Somber locker room was final stop on rocky road for Tide hoops

It’s about time to put a bow on the Alabama basketball season and send it to the history books. Let’s take a look back at was and what could have been for the 2011-12 Crimson Tide …

GREENSBORO, N.C. — The moment redefines uncomfortable silence.

Inside a cramped locker room tucked deep below the massive Greensboro Coliseum sat the Alabama basketball team. Dazed confusion filled the space unoccupied by players, coaches and reporters scribbling notes.

It’s the world you only see through sound bites, but the extra sensory details are lost in two-dimensional recordings. The 58-57 NCAA Tournament loss Creighton delivered 15 minutes earlier came with the weight of reality — the 10-ton and invisible kind.

A season that began with huge recruiting scores, seven straight wins, and a top-12 ranking ended in an instant. The 21-12 record wasn’t the vision back in November. It certainly wasn’t the plan when the Tide rode the wave of momentum straight to the NIT title game a year ago.

JaMychal Green was back. Trevor Lacey and company were arriving. All the pieces were in place. Yet the whispers of a trip New Orleans for the program’s first Final Four never made it past hushed tones.

The suspensions of Tony Mitchell and Green will figure prominently in the obituary of the 2011-12 Alabama basketball team. But the freshman Lacey’s appraisal of his own season could be applied to the group as a whole.

“It’s been some ups and downs,” he said from his seat facing his teammates Friday afternoon. “No one, I’m not going to say everyone, but I know I wasn’t very consistent throughout the season.”

Even at full strength, the Tide had trouble sustaining success.

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