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Old 01-14-2007, 08:59 PM   #51
aztarheel
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Steve Victory JOURNAL – Preparing for ‘Bama 2009!

Coach Steve Victory took the Alabama job pretty much sight unseen. He heard the words “Alabama Crimson Tide” and “interested in me” and jumped without checking on much of anything else.

Victory knows the hoops program is in pretty bad shape. Mike Shula’s football team at Alabama [editor's note - haha] has been averaging more wins per season than the hoops team in recent years. The Tide’s 9-21 record in 2008-09 represented the third-straight winter of single-digit victory totals. ‘Bama hasn’t had a winning season in five or six years.

So, needing a crash course in Alabama hoops history, Victory sets about on a search in between unpacking and meeting his new colleagues in Tuscaloosa. Here’s the summary of what he’s learned – ‘Bama is definitely a football school.

The Tide has never won a national championship in men’s hoops – or even been to the Final Four or Elite Eight. The only trips to the Sweet 16 were made in 1976, ‘82, ‘85, ‘86, ‘87, ’90 and ’91.

The only time Alabama has been ranked #1 in the nation in men’s hoops came in December 2002, and that team coached by Mark Gottfried wound up 17-12 – losing in the first round of the SEC tournament to Vanderbilt and falling to Indiana in the opening round of the NCT.

The most successful coach in Alabama history – so far – has been “Wimp” Sanderson, who went 267-119 from 1980-92 and piloted the Tide to six of its seven Sweet 16 appearances. But even his name has been a bit scarred because of a sexual misconduct claim made against him.

The local newspaper, The Tuscaloosa News, trumpets Victory’s arrival with this play on words in a headline:

From Wimps to Victors?
‘Bama turns struggling program over to eager young coach with a great last name

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Old 01-16-2007, 11:11 AM   #52
aztarheel
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Steve Victory JOURNAL – Seventh Season 2009-2010

Just how much is ‘Bama struggling in the men’s hoops world? Just compare the Tide’s vitals with College of Charleston, the Southern Conference program Victory left after four seasons.

Prestige Points (1-100, higher is better): Alabama 34, Charleston 41 (up 10 points during Victory’s tenure)
Freshman Talent Level: Alabama – awful, Charleston – good
Overall Talent: Alabama – awful, Charleston solid
Game Challenge: Alabama – brutal; Charleston – normal
2008-09 Record: Alabama 9-21, Charleston 20-13
Last 4 Years: Alabama 36-83, Charleston 81-45
NCT Appearances Last 4 Years: Alabama 0, Charleston 2
ACT Appearances Last 4 Years: Alabama 0, Charleston 1

“I’d love to say we’re going to come in and win right away,” Victory tells the Alabama press. “But I don’t foresee that happening in this case. There is just too much ground to be made up.”

But make no mistake, Victory does have ambitious plans for this program. He’s warming to the idea that his may be his last stop as a coach...

“I’d like to be the first coach to hang an NCT championship banner in Coleman Coliseum,” he says boldly. “And I’d like to do it within the decade (actually within nine seasons if you’re keeping score on his 15-year quest).”

“This season, I’d like us to play .500 ball, and I’m most interested in getting a Top 20 recruiting class to come to Tuscaloosa,” Victory says. “I’d like us to finish out of the cellar in the SEC, swipe at least one tournament victory and beat Auburn every time we face them. If we get to the ACT or NCT, that’s just icing on the cake.”

Within three or four seasons, Victory wants ‘Bama in the SEC title hunt and wants the team to become a regular in the NCT.

Of course, all that depends on getting the elite players to come to Alabama, something Victory did an above-average job of during his other two coaching stops. The early recruiting trail proves tough at his new gig, however.

Numerous conversations with prospects go something like this: “I’d dig a chance to play in the SEC, but I don’t think Alabama is the right situation for me.” Translated – if you were Florida or Kentucky I’d be drooling. But you suck, so I’m outta here.

One recruit even wonders aloud: “Is Alabama in Division I? I thought it was a Division II program or something.” Ouch…
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Old 01-16-2007, 11:19 AM   #53
aztarheel
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Steve Victory JOURNAL – Alabama Non-conference 2009-10

Steve Victory is amazed just how undisciplined and out-of-shape his new team is. “My old boys from Charleston would whip your tails,” he says during one summer workout. The new coach actually cuts one guy, wondering just how a 5-9, 143-pounder with absolutely NO skills ever got a scholarship to the University of Alabama.

Here’s the lineup as ‘Bama prepares for its season opener against UNC-Asheville.
PG: Sophomore Barry Seamon (decent assists man)
SG: Junior Maurice Cambridge (probably the best scorer)
SF: Sophomore Michael Cook (a converted PF, doesn’t look so good)
PF: Senior Dominque Little (too bad he’s not younger, OK ratings)
PG: Senior Daniel Starkey (good rebound potential)

The backups who’ll see some PT include PF Jimmy McArdle (senior) and SG Alex Knox (senior walk-on). The rest of the guys are there to keep the bench warm and hand out towels during timeouts. It’s a pretty sad state of affairs when a first-year senior walk-on (Knox) is listed as the sixth-best player on the team by the assistants!!

The opener actually goes better than Victory expects. Yet it wraps up with a familiar ending – a 60-59 loss (are 1-point losses to open the season programmed into Victory’s dynasty or what?). Cambridge scores 23 so that’s positive.

‘Bama drops a 61-55 decision to a solid Gonzaga team then gets thumped by Albany 66-42 (uggg!). Victory worries about losing by 50 at North Carolina in game number four, but the Tide actually shows up for this one. The Tar Heels, ranked in the top 35 in CRI, barely escape 74-68.

Just when he’s ready to repeat Bobby Knight’s famous words – “Are we ever going to win a game?” – Victory gets a victory in game number five. Of course, the opponent is hapless Maryland Eastern Shore (CRI 270), but the coach treats the 86-67 triumph like a win over the Maryland Terrapins. Dominque Little scores 23, and Maurice Cambridge adds 22.

Alabama gets a little win streak going, topping Norfolk State 73-65 and then grinding past Alcorn State 55-45. But a .500 record eludes the Tide and they drop their next four – to Bradley 64-59, Oklahoma 66-57, Radford 82-64 (yuk!) and Birmingham Southern 62-61 (ouch – we lose some more in-state credibility).

Fortunately, the non-conference slate draws to a close with an impressive 73-53 popping of Florida State (CRI 85). This team is capable of playing competitive hoops when they want to.

Victory makes one positive lineup change midway through the non-conference slate. Noticing that SF Michael Cook is averaging only 3 points and 3 rebounds per game, he shifts Jimmy McArdle into the three spot. McArdle responds with games of 12, 9, 16 and 22 points respectively. The coach hopes that pays more dividends when SEC play cranks up. It’s going to be tough. LSU (16th), Kentucky (6th) and Florida (19th) are all ranked by the pollsters. Mississippi State is coming off a national runner-up finish. Everyone’s CRI is 79 or better. Alabama’s CRI: well over 100.
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Old 01-16-2007, 11:23 AM   #54
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Steve Victory JOURNAL – SEC Season 2009-2010

Actually the Tide did have one more non-conference game (oops missed it), and Victory’s bunch comes out on top – 62-59 over Nebraska. Of course, the Huskers are about like ‘Bama. Both may be good in football, but both are struggling mightily on the hardwood.

The Tide faces #4 LSU in its SEC opener and loses as expected 72-54. They bounce back with a pleasing 78-71 win over South Carolina (CRI 73), but that will be the only time Victory’s bunch reaches .500 in the league standings. Alabama loses six of its next seven games and ends SEC play 5-11. Ugg.

There were rays of hope despite all the setbacks. The Tide swept Arkansas 65-60 and 75-59 (relegating the Hogs to the SEC cellar). Maurice Cambridge scored 36 points, and the Tide upset Florida in Gator Country 78-76. UF was just two spots out of the top 25 that week. The final game of the regular season pitted ‘Bama and old rival Auburn. Jimmy McArdle and Cambridge powered the attack, as Alabama prevailed 81-67.

Of course there were big losses as well – 74-44 to #18 Vanderbilt at home, 89-55 to #2 Kentucky at home, 90-68 to Auburn in the first meeting on the road, 92-72 at Mississippi.

“This rebuilding project is going to be tougher than I thought,” Victory confides to a reporter from the Tuscaloosa News. “It may take a few years to even break above .500. I hope the administration can be patient with me.”

Alabama’s season ends on the first day of the SEC tournament. South Carolina, the number seven seed, eliminates the Tide with a 13-point victory.

Bama’s final record: 10-20. To the pessimist such a record, of course, wreaks of “more of the same” from Crimson Tide basketball. To the optimist, like Victory tries to be, the Tide did win one more game than last season, did get to double digits in victories and did manage to finish off the bottom of the SEC standings. But even that is reaching for a coach who wants to win an NCT title some day soon (and for fans tired of watching crappy basketball in Alabama).

“We didn’t, unfortunately, nab a top-20 recruiting class like I had hoped,” Victory says after the final day of signing. “That’s going to be the key to turning things around here in Tuscaloosa. Let’s hope these four dudes overachieve during their four years with us.”
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Old 01-16-2007, 11:30 AM   #55
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Steve Victory JOURNAL – Recruiting Update 2009-10

There is some promise in Victory’s first recruiting class at Alabama but nothing too earth-shattering. No Chad Drivers or Tim Weavers in this mix. (Driver opted to go pro after his sophomore season at Charleston by the way and was picked in the high first round - wow).

The most promising player is shooting guard Waitari Condill from North Carolina. He averaged about 22 ppg as a senior in high school but wasn’t much of an assist man (and it took Victory awhile to pronounce his name right). Point guard Jason Rude looks OK but will need a few seasons under his belt before he can really contribute.

The jury remains out on PF Fernando Williams and C Brad Nooner. Both had pretty good high school stats – until signing with Alabama. And then those numbers promptly tanked. And then coach Victory promptly slapped his forehead wondering why he had extended scholarship invitations to space-fillers.

As Victory scans the roster coming back for 2010-2011, he is suddenly overcome with fear. The only real post players ‘Bama had this past season – Dominique Little, Daniel Starkey and Johnny McArdle – are all gone, off making a living in the real world as new college graduates (not pro basketball players, mind you).

“We may never get a rebound next season,” he says. “Alabama basketball may have further down to go before it can be brought back up...”

Victory suddenly wishes he had a long beach to walk on...
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Old 01-16-2007, 11:31 AM   #56
aztarheel
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Steve Victory JOURNAL – Wrapping up 2009-10

Final thoughts on Coach Victory’s seventh season as a head coach, his first at Alabama:

• Oregon knocks off Dayton the win the NCT title. No SEC teams make the Final Four.
• Notre Dame outduels Mississippi State (a reigning national semifinalist) in the ACT championship at Madison Square Garden.

