Jan. 4, 2013
ALABAMA GAME NOTES | OAKLAND GAME NOTES
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - The University of Alabama men’s basketball team will play its final non-conference game of the regular season when it hosts the Oakland Golden Grizzlies on Saturday at 3 p.m. CT at Coleman Coliseum.
The contest will be the second time in as many years that the Crimson Tide and Golden Grizzlies will meet on the hardwood. Last year, UA captured a 74-57 victory over Oakland in Tuscaloosa.
“Oakland is a very tough challenge to close out non-conference play,” UA head coach Anthony Grant said. “We played them last year, so we are a little familiar with them. They are a different team and have a lot of new guys on this year’s team. But the veterans are the guys who stand out. (Travis) Bader is one of the top three-point shooters in the country and comes into the game leading them in scoring. Their center inside (Corey Petros) is a guy who has really blossomed this year. He is second on the team in scoring and leads the team in rebounding. They have a lot of good veteran group of players around them, so we are going to have to do a good job on the defensive end.”
The Crimson Tide (7-5) comes into Saturday’s contest having lost five of its six games played in December, which includes three straight home defeats. Most recently, Alabama scored a season-low 50 points in a 53-50 loss to Tulane this past Sunday. Sophomores Nick Jacobs and Trevor Lacey led the Tide with 12 points apiece.
“As a team right now, I think the approach that we are trying to take is that this is not a sprint, it’s a marathon,” Grant said. “We have to maintain our focus in terms of what we are trying to do as a basketball team. I think our guys understand that. It’s not easy to go through this stretch. It’s tough on myself, it’s tough on our players, it’s tough on everybody to have the struggles that we are having. But you can’t rush the experience factor and development that our guys have to go through. We are excited about getting the chance to get back on the court tomorrow against Oakland.”
Alabama’s backcourt continues to lead the way this season. Junior guard Trevor Releford tops the team in points (15.4 ppg) and steals (2.0 spg). He is also one of the top three-point shooters (41.7 percent) and free throw shooters (86.7 percent) in the Southeastern Conference.
Lacey is second on the team in scoring with 13.3 points per game and leads the team with 3.3 assists a game. The Huntsville, Ala., native tops the Southeastern Conference in three-point field goal percentage (44.6) and ranks seventh in treys made per game (2.1).
Meanwhile, sophomore guard Rodney Cooper contributes 12.4 ppg and leads the team in rebounds per game (4.5) and total field goals made (54) and attempted (126).
Oakland comes into Saturday’s match-up sporting a 7-9 overall mark following its 91-79 win over Omaha on Thursday night. With the victory, the Golden Grizzlies have now won two straight games and three of their last four entering the contest at Alabama.
Junior guard Travis Bader leads Oakland with an average of 20.2 points per contest. He is considered one of the top three-point shooters in the nation, knocking down 65 treys in 16 games (4.1 made threes per game). In fact, of his 238 field goal attempts this season, 163 have come from beyond the arc.
Sophomore center Corey Petros (13.5 ppg) and junior guard Duke Mondy (12.1 ppg) also average double digits. Petros tops the team in rebounding (7.7 rpg) and field goal percentage (58.6), while Mondy leads his squad in assists (4.8 apg) and steals (3.1 spg).
Saturday’s match-up will be the second meeting between the two teams in series history. The game will be televised on CSS and can also be heard on the Crimson Tide Sports Network, with Chris Stewart and Bryan Passink on the call.
All tickets will be on sale for $8 to the general public as part of the Holiday Break promotion.
Fans can follow the live action with in-game tweets on the team’s official Twitter page @AlabamaMBB.
ALABAMA HEAD COACH Anthony Grant
On team’s mindset:
“Practice has been good and I think that our guys’ mindset has been good. We talked all along this stretch and what I emphasize to them is that we have to get better as a team. We have to do some things within ourselves to understand what allows us to have a chance to win. We have to get better at handling different situations as they come up. When you look at our team right now, we are made up of primarily sophomores and freshmen. Trevor Releford is a junior and our most experienced guy. But outside of that, these guys have to learn each other and learn what it takes to win at this level. They are all in different roles and different expectations. We are just going through what we have to go through as a team – that’s the way I am looking at it as a head coach. I think our guys understand that what we are doing, we have to get better at and that’s been the approach.”
On the team’s leader on the floor:
“It’s a work in progress. We have to be able to get some consistency out of guys that need to be our best players on both ends of the floor. We have to continue to develop our younger guys so they understand how they can impact the game on a consistent basis. I think we are still searching for that leadership that we need on the floor. With Andrew Steele still being out, he’s probably the best leader we have but he’s not available in games to provide that leadership that’s needed on the floor. So now we’ve got to get some guys to step up and lead, and other guys to step up and be willing followers and understand their role and embrace that role.”
On the play of Nick Jacobs:
“For us, we need some consistency on the frontcourt. I think everyone can look at a stat sheet and realize we need more from that position. It was good to see Nick be able to get some shots fall for him and develop a little bit of confidence for himself and for his teammates. We need him to continue that, but we also need him to do a better job from a rebounding and defensive standpoint for us. There were some positive signs, but we still have a lot of work to do.”
On the team’s offensive struggles:
“We are going to have to find quality shots and score the basketball. Coming off our last game, that was a major issue. There were three separate times that we went into offensive lulls and only managed to score 50 points in the game (lost to Tulane, 53-50). So not only will we have to do a great job defensively, but we need to consistently score the basketball.”
On summing up the non-conference season heading into the final non-league game:
“We’ve had highs and lows. We started the season 6-0 and in the month of December we went 1-5. A lot of different factors have gone into that. Some of it scouting, some of it out of your control with injuries. As a team right now, we have to make that adjustment and be able to get ourselves prepared. I think the approach that we are trying to take is that this is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. We have to maintain our focus in terms of what we are trying to do as a basketball team. I think our guys understand that. It’s not easy to go through this stretch. It’s tough on myself, it’s tough on our players, it’s tough on everybody to have the struggles that we are having. But you can’t rush the experience factor and development that our guys have to go through. We are excited about getting the chance to get back on the court tomorrow and are excited about the start of SEC play next week.”
JUNIOR GUARD Trevor Releford
On team’s mindset:
“This is a good opportunity for our team. Oakland is a great team. They have a terrific shooter in (Travis) Bader and they are an experienced team. We just really want to get a win to build for the rest of the season and we will go from there.”
On his role on this year’s team:
“What coach asks me every day is to let the younger guys hear my voice and lead by example. I just can’t tell them what to do, but I have to lead by example. I just have to come out every game and be ready and focused to play and the rest of the guys will see my preparation and follow.”