Monday, December 20, 2004
TUSCALOOSA – One of the nation’s hottest mid-major teams invades Coleman Coliseum Wednesday night when the University of Alabama basketball team plays host to Ronnie Arrow and his Texas A&M Corpus Christi team. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. CT.
Both teams are on five-game win streaks and both have only one loss this season as Alabama is 9-1 and TAMUCC is 7-1 and has played and won its last three games on the road. Its win against Old Dominion this season is Old Dominion’s only loss. The Islanders only loss was to Kent State on November 24 by a 76-58 score.
“Watching film on Texas A&M Corpus Christi, they’ve got my attention,” said Alabama head coach Mark Gottfried. “They’re very good. They’re very quick. They can score the basketball. I think they defend well. They’re holding their opponents to about 40% defensive field goal percentage and they’ve played some pretty good teams along the way. I like their team. Ronnie Arrow does a great job. He’s got this group playing awfully well. He’s got four seniors in his starting lineup. He brings a senior off the bench, so this is an experienced team who obviously is seasoned and they’re very hungry. They’re going to come in here and play, so we’ve got to make sure we play well. We’ve got to make sure our mindset is on this game and not on the holidays and get ourselves ready to play.”
Starting forward Kennedy Winston has been well-versed in the threat the Islanders pose, having seen them on tape and in hearing the scouting reports.
“I think it’s going to be a tough game for us, a big challenge,” says Winston who ranks among the top 11 in the Southeastern Conference in both scoring and rebounding with his 17.2 points and 6.2 rebounds per game. “They’ve only lost one games and they’ve beaten some good teams on the road. They’ve got a lot of older guys, a lot of seniors, so they’re experienced. So we know they’re going to be a good challenge for us.“
The TAMUCC game is one of three non-conference games Alabama has left on its schedule before it opens its 2005 Southeastern Conference slate on the road at Vanderbilt on January 5. That game will be televised on ESPN and will tip at 9 p.m. CT. Before then, Alabama’s team believes it needs to not only win these next three games, but the Tide needs to polish some areas of its play along the way.
“We need to get better defensively, play a full 40 minutes without having any let-off because if we do that in the SEC, we’re not going to win,” said freshman starting point guard Ronald Steele who continues to lead the SEC in assists with his 5.8 assists per game.
“We need to improve on the basics, continue to stay sharp with the things we’re doing,” says Winston. “There’s not really much we can change at this point, just get better at what we’re doing for right now.”
Tickets are on sale now for Wednesday night’s game. For Alabama’s next two home games, Wednesday night’s game and the January 1 game at 6 p.m. against New Orleans, kids aged 15 and under can purchase a $5 ticket. Adults non-conference tickets are $15. Tickets can be purchased at the door the night of the game or in advance through the Athletic Ticket Office in Coleman Coliseum (205) 348-BAMA.