Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Schedule Preview - December

The Alabama men's basketball team will only play two games in Coleman Coliseum in November. They will begin December on the road as well, but will have the luxury of playing the majority of the month at home.

December 04, 2015 - at Southern Miss - Alabama opens December on the road in lovely Hattiesburg, Mississippi. This game is the return game of a home-and-home series that began last season. It was a tough first season for Southern Miss head coach, Doc Sadler. He was already facing a rebuilding job in the wake of Donnie Tyndall taking the Tennessee job, but then the NCAA began a probe into the program under Tyndall's watch. This cast an even larger cloud over the program. All together, it aided in a tough 9-20 record for Sadler in his first season there. In the wake of that, the program had a housecleaning of sorts. Only one player returns that averaged more than 20 minutes per game. Sadler and his staff recruited transfers and juco recruits to try and turn things around quickly. There's nowhere to go but up after losing 20 games last season, but this is still a program that is going to need some time to rebuild after putting together strong seasons under Larry Eustachy and Tyndall.  Norville Carey (10.8 ppg, 5.6 rpg), the lone returning starter, will be counted on to do a lot for this team. Another player to watch is Dayton transfer, Khari Price, who will be eligible this season after sitting out last season. Price averaged 22 minutes per game as a sophomore at Dayton, and 6.2 ppg and 1.8 apg while making 88% of his free throws and 39% of his 3-pt attempts. He should settle in as one of the top players for this Southern Miss team.

December 13, 2015 - Clemson - This is technically a home game for Clemson, but it will be played in Greenville, South Carolina at the Bon Secours Wellness Arena, as will all of Clemson's games this season while their home arena, Littlejohn Coliseum is renovated. Brad Brownell enters his sixth season as the Clemson head coach. He's starting to feel a little heat there as he's only taken Clemson to one NCAA Tournament, and that was in his first year. Clemson will return 6 of their top 8 scorers from a 16-win team a season ago so there is hope they can turn things around. Scoring was an issue for Clemson last season, exhibit A being that the team only had one double digit scorer last season in Jaron Blossomgame (13.1 ppg, 8.2 rpg). Fortunately for Clemson, he returns. Clemson also returns a solid trio of Donte Grantham (8.8 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 1.7 apg, 1.0 bpg), Landry Nnoko (7.6 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 2.0 bpg) and Jordan Roper (6.5 ppg, 1.5 apg).

December 16, 2015 - Winthrop - Once upon a time, Winthrop was a dangerous mid-major. And then Gregg Marshall left for Wichita State. Winthrop hasn't quite been the same since, but two seasons ago the program hired Pat Kelsey and the program has begun to show some signs of life. In the last two seasons, Winthrop has been the runner-up in the Big South Conference, and are hoping to get over the hump and win the league this season. The team returns 5 of their top 8 scorers from last season. The top returning scorer is Keon Johnson (11.5 ppg). The diamond in the rough for this team could be Zach Price, a former 4 star recruit who has spent time at Louisville and Missouri before landing at Winthrop. Price has had some off-court issues that have upset his career. With one season of eligibility, this is his last shot to make a mark. At 6'10, 250 lbs, he gives Winthrop a big man that teams in the Big South typically don't see. If Price can put it all together, he could elevate this Winthrop team.

December 21, 2015 - Oregon - The match-up that everyone wanted on the football field in recent years will have to suffice on the basketball court. This game will be played in Birmingham at Legacy Arena. If you are a season ticket holder this game will be included in your package. Alabama will return the favor by traveling to Oregon next season, though it is not clear yet where that game will be played, in Eugene or another neutral site (for example, Portland). While the Oregon football program has received the majority of the positive attention in recent years (not so much this season), the basketball program has been quietly churning out solid seasons under Dana Altman. In five seasons under Altman, the program has been to the postseason all five seasons of his tenure (unless you don't want to count the CBI Tournament appearance in his first season), making it to the NCAA Tournament in the last three seasons, including a Sweet 16 appearance in 2013. 5 of the top 8 scorers return from last season, but Altman will have to find a way to replace Joseph Young, who accounted for a quarter of the team's scoring and was selected in the second round of the NBA Draft by the Indiana Pacers. Altman has made an art of recruiting transfers to Eugene (Young was a transfer from Houston), and this team will be no different in that respect. Dylan Ennis, a graduate transfer from Villanova, is expected to play a sizable role for this team. Ennis averaged 9.9 ppg, 3.5 apg and 1.0 spg for a Nova team that won 33 games last season. Notable returning players for Oregon include Elgin Cook (13.0 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 1.1 spg), Dillon Brooks (11.5 ppg, 4.9 rpg) and Dwayne Benjamin (8.4 ppg, 5.8 rpg). Oregon's freshman class will be made up of three four-star recruits (Kendall Small, Tyler Dorsey and Trevor Manuel) who are expected to compete for playing time. He has to find a way to replace the production of Joseph Young, but Altman still has enough talent in place to contend for a fourth consecutive NCAA Tournament. 

December 29, 2015 - Jacksonville State - I like match-ups with in-state schools. I hope we see more of them during the Avery Johnson tenure. The Gamecocks are coming off a tough 14-15 season, in which they only won 12 games. In addition, they also lost their top three scorers and 5 of their top 8 scorers overall. On paper, it looks like more rebuilding for Jacksonville State. The leading returning scorer is JaQuail Townser (7.9 ppg, 3.3 apg, 1.3 spg). They will also lean on some new faces in juco recruits Greg Tucker (11.8 ppg), Erik Durham (15.6 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 2.2 apg), Ousmane Ba (6'11, 227 lbs), and Missouri transfer Cam Biedscheid (a former 4 star recruit). Returning players, Malcolm Drumwright (6.0 ppg) and Jeremy Watson (5.8 ppg, 5.1 rpg) will also be counted on to raise their level of play if Jacksonville State is to improve on last season's results.

No comments: