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March 28, 2009

Alabama Chooses Grant

Filed under: Uncategorized — John Gasaway @ 11:09 am

Yesterday Alabama announced that they have reached an “agreement in principle” with VCU coach Anthony Grant, and that Grant will be officially introduced as the new coach of the Crimson Tide tomorrow night. (Tip to Tuscaloosa: Make sure Grant signs the contract. A mere Memorandum of Understanding doesn’t always work out so well.)

A longtime assistant to Billy Donovan at Florida, Grant is something of a head coaching wunderkind. At 42, he has just three seasons under his belt as a head coach, but what a three seasons it’s been. His first Rams team received an 11-seed, beat Duke in the first round of the NCAA tournament, and then took Pitt to overtime before falling in second round. His team has won the CAA regular season championship outright in each of Grant’s three seasons.

In 2007 when Donavan said “yes” to the Orlando Magic and let it stick for two days, Grant was pursued by Florida. Ever since his name has come up anytime there’s been an opening in the SEC. In fact some observers have wondered whether Grant waited to make sure Donavan isn’t going anywhere this year before saying yes to Alabama. Be that as it may, Grant is bound for Tuscaloosa.

He will find himself in a situation not unlike the one Trent Johnson found himself in at LSU last year: a first-year coach for an SEC team that fired its previous coach mid-season, went on a pretty good post-firing run, and returns a core of some pretty good talent while having said goodbye to one its leading scorers (Anthony Randolph in Johnson’s case, Alonzo Gee in Grant’s). That’s not necessarily to say Grant should be able to next year do what Johnson did this year: win the SEC. Merely that it’s not a total basket case of a program that Grant’s inheriting here, as can sometimes be the case for a rising young coach hire lured into the major-conference scene.

We will see what he can make of it.   

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