It’s been 258 days since Alabama’s men’s basketball team entered Bridgestone Arena in Nashville and went back without a game in the SEC tournament.
The abrupt end of last season ushered in an off-season that dragged on into Thanksgiving week.
Three days before the Iron Bowl – when college basketball season is usually in full swing – Alabama will close its regular season on Wednesday night with the Jacksonville state venue. Maximum about 2. 300 fans will be at the Coleman Coliseum at 7pm. m. CT start broadcast on the SEC network.
« This is the longest time I’ve practiced in my career without playing, scrimmage or anything, » coach Nate Oats said on Tuesday. « We are ready to play. ”
Oats is entering his second season after finishing his first campaign 8-10 in conference and 16-15 overall. The Tide should rank Tennessee as the No.. 1 play. 9 seeds in the tournament before this game and the entire postseason have been canceled.
Despite the loss of top scorer Kira Lewis to the NBA draft, expectations are higher for Alabama this season. It was selected to be fifth in the SEC and is No.. 25 in the preseason coach survey, while effectively No.. Placed. 29 in the Associated Press poll.
« Expectations for this team will be high and we are ready, » said Senior Guard John Petty, an all-SEC preseason first-team selection, on Tuesday. “We are really ready. ”
Petty joins two seniors in strikers Herb Jones and Alex Reese, along with transfer center Jordan Bruner and 22-year-old second point guard Jahvon Quinerly. That experience on the roster is why Oats believes his team should fight for an SEC title and take a deep run in the NCAA tournament.
« I think the talent is there if we stay healthy, » Oats told ESPN 97. 7 in August. « There are really good teams in the SEC, but like I told our group, we have seniors. Some of these really good teams are likely to be really good because they have a lot of talent, but that talent is young. Veterans win in college basketball. ”
Alabama has not won the SEC regular season crown since 2001/02 and has not won the tournament title since 1991. It has only appeared twice in the last 13 NCAA tournaments in 2012 and 2018.
« There are a lot of basketball fans down here, » said Oats. « They’re just waiting for the team, the program is something they can leave behind. I think we have a team that you can support this year. I think you will be excited. . . . You know there’s just something about this team that people know. I think we feel. ”
Oats brought Tuscaloosa a faster style of basketball last season that resulted in the Tide attempting the nation’s fourth most three-point shots, leading the SEC averaging 82 points per game.
« This is a team that is a fast, running, and bubbly team, » said Petty. « We have depth in our shooting. We have at least five or six people on our team who can shoot the cover off the ball. We have point guards who can handle the ball and ease it. I have a feeling we have bigs that can make a difference in color. I feel like our team and our expectations are very high. The ceiling is very high for this team. ”
Oats has made improving defense a focus this off-season and will watch his group perform in their first Test against Jacksonville State, which was seventh at the Ohio Valley conference under coach Ray Harper last season, Wednesday night Took place.
The Gamecocks defeated Alabama in a closed battle in 2018, prompting Oats to invite them back for its first season last October. The Tide won the Closed Scrimmage last year.
« His teams always play hard and they are always great on the offensive boards. We played in our team – we really need to let the ball bounce back. They have some real interior players, ”Oats said last week. « They struggled to kick the ball last year but they added some real shooters. I think they will be one of the better teams in their league and they will give us a really good game in my opinion. It will be a good test for us to get out. ”
PG Jahvon Quinerly (Sun. . ): Replaces the production of Kira Lewis (18. 5 points per game, 5. 2 assists) as all-SEC first-team selections it won’t be easy, and Alabama probably doesn’t need Quinerly to score that many goals with its myriad of other shooting options on the ground. The talent and potential, however, lies in the former McDonald’s All-American being a star after being banned from admission last season and playing sparsely as a newcomer to Villanova. « It’s getting emotional for him, » Oats said on Tuesday. « He played great in practice. He shot the ball really well. I think he’s ready to go. He was guarding. His defense has been significantly improved. I think he’s ready. ”
SG John Petty (Sr. . ): Petty was a preseason all-SEC first-team selection and, after a lengthy NBA draft evaluation process, decided to return to school with a goal of making his way through to the first round in 2021. If he gives Alabama what he gave last year – some of the best three-point shots in the nation – he and the team should be in good shape.