No post-season awards for ‘Bama, nor should there have been.
Leading scorers from this season: Maurice Cambridge (15.5 ppg), Jimmy McArdle (11 ppg). Cambridge will be back next season.
Leading rebounder: Daniel Starkey (6.9 rpg)
Leading assists: Barry Seamon (a tragic last name by the way) – 6.3 apg

The College of Charleston, the team that Victory left to come to Tuscaloosa, finishes 19-12 under new coach Michael Williamson, 14-4 in the Southern Conference. The Cougars get knocked off early in the SoCon tourney and don’t make the NCT or ACT. Chad Driver led the scoring, averaging about 16 ppg.

On to season number eight – which will mark the halfway point in coach Victory’s quest to win an NCT title before he turns 45… That seems like a long-shot goal at this point, but who knows?
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Old 01-16-2007, 12:40 PM   #57
aztarheel
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Steve Victory Career File

After SEVEN Seasons

Year School Overall Conference
2003-04 Central Florida 10-20 5-12
2004-05 Central Florida 7-22 6-11
2005-06 College of Charleston 15-16 7-11
2006-07 College of Charleston 21-9 13-4
2007-08 College of Charleston 25-7 14-4
2008-09 College of Charleston 20-13 14-6
2009-10 Alabama 10-20 5-12
Totals 108-107 64-60

Victory's Teams in the Post-Season
2007 College of Charleston 0-1 in ACT
2008 College of Charleston 0-1 in NCT
2009 College of Charleston 0-1 in NCT

Victory's All-Conference Players
2007 PG Augustinas Dmitrovic (College of Charleston)

Victory's NBA Draft Picks
None

National Champions By Year
2004 Marquette
2005 Notre Dame
2006 Oklahoma
2007 ??
2008 Kentucky
2009 St. Joseph's
2010 Oregon

ACT Champions By Year (i.e. NIT)
2004 Nebraska
2005 Ohio State
2006 TCU
2007 ??
2008 Fordham
2009 Maryland
2010 Notre Dame
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Old 01-16-2007, 02:34 PM   #58
aztarheel
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Steve Victory JOURNAL – Eighth season (2010-2011)

There is only one (publishable) word that does justice to coach Steve Victory’s second season at Alabama, his eighth overall – nightmare.

The Crimson Tide’s 2010-11 campaign turns hellish from the opening tap. ‘Bama gets blown out at home by hapless Gardner-Webb 76-55. Things get worse four nights later when Maryland-Baltimore County stuns the Tide 62-49, again in Tuscaloosa. What the heck?

Victory is crushed. The boo-birds mount quickly and in force. And unfortunately, the spell doesn’t break.

Alabama goes on to lose its first 10 games – to such notable opponents as Fordham, Youngstown State, Campbell and New Hampshire – before the goose egg is eliminated from the win column. And Victory savors the 72-49 win over Samford on Christmas Day like a man shown to a Sizzler buffet after weeks without food.

Amazingly, the Tide only gets two more wins the rest of the season! Once again, they sweep the series with Arkansas (72-64 and 65-57) but that’s it! The final, ugly, tally – 3 wins, 27 losses. That has to be the worst in Alabama history, but Victory is scared to look it up.

The coach knew his team would struggle, but this badly? He identifies the problem fairly early in the season – virtually no post presence just like early on in his career at Central Florida – but is helpless to do anything about it. There are games when Alabama gets fewer than 10 rebounds total. In most games, they only average 4-6 offensive boards. No offensive or defensive adjustment, or line-up change, seems to help.

“Unless you shoot 80 percent from the field – which we obviously can’t do – you’re not going to win too many games without second and third chances generated by offensive rebounds,” says Victory. “No excuses. We just sucked all season.”

The only highlight player, if that can be said from a year like this, is freshman SG Waitari Condill. He scores 20+ in a handful of games. But his season average is a paltry 11.4 ppg – and that’s the best on the team. Ugg.

The coach obviously worries about his job as the misery continues. Fortunately, Alabama officials don’t pull the trigger at the end of the season. But how much more time does he have to turn things around? One year? Maybe two at most? "At least the former coach before Victory could win eight or nine games," the administration was probably saying. "This guy only got us three."

Victory doesn’t even bother to go to the Final Four to hobnob with other coaches. He doesn’t even watch the games on TV, even though a sentimental favorite of his, the Indiana Hoosiers, are playing for the title against Missouri. He wouldn’t have liked the outcome any way – Missouri won. (Western Illinois took out Temple for the ACT title by the way).

Victory takes off driving for a couple of weeks just to get away. He ends up at the Grand Canyon, where he camps for days and just stares out at the natural wonder searching for some hope.

When he returns home to Alabama, he chunks the stat books and game films from the 2010-11 season into the garbage. He’s hoping his career, and his dream of winning an NCT title, doesn’t end up there also…

“Just don’t give up on me,” he keeps telling folks. “Please, don’t give up...”

Last edited by aztarheel : 01-16-2007 at 02:34 PM.
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Old 01-16-2007, 04:12 PM   #59
aztarheel
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Posted by: TC Dale Jun 15 2003, 04:04 PM

Keep up the great storyline! Poor ‘Bama , I bet they are chomping at the bit! Keep it up! Schedule Quinnipiac or ScottVib’s alma mater, they both suck.


• • •

Steve Victory JOURNAL:Recruiting 2010-11

Alabama’s crisis season didn’t deter four recruits from inking with the Crimson Tide (thank goodness). They all waited until the final weeks of the process but Victory worked some charm to get a decent class on board.

At first glance, two players look pretty solid. One other has potential to be good before he graduates. The other is a mystery man.

The two solid picks are C Brody Adams (4 stars) from Madison, Miss. Despite his 6-6 frame, Adams tore up the high school circuit, averaging 28 ppg and an amazing 15 rpg. He is desperately needed to beef up Bama’s non-existent post game. Point guard Erazem Lekivicius from Ohio should help the perimeter action. He pumped in 21 points and 8.5 assists per game in high school.

On paper, Kevin Stephenson (2 stars) could develop into a stud in the middle as well, depending on his potential. The South Carolina native is a seven-footer (Victory likes those for some reason) with a 245-pound frame. His high school stats were pretty modest, though. The final pick, Josiah Parker, from California faded at season’s end (naturally after signing with the Tide).

For the record:
· Florida beat Tennessee for the 2011 SEC tourney championship
· Western Illinois beat Temple for the ACT crown
· Missouri of course knocked off Indiana for the NCT title…
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Old 01-16-2007, 10:03 PM   #60
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Steve Victory JOURNAL- Ninth Season (2011-12)

If coach Steve Victory’s eighth season as a head coach was a nightmare, then season number nine can be labeled “The Nightmare Revisited.”

Victory’s Alabama Crimson Tide again finishes the season with just three total victories. Three! Well, at least they only lost 26 games this season instead of 27, like last year...

Last season’s collapse was somewhat expected considering the awkward transition period between the crappy players the old coach had and the new ones Victory was bringing in. But this season’s disaster comes as a surprise to many who had anticipated 12-15 triumphs or better. The freshman class was considered “good” by the .400 experts. The game difficulty improved a step from “brutal” to “very difficult.” Yet nothing Victory did seemed to work.

He ran the fast break. He slowed it down. He pressed full-court. He pulled the defense back into the paint. He ran a zone. He went man. He started the upperclassmen. He turned things over to the freshmen.

Nothing clicked.

The one real highlight from the season came on December 29. That’s when Alabama paid a visit to the College of Charleston, Victory’s old stomping grounds, and pulled off a 64-61 “pride” upset for their coach. Charleston was off to a great start and was even flirting with national rankings at the time (the Cougars went on to finish 21-14). Yet ‘Bama dug deep behind the efforts of SG Waitari Condill, who led the team with 18 points.

Victory, of course, really sweated out his job security as the losses mounted (1-16 vs. SEC foes). There is no way Alabama will keep him after back-to-back three win seasons, right? Amazingly, school officials again decide not to pull the trigger. Even Victory is baffled that he isn’t fired, thinking that this was the time to start reacquainting himself with all those Atlantic Sun schools that he blew off while at Charleston and Central Florida.

“Well, as long as they don’t give up on me, I’m not giving up on Alabama,” he vows. “I still really think we can turn this ship around if we stick with it. It’s just going to be a lot tougher than I originally gave the job credit for.”

[Author’s note: to me this job is the ultimate TDCB challenge – taking a totally crappy team (prestige low 30s) and trying to succeed with them in a monster conference like the SEC. It’s one thing to pull up a 25-30 prestige school in a league where everyone else is 20-35. A few stellar recruits and you’re there. But it’s another thing altogether to pull up a team in a conference where everyone else is 50-plus in prestige and where four or five schools are regulars in the top 20 (prestige 65-75). Fun, but frustrating!]
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Old 01-17-2007, 09:22 AM   #61
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Steve Victory JOURNAL- More 2011-12

Cleaning up the mess that was coach Steve Victory’s ninth season as a head coach:
• Florida edges Kentucky by 2 points to win the SEC tourney (the Gators were regular season champs as well).
• Florida advances to the NCT Final Four as well but loses to Georgetown in one semifinal. Arizona beats Notre Dame in the other semifinal, then knocks off the Hoyas 66-58 to give Tucson another title.
• Victory’s alma mater, Miami, makes the ACT Final Four but loses to eventual champion, Siena, in the semis. Siena beat Seton Hall in the championship game.

Team leaders for Alabama in 2011-12 (if you can say there were any leaders):
• Scoring: Waitari Condill 12.4 ppg (no one else over 10)
• Rebounds: Craig Long 6.1 rpg
• Assists: Barry Seamon 4.2
• Post-season Awards: Ha! Are you kidding?
• Migraines per game: Steve Victory 1.0, Crimson Tide fans 0.96

Victory bids good riddance to Alabama’s four seniors: Seamon, Long, Michael Cook and Andy Starkey. For some reason, Victory never really liked these guys. They had decent ratings but never performed up to expectations (OK, they sucked). Now, the coach only has one more player from the “old regime” to get out the door, soon-to-be senior PF John Jordan.
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Old 01-17-2007, 09:24 AM   #62
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Steve Victory JOURNAL- Recruiting Update 2011-12

Victory’s savvy in the recruiting department may be the only thing that kept him at Alabama following his second three-win campaign in a row (that, and a lot of begging). The coach finally got a couple of blue-chip guys to sign on with the Tide. Both are power forwards (something ‘Bama needs desperately).

