Now that Alabama’s magical football season is in the books, the Crimson Tide Nation can turn its attention toward basketball, although the ‘Bama sneaker squeakers have already technically played almost half their season.
Alonzo Gee (at right) and Alabama have gotten off to a slow start…relatively. They are 10-3 with zero wins against anyone worth mentioning, but when it comes to basketball, a team only needs enough wins to get into the Big Dance, and that’s where the true competitive spirit hums its hearty tune.
Of course, for fans to throw those cyanide tablets they may entertain after The Tide football team’s awful Sugar Bowl loss into a waste bucket, a team like Alabama must actually win during the regular season. A brief catch-up for those who forgot basketball has been being played in Tuscaloosa for over a month:
– Gee, a junior and one of the nation’s most exciting, dunk-loving, steal-happy, players, leads the team in scoring, averaging 14.3 points per game.
– ‘Bama’s general, senior Ronald Steele (below), who currently owns the school’s all-time highest free throw percentage and has probably played a billion minutes in a Tide jersey, seems to be back for real.
Once tabbed as the nation’s top point guard, Steele has been poisoned with injuries during his five college years but is still the best man in all the land to have the ball in his hands two minutes into a game or with two seconds remaining in a game. He is third on the team in scoring, averaging 12.9 points per contest, and leads all players in the assist category, of course.
His minutes-played average is lower this year than ever before, as head coach Mark Gottfried apparently realized working Steele like a carriage mule might not be the best for the veteran guard’s metal knees (Steele once averaged over 40 minutes per game, which may seem impossible since college basketball games only last 40 minutes, but with overtime calculated into the stats, it’s possible – so basically his ass never ever touched the bench in years past). Also, Steele’s receiving help at his position this season from other able guards on the roster, including his little brother, freshman Andrew Steele.
Starting Five (Most Recent):
G – Ronald Steele / Sr. / 6’3, 185 / #22
G – Senario Hillman / So. / 6’1, 188 / #21
G/F – Alonzo Gee / Jr. / 6’6, 219 / #12
F – Justin Knox / So. / 6’9, 220 / #40
F – JaMychal Green / Fr. / 6’9, 225 / #32
– The roster is full of guards, which, as stated above, eases the load for Steele, but some of these guys have some size, like 6’5 junior Mikhail Torrance, who is a pretty good shooter beyond the arc as well. The squad’s second leading scorer, sophomore Senario Hillman (13.3 ppg), has struggled making threes but is heating up the nylon from elsewhere on the court lately, averaging just under 18 points in ‘Bama’s last three games. Hillman is small, but he’s a scrappy, physical player who hasn’t quite mastered the art of the non-contact steal like his larger teammate, Gee.
– Beside the Steele brothers, Hillman, and Torrance, the free throw percentage is pretty lackluster (.696 team average). This has always been a problem for Gottfried-coached teams, and it has cost The Tide several ball games over the last few years. The Steele brothers are the only Crimson Tide players averaging over 80% from the charity stripe.
– Freshman forward/center/manchild and former McDonald’s All-American JaMychal Green (below) has lived up to expectations thus far, leading the team with blocks and boards and also pitching in scoring-wise with over 8 points per game. Green also leads ‘Bama with personal fouls, however, and has already fouled out of two games this year. Rookie beeyotch.
– ‘Bama beat a raw Georgia Tech, 88-77, Saturday in Coleman Coliseum, relying heavily on five Ron Steele three-pointers, 18 Lonnie Gee rebounds, solid play from Hillman and Green, and a breakout performance from Knox.
– The Tide travels a couple states away Tuesday, Jan. 6th to take on #16 Clemson. The Purple Tigers are undefeated, better at basketball than they are at football, and they play in the ACC, where basketball matters. They are led by a couple big but mobile dudes – 6’5 forward-with-touch K.C. Rivers and 6’7 monster forward Trevor Booker. Clemson has exceeded pre-conference expectations, bulling its way to a 14-0 record.
Head coach Oliver Purnell‘s (at right) team made it to the ACC tournament championship game last year after knocking off Duke, the nation’s #7 ranked team at the time. The Tigers lost to North Carolina in the finals, but earned a slot as a five-seed in the NCAA Tourney, where they were upset by 12th seed Villanova.
Clemson has already defeated an SEC team this year, beating South Carolina (10-2), 98-87, last Tuesday in Columbia.