Players adapt to new roles as Alabama continues to find the right lineupBy Matthew Speakman | 01/13/2018 2:20pm
Freshman guard John Petty was one of five Alabama players to score in double figures.
It’s early January, and Alabama is still trying to find a lineup that best suites the team. The Crimson Tide have experienced numerous line up shakeups with players going down with injury, sickness or being suspended at the beginning of the season.
Junior guard Dazon Ingram has been caught in the middle of those lineup shakeups. After missing the Crimson Tide’s blowout loss to Georgia, he was brought off the bench in a 14-point win against Georgia.
As Alabama searches for the right starting five and rotation, any player’s role can change. Ingram, however, knows he’s a starter and one of the leaders. When asked if he could see himself as a bench player, he said, “No. Absolutely not.”
Head coach Avery Johnson seemed to like that attitude.
“I love it, there’s no concern,” Johnson said. “There’s no concerns. Dazon has been starting since he’s been here.”
Outside of Ingram, freshman guard John Petty was another player whose role changed against South Carolina last game. Petty is normally a starter who plays big minutes. Against the Gamecocks, he became the first guy off the bench and provided instant offense.
Petty scored 15 points and had four rebounds as well as three assists. His bursts of offense helped pull Alabama out of scoring slumps.
‘That was his best game in terms of passion and enthusiasm on both sides of the floor, including shot selection,” Johnson said. “…He was as locked in defensively as I’ve seen him all year.”
Alabama went with a longer lineup against South Carolina. The team slid sophomore Braxton key from the power forward position to the small forward position. Johnson played freshman Collin Sexton at point guard and freshman Herbert Jones at Shooting guard.
In the middle, Alabama went with junior Donta Hall and sophomore Daniel Giddens. Both players are 6-foot-9 or taller. That helped them limit the amount of paint entries, which was a key to Alabama's improvement on defense.
“We work well with each other honestly,” Giddens said. “We have that twin tower thing going on down there. I just think we help clog the paint a lot.”
It will be interesting to see who Johnson goes with when Alabama takes on LSU at 7 p.m. in Baton Rouge, La.
Even though the team is more than midway through the season, Johnson is not concerned that he hasn’t found a consistent lineup yet.
“You can have plans on how you want to look come SEC play, but sometimes there are challenges and obstacles that get in your way,” Johnson said. “Even though you want to have the same team to start the game, sometimes you have to adjust.”
One thing he is concerned with, however, is LSU freshman guard Tremont Waters. So far, Waters averages 16 points a game, and has been the leader on offense for the Tigers.
A week ago, Waters hit a crazy buzzer beater over two defenders to lift LSU to a win over Texas A&M. It’s no secret that Waters is the go-to guy for the Tigers.
“He’s playing a balanced game,” Johnson said. “He scores when he needs to score. He passes when he needs to pass. He gets steals. He’s hard against single coverage.”
Alabama and LSU will square off at 7:30 p.m. CT on the SEC Network.