#63 Alabama Crimson Tide: College Basketball 111 in 111


alabama crimson tide

Welcome to The Sports Bank’s fourth annual college basketball season preview series where we break 111 teams in the 111 days leading up to the opening tip-off of the 2013-2014 season.  We will rank the 84 power conference teams (including the new Big East and American Athletic Conferences) and top 27 mid-majors in reverse power ranking order.  We’ll break down rosters, transfers, incoming freshmen, non-conference schedules, and pick a player to watch for each team.

Twice in the past three years, the Alabama Crimson Tide have won 12 conference games but failed to make the NCAA Tournament.  With a short-handed roster this season, it appears as if another trip to the NIT is the ceiling for Anthony Grant’s group.

Last Season: T-2nd, 12-6 in SEC, 23-12 overall
Predicted SEC Finish: 7th

Projected Depth Chart
F/C: Nick Jacobs (Jr)/Carl Engstrom (Sr)
PF: Jimmie Taylor (Fr) or Shannon Hale (Fr)
G/F: Rodney Cooper (Jr)
SG: Levi Randolph (Jr)/Algie Key (Jr)
PG: Trevor Releford (Jr)/Retin Obasohan (So)

Gone: G-Andrew Steele, PG-Trevor Lacey (transfer-NC State), C-Moussa Gueye (transfer-Valparaiso), F-Devonta Pollard (left team)

2013-2014 Outlook:
It was a rocky off-season for Bama as two of their most talented players left the program.  Combo guard Trevor Lacey decided to transfer to N.C. State while promising forward Devonta Pollard left the team stemming from his arrest on conspiracy to commit kidnapping.  As a result, that leaves Grant with just nine scholarship players for this up-coming year.

The strength of the team will undoubtedly be in the backcourt led by the Tide’s top scorer from a year ago, Trevor Releford.  With Lacey gone, Releford will take over as the team’s primary ball-handler which will increase his duties as a playmaker but he must still also be the team’s go-to scoring option.  Lengthy, athletic wings Rodney Cooper and Levi Randolph must also pick up the scoring slack left behind by Lacey while continuing to be problematic defenders for opposing teams.

Bama picked up a key commit late in the Spring signing period in junior college transfer Algie Key.  He was a stat stuffer at the JUCO level and Grant needs him to step into a sixth man role right away to provide some scoring punch off the bench.  Retin Obasohan should see his share of minutes as well as he hopes to build off a solid but certainly not spectacular freshman campaign.

The frontcourt is a bit of a mess with Nick Jacobs being the lone returning player who was a regular in the rotation last season.  At 6-8, 265 pounds Jacobs is a wide body inside who is capable of providing a low post scoring presence.  7-1 Carl Engstrom missed most of last season with a torn ACL and adds some needed size inside but doesn’t provide a whole lot of skill.  Freshmen Jimmie Taylor and Shannon Hale should battle for minutes at power forward but don’t be surprised if Grant decides to use a frequent four guard look like he did much of last season.

Grant picked up a pair of key transfers this off-season in Tulane shooting guard Ricky Tarrant and Longwood forward Michael Kessens.  Tarrant is a big time scorer who accounted for more than 1,000 points in his two seasons with the Green Wave while Kessens was the Big South Freshman of the Year last season.  Both guys will provide a needed injection of talent once they become eligible in 2014-15.

Player to Watch: Trevor Releford
The past two years, Releford had the crutch of relying on Lacey to help take some of the pressure off him in the backcourt.  That won’t be the case this year.  Releford will have the ball in his hands 99% of the time and might try to do a little too much with that responsibility.  His decision-making and shot selection must be on point for the Alabama Crimson Tide to exceed expectations.

Key Non-Conference Games:
11/8 vs. Oklahoma (in Dallas)
11/14 vs. Texas Tech (Big 12/SEC Challenge)
11/27 and 29 vs. Duke/Arizona/Rutgers (NIT Pre-Season Tip-Off)
12/7 at South Florida
12/17 vs. Wichita State
12/21 vs. Xavier
12/28 at UCLA

OTHER 111 IN 111’S:
#64 Florida State
#65 Arkansas
#66 N.C. State
#67 Kansas State
#68 Davidson
#69 Dayton
#70 Miami FL
#71 SMU
#72 Texas A&M
#73 Long Beach State
#74 UMass
#75 Northwestern
#76 Indiana State
#77 Georgia Tech
#78 Oklahoma
#79 Richmond
#80 Manhattan
#81 Belmont
#82 Texas
#83 Houston
#84 Washington State
#85 Iona
#86 Oregon State
#87 Louisiana Tech
#88 Towson
#89 Wake Forest
#90 Central Florida
#91 Rutgers
#92 Drexel
#93 USC
#94 Charleston
#95 Seton Hall
#96 Vanderbilt
#97 George Mason
#98 Clemson
#99 Penn State
#100 Nebraska
#101 West Virginia
#102 South Florida
#103 Mississippi State
#104 DePaul
#105 South Carolina
#106 Texas Tech
#107 TCU
#108 Virginia Tech
#109 Georgia
#110 Utah
#111 Auburn

David Kay is a senior feature NBA DraftNBA, 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 to Milwaukee.  He also had the most accurate 2011 NBA Mock Draft and the most accurate 2012 NBA Mock Draft on the internet , AND the second most accurate 2013 NBA Mock Draft. (Yup, nearly 3peat champ… #humblebrag.)

You can follow him on Twitter at David_Kmiecik.

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