Avery Johnson takes a hands on approach ahead of final regular season home game against Ole MissBy Tyler Waldrep | 03/01/2017 2:23am
Alabama coach Avery Johnson doesn’t usually like talking to his team about his career playing basketball, but sometimes it’s necessary. Other times it’s not enough.
“Telestration is good, coaching is good, but demonstration sometimes can be even better,” Johnson said.
So when one of his guys missed Monday with a virus, Johnson took a place on the court with his team for the entirety of the practice. He said the players loved it, but his knees felt differently- the only thing they loved was the ice Johnson applied afterwards.
All the soreness will be worth it if the Crimson Tide (16-12, 9-7 Southeastern conference) can avoid losing three straight games for the first time all season, when the Ole Miss Rebels (18-11, 9-7 SEC) travel to Tuscaloosa on Wednesday night for a 7:30 tipoff.
A victory over the Rebels will also ensure Alabama receives at worst a six seed in the SEC Tournament next week, but Johnson knows it won’t be easy.
“This [Ole Miss] team can score the ball,” Johnson said. “They can get 80 points in their sleep.”
To date, the Rebels have scored at least 80 points or more in 16 contests. Alabama has only managed to reach that same mark five times all season, and has failed to score more than 58 points in three of its last four.
The discrepancy on offense can be largely attributed to play of three Ole Miss players. Deandre Burnett (17.1 points per game), Sebastian Saiz (15.1) and Terence Davis (14.4) check in at sixth, seventh and tied for 10th, respectively, on a list of the SEC’s scoring leaders.
Alabama’s scoring leader freshman Braxton Key (12 ppg) is tied for 26th on that same list.
However, the Crimson Tide’s defense held 15 opponents under 63 points and it won all but two of those games. Johnson said he knows what fans think of those wins, but he’ll take whatever victory the defensive side of the court can give him.
“I sure would like to have a couple more of those 'ugly' wins, because we’re very competitive on the defensive end of the floor,” Johnson said.
On Wednesday night, Alabama will also honor its three seniors as it takes the court in Coleman Coliseum for the last home game of the regular season. Two of the seniors, Corban Collins and Bola Olaniyan, joined the program this season as graduate transfers.
Both have made an impact on the team and started at least 12 games, but it is Olaniyan who has really hit his stride as of late. He leads the team in rebounds (173 total), and needs only four to finish with more than any Alabama player has since JaMychal Green finished with 192 in the 2011-12 campaign.
While Olaniyan’s biggest impact is on the boards, fellow senior Jimmie Taylor’s mark lies in blocking shots. He is currently tied with Donta Hall with 40 this season, and should he block more than the sophomore down the stretch then he will finish as the team’s leader for his fourth consecutive season.
He is also only two blocks short of becoming the sixth Alabama player to record 200 in his career.
“I love Jimmie Taylor,” Johnson said. “He’s somebody that embraced me from day one, well no I wouldn’t say that, that’s not accurate. He probably embraced me from day five. He wasn’t the most bubbly guy when I met him.”