With his freshman season likely ended by Friday night's SEC tournament quarterfinal loss to Tennessee, Alabama guard Andrew Steele and teammates find themselves just like everyone else.
They're anxious to find out who will be tapped as his next head coach. Steele has studied news reports of possible hires, though there is one name he'd like to see that isn't there.
"Coach (Philip) Pearson did a great job," Steele said.
"For him to take us to the point where we had been on a losing streak and winning five of our last seven and be this close to getting a spot in the tournament, I think he deserves some serious consideration. I wouldn't mind playing for him next year."
Pearson, who took over for the Crimson Tide when Mark Gottfried was forced to resign Jan. 26, said he hasn't heard definite word either way on his future status at the school.
It remains doubtful he'll be back as an assistant, much less the full-time head coach, but he didn't hurt his stock elsewhere with the way Alabama finished a rough season.
In winning five of the regular season's final six games, Alabama posted impressive wins at Ole Miss and Tennessee after the program has dropped 18 consecutive SEC road games.
Also impressive was a lopsided Thursday night's SEC tournament victory over Vanderbilt, though Sunday finalist Tennessee proved far too much in Friday's rematch.
"For me, it's been a lot of fun," Pearson said afterward.
"Certainly, everything we tried didn't work. I think there's things that have. The practices have been fun, relationships with the players. We've done a lot of different things. It's been a learning experience for them. It's been one for me too, and hopefully something we can all build on."
Now the Crimson Tide can only hope to land an improbable NIT (or CBI, if they accept) bid today to extend what has been a trying season for many reasons. No matter what, this is to be the third consecutive season UA has not reached the NCAA tournament after a five consecutive trips.
"I'm going to be hoping and praying that we get in to redeem ourselves," Alabama guard Mikhail Torrance said.
"I just hope the (NIT) committee takes a chance on a team like us."
The big topic, obviously, is now the new hire. UA officials remain in no hurry to conclude a coaching search that is expected to last into at least the latter stages of the NCAA tournament.
Possible candidates continue to surface, with the latest being Miami coach Frank Haith and Southern Cal's Tim Floyd. CBSSports.com's Gary Parrish reported this week that Haith is interested in the Alabama's job and would
"absolutely" accept if offered.
It remains to be seen how genuine the Crimson Tide's interest is in Haith, who is in his fifth season with Hurricanes. He led them to the NCAA tournament last year, and built a reputation as a top-notch recruiter during assistant coaching stops at Texas, Wake Forest, Texas A&M and other stops, though none have been in the SEC.
Industry sources have mentioned former NBA coach Floyd for some time, though he turned down reported interest from LSU last season, saying he wished to remain at an improving Southern Cal program. The Trojans won the Pac 10 tournament title today.
A few other names mentioned in connection with Alabama during the past week: Dayton's Brian Gregory and Florida State's Leonard Hamilton, who was just named ACC coach of the year.
UA executive director of athletics Dave Hart -- who is directing the search for the Crimson Tide -- hired Hamilton during his lengthy tenure as the Seminoles AD.
These coaches could join a solid list of others receiving interest from Alabama. Various sources have long indicated top targets could include Mike Anderson of Missouri (who won the Big 12 tournament todau), Minnesota's Tubby Smith and Clemson's Oliver Purnell.
"They've got a lot of great names," the Tide's Steele said.
"Obviously, most of them play up-tempo (basketball)."
Whomever the future coach, the cupboard won't be bare.
Alabama loses only two seniors in second-team all-SEC guard Alonzo Gee, the team's leading scorer, and reserve guard Brandon Hollinger. That still leaves eight scholarship players -- and four starters -- due back next season with five fall signees on the way.
Torrance is back. So is guard Senario Hillman, forward Justin Knox and forward JaMychal Green, who led the Crimson Tide in rebounding and was a unanimous selection to All-SEC freshman team.
"There's enough guys in that locker room that (if) led the right direction I think can have some success," Pearson said.