Anthony Grant brought several positive and respectable traits to the table as head coach of the Alabama men’s basketball team. He ran a clean program and demanded his players buy in to his way of doing things. His players loved him and continued to play hard through the ups and downs. These are signs that Grant connected and developed strong relationships behind closed doors, and there is something to be said for that. However, at the end of the day, his job is to produce on the court, and the wins just were not coming.
In six seasons under Grant’s leadership, the Tide made it to the NCAA tournament just once and the NIT three times, with an overall record of 117-85.
Through three seasons, things had progressed quite nicely for Coach Grant. In year one, Bama had a record of 17-15, but showed significant improvement the following season, finishing 25-12, and runner up in the NIT. In year three, the tide was able to make the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2006, but was unable to advance passed their first game, and finished the season 21-12. Things were looking up for Anthony Grant at this point, but this was the peak of his tenure.
Fans of the Alabama basketball program want a program that consistently competes in the big dance. After 2012, the program seemed to be headed in that direction, but failed to make another NCAA tournament appearance under Grant. Bama was back in the NIT in 2013, and in 2014 things went from average to bad, as the Crimson Tide had its first losing season since 2000, going 13-19, and just 7-11 in the SEC.
The 2015 Crimson Tide did show improvement from a year ago, but struggled once again in SEC play, finishing with an 8-10 record, and losing in the first round of the SEC tournament for the second consecutive year. With fading fan support and an inability to produce big wins on the court, there was only one right decision for Bill Battle, and he made it.
Ben Howland and Steve Prohm are early names popping up as options to be the next coach, but that is strictly speculation at this point.
The Tide need a coach that will embrace the fact that Alabama is a football school, and therefore must have an especially aggressive plan to market the program and create excitement among the fan base and inside Coleman Coliseum. Even the most ardent defenders of Grant’s tenure would be hard pressed to say he did that. The program had become just plain dull, and it was time for a change.