Tag Archives: SEC

Alabama softball ambushes Florida, coach Murphy in SEC title game mauling

Patrick Murphy takes ice water bath after Tide wins SEC title (Daily Bama Blog photo)

Take a look over today’s print story dealing with Alabama’s softball SEC title it wrapped up yesterday …

TUSCALOOSA— Quietly stalking their prey, Jazlyn Lunceford and Cassie Reilly-Boccia crouched low, Gatorade bucket in hand.

Just as the TV interview ended, they pounced. A startled ESPN reporter was collateral damage when it was time for Alabama softball coach Patrick Murphy’s ice-water bath.

It wasn’t the first ambush of the day, either.

The third-ranked Crimson Tide crushed No. 7 Florida 10-1 in the SEC tournament championship, becoming the first event host to celebrate at home. It was the fifth title in program history and the only the second to follow an SEC regular-season championship.

Murphy, the league coach of the year, knew something was up just before the water came his way Saturday afternoon.

“Well, (ESPN reporter) Holly Rowe asked some question that was totally off the wall,” Murphy said. “I think she was trying to get me to stay there for a while, stalling for the team.”

Before the soaking, Murphy took quite a risk. He opted to rest ace pitcher Jackie Traina instead of sending her out for third straight outing. The SEC pitcher of the year said she was sore before the game, so he sent Amanda Locke to the circle for only her fifth start.

Click here to read the rest.


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‘They’re all going to be gunning for us’

The SEC softball tournament begins today in Tuscaloosa. Here’s a quick primer before top-seed Alabama faces Mississippi State at 7 on ESPN …

TUSCALOOSA — Home is sweet unless you’re hosting the SEC softball tournament.

Not once in the eight years postseason games were played on campus has the home team walked away a champion. Therein lies the challenge for Alabama.

The No. 1-seeded Crimson Tide, ranked third nationally, won’t travel when opening the single-elimination, eight-team tournament at 7 tonight with Mississippi State. SEC bracket play returns to Tuscaloosa for the first time since 2004, and the four-time champion Tide are positioned to end the curse of the host.

Also qualifying was seventh-seeded Auburn. The Tigers (33-20) meet No. 2-seed Tennessee (45-9) in the second quarterfinal at 1:30 p.m.

For Alabama, just winning a third straight regular-season title won’t guarantee anything.

Named SEC coach of the year Wednesday, Tide coach Patrick Murphy called this the most competitive eight-team tournament outside the Women’s College World Series.

So taking the home-field advantage for granted isn’t an option.

“They’re all going to be gunning for us,” Murphy said. “That’s the fact of life. I’ve said it a million times, and (Alabama basketball coach) Anthony Grant came and talked to us a month ago. That’s the first thing he said. ‘You know you have a target on your back, right?’

Click here for the complete story.


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Alabama softball coach Patrick Murphy faces tough decision entering SEC tourney

Work the ace or rest her? That’s the decision facing Alabama softball coach Patrick Murphy this week.

As the top seed in the SEC tournament the Crimson Tide hosts this week, winning for the home crowd is important. Murphy acknowledged that. But there could be a cost to winning a league postseason crown.

Besides the hometown support and adding hardware to the trophy case, the Tide has little to gain this week in Rhodes Stadium. A No. 3-overall seed in the NCAA tournament is practically locked down.

So does Murphy send ace pitcher Jackie Traina to mound circle for what could be three straight games with NCAA play looming just days later? Murphy pondered his move a day before facing Mississippi State in the 7 p.m. quarterfinal televised by ESPN.

“You have to figure out as a coach and a program if you want to throw your No. 1 for three straight days and you see what happens,” Murphy said.

So will he?

“I don’t know yet,” he said with a chuckle. “It’s important to us, obviously. We’re at home and we want to pack the stands and we want to do whatever we can for the sport of softball.”

Traina, named SEC pitcher of the year, said she feels great. But she isn’t exactly on full rest. She pitched all three games of last weekend’s SEC-clinching series win over Florida.

Remember, of the four previous times the Tide won the SEC regular season title, it claimed postseason glory just once. Kelsi Dunne started all three games of the 2010 SEC tournament championship run.

Read more about this in tomorrow’s newspaper.


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BCS changes on the horizon, commissioners say

Commissioners Wright Waters (former Sun Belt), Britton Banowsky (Conference USA), Mike Slive (SEC) and Ted Gumbart (Atlantic Sun) gathered Monday in Birmingham. (Daily Bama Blog photo)

It was a two-story day in this morning’s newspaper. Here’s No. 2 that addresses the bigger issues in college athletics today …

BIRMINGHAM — Changes are a coming.

Four current and former conference commissioners agreed on that much regarding postseason college football at a Monday forum sponsored by the Associated Press Sports Editors. Various topics on the state of college sports were discussed, but the volatile issue of postseason football was the hot issue.