PF Brett Fischer is listed as the fourth-best player in the nation by both .400 Software and Hoops Galore. He inks with Alabama in week nine. Fischer grew up in Tuscaloosa and despite being ignored by the Tide early in the recruiting process tells coach Victory that he has “always dreamed of playing at Alabama.” For real? Fischer looks like a legit 5-star guy, too (31.3 ppg, 11.3 rpg, 85 % FT, 62 % FG).

“You’ll start next winter no doubt about it,” Victory tells Fischer (after kissing him on the forehead) on signing day.

The second stud is a pick out of Sheridan, Wyoming named Michael Bliss. He’s the 59th best recruit in the land according to .400. He pulled down an amazing 16.6 rpg and scored 24 ppg as a high school senior. What a combination these two guys can be if they fulfill expectations and stick around for four years.

Not wanting the post game to suffer like it had the past few seasons, Victory also gets yet another center, 7-1 Craig King. He scored 24 ppg and averaged 12 rpg at his South Carolina high school. The fourth recruit is SF Travis Williams (18 ppg), who probably won’t be as strong but could earn some PT later in his career.

For the first time in a few years, Victory sees some light at the end of the tunnel (and it doesn’t appear to be a train coming the other way)…
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Old 01-17-2007, 09:27 AM   #63
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Steve Victory JOURNAL – Preparing for season #10

Has it really been almost a decade since Steve Victory jumped into college basketball coaching and boldly predicted that he could win an NCT title within 15 seasons?

Amazingly, that 30-year-old “kid” who blindly signed on with Central Florida against the advice of his closest comrades, is now almost 40. He’s on his third coaching job and frankly he’s really nowhere near his long-coveted goal of cutting down the nets and hoisting a national championship trophy. In fact, he's on the hot seat big-time at his current gig.

While Victory did well for himself at College of Charleston, the Alabama teams he has coached the past two seasons have been among the worst in Crimson Tide history. The fans have all but disappeared from Coleman Coliseum. The local media, while trying to maintain patience and perspective, have taken more and more pot-shots. The Auburn fans, as expected, have started calling the ‘Bama coach things like Steve Defeat and Steve Victoryless.

If there’s to be any hope at all to Victory’s quest at winning the NCT in 15 years, the turnaround has to begin now. The program has to make a major move forward in 2012-13, and then keep going forward. Victory, as determined as ever – if not a bit more humble these days – believes it can happen.

The coach will put a very young team on the floor for the 2012-13 campaign. John Jordan will be the only senior and will start in the front court along with the heralded freshman duo of Michael Bliss and Brett Fischer. Sophomore Erazem Lekivicius will run the show at point guard. Junior SG Waitari Condill, maybe the only bright spot these past few seasons, will try to pump in the points from the wing, though he’s being pushed for PT by fellow junior Jason Rude.

Like his best teams at Charleston, Victory will have four centers to choose from. If he needs strength off the bench, the coach will turn to Brody Adams, a 6-6 sophomore with a penchant for rebounding. If he needs size, he’ll turn to 7-0 sophomore Kevin Stevenson or 7-1 freshman Craig King. Brad Nooner, a 6-10 junior, should see decent minutes as well, though Victory has been rethinking his strategy of recruiting the biggest of the big men. He’s yet to have success at developing them into powerhouse players, though their size lends him to believe they should be able to score 25 ppg and grab 15-18 rpg.

Sophomore PF Josiah Parker, junior PF Fernando Williams and freshman SF Travis Williams make up the rest of the roster. Game number one comes Nov. 22 against visiting Columbia. Victory can’t wait — mostly for the chance to put the bad taste of 3-27 and 3-26 seasons behind him.
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Old 01-17-2007, 09:33 AM   #64
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Steve Victory JOURNAL – Non-conference 2012-13

It takes Alabama all of three games to equal last year’s win total. The Crimson Tide doesn’t exactly blow away the competition, but coach Steve Victory is as pleased as a kid in a candy store at his team’s wins against Columbia (72-64), Prairie View (78-67) and Ball State (80-69). All seems to be well in Victory’s world again.

If the first three contests are any indication, this ‘Bama team will be a balanced one. Four players score in double figures against Columbia and Prairie View (Lekivicius, Fischer, Bliss and Jordan). Jordan adds 20 points to lead the way in the Ball State triumph.

Alabama trips against Alcorn State 77-70, but then rebounds with wins over Binghamton (75-61) and UTEP (85-59). Victory is amazed to see his Crimson Tide push into the top 25 with a 5-1 record. Wow! What a turnaround.

Unfortunately, a four-game losing skid sends the Tide quickly off the charts. Alabama loses close road games to Buffalo (87-83) and New Mexico State (94-82), then gets beaten up pretty good at Nebraska (93-74) and by visiting Temple (76-55).

Alabama owns a 5-5 record heading into a rematch with College of Charleston. Again Victory agrees to travel to play his old team, and again the Crimson Tide comes out with a victory. Waitari Condill leads ‘Bama for the second year in a row with 18 points. Bliss adds 16 and Jason Rude adds 13 to lead the 84-79 triumph.

Charleston fans pay their old coach a tribute with a nice standing ovation before the game. The question of the day in the Charleston Post & Courier: “Did coach Victory do the right thing by going to ‘Bama?”

Opinions are mixed. Victory doesn’t reply publicly but has posed himself that question many times. “We could probably be a 45-50 prestige school if I had stayed at CoC these past three seasons,” Victory muses in his journal. “Then middle tier programs in the SEC or ACC or Big East might have come calling. Oh well, can’t look back…”

The Tide doesn’t and keeps rolling after Charleston, finishing up the non-conference slate with a 75-60 win over Evansville and a 95-82 triumph over Duquesne. The record heading into the SEC schedule: 8-5. Not bad, but Victory knows his troops will be tested every night the rest of the way. The first 13 games were but a warm-up for the grueling grind of the SEC…
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Old 01-17-2007, 09:36 AM   #65
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Steve Victory JOURNAL – SEC schedule 2012-13

Victory’s team starts off the SEC campaign with a murderer’s row set of games:
• @ LSU (CRI 34)
• @ #7 Kentucky
• vs. #2 Mississippi State
• vs. Georgia (CRI 49)
• @ Arkansas (CRI 40)

“We really need to win two or three of these games to stay in the SEC title hunt,” Victory says. “And to keep our confidence up.”

Unfortunately, the Tide drops all five. Victory’s bunch did go down swinging in four of the five games. They scored 89 on LSU before falling by 7. They earned 79 against Kentucky before losing by 14. Mississippi State, a perennial Final Four team in recent years, only escaped by 2 points and Georgia won by just 1.

“Our strategy of running and pressing more seems to be paying off,” Victory says. “We seem to have the athletes now that can do that. Now if we can just get over the hump and get some wins.”

Alabama does get a big “W” against South Carolina, a program that seems ready to be the next SEC doormat. In Victory’s biggest win in years, ‘Bama cruises over the Gamecocks 90-58.

But then another losing skid sneaks in. The Tide drops four straight nailbiters to Ole Miss, LSU, Auburn (argg!) and Arkansas by 8, 10, 4 and 2 points respectively. Victory’s crew gets a nice 81-80 triumph over Vanderbilt and beats Ole Miss in the rematch 70-67, but drops games to Tennessee, Florida and Mississippi State. Fortunately, the last game of the regular season comes up in ‘Bama’s favor – a pleasing 81-68 victory at home to arch-rival Auburn.

The final record: 12-17 overall, 4-12 in the conference. Better than the 3-win debacles of 2011 and 2012 but not good enough to garner any post-season consideration (barring tournament miracles).

At least the ship is starting to turn around… And Victory does have one “miracle” tournament run to his credit already, just a few short years ago at Charleston. Can this young and somewhat fearless bunch engineer another?
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Old 01-17-2007, 09:42 AM   #66
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Steve Victory JOURNAL – Post-season 2012-13

Alas, there are no SEC tournament miracles from Alabama this season. The Tide gets knocked out in the first round by Mississippi State 83-72. Not bad considering the Bulldogs spent most of the season ranked in the top 5 in the nation. ‘Bama roared back from a 47-29 halftime deficit to at least keep things interesting. Waitari Condill led the way for the Tide with 23 points, including 4-for-7 from three-point land. He's a gamer.

So, Victory’s fourth season at Alabama again ends with a losing record. But his 12-18 mark is his best yet in Tuscaloosa and the school’s best record in close to a decade. With everyone coming back except senior PF/C John Jordan, the future looks bright. The school trustees, while still grumbling over the losing record, seem placated for now.

Victory finally feels confident enough to go back to the Final Four to hobnob with his coaching buddies (he was a no-show the past two seasons because of Alabama’s crappy records). What he sees this time is SEC rival Mississippi State cutting down the nets and enjoying their One Shining NCT Moment in front of tens of thousands.

The Bulldogs beat another SEC foe, Kentucky, in the semifinals 73-47, then clipped Indiana in the title game 80-60. It was the second time in three years IU failed to win the big one (maybe the Hoosiers need dynasty master Johnny93g to help coach them all the way over the top).

Victory takes great pleasure from the fact that his ‘Bama squad nearly beat MSU once this season (falling 67-65) and only lost by 11 in the other two meetings.

“We’re right there, boys,” he says during a summer training session. “We are so close to putting the Crimson Tide back among the elite programs in college basketball. Let’s just keep believing and keep getting better.”

Maybe Victory CAN reach his 15-year goal of winning the NCT after all… Time sure is getting short, though… Only five seasons left...
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Old 01-17-2007, 09:45 AM   #67
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Steve Victory JOURNAL – Wrapping up 2012-13

With only one recruiting spot to fill, coach Steve Victory went after the best prospects in the country. Unfortunately, none of them signed with Alabama. In the final week, the Tide did get a decent SG prospect in Cliff McWilliams out of Tavares, Florida. He’ll be lucky to break into the starting lineup based on early peeks at his ratings, but who knows, stranger things have happened…

Alabama’s hot-shot freshman duo of Michael Bliss and Brett Fischer both earned spots on the SEC all-freshman team. Both were freshman of the week a handful of times during the season.

Victory preached “team” all season, and it reflected in the final stat sheet. Consider this balance:

• Scoring: PF Michael Bliss 11.9 ppg, SG Waitari Condill 11.1, PG Jason Rude 10.9, PF John Jordan 10.1, Erazem Lekivicius 9.7, Brett Fischer 7.6. Nearly the entire starting lineup averaged double figures!
• Rebounds: Bliss 8.5, Jordan 6.6, Fischer 6.4
• Assists: Rude 5.6, Lekivicius 3.7
• Blocks: Bliss 2.4 per game (wow!), C Brody Adams 1.5, John Jordan 1.1, Fischer 1.1. Marv Albert would have had a field day yelling “Rejected!” with this team.

