#86 Alabama: 2010-11 Basketball Preview
Overall Rank: #86
Conference Rank: #8 Southeastern Conference
2009-10: 17-15, 6-10
2009-10 postseason: none
Coach: Anthony Grant (17-15 at Alabama, 93-40 overall)
Coach Anthony Grant’s first season at Alabama was filled with close losses, blown leads, inconsistent offense and plenty of learning. In the end, the 2009-2010 campaign should be considered a success and a step in the right direction. Now Coach Grant is bringing in some talented players and if the offense can develop any sort of consistency, this is a Crimson Tide team that can beat some good teams.
Key Losses: G Anthony Brock, F Justin Knox, G Mikhail Torrance
The most interesting battle for playing time will be at point guard where Mikhail Torrance will be sorely missed. Junior college transfer Kendall Durant may have the early leg up due to his experience, but incoming freshman Trevor Releford may be too talented to leave on the bench. Ideally, those two can handle the point guard duties, but the Tide have some returning options if necessary. The only other newcomer on the perimeter is 6-5 wing Charles Hankerson. Finding depth in the frontcourt was a priority for this class and Jason Carter should be the answer. The 6-8, 230 pound Houston, Texas native has all the skills to step into a big role right away. That may not be the case with 7-1 Swede Carl Engstrom. While he does have plenty of international experience, it may take him a little while before he adjusts to life in the SEC.
Coach Grant stresses defense and that is why Andrew Steele was missed so much after playing in just six games last season. He should step back into a starting role now that he is recovered from his ankle injury. He is not much of a scorer or shooter, but he will be on the floor when Bama needs a stop. Senario Hillman started 23 games a year ago and is the most likely candidate to turn into the perimeter’s best scorer. Unfortunately, like most of the team, Hillman is not much of a shooter and most of his scoring comes from his mid-range game. The only shooter returning is Charvez Davis. The 6-3 senior never started a game last season, but he did knock down 40.6 percent of his attempts from beyond the arc and averaged 6.0 points per game.
Tony Mitchell spent most of his freshman campaign at the small forward position, but he may be forced to play at the four spot more often this season. That will depend on Carter and Engstrom and if they are ready to contribute immediately. Mitchell is a fine rebounder and could stretch out the defense with his outside shooting ability from the four spot. Yet, at 6-6 and 210 pounds, he is a little undersized for a power forward in the Southeastern Conference. Either way, JaMychal Green will be the star of the frontcourt. Green tallied an impressive 14.1 points, 7.2 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game during his sophomore campaign.
Who to Watch:
Chris Hines is the other option in the frontcourt. He started 14 games last season, but the 6-8 senior will never be a scorer. But on this team, he does not need to score. It is very feasible that Hines will start at the four and Mitchell at the three, since Coach Grant will reward Hines’ ability to play defense and hit the glass. That would leave absolutely no experienced frontcourt depth on the team, but at least there are some freshmen who can play a few minutes here and there.
Alabama would like to utilize 10 or 11 players and press on the defensive end at all times. This roster may get them pretty close to that number if everybody can stay healthy, which did not happen last season. While defense is nice, it was the offense that made this team lose games. There was not a guard on the team who could consistently create a shot for themselves. And without Torrance, that will probably continue to be an issue barring a surprising campaign from one of the newcomers. Alabama should win a few more games just because of an extra year in Coach Grant’s system, but there needs to be some offensive firepower on the perimeter.
Projected Post-season Tournament: NIT
Projected Starting Five:
Kendall Durant, Junior, Guard, DNP last season
Senario Hillman, Senior, Guard, 7.9 ppg
Andrew Steele, Sophomore, Guard, 3.8 ppg
Tony Mitchell, Sophomore, Forward, 9.2 ppg
JaMychal Green, Junior, Forward, 14.1 ppg
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