When Anthony Grant is getting ready to leave Coleman Coliseum after a game, he usually hears a ball bouncing in the practice gym.
Every time he peeks his head in to see what’s going on, he finds Retin Obasohan working on his shot.
Obasoahan fits that “first guy in and the last guy out of the gym” stereotype, but that’s what Grant believes has helped the redshirt freshman guard vastly improve over this last half of the season.
Obasohan scored a career-high 14 points and added six rebounds, an assist, a block and a steal to help propel Alabama (23-12) to a 66-54 win over Stanford, the reining NIT champions, Saturday afternoon.
The Crimson Tide will now go on to play Maryland in the NIT quarterfinals Tuesday night at Coleman Coliseum at 6:30 p.m. CT on ESPN. The winner of that game will head to New York City for the tournament semifinals at Madison Square Garden.
As a freshman, Obasohan hasn’t always had an opportunity to get on the court. There were several games in January where he didn’t play at all. But rather than get down and let his game go, he kept at it and it’s paid off. Over the last 11 games, he’s been averaging 6.7 points and 1.2 steals per game, and has gone 28 of 34 (82 percent) from the free throw line.
“He’s the first guy up cheering for his teammates, happy in the locker room,” Grant said. “He comes in in the mornings with one of our assistant coaches and gets shots up or is working on his game or watching film. He’s got a great approach and a great mentality.”
Grant sees Obasohan’s talent and has encouraged him to keep working because he knows he has the potential to be a good player.
“The thing I told him is, it’s always better to be prepared for an opportunity and not have one than having an opportunity and not being prepared,” Grant said. “You don’t always know when your opportunity is going to present itself, just be ready when it does. And he’s done that and I think he’s just taking advantage of it.”
In Saturday's second-round NIT game, Alabama led Stanford 32-24 at halftime, but the Cardinal (19-15) came out of the break running. About seven minutes into the second half, Stanford got within 42-38 of the Tide, but a Devonta Pollard dunk halted any sort of comeback.
A few minutes later, Stanford cut the lead to five, but Obasohan drove for a layup and also hit two free throws to extend the lead, 54-45.
Four different Alabama players reached double digits. Levi Randolph led the Tide for the second game in a row with 16 points (he scored 13 against Northeastern) and Trevor Releford and Nick Jacobs had 10 points apiece.
Pollard had a big game, too, grabbing eight boards and scoring four points, while adding two assists, a block and a steal. He was key in holding Stanford’s star forward Dwight Powell (First-Team All-Pac 12, 15.3 ppg, 8.4 rpg) to two points.
“I really thought from start to finish, the defensive intensity was there,” Grant said. “I didn’t think today that we really had a gap where we lost focus or we went through a lull, offensively or defensively. All together, that may be as complete a game as we’ve played.”
Alabama outscored Stanford in the paint (28-14), off turnovers (17-5), on the fast break (4-0) and off the bench (28-21). The Tide also outrebounded the Cardinal, 39-36.
Though Bama only shot 38.5 percent from the floor and 33.3 percent from 3-point range, it made 22 of 26 free throws, while the Cardinal (31 percent FG, 34.5 percent 3FG), only went 8 of 9.
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