Bliss put his name on a bunch of team records: His 8 blocks vs. Arkansas proved a new Tide mark. His 74 blocks during the course of the season also set a new standard. Plus he made 41.3 percent of his three-pointers – no one had done that at ‘Bama before – and set team records for FT attempted (103) and FT made (120). Fischer set a new team record for FT percentage (89.6 percent). These guys can take over most of the record book if they stay all four years…

For the record:
• UConn drills Florida State for the ACT title 83-59…
• South Carolina offers Victory a job after finishing the season 6-23. Uh, no thanks. While Victory has good memories of the Palmetto State, he’s hoping his days of rebuilding a program in that much disarray are behind him…
• Weird quirk in the game that I just discovered: the Alabama coach that Victory replaced (Michael Williamson) ended up taking Victory’s place at College of Charleston. Would that ever happen in real life? Nope, but it happens every time you change jobs in TDCB (one of the game's drawbacks). Charleston finished 16-14 in 2012-13, giving Williamson his fourth-straight winning season after a truly awful stint at ‘Bama. Strange indeed...
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Old 01-17-2007, 09:51 AM   #68
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Steve Victory Career File

After TEN Seasons

Year School Overall Conference
2003-04 Central Florida 10-20 5-12
2004-05 Central Florida 7-22 6-11
2005-06 College of Charleston 15-16 7-11
2006-07 College of Charleston 21-9 13-4
2007-08 College of Charleston 25-7 14-4
2008-09 College of Charleston 20-13 14-6
2009-10 Alabama 10-20 5-12
2010-11 Alabama 3-27 2-15
2011-12 Alabama 3-26 1-16
2012-13 Alabama 12-18 4-12
Totals 126-178 71-103

Victory's Teams in the Post-Season
2007 College of Charleston 0-1 in ACT
2008 College of Charleston 0-1 in NCT
2009 College of Charleston 0-1 in NCT

Victory's All-Conference Players
2007 PG Augustinas Dmitrovic (College of Charleston)

Victory's NBA Draft Picks
None

National Champions By Year
2004 Marquette
2005 Notre Dame
2006 Oklahoma
2007 ??
2008 Kentucky
2009 St. Joseph's
2010 Oregon
2011 Missouri
2012 Arizona
2013 Mississippi State

ACT Champions By Year (i.e. NIT)
2004 Nebraska
2005 Ohio State
2006 TCU
2007 ??
2008 Fordham
2009 Maryland
2010 Notre Dame
2011 Western Illinois
2012 UConn

***I hadn't realized until I added it up how poor Victory's overall record was at this point in his career. I'm really surprised the game didn't fire him from Alabama after four seasons, but for some reason the Tide kept him on. Can a guy with five 20-loss seasons in 10 years really turn out to be a legend? Stay tuned... (I've still got to look up the NCT and ACT winners from 2007 - that's bugging me)


****For those reading this "re-run" (all two of you), is the pace OK? I've got something of a sequel planned that I'm eager to start, so I'm kind of blitzing through posts. I might even start the sequel before I finish this, and provide a Reader's Digest version of Victory's history somewhere in it, so folks don't have to sort through the whole story.

Anyways, feedback is welcome if folks are enjoying/not enjoying this one. I had fun the first time and am enjoying re-reading it as I repost it...
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Old 01-17-2007, 10:03 AM   #69
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Definitely enjoying it and the more the merrier, great work time reading
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Old 01-17-2007, 10:39 AM   #70
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Agreed, so far this has been a fun read. Looking forward to seeing what the final five seasons bring for Victory and the Tide.
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Old 01-17-2007, 11:08 AM   #71
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great read
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Old 01-17-2007, 02:39 PM   #72
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Thanks for the comments, everyone ... I'll keep posting away ...
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Old 01-17-2007, 09:10 PM   #73
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Steve Victory JOURNAL – Preseason 2013-14

When folks in Tuscaloosa weren’t talking about Alabama football during the summer of 2013, many were debating the merits of keeping Steve Victory on as head men’s basketball coach.

The cynics railed against Tide officials for not looking elsewhere after four-straight losing seasons, including two years with just three wins each. Victory’s supporters, however, pointed to the fact that those crappy seasons came with players from the former regime, and that the Tide made some major strides the previous winter with players that Victory brought in.

“He’s still our man,” Alabama administrators kept telling the press, though that was about as big an endorsement as Victory got publicly.

There was consensus on one point – year number five in the Victory era had better be a good one. Another 10- or 12-win season (or worse) just wouldn’t cut it. Alabama needed to capture at least 20 victories and make the NCT to quell the rising tide (no pun intended) against the coach.

Of course, Victory has his own pressure to deal with on top of the growing impatience from school supporters. He is only five years away from his self-imposed goal of winning an NCT title by the time he turns 45. Things are moving in the right direction for sure but can he take Alabama (or another program for that matter) all the way in just five more seasons?

Fortunately, the team that Victory will trot out for the 2013-14 has the potential to be pretty good. Four regular starters return, including a pair of rising sophomores who made the all-SEC freshman team the season before – PF Michael Bliss and PF Brett Fischer

Junior PG Erazem Lekivicius is back for a second full year to run the show. He’ll be joined in the backcourt by senior SG Waitari Condill. Senior PG/SG Jason Rude will push both players for starting minutes and make for a nice three-man rotation.

Junior Brody Adams, who reminds ‘Bama fans of Charles Barkley, wins the starting role at center. Back-ups in the post include a solid though not spectacular cast – (listed from highest-rated to lowest) sophomore C Craig King, senior PF Fernando Williams, junior PF Josiah Parker, senior C Brad Nooner and junior C Kevin Stevenson. Sophomore SF Travis Williams and frosh SG Cliff McWilliams could be vital if the guard rotation is thinned by injuries. Academics shouldn’t be a problem as everyone’s GPA is better than 3.15…

The scouting report from .400 Software experts:
Expectations: win a few games
Prestige: 43
Freshman class (only one player): Awful
Overall talent: Good
Difficulty: Moderate
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Old 01-17-2007, 09:12 PM   #74
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Steve Victory JOURNAL – Season 2013-14

The Crimson Tide faces a tough task in its opener – a trip to #25 Wisconsin. Victory decides to push the tempo, get the ball into the post and make the Badgers beat his bunch from the outside. The ploy works, and Alabama races to a 95-85 triumph. Guard Erazem Lekivicius leads the scoring with 23 points (Wisconsin overplayed the post apparently).

Victory decides to keep the run-and-gun mentality, and his Tide responds with four more wins. Brody Adams leads the scoring in a 98-72 smashing of UMass. Alabama goes over 100 in a 103-83 win against Robert Morris. Michael Bliss scores 23 and pulls down 12 rebounds in an 82-80 nailbiter over Penn. An 84-72 win at Idaho State puts the Tide where it hasn’t been in a long time – at #14 in the national rankings. ‘Bama’s CRI is an amazing #9 during the first week of charting. While this high positioning may not last, Crimson Tide basketball is at least fun to watch again…

Victory’s team makes a quick exit from the polls with an 83-81 loss at Rutgers (CRI 250 – ugh) in game number six, but the rest of the non-conference slate goes well. The Tide gets ready for SEC play sporting a 10-2 record. Good wins, as Johnny93 likes to call them, come against Southern Cal (95-79) and New Mexico (102-69). The only other loss comes to the #5 team in the land, Dayton. The Fliers go ahead 51-35 at half and roll on to a 95-79 victory.

Everyone in the starting lineup has great games during this stretch. Jason Rude and Waitari Condill have 20-point nights. Bliss, Fischer and Adams lead the rebounding… At long last, the NCT drought could be over for Alabama. But the team still must navigate the always tough SEC schedule… No easy task...
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Old 01-17-2007, 09:14 PM   #75
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Steve Victory JOURNAL — SEC Schedule 2014

Things start well in conference play as ‘Bama trips Mississippi 82-68. The Tide loses at LSU but then bounces back to beat defending national champion Mississippi State 86-84 and Vanderbilt 75-60. Finally, Alabama is a contender in the SEC again! MSU isn’t as strong as last year but is still ranked #23!

Condill suffers a major injury at this point, though, and Arkansas takes advantage of the guard-thin lineup for a 72-54 triumph. This causes Victory to rethink his run-and-gun strategy. The coach pulls back on the reins a bit, focusing more on post play, and Alabama gets the biggest win of Victory’s short tenure in Tuscaloosa – a 94-44 stomping of #20 Florida. Man, does that feel good! Victory, being a Miami alum, has never liked the Gators.

The train derails when another guard suffers an injury. Without Jason Rude or Condill, the Tide falls to Kentucky, rival Auburn, Ole Miss and lowly South Carolina, and barely sneaks past Arkansas by 2.

Despite yet more day-to-day type injuries to Rude and Lekivicius, Alabama goes on a nice four-game run to end the regular season – beating Auburn 90-87, Georgia 100-62, LSU 85-71 and even #7 Tennessee 84-79. Brody Adams goes absolutely crazy against Tennessee, scoring 19 points and grabbing an amazing 18 rebounds (including 8 on the offensive side).

When the dust clears on the regular season, Alabama is holding a 19-9 record, 9-7 in the SEC. The pundits consider the Tide a bubble team even though they have solid wins against the Vols and Gators, and even though they smashed Georgia (CRI 16) by 38 points. But losses to teams like Rutgers, Auburn (CRI 200) and South Carolina may be their undoing.

“We have got to win a couple games at least in the SEC tournament,” Victory tells his players. “If we go one-and-done, we may be watching the Big Dance rather than joining in on it. Of course, if we win the whole thing, we’ve got it made…”
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Old 01-17-2007, 09:16 PM   #76
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Steve Victory JOURNAL — SEC Tournament 2014

Coach Steve Victory is used to being one-and-done in conference tournaments. In his first 10 years of coaching, his teams have only won one league tourney and only made it out of the first round a couple of times.

Count 2014 as another year of falling short. The worst part about it – it’s rival Auburn that eliminates the Tide on the first day of SEC tournament play. Though only 9-20 during the regular season, the Tigers use good guard play to pull the upset by 3. Of all the teams to lose to – Alabama’s biggest rival. The loss may have gone down better had it been someone like Georgia or Florida, but those pesky Tigers? It hurts!

Victory and his players sweat out selection Sunday. CBS puts a crew in Tuscaloosa along with a couple other “bubble team” towns and tracks the Tide’s reaction as Greg Gumble reads through the names of those invited to the NCT. Alas, a 19-10 record isn’t good enough. Alabama’s name is not on the list. Faces are long in Tuscaloosa in front of a national audience, while Auburn fans rejoice at being the spoiler. What a crappy weekend!

