The juxtaposition of Alabama basketball
Two Alabama exhibition games were played at approximately the same time Monday night on The University of Alabama campus.
Both games couldn’t have gone anymore differently.
The Alabama men’s basketball team needed overtime to take down Division II West Georgia, 65-64, at Coleman Coliseum, while the women’s basketball team breezed past West Alabama — also a Division II program — 73-31, at Foster Auditorium.
While they were only exhibitions, the results do still raise a level of concern for one team, and provide a ray of hope for the other.
The men’s team trailed for a significant part of the second half against a school they expected to beat by a sizeable margin.
The unquestioned star of the team, senior point guard Trevor Releford, played well with 27 points on the stat sheet, but he carried the team much more than he should have for a preseason exhibition. Alabama was also outshot by 30 shots, outrebounded 22-6 on offensive rebounds and committed 15 turnovers.
For the women, they dominated from start to finish in all facets of the game, and this is going against the exact same level of competition as the men.
Most notably, though, was that this was the first game as coach for Kristy Curry, who brings national championship game experience to a program that has just one winning season in the past decade.
The women’s team has just one senior, Shafontaye Myers, with a mostly younger class of freshmen and sophomore class surrounding her. They aren’t expected to contend in the SEC yet, but it is certainly encouraging for the younger players to make contributions early, before Curry even has the chance to bring in mostly her “own” players.
On the other hand, you have the men’s team coached by Anthony Grant, who is entering his fifth year as the Crimson Tide’s head man this season. The team has found some success under Grant, but it has been mild at best.
The Tide has won 21 games or more in the past three seasons, a respectable statistic, but has just one NCAA Tournament appearance to show for in those years. The one year they did reach the “Big Dance,” they lost in the first round.
The team has only 10 players on scholarship this season after two starters from last year’s team transferred and another withdrew from the school. All three will likely be sorely missed, especially when depth is needed when other players get banged up throughout the season.
As a result, the team will ask a lot out of two freshmen and a junior college transfer right from the get go. Though talented, it might be more that they can handle in their debut season with the team.
For now, though, it’s the women’s team that should be the hot ticket in town, not the men.