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SEC Basketball Team Preview: T-#9 Alabama Crimson Tide

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Taking a look at SEC Conference-mate Alabama Crimson Tide, with help from BamaBrave4 from RollBamaRoll.com, HHKB Chris, & switzy227. All predictions on the upcoming season are based upon a Game-By-Game pick of the upcoming season instead of just ranking the teams, in hopes we would get a more interesting look at the team rankings.

Alabama Record

AlabamaCoach

WHO THEY LOST

  • Trevor Releford, Graduated
  • Nick Jacobs, Grad Transfer
  • Algie Key, Transfer
  • Carl Engstrom, Professional

The Alabama Crimson Tide didn’t lose much numbers wise, but they did lose an All-Conference guard in Trevor Releford. And not just All-Conference, but about the only player the Tide were able to count on with any level of consistency last season. Releford carried Alabama some nights, and dragged them through on others. Jacobs was a solid contributor but never fulfilled the promise that he showed coming out of high school, and losing him isn’t going to make or break the Tide’s season. Key never quite made the impact that some expected when he committed to Bama last year as a JUCO All-American. And Engstrom will probably have a nice pro career overseas, but another guy that won’t hurt Bama by leaving.

WHO IS COMING BACK?

player

yr

pos

min

pts

rbds

asts

fg%

ft%

3fg%

Levi Randolph

SR

G

29.9

9.6

3.8

1.4

42.0%

70.5%

34.7%

Rodney Cooper

SR

G

29.3

7.5

4.9

1.9

34.9%

74.2%

26.4%

Retin Obasohan

RS JR

G

28.7

9.5

3.0

1.6

38.1%

66.7%

24.6%

Shannon Hale

SO

F

22.5

8.8

3.6

1.0

43.3%

63.2%

35.2%

Jimmie Taylor

SO

C

16.0

3.0

3.3

0.2

61.3%

40.4%

0.0%

Dakota Slaughter

SR

F

2.6

1.2

0.6

0.2

62.5%

0.0%

50.0%

Coming back the Tide have some solid experience and some talented youth. Levi Randolph was highly rated coming out of high school but never has quite put it all together. He’s had moments, like dropping 33 on Mizzou when they went to Alabama last season, but he's struggled to become the kind of player that Anthony Grant envisioned when he brought him in. Rodney Cooper took a bit of a step back last season in comparison to his sophomore year. Him simply rebounding back to that form could spell good things for Bama. The key though will be both Hale and Taylor. Those two showed some flashes of the potential that warranted them such high rankings out of High School. And their continued progression is going to be an important factor in keeping a pretty thin frontcourt in competition in the league. Slaughter is a former walk-on, now with a scholarship, he will most likely not play a whole lot.

LEVI RANDOLPH
senior guard
PLAYER TO WATCH

Photo credit: Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

Randolph has everything you want in a program changing talent and he has one year to prove that he’s got it. Randolph has shown that he can hit big shots and hit lots of them. He’s shown the ability to take over a game, just not enough. So the main issue is that he’s not shown the ability to put it all together on a nightly basis. If Randolph becomes the consistent player he’s capable of being, you’ll see Bama return to the top half of the SEC instead of the bottom dweller they were last year.

JIMMIE TAYLOR
sophomore forward
UNDER THE RADAR

Photo credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Having guard depth is not going to be Alabama's problem. What will be a problem however is frontcourt depth, and the most important guy in the frontcourt is Taylor. Taylor is a former 4-star recruit who was probably counted on more than he needed to be a year ago, but hopefully being thrown into the fire will help him take a much needed step forward so he can be the guy the Tide can count on for 25 or more minutes of productive basketball night in and night out.

WHO ARE THE NEWCOMERS?

FR Justin Coleman 5'10" 160 lb 4-star #90 PG
FR Jeff Garrett 6'7" 210 lb 3-star #114 SF
FR Devin Mitchell 6'4" 175 lb 3-star #137 SG
FR Riley Norris 6'7" 190 lb 3-star - SF
SO John Gibson 6'7" 215 lb NR - SG
SO Michael Kessens 6'9" 215 lb NR - PF
JR Ricky Tarrant 6'2" 190 lb 3-star - PG

A very interesting batch of newcomers with some highly rated young talent, combined with a few new transfers. Ricky Tarrant can provide a lot of minutes at the point, as well as some scoring. John Gibson and Michael Kessens provide necessary depth on the interior. Anthony Grant brings in a strong freshman class with Justin Coleman being the highest rated, he should be able to provide minutes with Tarrant at the point guard position. Jeff Garrett is probalby the most physically ready to play right away with Devin Mitchell still needing to add some weight, but those two are athletic wings who can pressure the ball on defense, the mark of a Grant player. I had to update this to leave off Christophe Varidel as he won't be playing this season, Varidel was dealing with a pre-existing knee injury and he thought it best to walk away from his playing career. Bad news for the Tide, as he could have helped with some perimeter shooting this season.

