tide.

The Tide stands at 7-1, and if it weren't for mental breakdowns at the end of two halves in Arkansas, they would be 8-0.

Still, as it stands, this has been an impressive run by a basketball team that seemed to be dead in the water entering conference play after a disastrous non-conference showing lowlighted by a 0-3 trip to the Virgin Islands.

Somehow though it feels as though the light bulb has come on for this Alabama team.

The defensive fundamentals that we saw in Anthony Grant's first season have broke through and have laid the groundwork for a season turnaround and toughness Tide basketball hasn't seen in a long time.

Alabama finally has the type of point guard that guides Grant's machine in freshmen Trevor Releford. The first-year player runs the floor like a seasoned veteran.

The Tide has also built some depth around their core stars of Releford, JaMychal Green and Tony Mitchell, finding the right combination and substitutions to pace this team no matter who is on the floor.

The mental toughness this team has showed during this run was nonexistent the past few seasons. Teams of the past would have crumbled down the stretch at Tennessee or at home against Kentucky; instead this edition of Alabama hoops seems to thrive in these situations.

National pundits will be forced to pay attention if Alabama can grab another vital road victory Thursday when they travel to Nashville to face Vanderbilt.

Otherwise, if you are a fan of the Tide and haven't been paying attention to what this team is doing, then you need to start.

This Crimson Tide team demands and deserves your attention, but their work on the court will grab your respect.