Specific opinions remain close to the vest, but the conference leaders took turns addressing the fringe topics in play.

SEC head Mike Slive said previous discussions among the commissioners were “30,000-feet thinking” as the criticism mounted of the Bowl Championship Series. But the serious work was coming soon with a meeting set for April 24-26 just miles from the 2013 BCS title game site in south Florida.

Options including a plus-one championship game have been discussed. That would allow four teams to play a small playoff to determine a champion. The idea is to simplify the system, and Slive isn’t in favor of all the proposals.

The Big Ten and Pac 12 hope to preserve their traditional Rose Bowl matchup, but their plan could meet resistance next week.

“It’s not one of my favorites,” Slive said after a brief pause and a slight smile.

Automatic qualifiers, another point of debate, was discussed by Conference USA commissioner Britton Banowsky.

“From our conference’s perspective, it’s been one of the real negative, unintended consequences of the BCS when it was formed,” he said. “With the AQ, unranked teams leapfrog teams that are high quality and put a lot of strain on the events themselves in terms of quality of the ratings and attendance. And what we’ve done is create divisiveness among the conferences.”

Click here for the complete story.


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Printable SEC basketball tournament bracket

Click to enlarge.

Florida’s loss to Kentucky this afternoon pushed the Gators to the No. 4-seed and would be Alabama’s opponent if the Tide beats South Carolina on Thursday. Tennessee gets the No. 2 seed and Vanderbilt is third.

Now, vote.

 


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How the SEC West would have looked if it still existed

Those who favored dissolving the divisions for SEC basketball competition look smart as this regular season comes to a close. The old East Division holds the top three spots in the league and could hold all four first-round byes if things bounce just right this weekend.

And Alabama is the only West Division team that will finish with a winning record in league play.

Alabama is currently fourth in the 12-team standings. It would have easily won the West if it still existed.

That would have automatically made the Crimson Tide a No. 3 overall seed in the past and a first-round bye. That would have also put Alabama on the other side of the bracket from No. 1 Kentucky.

Here’s how the SEC West would have looked this year:

1. Alabama 9-6
2. Mississippi State 7-8
2. Ole Miss 7-8
2. LSU 7-8
5. Arkansas 6-9
6. Auburn 4-11

Now, you can do the American thing and vote.

 


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Mal Moore, UA president Witt comment on SEC expansion

This whole SEC expansion matter has been brewing for some time, taking several twists and turns along the way.

Now Texas A&M is (for now at least) the official 13th team in the increasingly western Southeastern Conference.

Alabama president Robert Witt and athletics director Mal Moore both stand in support of the league’s decision to add another team to the SEC for the first time in 20 years.

“We are excited to welcome Texas A&M to the Southeastern Conference and we look forward to competing with them as a member of our SEC family,” Moore said in a statement though UA media relations. “The fact that our presidents voted unanimously to approve A&M’s request for admission to the league says a lot about their excellent reputation and it certainly means a lot to us when a school asks to join the league.”

Witt agrees with Moore.

“Texas A&M is an outstanding addition to the SEC both athletically and academically,” he said, also through an Alabama spokesman.


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A few thought provoking notes for a Thursday

The SEC does an excellent job digging up the kind of tidbits I love reading. The league sent a few extras this morning and I thought you might want something to nimble on this morning.

  • SEC team run the ball an average of 57 percent of the time while the national average is 54.4 percent. Alabama runs it 52.9 percent of the time.
  • SEC teams have scored more rushing touchdowns (84) than any other conference. The Big Ten is next with 84. Of the SEC’s 84, Trent Richardson has seven to lead the nation in scoring.
  • How important is Saturday’s game between Alabama and Arkansas? Only five of the 38 teams who’ve played in the SEC Championship Game lost their conference opener.
  • Only Arkansas has more passes thrown against them (119) than Alabama (117) among SEC teams.
  • Alabama opponents have the lowest completion percentage in the nation (38.5 percent).


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Dooley: College football traditions in danger with realignment

Tennessee football coach Derek Dooley is about as SEC as they come given his bloodlines.

All the talk of reshuffling the deck with conference affiliation is starting to trouble the former Nick Saban assistant and son of Georgia coaching great Vince Dooley.

“It’s a little disappointing to see what’s happening with college football and I think we’re tampering with something that’s made college football so special,” Derek Dooley said. “That’s the fans, the traditions, the rivalries, the ability to go to road games, playing the same teams every year and you just develop a deep history that makes this game special.

“Nobody is worried about what I think and there’s not much we can do about it. I hope we don’t end some of these great traditions and rivalries, but I’m afraid if we keep going down this path, that’s what’s going to happen.”

Any thoughts on the topic? Leave a comment below.


