What Lies Ahead for Alabama Basketball?
The Alabama men's basketball season came to a close in the first round of the NIT when it fell to Creighton, 72-54.
It was an up-and-down first year for head coach Avery Johnson. His team knocked off ranked opponents in consecutive games last November, lost six out of eight in January to start conference play, won five straight to start February including a road game at Florida, but lost six out of eight to finish the year.
There was plenty to celebrate. Senior Retin Obasohan developed into one of the top players in the conference, garnering first team All-SEC honors to go along with his SEC Scholar Athlete of the Year award. Freshman Donta Hall became a nightmare for opponents on defense, blocking five shots in three of the team's final five games.
The Crimson Tide also won more games against top-50 RPI teams than it had in years. The close loss against Oregon on a neutral court, the win over eventual 3-seed Texas A&M, and wins over tournament teams Wichita State and Notre Dame showed this team might be close to doing some special things.
But Avery Johnson still needs time to develop depth and continue upgrading the talent level in Tuscaloosa to reach a place where his program can compete consistently with the top teams in the country. He has a chance to do that with next year's talented freshman class, which he might be able to add another player or two before August.
This year still showed us there are some things to look forward to next October. What can Dazon Ingram do when completely healthy for a full season? Can Justin Coleman and Riley Norris become consistent scorers like we've seen flashes of? Will juniors Jimmie Taylor, Shannon Hale, and Michael Kessens take on a leadership role their senior seasons?
Those are just a few of the things to follow this offseason. Year one under Avery Johnson might not have ended like many had hoped, but there's plenty to be optimistic about with Alabama basketball.