Practice Report: Alabama speeds things up

Practice Report: Alabama speeds things up

Avery Johnson, the new head coach of the Alabama men's basketball team, gestures to the media and fans upon arriving at the Tuscaloosa Regional Airport on April 8, 2015. UA Athletics

Alabama wants to go a lot faster this year, but first it has to take things slow.

Coach Avery Johnson said he has to make sure players learn the fundamentals before he moves on.

“The energy and the enthusiasm have far greater exceeded my expectations in terms of execution,” Johnson said. “We still have a ways to go, that’s to be expected, but it’s not because there’s any confusion or grey area about what we are trying to accomplish.”

Johnson is trying to change Alabama’s identity in his first year as the Crimson Tide’s head coach. He wants the team to play much faster this year and he also wants to see the offense be more aggressive.

During practice on Thursday, Johnson stopped the scrimmage often to point out opportunities the team missed. At one point he told his players to stop hesitating with the ball.

“Sometimes by nature they didn’t want to take early great shots,” Johnson said. “We are trying to encourage them to take those shots because that’s better than moving the ball around 10 times and getting a bad shot.”

Practice notes:

  • This was the first media viewing period of Johnson’s tenure as a head coach. Prior to this season former Alabama coach Anthony Grant did not allow media in practice.
  • Players were divided into two groups at the beginning of the viewing period. The white team included Riley Norris, Michael Kessens, Justin Coleman, Donta Hall, Christian Clark and Lawson Schaffer. The Crimson team consisted of Dazon Ingram, Brandon Austin, Retin Obasohan, Jimmie Taylor, Nick King,  Shannon Hale, and Avery Johnson Jr.
  • Johnson had the teams compete twice to see who could get to 21 first shooting only two point shots. The white team won both contests.
  • The rest of the time was divided up between half court and full court practice sessions. During both sessions Johnson encourage players to be more aggressive.
  • Johnson stopped practice at one point to critique his players for failing to get the ball to Taylor when he was open.
  • The team worked with a 20 second shot clock when it scrimmaged using the full court. The players did not always make their shots, but rarely did either team commit any shot clock violations. 
  • Hale did not compete with the team in the full court practice session, and graduate student Arthur Edwards did not participate in practice during the viewing session.
  • King, a Memphis transfer, will not be able to compete with the team this season due to NCAA rules, but he looked sharp out on the court. 

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