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Tide freshman honored by the SEC

Trey DePriest (33) celebrates with Vinnie Sunseri after making a tackle Saturday against Kent State. (Photo by Gary Cosby Jr./Decatur Daily)

A few days after leading Alabama in tackles while debuting in crimson, Trey DePriest was named SEC co-freshman of the week.

The special teams superstar made 10 tackles including one on the opening kickoff in the Tide’s 48-7 win over Kent State. His hit on the second kickoff of the game was easily one of the best of the day.

DePriest shared the honor with Auburn running back Tre Mason who had a 97-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.

Vick Ballard of Mississippi State was the offensive player of the week and Tyrann Mathieu of LSU was the top defender in the SEC.

More to come in a bit from Nick Saban’s noon news conference. I’ll have all the updates once I swim over to the football complex.


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Saban talks Duron Carter, Kent State

Here are the quick highlights of Nick Saban’s turn on the first weekly SEC teleconference of the season:

  • On Duron Carter, Saban said he will be able to help the team “later on down the road.” He likes size, speed, ability to run routes.
  • Carter will start implementing himself with offense next week. He doesn’t want to risk injury by throwing him out there with limited practice time.
  • Challenges with Kent State come from playing a team with a new head coach and unknown variables that come with that (read more about that later this week in print).
  • About Barrett Jones, Saban said they tried to decide if he was a guard or a tackle.
  • He could be both.
  • How soon he moves back to guard from left tackle depends on how fast Cyrus Kouandjio develops at left tackle.
  • About practice precautions, Saban said the team never practices two in a row with full pads. They don’t hit in practice, except for scrimmages.
  • The downsides include having inexperience with tackling defense and shedding cut blocks.
  • On the SEC’s dominance, Saban said there might be a little more speed among athletes in the South.


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Thoughts on SEC expansion from ex-Bama, A&M player

Darwin Holt has perhaps the most unique view on the chatter of SEC expanding west to Texas A&M. He actually played football at both the Crimson Tide and the Aggies of College Station

Following Bear Bryant to Tuscaloosa in 1958, Holt was a member of the 1961 Tide national championship team.

So, what does he think about his two former schools uniting under the same SEC banner?

“Well, I think it’s not very good,” Holt said. “You know, they’re desperate out there. Why should we help them? Why should we divide the pie up more by bringing in different teams? We’ve set the record. We’ve shown people how to do it, and we have the No. 1 conference in the country. So why do we have to go in there and help them out?

“I’m totally against it, although I have a niece at Texas A&M right now.”

There you have it. One dissenting, yet unofficial vote cast in the debate picking up speed every day the Internet exists.

More from the 1961 team and its dominant defense in a future print edition.


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Bama no longer a top party school

The annual Princeton Review ratings are out. And here at the blog, we’re focusing on the most important category. It’s all about that party.

Well, maybe not at Alabama anymore.

The school fell out of the party-school top 20 released Monday. Ohio University students can celebrate while administrators surely cringe since the home of the Bobcats topped the rankings.

A year ago, Alabama was No. 13, according to the Princeton Review. It was 19th the year before.

The SEC was still represented in this year’s list. Georgia ranked second (after topping the 2010 ranking) followed by Ole Miss (third), Florida (ninth), LSU (13th) and South Carolina (20th).

If you’re looking for a reason to keep faith in UA, know the school still ranks 14th among jock schools and third for students who study the least. See the full profile here.


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SEC coaches speculate a few Alabama players are all-conference

The hype for SEC Media Days began this morning with the release of the coaches preseason all-conference teams. If you’re counting at home, Alabama had seven players on the first team — tops in the league. The Tide’s 13 overall selections was second to Arkansas’ 14.

Here’s the Alabama rundown:

Offense
OL Barrett Jones
C William Vlachos
RB Trent Richardson

Defense
NG Josh Chapman
LB Dont’a Hightower
S Robert Lester
S Mark Barron

Also honored was offensive lineman D.J. Fluker (second team), receiver Marquis Maze (third team), linebacker Courtney Upshaw (second team) linebacker C.J. Mosley (third team), cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick (third team).

If you’d like to see the entire list, click here.


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SEC basketball coaches looking forward

We’re right in the middle of the summer basketball teleconference for SEC coaches. There are all kinds of topics on the table ranging from summer recruiting, to a 22-game conference schedule to elimination of divisions.

The shifting power structure is also being discussed. Kentucky, of course, will still be right there with another big recruiting class. Vanderbilt is another hot team — Georgia coach Mark Fox said they should compete for the Final Four.

Then there’s Alabama who’s gaining traction with the big recruiting class and the return of JaMychal Green, Tony Mitchell and Trevor Releford. The Tide is getting love from a few coaches.

Billy Donovan said his team will need a few new key parts after losing a few big names and Tennessee is in a rebuilding mode. So it should be interesting.

Anthony Grant is coming up soon. An update will come after that.


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