5 Things to Look for During Alabama Basketball’s Exhibition Game
The Alabama men's basketball team takes the floor for the first time on Monday night in an exhibition game against West Georgia. The two schools will face each other for the first time on the hardwood at 7 pm CT.
Both teams return three starters and eight letterwinners from a year ago. Alabama finished 23-13 overall and reached the NIT quarterfinals while West Georgia ended 9-18 overall and 4-12 in the Gulf South Conference.
Exhibition basketball typically leaves a lot to be desired but there will be a number of things to keep an eye on as the Crimson Tide opens the 2013-14 season. Take a look at the five things we'll be watching for during tonight's game.
During the preseason media appearances by the Alabama basketball team, conditioning appeared to be a common talking point. Anthony Grant complimented a number of players on their offseason workouts and put specific focus on junior forward Nick Jacobs. Point guard Trevor Releford said he lost more than 10 pounds in preparation for long minutes this year. Let's see how it translates to the court.
Sophomore guard Retin Obasohan became one of the biggest impact players down the stretch last season. He provided a spark off the bench with strong defensive play and an attack-the-basket style of offense. His contribution to the team will probably have a lot to do with how successful this season winds up being. With no true point guard on the roster eligible for this season, Obasohan will likely provided depth behind Releford, but his flexibility will allow him to be one of the first players off the bench each game.
With three big departures during the offseason (Trevor Lacey, Devonta Pollard, and Moussa Gueye), Alabama will rely heavily on the trio of Shannon Hale, Jimmie Taylor, and Aglie Key. Whether or not one of these guys cracks the starting lineup won't really matter. With just nine scholarship players on the roster, everyone will play significant minutes throughout the year. That means the newcomers will have to adjust to Division I basketball quickly to prevent a dropoff when Alabama calls on the bench.
Junior guard Levi Randolph will be one of the leaders of this year's team, but he will miss tonight's game at the minimum as he recovers from knee surgery. Anthony Grant told the media that he hadn't practiced as of last Thursday, so there's still a strong possibility he misses more time beyond the exhibition. Alabama will use tonight's game to experiment with different lineups ahead of the season opener against Oklahoma and find out which direction it wants to go should Randolph remain out.
The Swedish center will see his first playing time since suffering a knee injury early last season. The junior received a medical redshirt and spent the last 10 months recovering from knee surgery. Engstrom had shown some improvement around the basket before the injury and Alabama will need him to provide depth down low this season. If you remember back to last November, the Crimson Tide was still undefeated with a couple nice wins when he went down. Tonight we'll see how he's recovered and whether his game has continued to progress.