Eric Maynor and Larry Sanders, two NBA players who have started in stints in their respective careers, both played for Anthony Grant at Virginia Commonwealth University. Both endorse Grant highly and say that without him they wouldn't be where they are today, so why don't any Alabama players say that?
Grant took over VCU in 2006 after assisting Billy Donovan at Florida for 10 years. His first year, he went 28-7 and upset Duke—like, the Duke University—in the 1st round of the NCAA tournament. In year two, he went 24-8 but a loss in the conference tournament erased their tournament hopes but they did make the NIT. And in year three, his team went 24-10 and won the conference tournament making it back to the big dance for the second time in three years. He was hot, he was on the rise. Granted, any coach that goes 74-25 in three years should be, and in the ensuing offseason, the University of Alabama rang his agent's phone. On March 27, 2009, he agreed to become the Tide's head coach.
Alabama calls timeout. Uh-oh. Anthony Grant is gonna start coaching.— Ron Higgins (@RonHigg) February 8, 2015
In year one, Alabama went 17-15. In year two, 25-12. Year three, 21-12. Year four, 23-13. Year five, 13-19. And so far in year six, he's 14-9. To me, this looks like a downwards-facing parabola and those usually don't end well.
Look, Anthony Grant seems like a fairly nice guy off the court. He seems like a guy that cares for the players' longterm success and academic prowess. But you're hired as the head coach of the Alabama Crimson Tide to win basketball games and to that, it seems like he hasn't filled the void.
If you've watched an Alabama in the past six years you've seen great defense. In 2011, the Crimson Tide ranked 6th in Kenpom.com's statistics in the least amount of points allowed per 100 defensive possessions. That's great. In 2012, they ranked 5th. Fantastic. In 2013, 20th. Offensively, though, they rank in the 140-190 range offensively each and every year under Grant. And then, you look at the tempo rankings and this is where it gets ugly. Alabama was 257th in possessions per 40 minutes in 2011. In 2012, 298th. And then, this year, 295th.
What am I trying to say? Alabama under Anthony Grant play a slow, grind-it-out, tough-to-watch, defensive brand of basketball and in a day and age where college basketball's play is scrutinized greatly, that's not what you want.
@RyanBrownWJOX It's really hard to see how Grant stays after this year. Not enough wins + lack of excitement = trouble.— Jon Solomon (@JonSolomonCBS) February 8, 2015
Anthony Grant is in position to miss the tournament for a 4th year in a row. With the athletic resources at Alabama and the underrated-at-times pool of division one basketball players in the state, that shouldn't ever happen. Combine that with the aforementioned pace of play and you find yourself in a bind.
So, fire him and hire Shaka Smart, the current VCU coach and successor to Grant? Well, he does play uptempo and is a fiery guy that is great with the fans and media. My rebuttal and the probable reason he might not leave for Tuscaloosa would be VCU's building of this 25-million-dollar, 60,000 square foot practice facility.
So, fire him and hire Ben Howland, the former UCLA coach? First off, would he come? I believe he would, but it's a tough job that might garner more unrealistic expectations than he hopes for at this point. And then also, would you want him? His brand of basketball isn't the most exciting.
So, fire him and hire Gregg Marshall? Will he leave Wichita State? Hire Archie Miller? Is he ready for a job of this magnitude? Buzz Williams? That option's long gone. Bruce Pearl? Yeah, right. Missed out on that opportunity. So, what do you do?
It's a sticky situation, one that Bill Battle thinks over day after day, I assume. You have to think, though, that this season is make-or-break for Grant and at 14-9 with a quality win missing from the resume, the prospective outlook for Alabama basketball's head coach looks grim at best.