Oct. 14, 2011
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -
Anthony Grant’s third season as the University of Alabama men’s basketball head coach began Friday afternoon with the team’s first official team practice of the 2011-12 season.
Following a team meeting, the Crimson Tide took to its new practice court at Coleman Coliseum at 4 p.m. to begin preparations for the upcoming season and its Nov. 11 season opener against North Florida.
The Tide finished 25-12 last season en route to winning the Southeastern Conference Western Division with a 12-4 league record. The squad advanced all the way to the NIT championship game to give this year’s team firm motivation to continue to improve heading into 2011-12.
“We’re more hungry this season because we saw how much fun it was to win,” junior forward Tony Mitchell said. “We just want to come in off the jump with that energy.”
This year’s team returns six players from last year’s roster and according to Grant, each has worked hard in the offseason to improve and help the newcomers acclimate to Grant’s system.
“I think we’ve got a good mix with five new faces in terms of guys that are healthy right now, that we’ve had a chance to work with on the court,” Grant said. “I think the good thing is that we do have a mix of veterans who have been here. Their ability to let the younger guys know what they expectations are and what they need to be prepared for has made a difference. You’re at your best when there’s accountability that’s passed down from the players.”
While the team lost valuable contributors from last year, the top three scorers return in senior forward JaMychal Green (15.5 ppg), Tony Mitchell (15.2 ppg), and sophomore guard Trevor Releford (11 ppg).
Joining that veteran core are six newcomers to the roster in freshmen Rodney Cooper, Nick Jacobs, Trevor Lacey, Retin Obasohan, Levi Randolph and junior college transfer Moussa Gueye. Cooper, Jacobs and Randolph were all ranked as four star recruits by Rivals.com while Lacey was listed as a five star recruit by Rivals. The recruiting class was ranked as the fifth best in the country according to Rivals.com.
“We tried to push each other a whole lot during the summer,” Mitchell said of the team’s individual workouts leading up to Friday’s practice. “We try to push the young guys because we’re the only ones who know that it’s going to be a tough road ahead. We try to give them an idea of how it’s going to be.”
The Tide has four weeks of preseason practice leading up to its season opener. However, fans can get a sneak peek of the Tide on Nov. 7 when it hosts Alabama-Huntsville in an exhibition contest at Coleman Coliseum.
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