Feb 21, 2012
Coach Uses Off-Court Issues As Teaching Moment

New York Times, Ray Glier

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/20/sports/ncaabasketball/alabama-coach-uses-off-court-issues-as-teaching-moment.html

TUSCALOOSA, Ala.—Anthony Grant, Alabama’s third-year men’s basketball coach, was doing a nice job with his fixer-upper of a program in early January. The Crimson Tide were not exactly taking over the ivory tower space reserved for the football program, but they were on a path to their first NCAA tournament since 2006 with a 13-3 record. Grant, 45, had the resources any coach needs to win at Alabama: a jet to use in recruiting, a sparkling practice facility and the support of the most influential person on campus, the football coach Nick Saban.

“It’s a moving target with young men, always a moving target, said Anthony Grant, the Alabama coach, who has indefinitely suspended his two leading scorers.

Stay on top of all the news, on and off the court, on The Times’s college sports blog.

Grant had something else a program in a remodeling phase needs. He had guard rails, those checkpoints to keep players on the straight and narrow, a necessity over the last month as behavior issues became a problem.

It is not just X’s and O’s that drive a successful program, it is discipline, too, and Grant handed out four suspensions and shamed his team with public comments about it playing “entitled” basketball. The Crimson Tide went from 13-3 over all to 17-9, and from 2-0 in the Southeastern Conference to 6-6, becoming one of the NCAA tournament’s so-called bubble teams after climbing as high as No. 12 in the country.

“Mistakes are made, but you have to learn about accountability and you have to learn about sacrifice, Grant said, adding: We wouldn’t have a program if we didn’t teach those lessons. It’s a moving target with young men, always a moving target.

“We’re trying to establish what we are trying to be as a program.”

Alabama is still playing without its two leading scorers and two leading rebounders, the 6-foot-8 senior JaMychal Green (14.1 points a game, 7.2 rebounds) and the 6-6 junior Tony Mitchell (13.1, 7.0), who are indefinitely suspended. Grant would not say when they would return or talk about the reasons for the suspensions. Florida Coach Billy Donovan, one of Grant’s closest friends, said: “I haven’t asked him about it, but judging from Anthony’s public comments, this is not about cutting a class. This is about a certain conduct he wants out of his players.”

Andrew Steele, a junior guard, seemed to indicate that there was a chance Green and Mitchell would eventually return, which should relax restless Alabama fans who worry that their team will be left out of the NCAA tournament for the sixth straight season.

“They’re staying positive, Steele said of Green and Mitchell after Alabama’s 62-50 win over Tennessee on Saturday. I think they have kept the right mind-set: it’s part of life; you have to take responsibility. They have been real supportive of us, too. It’s not like they have distanced themselves away from the team.”

Green was considered a late first-round or second-round possibility for the NBA draft, but two NBA general managers who requested credentials to a recent game canceled the trip because he was not playing. It is Green’s third suspension in three years. Steele and the sophomore guard Trevor Releford also served one-game suspensions this season.

The soft-spoken Grant, who was an assistant at Florida and then the coach at Virginia Commonwealth, has not condemned Green or Mitchell for interfering with a terrific season. He did, however, lash out at his team in January with his remark about entitled play after a 56-54 loss at South Carolina, the SEC’s last-place team.

The Crimson Tide hardly played entitled basketball in the win over Tennessee (14-13, 6-6). Alabama made only 37 percent of its shots, but instead of being discouraged by its struggle for offense, it played more aggressive defense and came up with 15 steals. Without Green and Mitchell scoring inside, Alabama will speed up the game and try to create offense with even more defense.

Grant is relying more on three freshmen — the 6-3 guard Trevor Lacey, the 6-6 guard Rodney Cooper, and the 6-5 guard Levi Randolph — during the roster upheaval. Cooper scored 28 points in a loss at Louisiana State, and Lacey had 18 in the win over Tennessee.

Alabama does not have any banners hanging at Coleman Coliseum as it continues remodeling work there, but it has pictures of a long line of N.B.A. players in the concourse. Those stars include Robert Horry, Derrick McKey, Latrell Sprewell, Mo Williams, Gerald Wallace and Antonio McDyess, among others.

Since 1980-81, Kentucky has won the most SEC tournament titles (14); Alabama is second with five. The conference is adding a strong men’s basketball program in Missouri, but Donovan insists that Grant can make Alabama a threat again in something other than football and women’s gymnastics (in 2011, that team won its fifth national title).

“I can remember people telling me: ‘You’re not going to make basketball the No. 1 sport in the Southeast, ‘ ‘You’re not doing it, ‘ and so on, said Donovan, who won national titles in 2006 and 2007. There is no question there is a passion for football in the Southeast. It’s deep-rooted. But there is a deeper passion for Florida, the school, the colors. And there is a deeper passion for Alabama, the school itself, and all its teams — not just football.

“There is a level of humility you have to have in basketball, but embrace the football. It’s great for recruiting, and it’s great for the overall passion for sports at a school.”

Coach Uses Off-Court Issues As Teaching Moment

New York Times, Ray Glier

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/20/sports/ncaabasketball/alabama-coach-uses-off-court-issues-as-teaching-moment.html

TUSCALOOSA, Ala.—Anthony Grant, Alabama’s third-year men’s basketball coach, was doing a nice job with his fixer-upper of a program in early January. The Crimson Tide were not exactly taking over the ivory tower space reserved for the football program, but they were on a path to their first NCAA tournament since 2006 with a 13-3 record. Grant, 45, had the resources any coach needs to win at Alabama: a jet to use in recruiting, a sparkling practice facility and the support of the most influential person on campus, the football coach Nick Saban.

“It’s a moving target with young men, always a moving target, said Anthony Grant, the Alabama coach, who has indefinitely suspended his two leading scorers.

Stay on top of all the news, on and off the court, on The Times’s college sports blog.

Grant had something else a program in a remodeling phase needs. He had guard rails, those checkpoints to keep players on the straight and narrow, a necessity over the last month as behavior issues became a problem.

It is not just X’s and O’s that drive a successful program, it is discipline, too, and Grant handed out four suspensions and shamed his team with public comments about it playing entitled” basketball. The Crimson Tide went from 13-3 over all to 17-9, and from 2-0 in the Southeastern Conference to 6-6, becoming one of the NCAA tournament’s so-called bubble teams after climbing as high as No. 12 in the country.

“Mistakes are made, but you have to learn about accountability and you have to learn about sacrifice, Grant said, adding: We wouldn’t have a program if we didn’t teach those lessons. It’s a moving target with young men, always a moving target.

“We’re trying to establish what we are trying to be as a program.”

Alabama is still playing without its two leading scorers and two leading rebounders, the 6-foot-8 senior JaMychal Green (14.1 points a game, 7.2 rebounds) and the 6-6 junior Tony Mitchell (13.1, 7.0), who are indefinitely suspended. Grant would not say when they would return or talk about the reasons for the suspensions. Florida Coach Billy Donovan, one of Grant’s closest friends, said: “I haven’t asked him about it, but judging from Anthony’s public comments, this is not about cutting a class. This is about a certain conduct he wants out of his players.”

Andrew Steele, a junior guard, seemed to indicate that there was a chance Green and Mitchell would eventually return, which should relax restless Alabama fans who worry that their team will be left out of the NCAA tournament for the sixth straight season.

“They’re staying positive, Steele said of Green and Mitchell after Alabama’s 62-50 win over Tennessee on Saturday. I think they have kept the right mind-set: it’s part of life; you have to take responsibility. They have been real supportive of us, too. It’s not like they have distanced themselves away from the team.”

Green was considered a late first-round or second-round possibility for the NBA draft, but two NBA general managers who requested credentials to a recent game canceled the trip because he was not playing. It is Green’s third suspension in three years. Steele and the sophomore guard Trevor Releford also served one-game suspensions this season.

The soft-spoken Grant, who was an assistant at Florida and then the coach at Virginia Commonwealth, has not condemned Green or Mitchell for interfering with a terrific season. He did, however, lash out at his team in January with his remark about entitled play after a 56-54 loss at South Carolina, the SEC’s last-place team.

The Crimson Tide hardly played entitled basketball in the win over Tennessee (14-13, 6-6). Alabama made only 37 percent of its shots, but instead of being discouraged by its struggle for offense, it played more aggressive defense and came up with 15 steals. Without Green and Mitchell scoring inside, Alabama will speed up the game and try to create offense with even more defense.

Grant is relying more on three freshmen — the 6-3 guard Trevor Lacey, the 6-6 guard Rodney Cooper, and the 6-5 guard Levi Randolph — during the roster upheaval. Cooper scored 28 points in a loss at Louisiana State, and Lacey had 18 in the win over Tennessee.

Alabama does not have any banners hanging at Coleman Coliseum as it continues remodeling work there, but it has pictures of a long line of N.B.A. players in the concourse. Those stars include Robert Horry, Derrick McKey, Latrell Sprewell, Mo Williams, Gerald Wallace and Antonio McDyess, among others.

Since 1980-81, Kentucky has won the most SEC tournament titles (14); Alabama is second with five. The conference is adding a strong men’s basketball program in Missouri, but Donovan insists that Grant can make Alabama a threat again in something other than football and women’s gymnastics (in 2011, that team won its fifth national title).

“I can remember people telling me: ‘You’re not going to make basketball the No. 1 sport in the Southeast, ‘ ‘You’re not doing it, ‘ and so on, said Donovan, who won national titles in 2006 and 2007. There is no question there is a passion for football in the Southeast. It’s deep-rooted. But there is a deeper passion for Florida, the school, the colors. And there is a deeper passion for Alabama, the school itself, and all its teams — not just football.

“There is a level of humility you have to have in basketball, but embrace the football. It’s great for recruiting, and it’s great for the overall passion for sports at a school.”






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