Riley Norris fills leadership role despite being out with season-ending hip injuryBy Matthew Speakman | 02/27/2018 12:53pm
Riley Norris has averaged 6.9 points per game over the course his 80 career games for Alabama.
Alabama (17-12, 8-8 SEC) will honor seniors Riley Norris and ArMond Davis before Tuesday’s contest against Florida (18-11, 9-7). It will be Alabama’s final home game of the year.
Both players could seek an added year of eligibility after this season after qualifying for a medical redshirt. Whether they choose to do that or not has not been decided. Alabama coach Avery Johnson said he is unaware of what the two plan to do after this year.
"Both are fine young men," coach Avery Johnson said. "We're excited for them and their families."
Both players have had little-to-no playing time this season, but still remain as the team’s two seniors. Davis came to the Crimson Tide as a junior college recruit before the 2017 season. He was the No. 8 junior college player. He appeared in 32 games and averaged 6.3 points per game.
Norris, on the other hand, has been a factor for Alabama in all four years. He’s appeared in 80 games over the course of his career, averaging 6.9 points and 4.3 rebounds into
Norris has been seen as a leader on and off the court for Alabama. This season, he’s retained that role even while being out with an injury. For a team that is full of youth, any kind of direction and leadership is accepted.
"Any time anyone has been down or feels like they're just out of it, he's in their corner," forward Herbert Jones said. "You can go talk to him about anything."
Norris has tried to be a leader in the wings, but Alabama is on a three-game losing streak that includes double-digit defeats at the hands of Auburn and Kentucky.
More recently, the Crimson Tide fell at home against Arkansas. Alabama's defense has not been up to its usual standard during this losing streak.
“We haven’t been our usual selves on defense the last three games,” Johnson said. “We’re giving up too many points, teams are shooting too high a percentage against us. We’ve got to get back to the way we were playing defense earlier.”
During this three-game losing streak, many teams have thrown a zone at Alabama in an attempt to slow it down. So far, it has worked. Alabama hasn’t been able to get out and run as often, which is where the team thrives.
“Everyone knows what we're capable of," guard Dazon Ingram said. "We just haven't been putting it on the court. We let the zone slow us down. We've got to be able to run."
Part of that is Alabama is consistently losing the rebounding battle. All three of Alabama’s recent opponents have grabbed double-digit offensive rebounds. Kentucky had 19. Against Arkansas,
Alabama is getting beat on the glass, and it’s hurting its ability to get out and run.
“If we get the rebound on defense, then we are off to the races,” Ingram said. “That’s what it’s going to take for us to be able to start scoring like we were in January.”
Alabama and Florida will tipoff at 6 p.m. on ESPN. It will be a game with major SEC Tournament implications.
While Alabama once sat in the top five of the SEC standings, the three-game losing streak has Alabama at No. 8. The team would earn a first-round bye if it stayed at No. 8, but two wins in the last two games could earn it a double-bye in the tournament.