Tide chemistry relies on old names, fresh faces

Tide chemistry relies on old names, fresh faces

HOOVER, Ala. – With the 2011-2012 basketball season only a couple of weeks away, it seems Alabama’s team identity this year will be a mix between polishing the old and breaking in the new. While last year’s team put up impressive defensive numbers – including holding opponents to an average of 59 points per game and 39 percent from the field – the new class of players features some shooters as well. Freshmen Trevor Lacey and Rodney Cooper both came out of high school averaging more than 31 points a game, while Nick Jacobs and Levi Randolph each averaged around 20 points per game. “Last year, we only had one [main outside shooter], and this year, I think we have at least three or four, so I think it’s going to make it easier for everybody,” said senior forward JaMychal Green. “I think we’re going to be a great offensive team this year also. The defense won’t just have to pack it down on me. When they’re knocking down shots, it’ll make the game easier for myself.” Last season, Alabama’s 12-4 run in the SEC wasn’t enough to counter its 13-8 nonconference schedule, which kept the Tide out of the NCAA tournament, to the team’s surprise. “Beating Georgia two times in a row within one week, I thought we would get in before them,” Green said. “We were hurt, but Coach Grant kept us focused, getting us ready for the NIT, and I think the NIT was a great experience for us also. We went in with a chip on our shoulders, just to show them that even though we didn’t get in [the NCAA tournament], we’ll still go in and compete.” Head coach Anthony Grant said he hoped the team could take the knowledge they gained from postseason play and pass it on to the younger guys. While the Tide does return its three top scorers in Green, junior Tony Mitchell and sophomore Trevor Releford, Alabama also added five freshmen to its roster. “When you look at the six guys that return from last year that had a chance to participate in [the NIT], I think it did a couple of things,” Grant said. “Number one, the experience of playing in the postseason is invaluable. Number two, hopefully it adds to the hunger that they have.” Green is the team’s only senior and will certainly be looked to for leadership. However, Grant said he also expects leadership from the younger players. “I define leadership as influence, and they all have an opportunity to influence their teammates,” he said. “They have an accountability that they have to themselves and to each other, in terms of impacting our team and meeting the expectations that we have on a daily basis. Certainly, with Myke, Tony and Trevor, they’re our most experienced guys. You would expect them to provide that leadership, but I think all of our guys will have a part to play when it comes to that.”

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