SF Herb Jones (Sr. . ): He struggled with elbow and wrist injuries last season, but showed some courageous performances, including a home win against LSU. If he can stay healthy this season, Jones will provide a defensive presence but has also deserved attention in practice for his improved jump shot. He can play four positions on the court and was an All-SEC coaching choice in the second-team preseason.
PF Alex Reese (Sr. . ): Whether Reese will start again this season may vary from game to game, whether a smaller or larger line-up is used. Having Bruner on the field alongside Reese could be a defensive challenge due to the shooting ability of both players. Reese had hip surgery and has shrunk in size in the off-season, Oats said. The Pelham senior also said he made better decisions in practice with the ball in hand. Sales were an issue last season.
C Jordan Bruner (size. ): Two of Alabama’s great men, Galin Smith and Javian Davis, moved out last season, and Oats has found the center of the coveted transfer market. Bruner offers more shooting skills after scoring 32 percent of his three-point hits for Yale last season. At 6-foot-10, it gives Alabama the size it needs in defense, but also fits into the offensive system in a way that the centers failed to do last year.
G Jaden Shackelford (Sun. . ): He started 19 games as a freshman last season and made the SEC’s all-freshman team with an average of 15 points per game. He could certainly start the games again this season if Oats moves to a smaller line-up that puts Jones in the power-forward role. Even if Shackelford, a sharp-shooting three-point threat, comes off the bench, Oats has warned not to read too much about it. « We won’t start our top five players, » he said on Tuesday. Looking to beat off the bench, Oats believes it’s more important who’s on the pitch at the end of a close game than who’s going to start.
G Keon Ellis (Jr. . ): Ellis, a JUCO transfer from Florida Southwestern, is on track to take important minutes off the bench. Comparing Ellis (6-foot-6) to Petty in terms of size and ability, Oats added that the team wanted to find more « multidimensional » guards that could play both offensively and defensively. « He can really shoot the ball, » Quinerly said of Ellis. Hafer added: “He was the leading goalscorer on the No.. 1 JUCO team in the country. He does threesomes with a high clip, he can drive the ball, he can finish, he’s skillful. ”
G Josh Primo (Fr. . ): Alabama’s best recruit in the 2020 class was from 247 Sports and No. . 21 national. The 6-foot-6 Canadian can guard both positions and will likely support Quinerly, although Oats also gave Shackelford some practice time at this point to expand his game. « Since he’s so young, younger than most of the others, I would say he’s definitely got a big advantage, » said Ellis. “You can say that it was made for his level. He can dribble, he can shoot, he can play defense. He’s still learning, but he’s a really great player. I expect great things from him this year. “How much Primo cracks the rotation in the late season as a newcomer remains to be seen, but he should get significant minutes in the preseason.
F James Rojas (Jr. . ): Last year’s JUCO transfer missed the season due to a torn ACL and is the best man off the bench this season. « [He] played really well, » Oats said in October. « He made a full recovery from knee surgery. He was 19 on average. 0 points and 6. 8 rebounds per game in his last action for Hutchinson Community College in Kansas in 2018-19.
F Keon Ambrose-Hylton (Fr. . ): With 6-foot-11 freshman Alex Tchikou set to miss the season with an Achilles injury, the door seems open for the 6-foot-8 Ambrose Hylton to get a few minutes in the preseason, if Bruner and Reese are not there the court. A more significant season could come next season when Bruner and Reese are gone. Hafer praised the Canadian for his energy in the practice in early autumn.
F Juwan Gary (R-Fr. ): As a four-star contestant in the 2019 class, Gary missed final season with a torn ACL and was only recently cleared for return to practice. He might not be ready to play in the Wednesday night opener, Oats said on Tuesday, and in general his playing time this season could be limited with some veteran players on the bench in front of him.
F Darius Miles (Fr. . ): Oats, a three-star freshman from IMG Academy in Florida, said Miles, 6-foot-6, has a lot of advantages on the wing as a future option. At this point, it seems like an end-of-the-bench option that could get a few minutes in the preseason.
Mike Rodak is an Alabama Beat Reporter for the Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @mikerodak.
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Alabama Crimson Tide Football, Southeastern Conference, Nate Oats, Basketball, Jacksonville State Gamecocks Men’s Basketball, College Football
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