In the two prior seasons at Alabama, Men’s Basketball head coach Avery Johnson has had very little success with the Crimson Tide. In both seasons, the school ended up playing in the NIT, and did fairly well. During the course of the 2017-2018 regular season however, it can be described as disappointing to say the least. This Crimson Tide team was supposed to challenge the nation and the SEC to be among the best teams in all of college basketball. There is plenty of blame to go around, but all starts with Avery Johnson.
We all know Avery Johnson from his days in the NBA, as he was very successful with the San Antonio Spurs. From there, he surprised many in the world of the NBA, as he attempted to informally coach as a player in the later stages of his career. Of course, Johnson had one of the best mentors in NBA history in his back pocket, Gregg Popovich.
Johnson lived through head coaching stints with both the Dallas Mavericks and New Jersey/Brooklyn Nets. He would even lead the Mavericks to the NBA Finals in 2006 against the Miami Heat. After dropping the series to the Heat, Johnson would be fired just two seasons later.
Unlike his time in Dallas, Avery Johnson didn’t have a punchers chance of succeeding in New Jersey. He went on to only coach the Nets for under three seasons, and finished under a .500 winning percentage. However, he spurred some interest from the Alabama Crimson Tide.
Johnson had to sell Alabama on the idea of making them a championship winning program. The Crimson Tide’s history is only as far as the Elite Eight back in 2004. Since the days of Wimp Sanderson, Alabama Men’s basketball hasn’t accomplished a lot of postseason victories.
This season has been underwhelming, as the Crimson Tide head to St. Louis for this year’s SEC Men’s Basketball Tournament. Alabama comes in with a five-game losing streak, which is the longest in the Avery Johnson era. The most recent game for Alabama was against Texas A&M, and it was not a well played game by either side.
In all fairness, the non-conference schedule of Alabama was ranked among the top-thirty toughest schedules. The Crimson Tide have been forced to encounter teams such as Arizona, Texas, and even Oklahoma. Surprisingly, Alabama has held its own, sitting with an overall record of 17-14 overall, and 8-10 in SEC play heading into the Conference Tournament.
The losing streak hurts their momentum, and hopes of getting into the NCAA Tournament are declining slowly. The case for Alabama isn’t helped when their in-state rival Auburn recently won the regular season championship. It will have to take a deep run in the SEC Tournament in order to make the big stage.
The schedule Alabama played this season is considered tough by many, but at the same time, you have to win your fair share of games. Considering their lack of success, critics are beginning to call for Avery Johnson to be placed on the hot seat in Tuscaloosa. I personally believe Johnson will get one more season, but by that point, he will need to get to the NCAA Tournament.