#50 Alabama Men's Basketball 2014-2015 Preview

Alabama Crimson Tide

2014-2015 Overall Rank: #50
Conference Rank: #5 SEC

Alabama Team Page#50 Alabama Men's Basketball 2014-2015 PreviewBuy Alabama Basketball Tickets

For the most part Alabama had a forgettable season. Yet the Crimson Tide was a tough team at home and went 7-2 at home in SEC play, including victories over 20 win teams like LSU, Missouri and Arkansas. But as good as things were at the friendly confines of Coleman Coliseum, it was not nearly enough to make up for Alabama’s road woes. The Tide did not win a single contest away from home, going 0-11 in true road games and 0-4 in neutral site contests. That must change if this team has any hope of reaching the postseason.

2013-14 Record: 13-19, 7-11
2013-14 Postseason: None
Coach: Anthony Grant
Coach Record: 99-71 at Alabama, 175-96 overall

Who’s Out:
Alabama had trouble scoring last season and now they will have to get by without Trevor Releford, the only player on the team to average double figures in scoring. He tallied 18.5 points per game and added 3.1 assists and 2.2 steals. Releford was the Tide’s clutch shooter, best three-point shooter and only consistent scorer last season and replacing his scoring alone is not going to be simple. Nick Jacobs, Carl Engstrom and Algie Key were part-time starters a season ago. Jacobs, a 6-8 forward, took a leave of absence at the end of last season and ended up transferring to Georgia Tech. He was always a decent interior scoring option for the Crimson Tide. Engstrom also left the program to pursue his professional career after averaging about a dozen minutes per game as a junior. Key, a 6-4 guard, also left the program after his junior campaign.

Who’s In:
As a result of those unexpected departures, Coach Anthony Grant went out and grabbed some experienced newcomers. Michael Kessens had a great season at Longwood as a freshman back in 2012-2013. He averaged 13.7 points and 8.8 rebounds and earned Big South All-Freshman Team accolades. This is a squad that will need 6-9, 223 pound sophomore to contribute on the glass and in the scoring department as much as possible. Walk-on junior college transfer John Gibson will add more depth to the frontcourt. The backcourt adds Ricky Tarrant from Tulane and Christope Varidel from Chaminade via Florida Gulf Coast. Tarrant was a big-time scorer at Tulane, averaging 15.7 points as a sophomore and 14.9 as a freshman. He is not afraid to shoot the ball from long range and will be asked to pick up much of the scoring slack lost with the departure of Releford. Varidel is a shooter too. He averaged 6.1 points per game off of the Florida Gulf Coast bench during their Sweet Sixteen run. Coach Grant adds four incoming freshmen, led by point guard Justin Coleman. Devin Mitchell, Jeff Garrett and Riley Norris add options on the wing.

Who to Watch:
There are several nice pieces returning that give this group a lot of potential to compete for an NCAA Tournament spot. The Tide will rely heavily on sophomore Shannon Hale. The 6-8 forward had a promising freshman campaign, averaging 8.8 points and 3.6 rebounds. He can shoot from long range and use his size to get to the basket. He will need to help out more on the glass though. Jimmie Taylor showed some potential as a freshman as well. The 6-10, 240 pound forward is not going to be a major scoring threat, but he can help out on the glass and block plenty of shots. Rebounding help will come from Rodney Cooper as well. The 6-6 guard led the team with 4.9 rebounds per contest. This is a team that shares its rebounding duties, but they were consistently outrebounded. However, Cooper could be a huge asset on the glass if the frontcourt can pull their weight. Cooper can be a decent outside shooter too. He will hoist up quite a few shots, but connected on just 26.4 percent of his attempts from beyond the arc. Levi Randolph and Retin Obasohan both averaged over nine points per game and are the team’s top two returning scorers. Obasohan is a great athlete and blocked 29 shots during his sophomore season, which is very impressive for a 6-1 guard. Randolph is the better shooter though.

Final Projection:
There is a lot that could go wrong for Alabama this year. It is possible that nobody steps up and turns into a go-to-scorer. That could lead to more struggles on the road. However, this team was really close to turning the corner and winning some games last year. A handful of losses could have just as easily been wins and this team would have been looking at a postseason trip of some sort. Reaching the NCAA Tournament may be asking too much from a team lacking experience, but there is enough talent at Alabama for them to make a serious run at the NCAAs.

Projected Postseason Tournament: NIT

Projected Starting Five:
Ricky Tarrant, Junior, Guard, DNP last season
Levi Randolph, Senior, Guard, 9.6 points per game
Rodney Cooper, Senior, Guard, 7.5 points per game
Shannon Hale, Sophomore, Forward, 8.8 points per game
Jimmie Taylor, Sophomore, Forward, 3.0 points per game

By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 67.8 (255th in nation, 11th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 67.2 (99, 7)
Field-Goal Percentage: 44.4 (165, 6)
Field-Goal Defense: 41.9 (86, 10)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 5.7 (220, 10)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 33.4 (204, 7)
Free-Throw Percentage: 68.5 (218, 7)
Rebound Margin: -2.1 (259, 10)
Assists Per Game: 11.0 (293, 12)
Turnovers Per Game: 11.9 (127, 6)

Madness 2014 Men’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#60 Devin Mitchell
#76 Justin Coleman
#111 Riley Norris


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