While his players are in the dumps, Victory does rebound quickly and gets excited about getting an ACT invite. Nothing helps you move on from a tough defeat like getting to play another game, he figures. While Auburn sure messed some things up, the Tigers don’t have to get the last word in…

South Florida is Alabama’s first opponent in a midweek game. Victory knows all about them being a Florida native. The Bulls compete in Conference USA, a league Victory twice turned down coaching opportunities in.

“Seniors – think about finishing strong,” Victory says to his players. “Underclassmen – look at this as a springboard to greater things next winter. We have the chance to play five more games if we can keep our heads up.”
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Old 01-17-2007, 09:18 PM   #77
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Steve Victory JOURNAL – ACT 2014

The 2014 ACT has plenty of names you might expect to find in the NCT instead: Virginia, Purdue, Temple, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Michigan, Georgia Tech, Cincinnati.

Alabama is making its first appearance in the “Almost Championship Tournament” in 10 years. The Tide last played in the ACT in 2004 when coach Michael Williamson engineered a Sweet 16 finish and a 17-14 season record (the last time ‘Bama had a winning record in men’s hoops by the way – yikes!). At least that's one positive streak Victory helped snap this year.

Coach Steve Victory’s crew opens at home against South Florida as the number two seed in the South. Alabama is the strong favorite but is playing without PG Erazem Lekivicius, who fractured his skull (ouch!) late in the regular season and is unavailable the rest of the way. Fortunately, freshman SG Cliff McWilliams steps in beautifully, scores 21 points and leads an 84-55 stomping. Fellow guard Waitari Condill adds 20 points. Brody Adams pulls down 13 rebounds. Steve Victory earns his first-ever post-season tournament win (outside of conference tournaments) – hey, and it only took 11 seasons.

Round two brings a date against Georgia Tech of the ACC. ‘Bama travels for this one but takes the sting out of the Yellow Jackets in the first half, building a 44-29 lead. Five Crimson Tide players reach double figures – with Michael Bliss leading with 20 points – and ‘Bama rolls to an 81-67 triumph. McWilliams fills in nicely again – 10 points, three 3-pointers. Rude has 12 assists. On to the Elite Eight – ACT style!

Here, Alabama meets up with always tough Temple, still coached by John Cheney, who is something like 90 years old now. Again the Tide travels and again they silence the home crowd with a great performance. Brett Fischer leads the scoring in this one, providing 19 points, and ‘Bama wins 75-61.

Adams and Bliss each have 12 rebounds. Jason Rude proves rude to Temple’s defense with 8 assists. Hey, hey – Steve Victory is going to his first Final Four. Even if it is only the ACT, he’s pretty pumped to be still playing in late March! The coach has always held quite a bit of reverence for Madison Square Garden. Others making the trip: SEC rival Arkansas, Virginia and Xavier. ‘Bama must get through the Wahoos of UVa to make it to the title game…
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Old 01-17-2007, 09:21 PM   #78
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Steve Victory JOURNAL – ACT Final Four 2014

Virginia sports a 19-14 record heading into the ACT semifinals. ‘Bama comes in with a 22-10 mark (it’s looking better every game!). The two teams fight and scratch for 40 hard minutes before the Crimson Tide comes out on top by 2 points, 63-61.

Jason Rude (14 points) and Waitari Condill (14 points) lead the scoring. Michael Bliss (12 points) and Brett Fischer (11 points) get most of their scoring at the free-throw line. Alabama is going to the ACT championship game!! Their opponent: none other than SEC rival Arkansas, who cruised past Xavier 83-65.

The all-SEC final might not garner a lot of national attention but it’s a great match-up for fans of the league (and channel surfers who just want to watch a hard-fought basketball game). Alabama and Arkansas fans don’t necessarily like each other. Both teams won one game against the other during the regular season and both felt snubbed by the NCT selection committee when the berths were announced (Arkansas had a 20-10 record at the time).

Victory wants to cut the nets down at Madison Square Garden so badly he can taste it. So what if it’s “just the ACT”? A win in the championship will vindicate what he’s been doing with the Crimson Tide the past 4-5 seasons and prove a great springboard into next winter. “There’s nothing like winning your last game of the season,” he tells the press on the eve of the showdown. “This is the biggest game of my career to date.”
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Old 01-17-2007, 09:22 PM   #79
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Steve Victory JOURNAL – ACT Championship 2014

Unfortunately, this big game at the Garden ends in heartbreaking fashion. Crimson Tide players give their all but ‘Bama loses 79-75. Alabama had held a 4-point lead at halftime but couldn’t stave off Arkansas’ guard tandem of L. Landram and K. Smith. Both pumped in about 20 points and shut down the Tide’s perimeter game (the Tide really missed starting PG Erazem Lekivicius, out with his skull injury).

Michael Bliss scored 22 points for the Tide but everyone else seemed to struggle. Only seldom-used center Craig King joined Bliss in double figures, netting 12. Waitari Condill was held to 2 points. Jason Rude managed 9. Cliff McWilliams, who had played so well during the rest of the ACT, had just 4.

While the loss is tough to swallow, Victory walks out of Madison Square Garden with his head held pretty high. Taking Alabama from four straight losing seasons to a 23-11 record and an ACT runner-up finish is a big step for the program – and his career as well. Now maybe recruits, fans and cynical alumni will embrace him rather than plan how to oust him.

Now maybe the stage is set for a similar run through the NCT in the near future – maybe next year since most of the guys are coming back.
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Old 01-18-2007, 11:05 AM   #80
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Author's Note: It was at this point of the story where one of my best friends in the world, Jeff Wilt, started posting regularly (His nickname is "yanksare". I had inserted his name harmlessly into the dynasty as a sports writer back when Victory coached at Charleston, knowing he might see it.

He read that and decided to develop the character. I never really knew what he (and some others) were going to write and he never knew what was going to happen next to ol' Steve, so we had fun with it... Anyways, this is where the dynasty got really fun for me...

Enjoy...

• • •
Posted by: jksander
Great ACT run, coach! I still am counting on you to win an NCT Title though And I think your Alabama can do it!


• • •

Posted by: yanksare

Tuscaloosa News • April 20, 2014


There’s a New Sheriff in Town

Tuscaloosa, Alabama

Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Jeffrey Craig Wilt and I am your new “star” sports columnist at The Tuscaloosa News. I most recently worked for a nickle and dime publication in Charleston, South Carolina. That reminds me, you folks around here are already used to SC transplants. Now I don’t want to ruffle any feathers my first day on the job, but isn’t it about time Alabama made it to the NCT? Sure this past year was the best the Tide has had since 2003, but is the ACT runner up, the title that we have been dreaming of? I promise to give you hard hitting news and intelligent thought provoking commentary on the coming season and the continued plight of Steve Victory for that elusive title. Face it tiger. You hit the jackpot.
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Old 01-18-2007, 11:08 AM   #81
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Steve Victory JOURNAL – Final thoughts on 2013-14

NCT Champion: Illinois outlasted Duke to win the 2014 crown (Coach Victory is glad the Dookies didn’t prevail!)
ACT Champion: Arkansas, of course… Argg…

Awards: Michael Bliss got player of the week a few times, but nothing else

Alabama Leaders (again a balanced year):
Scoring – Michael Bliss (13.9 ppg), Waitari Condill (13.5 ppg), Jason Rude (13.0 ppg), Erazem Lekivicius (11.3 ppg) Brody Adams (9.5 ppg). Almost every regular starter in double figures
Rebounding – Michael Bliss (9.5 rpg), Brody Adams (7.9 rpg)
Assists – Erazem Lekivicius (5.8 apg), Jason Rude (3.4 apg) – not the greatest numbers in the world…
Blocks – Michael Bliss and Brody Adams (all 6 feet, 6 inches of him) both with 2.4 blocks per game. Wow! Brett Fischer added 1.4 bpg.
FT % - Brett Fischer made 93.9 % from the line… Mr. Reliable.

Recruiting Update: Coach Victory does something in the summer of 2014 that he’s never done before – cut his own recruits. In fact, he jettisons two guys that have ratings that wouldn’t qualify them to play at Tuscaloosa High. Yuck — that’s what got ‘Bama in trouble in the first place...

Victory does land a stellar center prospect in Jordie Barnes out of Tracy, Calif. He could be the next Brody Adams and should push for minutes as a freshman. Victory also signs a decent PG prospect in Will Turner out of Palmer, Alaska (thought he was from Arkansas for awhile and wondered why recruiting budget was so much – doh!)…

The other two openings are filled with senior walk-ons. Shooting guard Bob Woods actually looks pretty decent. Point guard Taliek Edwards probably won’t play much at all…
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Old 01-18-2007, 11:42 AM   #82
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Steve Victory JOURNAL – Preseason 2014-15

It becomes obvious to coach Steve Victory pretty quickly that an ACT runner-up finish carries only so much weight with Alabama fans.

Sure, folks at College of Charleston might have had a parade in Victory’s honor for such a feat. But being “66th best in the land” doesn’t mean a whole lot to a town used to its football team competing regularly for BCS bowl berths.

“Would Tide fans applaud their football team for winning the Poulan Weedeater Independence Bowl?” writes new Tuscaloosa News sports columnist Jeff Wilt, aka The Sheriff. “Not for very long, I can tell you that.

“Finish as the NCT runner-up, Mr. Victory, and we’ll give you the standing ovation you crave. Until then, we’re not very impressed.”

Ouch. Granted Wilt is the “stir-em-up” tabloid journalist type, but his tone represents the mood of many ‘Bama fans who have endured a decade-long drought from the NCT.

Fortunately, the stage is set for Victory and company to turn some heads in the basketball realm. At least on paper, Victory’s sixth Alabama team looks like a solid NCT contender.

The folks at .400 Software call Alabama’s talent level “Superior” and even remark that the two freshmen are “very good.” Challenge level: moderate. Expectations: Win a few games. The school’s hoops prestige is still at a paltry 43 (below average), however.

Here’s the line-up:
Likely starters – PG Erazem Lekivicius (senior, great career already!), SG Cliff McWilliams (soph), SF Michael Bliss (junior – by far the best to ever play for Victory), PF Josiah Parker (senior – beat out junior phenom Brett Fischer after a great summer!) and C Brody Adams (senior).

The backups: PF Fischer, C Craig King (junior), C Kevin Stevenson (senior), SG Bob Woods (senior walk-on), PG Taliek Edwards (senior walk-on), SF Travis Williams (junior – could be a surprise!), C Jordie Barnes (frosh) and PG Will Turner (frosh).

