Men's basketball opens season Tuesday with exhibition
One year ago the Alabama men’s basketball team was a preseason top-20 team with potential SEC Championship aspirations. After last year’s season of off-the-court incidents, subsequent suspensions and a disappointing first-round loss in the NCAA tournament, the young Crimson Tide will look to rebound from last year and prove they are better than the Tide’s predicted sixth place conference finish this year.
The Tide will begin with an exhibition game against Stillman Tuesday, Nov. 6, which will be an opportunity for the team to get some game simulation in before the start of the regular season this weekend.
“Our guys have been going at it pretty good here that last two or three weeks since practice started,” head coach Anthony Grant said. “Having a chance to play outside competition in a team like Stillman - who is picked to win their league, and is a very well-coached, talented team - will be a good challenge for us as we get prepared for our first regular season game on Friday against South Dakota St.”
The team will be looking to build off its scrimmage against preseason No. 17 Memphis last Saturday, which gave the Tide a chance to experiment with the team’s lineup and try out a couple looks before the season started. NCAA rules prevent anything that happened at these scrimmages to be revealed, but Grant said the scrimmage was an invaluable experience for the team heading into the regular season.
“We got a relatively young group that was able to gain some experiences and as a coach I was able to kind of see different matchups and different lineups,” he said. “We were able to kind of mix and match a little bit and see some things which is always good, so I think it will help our guys as we prepare for the start of the season from an offensive and defensive stand point.”
With the loss of forwards JaMychal Green and Tony Mitchell, the team is a little undersized and will rely heavily on five-star freshman recruit Devonta Pollard and an acclimated Moussa Gueye in the frontcourt. Grant said Gueye, who improved a lot physically compared to last year, especially should have a major impact on the glass this year.
The scrimmage will also be a good chance to see how the backcourt, led by junior Trevor Releford and a plethora of shooting guards between Trevor Lacey, Levi Randolph, and Rodney Cooper, will be able to adapt to not having last year’s strong offensive presence of Green and Mitchell in the paint. Regardless of the team’s performance tonight, the game will be important in helping the team establish an identity moving forward.
“The whole thing about right now is trying to get better,” Grant said. “It’s not about trying to win so much as it’s OK, let’s see what we have, let’s put guys in different scenarios, different situations, and let’s see what’s the best offensive and defensive personnel that fits the team that we currently have. I think as we get some more experience under our belt, we will get a better feel.”