Since Roll Bama Roll did such a good job of scouting the Pirates in their preview earlier today, I thought I'd return the favor and scout the Alabama Crimson Tide ahead of tonight's matchup in the Paradise Jam (6 PM eastern time on Fox College Sports' website).
Without further ado, here it is!
2010-11 record: 2-0 (vs Florida A&M, vs Troy)
2009-10 record: 17-15 (6-10 SEC), 4th in SEC West
Key losses (from last year): Mikhail Torrance, Anthony Brock
Key returnees: JaMychal Green, Senario Hillman, Tony Mitchell, Charvez Davis
Impact freshman: Trevor Releford
The Crimson Tide are heading into their second season under head coach Anthony Grant, formerly of VCU. One of the staples of Grant's teams is that they play an intense brand of basketball based on full-court,pressing defense. They held opponents to 42 percent shooting from the field last season, and through two games their opponents shot just 30 percent from the field. It will take discipline on offense to score against the Tide.
They return a group of strong forwards in junior JaMychal Green and sophomore Tony Mitchell. Green leads the team in scoring at 15.5 PTS while adding 7 rebounds per game, while Mitchell averages 8 boards per game along with 12 points per contest. The onus will be on Herb Pope, Jeff Robinson, Ferrakohn Hall and Patrik Auda to hold their own against the physical presence of Green and Mitchell. Rebounding the basketball will be especially key for the Pirates, who historically have struggled in this category.
Guards-wise, 'Bama does not have the experience or depth that the Pirates have (not many teams do), but senior Senario Hillman has a reputation as a great defensive player. He's also second on the team in scoring this year at 13.5 points per game to go along with 5.5 rebounds per game and 3.0 steals per game. I'd expect him, despite the fact that he'd be giving up 3 inches in height, to guard Jeremy Hazell for most of the night. At 3 steals per game, he'll test Hazell's handle when he does decide to put the ball on the floor. Hazell will score, but the key is being efficient, and with an experienced defender like Hillman, it will be a good test of how efficient Hazell can be.
At the point, true freshman Trevor Releford has impressed, leading the team in scoring in their exhibition games and contributing 9 points and 4.5 assists per game. He'll have a tough test going up against the veterans the Hall has at the position in Jordan Theodore and Keon Lawrence, both of whom defend the position well.
Both teams have gone deep into their benches this season, as Alabama has 11 players averaging double digits in minutes played while Seton Hall has 10. Both teams like to press as well, so expect a revolving door of players tonight. Again, execution on offense will help them set up that press, so that will be key against a tough defensive team. Both teams are well- matched physically, although Alabama has the tallest player on either roster in 7- footer Carl Engstrom (who was a target of Seton Hall, fans may remember).
The Tide's one glaring statistical weakness is outside shooting. They have shot just 28 percent from deep this year, with the only real threat being senior Charvez Davis (5-15 on the year from 3-point territory), who is basically 'Bama's version of Jamel Jackson. Their other top long-range shooters from last year both graduated (Torrance, Brock), so Seton Hall might seek to pack the lane when they settle into the halfcourt 2-3 zone they've been playing more frequently.
PIRATES WILL WIN IF:
- Hazell can be efficient in shooting from deep
- Pope, Robinson, et.al. can control the paint and rebound the ball.
- Theodore and Lawrence take care of the ball.
ALABAMA WILL WIN IF:
- Hazell is forced into too many bad shots
- Their defense causes Seton Hall to try to do too much on offense (a la the Temple game)
- They can make outside shots consistently.
That's it for now. It should be a tough test for both teams as each can play terrific defense. I don't expect either team to reach 70 points in this one.