Alabama looks for leadership without Ashley Williams

Alabama looks for leadership without Ashley Williams

Alabama looks to end its losing streak against Vanderbilt.

Women’s basketball coach Kristy Curry has delivered several lengthy and detailed opening statements at press conferences this season. After a 19-point loss to Texas A&M on Thursday night, she needed only six seconds to summarize her frustration.

“I’m just really disappointed tonight in our effort,” Curry said. “Bottom line. Not much else to say than that.”

Curry went on to clarify that by “effort”, she meant more than physical exertion. She said the team fell short in physical, mental, and emotional effort, from missing scouting report tendencies to lacking the emotional leadership Ashley Williams would usually help provide.

Williams missed her first game of the season while recovering from a collision with a Mississippi State player on Sunday. She remains day-to-day as the team prepares to host Vanderbilt on Sunday afternoon.

“Of course we miss her, but other people have to step up,” senior forward NeNe Bolton said. “I think we just go back to work and make sure our practice habits aren’t like they were when we came out today. [It’s] just making sure we do everything the coaches ask in practice. It starts there.”

With Williams out, Texas A&M was able to focus on containing senior guard Hannah Cook, Alabama’s leading scorer. She scored four points on 1-of-9 shooting and had one rebound.

That forced the team to rely more on its depth, which has been reliable all year, outscoring opponents by nine bench points per game. That success was limited against the Aggies, though, as the bench had 25 points and nine rebounds over 97 total minutes compared to Texas A&M’s 21 and eight in just 52 minutes.

Bench production will become even more critical if sophomore Jasmine Walker, who replaced Williams in the starting lineup, can’t play Sunday against the Commodores. She left during the first half of Thursday’s game with an ankle sprain and is also day-to-day.

Curry speculated that some of the offense’s ineffectiveness came from Walker leaving the game.

“Offensively, I thought we were stagnant a lot and we weren’t moving the ball,” Curry said. “When we did, we had some great looks inside and out… I’m not so sure that when Jas went down, that didn’t shock us a little bit, because that was completely unexpected.”

Despite the uncertainty about the starting lineup, one of the team’s struggles against Texas A&M may not be as tough against Vanderbilt. The Commodores average below 29 rebounds per game, which ranks last in the SEC. The Aggies, who out-rebounded the Crimson Tide 45-31, rank fourth with over 38 per game.

Alabama (13-6 overall, 3-3 SEC) has lost five of its last six games against the Commodores (5-15, 1-5), but the one win came in last year’s SEC Tournament. The game will begin on Sunday at 2 p.m. in Coleman Coliseum.

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