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February 21, 2011

Alabama snubbed in coaches poll, remains unranked

TUSCALOOSA _ University of Alabama basketball fans are beginning to feel like they have something in common with Rodney Dangerfield.

The late comedian, whose popular catchphrase was "I get no respect, I tell ya," seemed appropriate Monday when the Crimson Tide didn't receive any votes in the USA Today/ESPN coaches poll despite having already clinched the SEC West with four games to go.

The Associated Press gave the Crimson Tide (18-8, 10-2) a little more love with 15 votes, which weren't enough to crack the Top 25 that included No. 13 Florida, No. 18 Vanderbilt and No. 22. Before it won at LSU and beat Arkansas last week, it received 13 votes.

"I really haven't paid attention to it," Coach Anthony Grant said. "For us, we're excited about the opportunity we have in front of us. Proud of what our team has accomplished up to this point."

However, for the first time this season an Alabama student-athlete was named the SEC's Player of the Week.

Sophomore forward Tony Mitchell had a career-high 27 points with nine rebounds, three assists, two blocks and two steals to lead Saturday's division-clinching victory over Arkansas, 69-56.

He also scored 13 against LSU while playing a team-high 38 minutes to average 20 points and 6.5 rebounds on the week. It's the only time in the last six games that Mitchell hasn't scored more than 20 points.

"The problem with Tony Mitchell, he is so great with broken-court situations whether it's fast-break, steals, offensive rebounds," Arkansas coach John Pelphrey said. "Just really, really hard to develop game plans for broken-floor situations and right now he's taking advantage of it plus he's mixing in some shots from shots from the 3-point line. That makes it very, very difficult when you have Trevor Releford coming on the pick-and-roll and he steps back for three.

"They're doing a really good job of isolating Tony Mitchell with JaMychal Green playing four or five times a game on the wing with their pick-and-roll situations. Obviously he's making shots, he's making plays. He's playing as well or better than anyone."

Alabama also received the women's Player of the Week Award, which went to junior guard Ericka Russell.

In 26 games this season, Mitchell is averaging 16.1 points, 7.2 rebounds and 1.7 steals. He also has 50 dunks as Alabama has outperformed its opponents, 102-22.

"Their team feeds a lot off what he does, with his energy level" said Auburn coach Tony Barbee, whose team will visit Coleman Coilseum on Wednesday (7 p.m., SEC Network). "He's a high-energy guy. He's a difficult matchup because he can inside and out, he runs the floor like a gazelle and finishes way above the rim. He's shooting ball from the outside now well too.

"He presents so many different matchup problems."

Although Alabama has won 13 of its last 15 games, most RPI (Ratings Percentage Index) rankings, which the NCAA used to help pick the field for the NCAA Tournament, have Alabama around No. 79, still behind Saturday's opponent Ole Miss (3 p.m., SEC Network).


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