When Avery Johnson got hired in April he made a lot of promises. So far Johnson has delivered on the recruiting trail, but on Friday night he started to deliver on the basketball court.
Johnson initially promised Alabama fans an exciting fast-paced brand of basketball that would put up points, and for the most part he delivered when the Crimson Tide beat Trevecca Nazarene 87-65.
“We got a long, long way to go,” Johnson said. “It [coaching] feels like riding a bike for me. Whether I’m away from it for two years a year it really doesn’t matter.”
Alabama’s 87 points met the team’s goal for scoring a minimum of 80 points a game. Counting last season’s exhibition, the Crimson Tide only hit that mark seven times.
The media criticized the team last season for playing too slow and conservative, but that doesn’t appear to be a problem under Johnson. The team seemed comfortable going fast- the team rarely let the shot clock drop below 17 seconds- but the pace of play still wasn’t up to Johnson’s standards.
“If 10 was a perfect pace you know we’re probably at a five tonight,” Johnson said. “For a minute we just looked like we were running in mud.”
Trevecca coach Sam Harris said he was surprised how different this Alabama team looked compared to the one he watched on film.
“They were a little more up tempo than I thought they were going to be,” Harris said. “Our game plan in the first half was to make Alabama shoot some threes, after we looked at their percentages from last year. But they made several in the first half and then we kind of lost our composure a little bit.”
Last season Alabama attempted a season-high eight three point shots four times. On Friday, the team finished the night making 6-for-25.
Shannon Hale said he felt great playing in his first game since he suffered a foot fracture last season. He finished 3-of-5 beyond the arc to lead all scorers with 18 total points.
“Getting shots off faster play into everybody’s role in the team,” Hale said. “As you can see, everybody is getting shots up and making more shots. So it plays well for everybody.”
All of Alabama’s made three-point shots came in the first half. Johnson said fatigue impacted the team’s ability to make those long shots after the break. He also said he thought the younger guys just overthought their shots.
“In our recent scrimmage game we were a totally different team from behind the three-point line,” Johnson said. “We were just letting it fly.”
Fifth-year transfer Arthur Edwards said the team played with good energy, but the second half was not indicative of the potential this team possesses.
“The good is that we got the first game out of the way,” Edwards said. “We can do a lot better. I have seen us play a lot better in practice.”
Source:: The Crimson White Sports