The big key is McWilliams and how well he’ll fit into the veteran lineup. As always, injuries – or the lack of them – could determine a lot…

Realistically, this could be Victory’s best chance at an NCT title within his 15-year timeframe. Six seniors will graduate after this season, and the rumor mill has juniors Bliss and Fischer jumping ship to the NBA. Victory will have 6-8 new players on his team next year and only three more years with which to capture the NCT crown... Will it be 2015 or bust?
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Old 01-18-2007, 01:25 PM   #83
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Steve Victory JOURNAL – Non-conference 2014-15

Alabama’s strong ACT run gets them invited to the Alaska Challenge (a neat homecoming for freshman Will Turner, who hails from Palmer).

Amazingly, the Crimson Tide responds by beating three solid teams and winning the preseason tune-up. Victory’s bunch disposes of UC Riverside 89-81, St. Louis 86-75 and #7 Minnesota 75-53. Josiah Parker nets 23 in the opener. Michael Bliss scores 27 against St. Louis. Wow! (Note – all three opponents have CRIs in the top 20 when rankings come out later in the season).

The three-game sweep vaults Alabama to a number-three ranking in the International Press poll! That’s the best-ever listing for a Victory-coached team, though the coach is wise enough after 12 years on the bench not to take too much stock in early-season rankings.

“We’re kind of the flavor of the week,” Victory says. “If we’re ranked third in February or March, then I’ll get excited.”

Sure enough, Alabama drops out of the polls in the next two weeks after losing to Texas A&M 68-67 and #5 Arizona 86-67. In between, Victory does beat his alma mater, Miami of Florida, 85-70. It was a nice homecoming for the coach as the Hurricanes were ranked #13 at the time.

The Arizona loss weighs heavy on Alabama players, who believe they belong in the same elite category as the Wildcats. With renewed vigor, ‘Bama players finish off the non-conference schedule with nine-straight wins. Check out these scores:

• Marshall, 99-76
• @ Cal Poly SLO, 95-74
• @ Illinois-Chicago, 91-59
• VMI, 92-57
• Colorado State, 90-59
• Iona, 95-61
• @ Cleveland State, 100-62
• Xavier, 92-59
• @ Iowa State, 86-65

Granted, these opponents aren’t of Arizona’s stature, but there was a time recently when Alabama was losing to opponents like Illinois-Chicago and Iona. The strategy: a strong quarter-court defense, an uptempo offensive game and a focus on both post and perimeter play.

The Crimson Tide enters the SEC schedule with a 13-2 record. They return to the rankings at #15 in the IP poll and #20 in the .400 poll. The team’s CRI (the game's version of RPI) is listed as #2 in the nation!

Victory allows himself to dream a bit of making a big NCT run. “I don’t think there’s a team out there that we couldn’t compete with,” he says. “This could be the year...”
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Old 01-18-2007, 01:26 PM   #84
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Steve Victory JOURNAL - Recruiting update

Bad news for coach Victory: Both Michael Bliss and Brett Fischer decide to forgo their senior seasons at Alabama and announce their intentions to declare for the NBA draft (insert string of curse words here)....

The Crimson Tide now has eight spots to fill for next year -- EIGHT! Almost an entirely new team will take the court in 2015-16. The pressure to win it all this year now weighs on coach Victory like a Sumo wrestler...
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Old 01-18-2007, 01:29 PM   #85
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Steve Victory JOURNAL – SEC Schedule 2014-15

As if the news of Bliss and Fischer going pro early isn’t enough, Alabama loses its conference opener to South Carolina. The Gamecocks were the worst SEC team a year ago yet manage a 76-72 stunner in the SEC debut for both schools.

The next two weeks are a roller coaster for Victory and company. An impressive 82-59 triumph over a solid LSU squad. A narrow 79-76 loss to conference power Mississippi State. A huge 97-75 win at #15 Tennessee. Another stomach-churning loss (76-75) to Ole Miss – a game in which PG Erazem Lekivicius suffers a minor injury.

Somehow Alabama stays in the rankings, but barely at #25. Fortunately, the roller coaster wouldn’t continue the rest of the regular season. Alabama keeps going up and up following its last dip – winning the last 11 SEC games!

Here’s the tally:
• @ Arkansas, 89-62 (ACT revenge!)
• Auburn, 101-63 – haha!!
• #19 Florida, 81-61
• @ Georgia, 85-69
• @ Mississippi, 73-71
• Arkansas, 92-56 (ACT revenge, part two!!!)
• @ Auburn, 105-71 (the alumni love Victory for this smashing)
• #25 Kentucky, 97-69 (more love after this one!)
• @ #10 Mississippi State, 94-53 (Steve Victory Day proclaimed in Tuscaloosa)
• @ LSU, 86-76
• Vanderbilt 82-60 (no season-ending letdown fortunately!)

When the final buzzer of the regular season sounds, Alabama is left holding the best record in the conference at 13-3. For the second time in Victory’s career, he’s coached a regular-season league champion. Only this time, it’s the powerhouse SEC and not just the Southern Conference with opponents like Furman, Wofford and Citadel. The Tide’s victim list this season is impressive – Mississippi State, Florida, Kentucky, hated Auburn twice by big numbers…

Some notables: Alabama finishes the regular season ranked #9 in both polls with a CRI of 4. The Tide finishes two games ahead of its nearest competitor in the SEC South. Senior walk-on Bob Woods scored 18 points in the revenge win at Ole Miss. Reserve Travis Williams netted 30 points in the season finale against Vanderbilt and had a couple of 20+ games during one stretch.

The only downside to this amazing run – the injury bug hit ‘Bama in a big way. SG Cliff McWilliams missed nine games with a fractured hip and is questionable for the SEC tourney. PG Erazem Lekivicius broke his arm against Arkansas and will certainly miss the SEC tourney (fingers crossed on an NCT return).

“We’re kind of limping to the finish line,” Victory says. “Let’s just hope we have enough in the tank to make one last push through March. I think we’re a legitimate Final Four team if we can heal up.”

And this time he doesn’t mean the Final Four of the ACT…
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Old 01-18-2007, 01:31 PM   #86
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Posted by: yanksare

Tuscaloosa News March 1, 2015

Sheriff’s Roundup

Tuscaloosa, Alabama

Welcome back ya’ll to the Sheriff’s Roundup. This special edition I like to call the Roundball Roundup. We have witnessed a compelling season for the Tide under Coach Steve Victory this year. He has the boys poised for a run at both the SEC and wait for it, wait for it, the NCT championships.

I haven’t seen such excitement here in the South since the tapes surfaced from that fateful spring night in 2003 in a hotel room with a certain unnamed football coach and a certain untamed exotic dancer. But I guess that is another story.

I predict big things for the #9 ranked Crimson Tide. With 8 players leaving after this year, I don’t think Victory will have a better chance in the near future to take his boys a long way in the big one. The biggest problem Victory has now is trying to keep his team healthy. With McWilliams and Lekivicius both hurt the coach will have to be crafty with his subsitutions.

As all my faithful readers know I have not always been supportive of Victory. Let’s just say that our time in Charleston together was not always collegial. But being the stand up kind of guy I am, I will be the first to admit that the coach has done a nice job this year. Now, let’s see if he and his team can Roll on through the tourneys.

Until next time, this is the Sheriff reminding all of you to tip your servers on the way out.
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Old 01-18-2007, 02:14 PM   #87
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Steve Victory JOURNAL – SEC Tourney 2015

Fortunately, SG Cliff McWilliams makes it back from his fractured hip in time for the SEC tournament. He slides in at PG and helps lead top-seeded Alabama to a gritty 87-81 win over tough LSU, the 11th seed, in the quarterfinals. Whew! The first-round upset bug is avoided…

Unfortunately, though, things begin to unravel at this point for Victory and company. The Crimson Tide gets by #4 seed Georgia in the SEC semifinals 81-74, but one marquee player, Michael Bliss, suffers a major injury. A broken skull suffered early in the second half ends his season and jeopardizes his NBA career!! Acck!!

How well will ‘Bama do in the NCT without its heart and soul, the team’s only all-SEC selection and Victory’s most favorite player ever? Center Brody Adams picks up a lot of the slack against Georgia, thankfully, finishing with 9 points, 18 rebounds and an amazing 10 blocks…

But Adams’ season ends prematurely the following afternoon. The 6-6 center, who plays more like a 6-11 warrior in the paint, dislocates his shoulder in the SEC championship game against #2 seed Tennessee. Alabama can’t recover from this injury, now missing three starters, and falls to the Vols 71-68. Travis Williams keeps the Tide around with his 18 points. ‘Bama had led by 6 at the half before Adams was felled.

“This is ridiculous,” a shaken Steve Victory says after the title-game loss. “It’s like there’s a sniper somewhere up in the stands picking off my players one-by-one.” [Author’s note: this is my least favorite part of the game - way too many injuries...]

Alabama (28-6, #9 in both polls) does get PG Erazem Lekivicius back for the NCT. A bittersweet Selection Sunday show reveals that the Tide has garnered a #3 seed in the South Region behind Creighton and Duke. Their first opponent: #14 Alcorn State.

Victory should be excited at his best seeding ever in the NCT, but he can’t shake the fact that his team’s chances at going to the Elite Eight or Final Four (or the title game) have been badly damaged by all the freak injuries.

“A broken skull? Give me a break,” he mourns…
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Old 01-18-2007, 02:16 PM   #88
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Steve Victory JOURNAL – NCT Round of 64, 2015

Here’s the patchwork lineup Victory assembles for the NCT opener:

• PG Erazem Lekivicius (his first game back since breaking his arm)
• SG Travis Williams (normally a reserve SF but has made most of his chance to start)
• SF Brett Fischer (taking over for Bliss, he was a non-starter much of the year)
• PF Josiah Parker (only starter to avoid the injury bug all year)
• C Craig King (a 7-foot-1 foul machine who occasionally scores or gets a rebound – Auburn fans call him the biggest waste of space in the SEC. Victory quietly agrees).

It’s not pretty but Victory does get his first ever NCT victory in the opener. Alabama slogs by Alcorn State 80-68. Travis Williams shines the brightest, leading the Tide with 16 points in 26 minutes of play.

But guess what? Williams – continuing with recent tradition – breaks his ankle early in the second half. He, too, is out the rest of the way. That’s three players lost to major injury in three consecutive games.

The Alabama sniper lives on…
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Old 01-18-2007, 02:21 PM   #89
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Steve Victory JOURNAL – NCT Round of 32, 2015

Coach Steve Victory jokingly shows up to the pre-game press conference for Alabama’s next NCT game wearing a white Crimson Tide jersey and a Nike headband.

“They might need me,” the coach says, trying to laugh about all the injuries that have befallen his squad. “I’ve lost a little speed but I’ve still got a mean jump shot.”

Victory’s team seriously could use some good jump-shooters. Alabama’s opponent in the NCT second round is none other than #6 seed Kansas, still coached by Bill Self.

Cliff McWilliams, an on-again, off-again, shooting guard will fill in for the injured Travis Williams. Victory gambles by putting freshman center Jordie Barnes into the starting lineup instead of 7-1 space-waste Craig King. The pundits give Alabama the edge at the 3, 4 and 5 spots, but the Crimson Tide just plain plays out of sync for 40 minutes.

Kansas wins going away 80-64. Rats!!!

McWilliams manages 13 points. Jordie Barnes steps up and asserts himself as a player of the future by scoring 12 and grabbing 8 rebounds. But the sting of this loss just overwhelms Victory, who a few weeks before had been confident that his team could beat anybody.

The final tally for ‘Bama: 29-7 overall and a final ranking of 9th in both polls. The final CRI tally: 10th… All are career bests for Steve Victory. He’ll appreciate them later, for sure, but for now he’s pretty down…

‘Bama’s tumble in the second round reflects a trend for the SEC as a whole. Seven SEC teams made the field of 64 – Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Florida, Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Tennessee. All seven were gone by the end of the first weekend. Even the SEC’s entries in the ACT failed to last beyond two rounds. Yikes!

Syracuse and Arizona go on to meet in the NCT championship game, with ‘Zona winning 66-60. Creighton and Illinois were the other Final Four teams. North Carolina tops Ohio State 83-61 in the ACT final. Southern Miss and American also made the ACT Final Four.

Alabama team leaders in 2014-15:
Scoring: Michael Bliss 16.7 ppg
Rebounds: Michael Bliss 10.5 rpg (stay Michael stay!)
Assists: Erazem Lekivicius 6.5
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Old 01-18-2007, 02:23 PM   #90
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Steve Victory Career File

After TWELVE Seasons

Year School Overall Conference
2003-04 Central Florida 10-20 5-12
2004-05 Central Florida 7-22 6-11
2005-06 College of Charleston 15-16 7-11
2006-07 College of Charleston 21-9 13-4
2007-08 College of Charleston 25-7 14-4
2008-09 College of Charleston 20-13 14-6
2009-10 Alabama 10-20 5-12
2010-11 Alabama 3-27 2-15
2011-12 Alabama 3-26 1-16
2012-13 Alabama 12-18 4-12
2013-14 Alabama 23-11 9-8
2014-15 Alabama 29-7 15-4

Totals 178-196 95-115

Victory's Teams in the Post-Season
2007 College of Charleston 0-1 in ACT
2008 College of Charleston 0-1 in NCT
2009 College of Charleston 0-1 in NCT
2014 Alabama 4-1 in ACT (runners up to Arkansas)
2015 Alabama 1-1 in NCT

Victory's All-Conference Players
2007 PG Augustinas Dmitrovic (College of Charleston)
2015 PF Michael Bliss (Alabama)

Victory's NBA Draft Picks
2015 Michael Bliss (Alabama) — taken 12th overall by Indiana Pacers

National Champions By Year
2004 Marquette
2005 Notre Dame
2006 Oklahoma
2007 ??
2008 Kentucky
2009 St. Joseph's
2010 Oregon
2011 Missouri
2012 Arizona
2013 Mississippi State
2014 Illinois
2015 Arizona

ACT Champions By Year (i.e. NIT)
2004 Nebraska
2005 Ohio State
2006 TCU
2007 ??
2008 Fordham
2009 Maryland
2010 Notre Dame
2011 Western Illinois
2012 Siena
2013 UConn
2014 Arkansas
2015 North Carolina
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Old 01-18-2007, 04:21 PM   #91
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Steve Victory JOURNAL – Preseason 2015-16

Coach Steve Victory has players wearing nametags for the first few weeks of practice leading up to the 2015-16 season. Even he forgets names once and awhile, welcoming an amazing eight new players to the squad. Six graduated after the NCT heartbreak of March 2015 and two more guys, heralded junior Michael Bliss and Brett Fischer opted to try for the NBA draft (Bliss was picked #12 by the Pacers; Fischer wasn’t picked at all).

Here are the five players coming back:
C Craig King (senior): will this be his year to finally break out?
SF Travis Williams (senior): he did break out last year thanks to all the injuries to others, averaging 14 ppg
SG Cliff McWilliams (junior): up and down player
C Jordie Barnes (sophomore): should be a starter now that Brody Adams has graduated
PG Will Turner (sophomore): Alaska native will redshirt this year with all the PG talent coming in.

Here are the new guys – some look solid; a few are questions marks:
PF Travis McQuay: snagged him from NJ, possible starter or early off the bench
PF Alex Henry: best guy of the bunch it looks like, will start
PG Mark Bell: The Gadsden, Alabama product ready to run the show as a frosh
PG Michael Slater: looks ready to bump McWilliams to the bench
PF Alex Henry: Just another guy?
SG Marco Bartow: good potential, watch for him in a year or two
SF Traves Pearce: not as much potential but decent ratings
PF Ben Field: ye olde waste of space (the next Craig King but with crappy grades?)

Alabama’s prestige keeps on an upward trend but barely – rising to 45
The team’s freshman class is ranked “good” and the overall talent is listed as “solid.” Game challenge – normal. Expectations – win a few games. Wow, the ‘Bama administration wouldn’t say that to the football coaches.

The Tide will again begin its season in a national tournament. Victory and crew will head to Madison Square Garden for the Preseason ACT – the site where ‘Bama lost in the ACT finals to Arkansas two years prior.

“I’ve got three more years before the 15-year deadline,” Victory reminds himself. “A lot is riding on this class of freshmen...”
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Old 01-19-2007, 09:43 PM   #92
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Steve Victory JOURNAL – Early season 2015-16

The opener to season #13 in the Victory tenure (Lucky 13?) is a tough one. Alabama goes up against #5 UConn in the Preseason ACT. The young Crimson Tide fares well, but not well enough to win. The Huskies move on 86-72.

Game two is even tougher, at least on paper. Alabama must travel to #2 Wisconsin. Yet this time, the young guns wearing crimson win it! ‘Bama upsets the Badgers on their home floor 87-77. The 3-pointers rain down from all over as the Tide hits 12-of-17. Craig King shows he’s ready to improve upon last year with 13 points and 9 boards. But he’s still got foul issues.

The non-conference slate proves an up-and-down affair as coach Victory expects. Some good wins – over Cincinnati 89-73, over Clemson 87-74, over decent South Florida and Troy State teams. Some tough losses – three in a row in one stretch to New Orleans, Detroit and NC State. All told ‘Bama takes a 7-7 record into its conference opener.

The top players so far: Mark Bell – double figures nearly every game and 24 points against both NCSU and Cincy. Jordie Barnes – a rebounder worthy of following in Brody Adams’ footsteps; Travis McQuay and Alex Henry – steady 10-15 point nights, with a few 20+ games for each. If these players can mature through the SEC slate, Alabama could be a threat in the SEC and a contender for an NCT slot (please!!). It’s a tall order for such a young team, though…

A familiar theme rears its ugly head in the final non-conference tune-up against South Florida. Hotshot PG Mark Bell tears a quad muscle and is lost for 2-3 months. That’s probably a season-ender for him. Good grief, and he was on pace to win SEC frosh of the year honors...
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Old 01-19-2007, 09:45 PM   #93
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Steve Victory JOURNAL – SEC Campaign 2016

Things really turn bleak for Alabama when the Tide drops its first two SEC games of 2016 – 83-62 to Ole Miss (lots of people foul out) and 79-71 to LSU.

That leaves ‘Bama at 7-9 overall, with a date against Mississippi State looming next. MSU is currently ranked #1 in the nation! Coach Victory’s pretty discouraged, but a few tweaks here and there with lineups and sliders lead to the biggest upset of his career.

Michael Slater, Cliff McWilliams and Travis Williams make for a mean guard rotation, and the Tide win 84-81 at home! Fans storm the court, and Victory rides off on the shoulders of his players, knowing that triumph alone may have saved his neck. It’s the first time in his career, he’s ever beaten a #1 team (scrapbook clipping time).

Fortunately, the roll continues for ‘Bama as they next knock off #25 Georgia on the road 79-67 (McWilliams 25 points). Then Arkansas falls 97-66 as McWilliams (22 points, 8 assists) and Henry (21 points) lead the way. Vanderbilt is the next victim, getting pounded 85-46. Williams pumps in 32 points. Who are these guys?

Alabama goes on to win eight of its next 10 games to finish a surprising 12-4 in the SEC – the third-best record in the league behind MSU and Vandy. Mississippi State got revenge in a big way (98-60) on its home floor and Tennessee tripped the Tide 77-73. But ‘Bama rolled over some decent foes like Kentucky, Florida, South Carolina, LSU and Ole Miss.

The four-game win streak to end the regular season — playing without PG Michael Slater who broke his hip against MSU and is out for the year (arrggghhhh!!!!) — raises the Crimson Tide’s overall record to 19-11. Alabama magically appears on the bubble list for the NCT! Who would have thought that when the Tide was carrying a 7-9 record? Nice job by the youngters and the few remaining old guys.

Victory believes his squad has enough quality wins – including the big upset over the #1 MSU Bulldogs – to get in, but he knows the Tide could help its own cause in the SEC tournament. “We need to win at least one or two games to lock up a berth,” he tells Jeff Wilt of the Tuscaloosa News. “Of course, we’d love to run the tables and sail into the NCT as the SEC champ.”

That will be tough, even as the number three seed, considering both guards who started the season (Bell and Slater) will be on the bench with injuries. The reserves, Williams and McWilliams, fortunately are upperclassmen, which tends to give teams an edge in the post-season…
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Old 01-19-2007, 09:46 PM   #94
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Steve Victory JOURNAL – SEC Tourney 2016

Dick Vitale, still covering games for ESPN3 — the network’s all-college sports channel — would call it “Choke City, baby.” Needing a win or two to lock up an NCT berth, Alabama lays an egg in its SEC tournament opener against LSU. The Tigers were the #11 seed, while ‘Bama was the #3. LSU prevails by 4 points with reserve guard Marco Bartow providing the only real offense for the Tide. (Did I say that I HATED the number of injuries this game seems to dole out?)

“Now, we’ll just have to wait and see,” Victory says of his team’s NCT chances. “Will the selection committee like a team with a 19-12 record?”

LSU doesn’t help the Tide’s cause, rolling all the way to the SEC championship game. Sure enough, when Selection Sunday rolls around the third-best SEC team in the regular season is left off the NCT list. Alabama is ACT bound – what a bummer… The Tide’s first opponent, Duke! (Ha- at least they didn’t get an NCT bid)...

