Alabama Basketball Opens Vs. Sooners
There is good reason for Coach Anthony Grant and the Alabama men's basketball team not to look back at the performance against West Georgia. The Crimson Tide opens the 2013-14 season Friday in Dallas against the Oklahoma Sooners. Tipoff will be at 4 p.m. CST with national television coverage by Fox Sports Southwest and regional coverage by other Fox outlets, including Fox Sports South.
The Tide vs. Sooners game is part of a triple header, the Buckets And Boots Showcase, at the American Airlines Center (home of the Dallas Mavericks). Following Bama vs. OU, SMU will meet TCU at 6:30 p.m., followed by Baylor against Colorado at 9 p.m.
Grant had some good news prior to the team's departure for Dallas. He said that Levi Randolph, a returning starting guard who has been out with a sprained MCL since early in pre-season practice, had returned to action and might be available on a limited basis to play against Oklahoma. "You could see the rust," Grant said of Randolph's return to practice Wednesday.
Alabama has its first home game next week, Thursday, Nov. 14, when the Crimson Tide hosts Texas Tech.
Grant said the only other Tider with an injury issue is center Carl Engstrom, who had "a little aggravation" of his foot. The coach said Engstrom, who missed almost all of last season after a knee injury, should be ready to play.
Grant pointed out that it is difficult to know a great deal about the opponent in a season-opening game. Last year the Sooners of Coach Lon Kruger went 20-12, including a record of 11-7 in the Big 12, and made it to the NCAA Tournament. Oklahoma has six lettermen and two starters back from last season. Senior 6-7 forward Cameron Clark will be a four-year starter and averaged 14.5 points and 6 rebounds per game last year. Guard Buddy Hield, a 6-4 sophomore, averaged 7.8 points per game as a freshman starter. In two exhibition games this year, Hield averaged 25 points per game.
One of the newcomers to the Sooners is 6-8, 232-pound sophomore forward Ryan Spangler, who formerly played at Gonzaga.
Oklahoma's top three scorers from last year are gone.
Grant said a problem for Alabama's offense in its exhibition game was a lack of offensive balance. Trevor Releford took one-third of Alabama's 48 shots (7-16). He fgot to the foul line with frequency, making 11-12 and finishing with a game-high 27 points.
Grant said, "Trevor is a big part of our offense," but added that he saw "some guys shy away" and others – Releford and forward Nick Jacobs – "rise up to the challenge. Trevor and Nick wanted the ball at the end."
Alabama's projected starting lineup is based on the previous game, which would be Retin Obasohan at point guard, Releford and Rodney Cooper on the wings, Jacobs at forward, and Engrstom at center.