Alabama Men's Basketball 2013 NIT Tournament Capsule

Alabama Crimson Tide
SEC (21-12, 12-6)

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Alabama has had some very questionable loses, but they managed to stay right in the SEC title race into March. This is not a flashy team, nor is it a particularly experienced squad that won games with their smart play. What the Crimson Tide has is Coach Anthony Grant and his defensive expectations.

Big Wins: 11/16 Villanova (77-55), 1/12 Tennessee (68-65), 1/22 Kentucky (59-55)
Bad Losses: 12/22 Mercer (59-66), 12/30 Tulane (50-53), 2/06 at Auburn (37-49)
Coach: Anthony Grant (4 seasons at Alabama)

Why They Can Surprise:
Once again Alabama ranks among the nation’s best in scoring defense. Coach Grant will run a nine man rotation when everybody is healthy in order to keep the defensive pressure up as high as possible. The play of the young frontcourt has kept the Tide’s defense from slipping. Usually Moussa Gueye is the lone frontcourt starter with four guards around him, but he is a fine shot blocker and, at 7-0 and 255 pounds, an imposing defensive presence. Nick Jacobs and Devonta Pollard will earn the occasional start, but generally play just as many minutes as Gueye. Jacobs is a big-bodied post player who can be the shot blocking presence under the basket when Gueye is on the bench. Jacobs is also the best interior scorer on the squad, although that is not saying too much. Pollard, a highly touted freshman, has not quite lived up to his hype, but he is still growing as a player. Unlike Gueye or Jacobs, Pollard is a dynamic athlete who can hit some shots. He has looked like a freshman for most of the season, but there have been some flashes of brilliance and Alabama hopes they can see a bit more consistency now instead of just in the years to come.

Why They Can Disappoint:
The guards get a ton of credit for the stellar defense, but they are also responsible for the stagnant Alabama offense. This is a team that scored just 37 points against a pretty bad Auburn team. Scoring in the 50’s is fine for this team since that is where they want to play and how they want to dictate tempo, but sometimes that is just not enough. Trevor Releford and Trevor Lacey are the top two scorers on the squad. Both are quite effective from beyond the arc and that is one way to spark an offense. Releford will also attack the basket with ease and get to the foul line. That is not the most exciting way to win games, but getting to the line at least gets some points on the board and Releford, unlike the team as a whole, is very good at the line. Levi Randolph and Rodney Cooper, at 6-5 and 6-6, respectively, are the other two guards in the starting lineup. Their size allows Coach Grant to not lose out too horribly on the glass in most contests. And about half of the game two forwards will be in the game anyway. While Releford and Lacey are good shooters and Cooper and Randolph are capable scorers, this team does have a habit of hoisting up too many three-pointers. That happens when the shot clock is winding down, but Releford or Lacey should be attacking the basket on those occasions instead of letting anybody else on the team force up a long ball.

Probable Starters:
Trevor Lacey, Sophomore, Guard, 11.7 ppg, 3.1 apg, 4.0 rpg
Trevor Releford, Junior, Guard, 15.4 ppg, 2.6 apg, 2.5 rpg, 2.0 spg
Levi Randolph, Sophomore, Guard, 7.5 ppg, 1.7 apg, 4.1 rpg
Rodney Cooper, Sophomore, Guard, 10.3 ppg, 4.7 rpg
Moussa Gueye, Junior, Center, 1.4 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 1.5 bpg

Key Roleplayers:
Nick Jacobs, Sophomore, Forward, 7.5 ppg, 3.9 rpg
Devonta Pollard, Freshman, Forward, 4.0 ppg, 2.9 rpg
Andrew Steele, Senior, Guard, 3.8 ppg, 2.0 rpg

By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 63.7 (265th in nation, 11th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 59.3 (27, 2)
Field-Goal Percentage: 42.9 (196, 9)
Field-Goal Defense: 40.9 (87, 6)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 5.6 (229, 11)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 33.5 (196, 8)
Free-Throw Percentage: 69.1 (181, 7)
Rebound Margin: -0.9 (211, 12)
Assists Per Game: 11.0 (293, 12)
Turnovers Per Game: 12.6 (112, 5)

Last Five Postseason Appearances:
2012    NCAA    Round of 64 loss to Creighton
2011    NIT        First Round win over Coastal Carolina
2011    NIT        Second Round win over New Mexico
2011    NIT        Quarterfinal win over Miami
2011    NIT        Semifinal win over Colorado
2011    NIT        Final loss to Wichita State
2007    NIT        First Round loss to Massachusetts
2006    NCAA    Round of 64 win over Marquette
2006    NCAA    Round of 32 loss to UCLA
2005    NCAA    Round of 64 loss to Milwaukee

*all team stats through 3/10


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