Regardless of how the ACT turns out, Victory has just two chances left at fulfilling his mission of winning the NCT within 15 years of his first coaching job. He finds himself fighting off the desire to retire now and move to a secluded beach house near Charleston, S.C…
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Old 01-19-2007, 09:47 PM   #95
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Steve Victory JOURNAL – ACT Tournament 2016

The Alabama-Duke match-up is a marquee game for ACT organizers. ‘Bama will take a #4 seed from the South into the contest, while Dook is #5. Victory jumps out of his pity party long enough to put together a good game plan, and the Tide wins easily at home 81-63! Win number 20 for the season.

Mark Bell comes off the DL in time to play, though Victory doesn’t start him (even though Bell didn’t play a single SEC game he was voted to the all-SEC frosh team – go figure). Alex Henry, the PF/SF who should have been an all-SEC freshman selection, leads ‘Bama with 22 points. Traves Williams adds 21, and Cliff McWilliams scores 17. The disappointment of not going to the NCT is put away for a time with Victory’s first-ever win over one of the ACC’s most storied programs.

Round two in the ACT brings a much-less heralded opponent – Kent State. The Golden Flashes are the #8 seed but play like the #1, knocking off ‘Bama by 6… Again, Victory’s team lapses into a funk. This time, there isn’t a chance to right the wrong as the Tide’s season ends at 20-12.

On the one hand, a 20-win season is quite an accomplishment with this young (injury-prone) group, which started the season 7-9. But on the other hand Victory is trying to build a national title contender, and second-round exits from the “Almost Championship Tournament” don’t exactly fit the bill. In Victory’s seven seasons in Tuscaloosa, he’s only been to the NCT once. The natives are restless (especially “The Sheriff”)...

Victory takes off right after the loss on an extended vacation, pondering just how to take Alabama’s program up a few more notches – and in a hurry since he’s only got two seasons to go before the 15-year bell tolls...
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Old 01-19-2007, 10:04 PM   #96
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Go Tide

Go Tide!
__________________
-Beargrowlz

[email protected]
TCY Golden Scribe Winner - Bear Goes Home

"The measure of a man's real character is what he would do if he knew he would never be found out."
--Thomas B. Macaulay
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Old 01-21-2007, 07:01 PM   #97
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Steve Victory JOURNAL – Wrapping up 2016

NBA agents must be staked out in Tuscaloosa. One convinces sophomore center Jordie Barnes to jump after his sophomore season. Yikes – and he barely got his feet wet in the college game, averaging 10 points and 10 rebounds for ‘Bama in 2015-16...

Victory recruits hard at the center position and gets two good ones: 6-11 Darrell Wynn out of Eugene, Oregon and 6-11 Loren Tracy out of Titusville, Fla. Wynn, amazingly enough is listed by 3-star National Prep and .400 Software as the number one prospect in the land!! His stats aren’t all-world but solid enough: 23 ppg, 9 rpg, 2.8 bpg. Tracy looks better at least on paper: 20.3 ppg, 17.7 rpg, 3.7 bpg… The other recruit is a shooting guard named Earl Dixon out of Wichita, Kansas. He’ll be more of a project (please have good potential!)…

Mark Bell finishes as ‘Bama’s points lead with 13.3 ppg but only played 15 games. Alex Henry averages 12.2 ppg, while Travis McQuay and Cliff McWilliams add about 11 ppg each… Michael Slater and McWilliams lead the team in assists with about 5 each. No one is close to Barnes’ 10 rebounds per contest or his 2.8 blocks… Why are you going away so soon?

The NCT champ for 2016 is Pittsburgh, which outduels UConn for the crown. Mississippi State, a team that ‘Bama upset early in the SEC campaign, makes the Final Four along with Illinois. The Fighting Illini have three straight trips to the Final Four without a win… (I believe I incorrectly listed them as winning the 2014 crown. They in fact lost to Georgetown in the semis and G-town won it all over Duke)…

Kentucky beats Wake Forest in the ACT finale. Of course, Alabama beat Kentucky as well this season. Kent State, which eliminated the Tide, does make the Final Four along with Stanford…

Job offers: for the second or third time South Carolina comes calling on coach Victory to try to lure him back to a state where he’s had success. That’s about the only program worth mentioning… No way Victory’s moving to Columbia after all he’s been through at ‘Bama...
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Old 01-21-2007, 07:07 PM   #98
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Steve Victory JOURNAL – Season 2016-17 (Victory's 14th!!)

Coach Victory’s 14th season as a head basketball coach is kind of a blur. Maybe he never recovered from last year’s NCT snub. Maybe he’s just cashing in mentally now that it looks like he won’t make his 15-year goal. Or maybe his players just decided to be big-time underachievers.

But the Tide is nothing short of mediocre in a year in which pundits labeled their overall talent “Good” and their freshmen talent “Very Good.” Although the game challenge level is listed as “moderate,” Alabama finishes the 2016-17 season with a 16-16 record – topped off with no post-season berths. The Tide just can’t seem to get over the hump!

There isn’t much to write about with this one, unless you want to rehash the third year of the Injury Plague That Ravaged Tuscaloosa: Senior SG Cliff McWilliams falls in game four against Northeastern and misses more than a month. He returns for five games, then tears his ACL and is gone for the year. Sophomore PG Michael Slater (a starter) goes down with an injury in game five against Wisconsin and misses the next 17 contests. Sophomore SF Traves Pearce (starter/sixth man) also goes down – in game eight – and misses eight games or so. At this point, coach Victory just decided to stick a fork in the season – it’s done…

Actually, Alabama stabilized a bit after the injury sniper stopped his work. A 2-6 start was followed by a three-game win streak over Stanford, SW Missouri State and Kansas State. ‘Bama lost its first four SEC games but then salvaged a 9-7 conference record. They won eight of their last 10, including another upset of Mississippi State while the Bulldogs held a #1 national ranking (78-72 triumph on the road)…

Alabama took a #7 seed into the SEC tournament (not a bad turnaround) and topped #10 Auburn in Thursday’s opener 77-61. They then upset #2 Georgia (ranked #21 nationally) in the quarterfinals 84-72. But the magic ended there. Vanderbilt KO’d their season 71-54 in the SEC semis. The two tournament wins pushed Alabama to .500, but the ACT opted to go in other directions when fielding its 32-team bracket. In his 14th year of trying to win the NCT title, Victory was left with no post-season trips to make at all!!
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Old 01-21-2007, 07:23 PM   #99
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Steve Victory JOURNAL – Cleaning up 2017

Pittsburgh returns to the NCT finals in 2017 but Kansas keeps the Panthers from repeating and cuts down the nets (“Finally!!” Jayhawks fans chant). Illinois makes its fourth consecutive trip to the Final Four without a title (good ol’ Mississippi State is the other team in St. Louis for the Final Four).

Nebraska beats Illinois State for the ACT championship. Colorado and Mt. St. Mary’s comprise the rest of the ACT Final Four. Nice year for the Big 12, tournament-wise.

Alabama scoring leaders: PF Travis McQuay (14.2 ppg), PF/SF Alex Henry (13.2) and SG Marco Bartow (13.0)
Rebound leaders: PF Travis McQuay (8.3 rpg) and PF/SF Alex Henry (7.3)
Assists: PG Michael Slater (6.9 – but only plays 15 games), Mark Bell (4.4)
Blocks: McQuay 2, Loren Tracy 1.7, Darrell Wynn 1.3 (the centers didn’t really break out this year)
Awards: zippo

Victory reflects on just how fine the line can be between a .500 club and a national title contender. Alabama played one of its best games ever against #1 Mississippi State and beat the Bulldogs on their own floor by 6. But MSU sustained great play throughout the season, winning more than 34 games for the third time in five seasons.

MSU coach Jason Rencher is the legend Victory dreams of being. In Rencher’s 15 years with the Bulldogs, MSU has never failed to go to the post-season. They’ve been to the NCT 14 of those times, capturing titles in 2007 and 2013 and making other Final Four and Elite Eight appearances… Maybe we should just switch to the Jason Rencher dynasty from here on out…

The recruiting front is a mixed bag for Alabama. Victory lands promising 6-8 SF Ely Wilson out of Virginia and SG Nate Nolan out of Fort Worth, TX. Nolan has great potential but not much in the way of ratings thus far… Hey, at least no one decided to go pro early!!

One more season to go in Victory’s quest to win the NCT before his 15-year window expires. Where is Jim Valvano and the Cardiac Pack of ’83 when you need them? Can Michael Slater be Derrick Whittenburg? Can Alex Henry and Travis McQuay be Lorenzo Charles and Thurl Bailey?

Stay tuned — we’ve hit the stretch run folks...
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Old 01-21-2007, 07:39 PM   #100
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Steve Victory JOURNAL – Season 15 (2017-18)

While Alabama’s a long shot to win an NCT title in coach Victory’s 15th (and final?) year, it is certainly not out of the realm of possibility. Victory’s 2017-18 bunch has been labeled by the sports gurus as “Superior.” The freshman class is listed as “Good” and the game challenge level is “Easy.” Prestige has jumped a bit to 51 (yippee it’s now average!! ). Of course, ‘Bama’s administration just wants to see a .500 conference record (even though that has been a staple the past 3-4 years). Maybe that’s why some of the players seem to be underachievers.

In some ways, the Crimson Tide can still be labeled “young” and “a year away” from greatness. There are no seniors this season, though the NBA lure of fame and riches will surely draw a player or two away. Here’s the lineup, weighted heavily toward the juniors:

Juniors:
PG Michael Slater (star potential but injuries have slowed career)
SG Marco Bartow (blue collar guy, getting better every season)
PF Alex Henry (playing mostly SF and succeeding in that role)
PF Travis McQuay (starter, has made many forget about Michael Bliss’ early departure)
PG Mark Bell (great frosh year but hasn’t been same since the injury)
PF Adam Gibson (back of the pack)
PG Will Turner (redshirted soph year – fan favorite from Alaska but doesn’t play much)
SF Traves Pearce (could be a breakout year for him)
(If everyone stays, next year could be the title season!!)

Sophomores
C Darrell Wynn (#1 prospect out of high school didn’t do much as college frosh)
C Loren Tracy (starter as a frosh but didn’t completely assert himself)

Freshmen
SG Earl Dixon (redshirted last season - JAG "just another guy")
SF Ely Wilson (Victory think’s he’ll be a stud as a junior/senior – long line in front of him this year)
SG Nate Nolan (needs to pull poor GPA up – year or two away from contributing)

The Crimson Tide will begin the season in the Preseason ACT. Opponent number one: #11 ranked Oklahoma. Alabama isn’t ranked but gets a few votes in both polls.
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