It’s not the sight of the ball bouncing off the rim and away from the net that bothers Alabama coach Avery Johnson when his players step up to the free throw line. He’s watching for heads to drop and exasperated looks to show.
“I like to watch our guy’s body language when they miss a free throw and I didn’t like what I saw in the last game,” Johnson said.
On Saturday, he witnessed a lot of misses as the Crimson Tide (14-10, 7-5 Southeastern conference), a team that made at least 66 percent or more of its free throws in four of its last five games, finished nine of 26 from the line for a season-low 34.6 percent.
Had Alabama knocked down twice that number the team would have matched the Wildcats’ total of 67 points and might have started the week one game back of third place in the conference standings.
For that reason, Johnson has decided that his team will now work on free throws in various drills every 10 minutes during practice, but he has to be careful. He doesn’t want to emphasize them too much and risk psyching his players out before they get to the line.
Prior to Saturday’s performance against Kentucky, the Crimson Tide’s worst outing at the free throw line came against a Missouri program the team will face again on Wednesday night at 7:30 on the SEC Network.
But Corban Collins and his teammates aren’t getting ready to face the second worst team in the SEC that they beat on Jan. 18.
“This Missouri team that we’re getting ready to face tomorrow is a totally different team than we they came into Coleman,” Collins said.
Since then the Tigers (7-17, 2-10) have won two of their last three games, and Terrence Phillips has taken over as the starting point guard. In the last three games, Phillips has finished with either a minimum of six assists or double digit points.
Collins said shutting down the head of the snake (in this case Phillips) will be crucial for the team’s success on Wednesday night. Johnson also identified Kevin Puryear’s 3-point shooting as another improvement the Crimson Tide will need to watch out for.
In the past three games he’s successfully knocked down five of six shots behind the arc.
“If you told me we’d be 7-5 at this point. [I] probably would’ve thought we’d be 8-4, [but] we’d take it because we’re showing signs of progress,” Johnson said.
Source:: The Crimson White Sports