Alabama Ready For Tuesday Night's NIT Opener vs. Northeastern



March 18, 2013


TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - The Alabama men's basketball team is set to open play in the 2013 National Invitation Tournament on Tuesday night in Coleman Coliseum. Tipoff between the top-seeded Crimson Tide and the No. 8 seed Huskies is set for 8 p.m. CDT and will be televised on ESPN2.

"We're appreciative again for an opportunity to continue our season," Alabama head coach Anthony Grant said. "We're thankful to the NIT selection committee for choosing us to participate in their tournament and giving us a number one seed, a chance to play at home. We have a very tough opponent in Northeastern. I had a chance to look at a little bit of film on them, and I'm very impressed with what I see. They were the CAA regular season champions with 14-4 in the league, and made it to the conference championship. They are led by a couple of veteran seniors that are very good guards. We have a short turnaround, and we have to get prepared for a very challenging game tomorrow."

Northeastern travels to Tuscaloosa after winning the Colonial Athletic Association regular season title. The Huskies finished the season with a 20-12 overall record and a 14-4 mark in league play. Senior guard Joel Smith leads the team with 16.1 points per game and is shooting an impressive 43 percent (83-of-193) from beyond the arc.

The Crimson Tide (21-12, 12-6 SEC) will be making its 12th NIT appearance in program history, owning a 21-14 record in the event. Alabama last appeared in the NIT in 2011, also earning a No. 1 seed. That year, the Crimson Tide reached the NIT Finals, falling in the championship game to Wichita State.

General admission tickets are currently on sale for Tuesday night's contest. All customers are encouraged to purchase online and use the "print at home" delivery method to avoid lines at the Will Call window, regardless of whether they are purchasing general admission or reserved seats.

All seats for the NIT are general admission, except courtside (front court and back court) and baseline seating areas.

Ticket prices are as follows: $10 for courtside seats (front court and back court) and baseline reserved seats (those tickets are available only to regular season courtside and baseline ticket holders); $9 for adult general admission seats; $4 for general admission tickets for youths age 18 and under; and $4 for UA Students who present a valid I.D.

To reserve their floor seats, courtside and baseline regular season ticket holders must order tickets by Monday, March 18 at 5 p.m.

Any remaining available courtside (front court and back court) and baseline reserved seats will be put on sale to the general public on Tuesday, March 19 at 8 a.m. C.T.

Phones sales can be made by calling 205.348.2262. Fans can purchase tickets at the Coleman Coliseum Ticket Office.

Tuesday's contest can also be heard on the Crimson Tide Sports Network, with Chris Stewart and Bryan Passink on the call. Fans can follow the in-game action with live tweets on the team's official Twitter page @AlabamaMBB.

Alabama Head Coach Anthony Grant

On how Alabama is a better team since losing three games at home in December to teams with similar RPIs to Northeastern:

"That, obviously, was a while ago. I think you're really talking about different teams at this stage of the season. We're a different team than we were in December. Right now it's apples and oranges, I think. We're going to get prepared for Northeastern, and we expect them to play their best. We have to be prepared to play our best."                                                

On Northeastern's head coach, Bill Coen:

"He's an excellent coach. His teams play hard, they don't beat themselves. They are an extremely physical team. They're typically a pretty balanced team. He's playing about 11 guys, and he has guys that shoot it, guys that get to the rim. They get to the free throw line. I think they have made more free throws than their opponents have taken. Just a very tough, hard-nosed team."

On if playing in the tournament helps propel the team to the following season:

"Every time we go into a tournament like this, our focus is on trying to win a championship. I think the effect of what you do with that opportunity certainly could help as you move forward, but the focus right now is on this team trying to prepare to advance in this tournament. Our experience last time we were in this is that it's an extremely well-run, very competitive tournament. It has excellent teams throughout the field. The opportunity for us to play at home and try to advance to New York and play at Madison Square Garden would be a great opportunity, and I'm hopeful that we seize the opportunity and take advantage of that moment." 

On mood of team after not making NCAA tournament:

"Like I said, it's a short turnaround so our mood's going to have to be really good. We're playing a very good Northeastern team, so we're going to get prepared and be ready to go tomorrow."

On personnel of Northeastern:

"We're getting familiar with them. Again, we just found out our opponent last night. They're led by two seniors - Joel Smith, a two-guard that shoots the ball extremely well, very versatile, who scores in a variety of ways and leads them in scoring. And then Jonathan Lee, their point guard/off-guard scorer, gets to the free throw line, kind of the spark plug of their team, so to speak. But they've got a lot of really good pieces. Quincy Ford, a 6-8 small forward is pretty good; he's a guy that can shoot the basketball and put it down. They're about similar to us in size, in terms of they're not a very big team. They play pretty much four skill guys at all times. I think they led their league in scoring, one of the top teams in their league in field goal percentage, 3-point percentage. They're a team that I think led the league in steals. They're a team that presses in a variety of ways. A very tough, physical team. So certainly a lot to get prepared for."


Junior Guard Trevor Releford

On if playing in the tournament helps propel the team to the following season:

 "(The NIT) is a great tournament. We know it's not `The Big Dance,' but at the same time it gives the young guys on our team the opportunity to get some more experience and play against some good competition. There are a lot of good teams in [this tournament] and it's a great opportunity for them to excel in their game too."

On if having already played/experienced MSG is incentive for getting back there:

"Playing at Madison Square Garden is a great experience. I love playing there and I know that some of our young guys, we are going to take advantage of this tournament and we want to get back there and win a championship."

On what Sunday was like:

"I didn't even watch the selection show, honestly. Just waited to hear from Coach and just go from there and whatever opportunity we had, just wanted to try and take full advantage of."