Alabama women's basketball team gears up for Utah's size, strengthBy James Ogletree | 11/12/2017 8:52pm
The Alabama women’s basketball team will host the Utah Utes (1-0, 0-0 Pac-12) Monday at 7 p.m. in Coleman Coliseum.
Head coach Kristy Curry believes Alabama’s biggest challenge will be handling the Utes’ size and physicality. She said Emily Potter, a 6-foot-6 senior forward, is one of the best players the team will face all season, and junior forward Emily Huff, who redshirted last year after transferring from Hawaii, is also an exceptional player.
Potter scored 17 points against Nevada on Friday night, going 6-for-12 from the floor and adding 16 rebounds. Huff had 16 points of her own in nine fewer minutes, making both of her attempts from three-point range and all four of her free throws.
“Those are two impact players and they have a great supporting cast,” Curry said. “They’ll go ten deep. They’re so well-coached and they’re just really, really good in all aspects. I’m excited about the opportunity to play a team of this caliber early in the season and we need to rise to the challenge.”
Alabama senior forward Ashley Williams’ performance on and off the floor has been key to the team’s success through one exhibition game and one regular season game. In those two contests, she has shot a combined 56 percent from the floor (9-for-16) and has 13 total rebounds and 28 points.
Curry and teammates say Williams, now in her fifth year at Alabama, brings infectious enthusiasm and positivity to games and that she is even more vocal during practice. Senior guard Hannah Cook said that leadership just comes naturally to Williams.
“Everybody loves Ashley to death,” Cook said. “She’s definitely the definition of a team leader. A lot of us look up to her like a mother hen... I’m sure for her freshman year, even though I wasn’t here, she was still a team leader. She just has that mentality.”
Freshman forward Ariyah Copeland, who recorded 16 points and 15 rebounds in her first career game Friday, said she strives to emulate Williams’ passion on the court.
“She’s someone that I look up to because she always has a ton of energy on the floor,” Copeland said. “In practice and in games, she makes me want to be someone that has that much energy.”
Curry said the team struggled early on Friday night without starting point guard Jordan Lewis, but eventually settled in and limited the unforced turnovers. She said the team will need its remaining point guards to step up in Lewis’ absence and also stressed the importance of converting free throws.
“We’re going to have to have stellar point guard play on Monday night," Curry said. "We have to have Meo [Knight] and Alana [da Silva] get everybody to their spots, do the little things, and just not turn the ball over. And we’ve got to make our free throws consistently. That’s something we’ve worked really hard on. If you miss the first one, you’ve got to make the second one.”