#16 Alabama Crimson Tide: College Basketball 111 in 111

alabama dance team

Welcome to The Sports Bank’s second annual college basketball season preview series.  Last year we looked at 99 teams in 99 days.  This year, we are being slightly more aggressive and expanding to 111 teams in 111 days.  We will rank the 74 power conference teams and top 37 mid-majors in reverse power ranking order.  We’ll break down rosters, non-conference schedules, and pick a player to watch for each team.

Entering his third season as head coach, Anthony Grant has really put his stamp on the Alabama Crimson Tide basketball program.  The NIT runner-up a year ago, ‘Bama figures to take another step this year led by their suffocating defense.

ALABAMA CRIMSON TIDE
Last Season: 2nd, 12-4 in SEC, 25-12 overall
Predicted SEC Finish: 4th

Projected Depth Chart
F/C: JaMychal Green (Sr)/Carl Engstrom (So)/Moussa Gueye (So-out for season)
F: Tony Mitchell (Jr)/Nick Jacobs (Fr)
G/F: Levi Randolph (Fr)/Charles Hankerson (So)
G: Trevor Lacey (Fr)/Rodney Cooper (Fr)
PG: Trevor Releford (So)/Ben Eblen (Jr)/Retin Ojomoh (Fr)

Gone: F/C-Chris Hines, SG-Charvez Davis, SG-Senario Hillman, G-Andrew Steele, G-Kendall Durant (transfer), F/C-Jason Carter (transfer-Chipola JC)

tony mitchell alabama2011-2012 Outlook:
Grant returns his top three scorers, but loses several role players.  As a result, he will rely heavily on that trio of JaMychal Green, Tony Mitchell, and Trevor Releford.

Green has put together a solid and productive career in Tuscaloosa.  He provides a defensive presence in the middle, using his length to be an effective shot blocker and rebounder.  Green will log a lot of minutes at center since there are not a lot of options inside and has to hold down that spot.

Mitchell took a major step forward as a sophomore.  He is explosive at the rim and at his best when attacking the basket.  If he can become a more consistent outside shooter, it will take his game to an even higher level.  At 6-6, Mitchell’s natural position is on the wing but he will have to play bigger as he should see some time at the four due to a lack of depth inside.

Releford made an immediate impact as a freshman, starting every game he played in and really looking impressive during the team’s NIT run.  Even though he is only a sophomore, Releford will be the leader of a very young backcourt.  He is at his best when getting to the basket and is not a real threat shooting the basketball.

Likely to join Green, Mitchell, and Releford in the starting line-up are highly-recruited freshmen wings Trevor Lacey and Levi Randolph.  Lacey was a major get for Grant, choosing to stay home and turning down offers from major powers like Kentucky, UConn, and Kansas.  He is a physical guard who knows how to score but also impacts the game in other ways.  Randolph is a versatile guard and might be the team’s best three-point shooter this season.

JUCO transfer Moussa Gueye was supposed to supply the Tide with a big man inside but suffered a torn ACL during a pickup game this summer and will miss the entire season.  That leaves seldom-used seven-footer Carl Engstrom as the only true center on the roster.

With almost half of their team being freshmen, inexperience is the story for the bench.  Charles Hankerson could work his way into the starting line-up but if not, will be the team’s sixth man.  He is a physical wing who will probably see some time at the four.  Ben Eblen played in every game last season and knows his role as a distributor and nuisance on defense.  After that, freshmen Nick Jacobs, Rodney Cooper, and Retin Ojomoh will all try to work themselves into the rotation.  Jacobs will probably need to make the biggest impact since the frontcourt depth is thin and he has good size at 6-8, 250 pounds.

A low RPI stemming from a weak out of conference schedule and a couple of bad losses cost ‘Bama a tourney berth last season.  That should not be an issue this year as they play a very competitive non-conference schedule but will still have to come away with a better record than they did a year ago.

The Tide’s success this season will depend on how quickly the freshmen acclimate themselves to the college game and Grant’s style of suffocating defense.  Alabama has the potential to compete in the SEC with top-ten teams Kentucky, Vanderbilt, and Florida, and will be a tough out come tourney time due to their defensive prowess.

