It took a full game and a half in Las Vegas, Nevada before coach Avery Johnson saw the attitude he wanted to see out of his team.
“We just honestly just didn’t want to lose,” Corban Collins said. “Each media timeout [later in the game] we kept saying let’s keep chipping away, chipping away, stay focused.”
In the end the team did enough to leave Nevada with a 62-57 win over Saint Louis, thanks in large part to the play of Braxton Key. The freshman led the team in scoring (16 points) while seeing a team-high 30 minutes in his first collegiate start.
“Coming into the season I wanted him to really prove that he was a starter,” Johnson said. “The plan was to let him prove it. He probably needed to be humbled a bit.”
He earned the spot in the lineup with his performance in practice over the last six weeks, and it appears to be his to lose for the moment. Alabama fans will likely get to cheer Key on during his first collegiate start inside of Coleman Coliseum on Tuesday night when Alabama hosts Charleston Southern at 6.
The only other player to finish in double figures in the Crimson Tide’s last game, Dazon Ingram, described Key as a good finisher around the basket that can also score from behind the arc.
“I just feel like we should be 5-0 now,” Ingram said. “We had a few ups and downs in the game. In a few weeks we should be able to put it all together.”
Ingram isn’t the only one frustrated with the team’s performance to date. Johnson is also unhappy with what he has seen out of his players lately, but he isn’t making any excuses for it. He quoted former NFL coach, and two-time Superbowl Champ, Bill Parcells on Monday.
“‘You are what your record says you are,’” Johnson said. “That shoulda, coulda, woulda, we’re 3-2. That’s where we are, and we’re 3-2 because we make a lot of 3-2 and 2-3 mistakes. And they’re repetitive.”
To get the Crimson Tide back on track, Johnson has identified a number of mistakes the team needs to address. Some areas, like turnovers (the team turned the ball over 28 times in its last two games compared to 33 times in the first three) and committing too many fouls early in the game, simply requires more focus.
Other problems might require Johnson to rethink how minutes are distributed. Shannon Hale played the last five minutes of the Saint Louis game at center. Johnson said he made this decision because he wasn’t satisfied with the production he was getting from big men Jimmie Taylor and Donta Hall.
“When you have five 3-point shooters on the floor, it gives us the opportunity to open up the lane a little bit more, [and] not be so predictable on offense,” Johnson said.
Source:: The Crimson White Sports