Sunday, October 16, 2016

2016-17 Schedule Preview: November

Thursday, November 3rd - Faulkner - The season tips off with an exhibition game vs the Faulkner University Eagles from Montgomery. This should be a fun night for the Wimp Sanderson family. The former coach at Faulkner was Jim Sanderson, son of Wimp. Jim led the Faulkner program to an NAIA national title. After 24 seasons he retired, and his brother, Scott, was hired after previous coaching stops at the University of Mobile and Lipscomb University. In two seasons, Scott has compiled a 41-24 record and has led the program to a Southern States Athletic Conference tournament title and an appearance in the NAIA tournament. Five of the top nine scorers from last season return, including the top scorer from a season ago, Di'mar Hill (20.5 ppg).

Friday, November 11th - Coastal Carolina - The season officially tips off with Cliff Ellis and the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers coming to Tuscaloosa. This game will be the first of two host games for Alabama as part of the Las Vegas Main Event. Cliff Ellis has done a great job at Coastal Carolina. In his nine seasons, the program has been to the postseason six times, including two NCAA Tournament appearances in the last three seasons. The program is making the move to the Sun Belt this season after previously being a member of the Big South Conference. The team returns two of their top four scorers from last season (Elijah Wilson - 13.7 ppg, 4.0 rpg; Jaylen Shaw 11.1 ppg, 3.9 apg).

Tuesday, November 15th - Dayton - One of several key games in the non-conference schedule that could go a long way in determining the season for this Alabama team. This game will be part of the ESPN 24 hour college basketball marathon. Being a noon tip-off, this game will present the first real challenge to Alabama fans to turn out in force to support this team in crucial non-conference game. The Flyers have been to three straight NCAA tournaments under current head coach, Archie Miller. They enter this season as favorites to win the A-10 title and make a return to the NCAA Tournament. The foundation of the team lies in the top four players, all seniors, Scoochie Smith (11.7 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 4.3 apg, 38% from 3), Charles Cooke (15.6 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 1.8 apg, 40% from 3), Kendall Pollard (10.3 ppg, 4.9 rpg) and Kyle Davis (8.0 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 2.1 apg).

Friday, November 18th - Ball State - This will be the second and final host game of the Las Vegas Main Event prior to Alabama making the trip west to Sin City. Ball State is coming off a 21-14 season a year ago, in which they participated in the CollegeInsider Tournament. The 21 wins was a 14-game turnaround after the program only won seven games the prior season. Another successful season could be in the works as the Cardinals return six of their top nine scorers from last season, including double-figure scorers, Franko House (12.2 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 2.1 apg) and Ryan Weber (10.5 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 40% from 3).

Monday, November 21st - Valparaiso [Las Vegas] - Alabama travels to Las Vegas for the semifinals of the Las Vegas Main Event. They will face Valparaiso - the NIT runner-up from a season ago - and one of the best players in college basketball, Alec Peters. Peters could have entered the draft last season, but elected to return for his senior season. His numbers were impressive - 18.4 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 50% FG, 44% from 3, 85% FT. He should be a top 25 player in college basketball this season. In all, four of the top nine scorers return, plus the Crusaders will have a new head coach in Matt Lottich, replacing Bryce Drew who left his alma mater for Vanderbilt. This is the first head coaching job for Lottich, a former college basketball player at Stanford, and a member of the Valparaiso staff for the last three years.

Wednesday, November 23rd - BYU or Saint Louis [Las Vegas] - BYU has consistently been a top 100 program under Dave Rose, and have an impressive team on paper entering the season. BYU only returns four of their top ten scorers from last season (including Nick Emery - 16.3 ppg, 2.5 apg, 1.4 spg, 38% from 3), but add notable players returning from their missions (chief among them is Eric Mika, a beast at 6'10, 230 lbs who averaged 11.8 ppg and 6.4 rpg his freshman season, and who should be one of the top players in the West Coast Conference), add potential impact transfers (Elijah Bryant averaged 14.2 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 2.7 apg and 1.3 spg in a lone season at Elon; and L.J. Rose, a former 4 star recruit, will play his final season at BYU after previous stops at Baylor and Houston) as well as a good recruiting class headlined by 4 star recruit, T.J. Haws.

Saint Louis made a coaching change in the spring, hiring Travis Ford, who was fired after nine seasons at Oklahoma State. The Billikens had a rough 15-16 season, finishing 11-21. Six of the top ten scorers return, forming a nice nucleus for Ford to build on, but the Billikens must improve on both ends of the floor (ranked 310th in adjusted offensive efficiency and 125th on the defensive end last season) if they are to make a move up the A-10 standings in Ford's first season.

Tuesday, November 29th - Charleston Southern - Alabama will complete the November portion of its schedule with a home game against Charleston Southern from the Big South conference. This will be the third meeting in five seasons between the programs. The Buccaneers struggled to a 9-21 record last season. Five of the top nine scorers return, including Armel Potter, who led the team in scoring (13.8) as a freshman. Patrick Wallace (8.9 ppg) and Raemond Robinson (9.7 ppg, 42% from 3) are expected to take on bigger roles for this team. 

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