DEPTH CHART

DepthChartIMG

Point Guard Off Guard Wing Forward Big Forward Center
Tarrant Randolph Cooper Hale Taylor
Coleman Obasohan Garrett Gibson Kessens

OVERVIEW

I think I’m a little higher on the Tide than the rest of SBN. Anthony Grant has recruited very well since he’s been in Tuscaloosa. The first real class Grant signed when he took over included a 5-star and 4 4-star players. Both Cooper and Randolph are all that’s left. Devonta Pollard was the only signee in the next class, and a 5-star who didn’t quite live up to the hype. Hale and Taylor were a pair of 4-stars in the previous class who still have a chance to pan out.

If there is one team in the SEC that could go 12-6 or go 3-15 it’s Alabama.

If there is one team in the SEC that could go 12-6 or go 3-15 it’s Alabama. Grant has enough of a history to show that he’s at the least a solid coach. When the Tide have an indentity and defend, they’re damn tough to beat. Last season they were as inconsistent offensively as a college team can be and that did them in. With only one reliable scorer the Tide struggled on a nightly basis to find consistent offense. Having the two young post players get the experience of last year should help them improve offensively, as you’d have to expect more from both Hale and Taylor.

The front court depth is not very good though, and that is a big concern in a league with a lot of good front courts. Not just Kentucky, Florida and LSU, but Arkansas, Ole Miss and even Missouri can go 4-5 deep, and foul trouble can get scary. Hale and Taylor should be able to go up against just about anyone in the league, but after that it’s Michael Kessens, the Longwood transfer. He was a bit of a breakout at Longwood but on a team that won 8 games in the Big South, which is not the SEC. It’s hard to expect too much from him. The front-court depth issue doesn’t really transfer to the backcourt, where the Tide does have depth. Obasohan, Cooper, Hale and Randolph all played a lot last year, and Tarrant, Coleman, Varidel, Garrett and Mitchell should all be able to vie for time. So in the backcourt the Tide have 9 guys who can play and contribute.

I think this all comes down to your opinion on Anthony Grant. Was last year more of a bump in the road or was it the start of a trend? I was a fan of the Grant hire when it happened, and continue to be a fan of his teams. They’re tough, physical, defensive minded and the kind of team that nobody really enjoys playing against. That’s an identity. If the Tide can muster more consistent offense this year it’s easy to see them returning to the upper echelon of the league. Randolph is a guy who has the ability to be the guy in Tuscaloosa, but if he struggles with consistency I like the depth to make up for that. It’s something that the Tide didn’t have a year ago. And why I like their ability to be a few wins better than a season ago.

RBR Responds

I'm a bit higher on our transfers than you seem to be. For example, I fully expect Ricky Tarrant to get the large majority of minutes at the point. He's a natural PG and someone who can score, defend, and pass well. He's no Releford, but he will be one of our best players. I think Michael Kessens could be the key to our season. Yes, the level of competition in th Big South was terrible, but he really tore it up there. We need an offensive presence in the frontcourt in the worst way, we haven't had one since JaMychal Green left. I'm also excited about Christophe Varidel's outside shooting ability*, it's another area we lacked dearly last year.

One of the things I like about this team is our ability to show a bunch of different looks, so the depth chart is hard to pin down. You could see Tarrant, Randolph, Cooper, Hale and Taylor, or you could see Tarrant, Obasohan, Randolph, Cooper, and Kessens, and so on.

Overall, I strongly agree with a lot of what you say. A lot of Bama fans (read: 90% of them) have gone completely sour on Coach Grant so this could be his last stand if he can't at least get us back into NCAA Tournament contention. Randolph and Cooper really need to finally live up to their potential and play consistent basketball, and Hale and Taylor need to have developed nicely. I'll be hoping for the best.

bamabrave picks

* - post was written prior to the news about Varidel not playing this season

HHKB Says

I’ve got to be honest with you, I love me some Anthony Grant, but he’s done nothing much to keep his job in Alabama and this could be his last stand. You just know Nick Saban wants to invite him into his office all Jabba the Hutt style, get him talking and then push that button and he falls into the pit with the Rancor monster (I had to google that, take away my nerd card) as he shouts, I’M THE MAN HERE, YOU CAN BE SUCCESSFUL IF I DEEM IT SO! The question is, is Nick feeling in a giving mood or not?


Each SBNation site was asked for one representative to submit a Game-by-Game pick of the upcoming SEC season to get a different look than if we just asked them to submit a ranking by team, or a prediction for their record. It yielded some interesting results. If you would like to partake in the pick 'em game with the so-called experts, here is the link to the Google Form we used:

I'll keep the form open to be filled out until the season starts. If you would like a nifty rankings image like you see above from BamaBrave4's picks, send me an email or tweet and I'll make it happen. You can also follow me on Twitter: