Tuesday, November 11, 2014
Elephants Excel in Exhibition 81-67 over Montevallo
Kessons, Tarrant, and Obasohan all dressed but did not play due to minor injuries. Bama started true freshman Justin Coleman at point guard, along with Levi, Shannon, Cooper, and Taylor. We were obviously the bigger, stronger, more athletic team, but after going to the post in a couple of early possessions we did not really impose our will physically. The starting five jumped out to a 10-0 lead, but Montevallo answered and made it a competitive game.
The experimental rules were in effect, meaning the game was played with a 30 second shot clock and players were allowed 6 fouls. I liked the 30 second shot clock, and can only remember a couple of instances where we were forced to rush at the end of a possession. It seemed to help the flow of the game, in my opinion.
The additional foul was helpful, considering Shannon Hale picked up 4 fouls in the first half, and we were in the double-bonus a little over 10 minutes into the game. Hale and Taylor in particular are going to have to play smarter on defense to avoid getting into foul trouble. I don't think we are quite as good defensively as we have been in recent years, but being too aggressive when getting caught out of position could lead to some foul trouble issues. It's also important to note that our game plan defensively was very conservative, which is somewhat uncharacteristic. We only pressed a couple of times and that was only after made free throws, and we did not run any traps. It was mostly man to man, then some 2-3 and 1-3-1 zone down the stretch, but we didn't even trap in the corners out of the 1-3-1.
On the other hand, I think we have the potential to be much better offensively. Justin Coleman is going to be a great point guard. He is lightning quick and can create passing lanes and opportunities for his teammates, plus he has a very quick release and can shoot the 3. In fact, we have several guys who can shoot the 3, and they weren't shy about putting it up. 25 of our 52 attempts were from downtown, and we made a respectable 36%. Coleman, Hale, Levi, Coop, Devin Mitchell, and Dakota Slaughter all made 3 pointers, only Jeff Garrett was 0 for 3. I hope Coach Grant continues to give these guys the green light to pull the trigger. I felt like we passed up too many open shots in recent years, and with our post play not likely to generate a lot of scoring, there is no reason to not take our chances from 3-point land.
We struggled a bit with turnovers when Coleman had to come out of the game as that forced us to play Levi Randolph at the point. Tarrant and Obasohan should give us more depth when they return.
Montevallo was able to make several runs, but we never let them get the ball in a one score game. After our initial 10-0 run, the lead fluctuated between 4 and 11 or so for pretty much the rest of the game. UM had a couple of guys who really killed us from the perimeter, and sometimes well beyond the perimeter. Their game was somewhat tainted by UM's #5, who frankly played dirty and had a bad attitude. He was called for a technical foul, along with Levi Randolph, in the first half when UM's #5 shoved Levi after the whistle then decided to get in his face and start talking trash.
Free throw shooting was bad for most of the game, but then we made every single shot in the final minutes to stretch the lead back out to a comfortable margin. Overall, I was pleased with our effort, especially considering we had 3 key contributors sitting out. The offense looks improved, we shot the ball well, Coleman is way ahead of the curve, Levi had a fantastic all around game, and we answered all of their runs. Still, there are some things to work on defensively, and we need to be more consistent shooting free throws throughout the game.
We've added some banners to the Coliseum reflecting our post season appearances, and I think they look great. As one might expect, there was not much of a crowd, I would estimate only about 1,500 or so, with about half of that being composed of very vocal Montevallo fans. They even brought their mascot for some inexplicable reason.
Up next, the Towson Tigers travel to Tuscaloosa Friday night for an approximate 8:00 p.m. tipoff in the first game of the CBE Hall of Fame Classic. This is the second game of a double-header, with the women's team playing Florida A&M at 5:30. It should be a great night of basketball, and with several thousand additional fans arriving for the big football the next day, hopefully we will have a decent crowd.