Player to Watch: Tony Mitchell
Mitchell is an ideal forward for Grant’s style of play.  He makes his presence felt on both ends of the floor as he can score, rebound, defend, and block shots.  As I’ve stressed a couple times already, there is not a lot of frontcourt depth meaning Mitchell will have to accept the challenge of being matched up against bigger, more physical forwards which could serve as an advantage on the offensive end due to his attacking style of play.

Key Non-Conference Games:
11/17 vs. Maryland (Puerto Rico Tip-Off)
11/18 vs. Wichita State/Colorado (Puerto Rico Tip-Off)
11/20 vs. Temple/ Western Michigan /Purdue/Iona (Puerto Rico Tip-Off)
11/27 vs. VCU
12/1 vs. Georgetown
12/7 at Dayton
12/11 vs. Detroit
12/17 vs. Kansas State
12/21 vs. Oklahoma State

OTHER 111 IN 111’S:
#17 Gonzaga Bulldogs
#18 Marquette Golden Eagles
#19 Texas A&M Aggies
#20 Michigan Wolverines
#21 New Mexico Lobos
#22 Temple Owls
#23 Cincinnati Bearcats
#24 Kansas Jayhawks
#25 UNLV Rebels
#26 Washington Huskies
#27 UCLA Bruins
#28 Butler Bulldogs
#29 Missouri Tigers
#30 Texas Longhorns
#31 Villanova Wildcats
#32 Michigan State Spartans
#33 Florida State Seminoles
#34 Notre Dame Fighting Irish
#35 Harvard Crimson
#36 Illinois Fighting Illini
#37 Oregon Ducks
#38 Wichita State Shockers
#39 Cal Golden Bears
#40 Belmont Bruins
#41 Mississippi State Bulldogs
#42 Saint Mary’s Gaels
#43 Purdue Boilermakers
#44 BYU Cougars
#45 Kansas State Wildcats
#46 West Virginia Mountaineers
#47 Virginia Cavaliers
#48 George Mason Patriots
#49 Old Dominion Monarchs

#50 VCU Rams
#51 Kent State Golden Flashes
#52 Arkansas Razorbacks
#53 St. John’s Red Storm
#54 Northwestern Wildcats
#55 Georgetown Hoyas
#56 Miami Hurricanes
#57 Nevada Wolfpack
#58 Detroit Titans
#59 UCF Knights
#60 Long Beach State 49ers
#61 Virginia Tech Hokies
#62 Clemson Tigers
#63 New Mexico State Aggies
#64 Tennessee Volunteers
#65 Iona Gaels
#66 Murray State Racers
#67 N.C. State Wolfpack
#68 Fairfield Stags
#69 George Washingon Colonials
#70 Indiana State Sycamores
#71 Oklahoma State Cowboys
#72 Indiana Hoosiers
#73 UAB Blazers
#74 Iowa State Cyclones
#75 Creighton Bluejays
#76 USC Trojans
#77 Weber State Wildcats
#78 Maryland Terrapins
#79 Tulsa Golden Hurricane
#80 Minnesota Golden Gophers
#81 Western Michigan Broncos
#82 Dayton Flyers
#83 Stanford Cardinal
#84 Yale Bulldogs

#85 Georgia Bulldogs
#86 Rutgers Scarlet Knights
#87 Richmond Spiders
#88 Ball State Cardinals
#89 Utah State Aggies
#90 Arizona State Sun Devils
#91 Marshall Thundering Herd
#92 Oregon State Beavers
#93 Washington State Cougars
#94 Iowa Hawkeyes
#95 Ole Miss Rebels
#96 Nebraska Cornhuskers
#97 Oklahoma Sooners
#98 South Florida Bulls
#99 LSU Tigers
#100 Colorado Buffaloes
#101 DePaul Blue Demons
#102 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
#103 Wake Forest Demon Deacons
#104 Seton Hall Pirates
#105 Providence Friars
#106 Auburn Tigers
#107 South Carolina Gamecocks
#108 Texas Tech Red Raiders
#109 Penn State Nittany Lions
#110 Boston College Eagles
#111 Utah Utes

David Kay is a senior feature NBA Draft, NBA, and college basketball writer for the Sports Bank.  He also heads up the NBA and college basketball material at Walter Football.com and is a former contributor at The Washington Times Communities.  David has appeared on numerous national radio programs spanning from Cleveland to New Orleans to Honolulu.  He also had the most accurate 2011 NBA Mock Draft on the web.

You can follow him on Twitter at DavidKay_TSB.

 

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