Bama's depth proved to be too much to handle for a tough Coastal Carolina team, and the Tide rolled in the second half for the come from behind victory.
In the first half, it was apparent that Coastal Carolina was the more experienced team. This is a team with 7 juniors or seniors on their roster that's made postseason appearances the last three years. I expect them to be very competitive in the sun belt this year. They played with great chemistry on offense while we were trying to find a combination that works. I thought we may have been a little too hap-hazard with our substitutions in the first half as the team never looked comfortable and couldn't find their rhythm. CCU controlled the boards and we appeared hesitant, passing up some good shots. The Chanticleers led by as many as 8, and took a 33-27 lead into the locker room at halftime.
Bama settled down in the second half with a more stable rotation and showed what they are capable of defensively. The Tide held CCU scoreless for a 5 minute stretch while going on a nice run to take a 50-40 lead. The length, athleticism, and depth of this team will allow them to shut down opposing offenses at times. Unfortunately, we had another scoring drought of our own, which allowed Cliff's boys to cut the lead to 4. The team immediately responded with an 8-0 run out of a timeout to put the game out of reach.
Ingram, Norris, and Collins all scored in double-figures. I was very impressed with Corban Collins. He scored 15, making a couple of 3s and converting all of his free throws. He has good size, and the leadership we've all heard about was on display. He plays with a lot of enthusiasm and passion, and while they are completely different types of players, his attitude reminds me a bit of Pettway as a player. He's not quite the slasher that Retin was, but he's going to play a big role on this team.
Dazon was 3 for 3 from downtown with 11 points. We all know what he can do around the rim if he can get into the lane. CCU's bigs were pretty skilled at stopping our penetration, but if Dazon can shoot like that on a consistent basis we're going to win more games than expected and he will have a career in the association. Speaking of 3s, Riley also shot the ball well from the outside, so hopefully he is back on track after struggling a bit with his jumper later in the season last year.
Davis was off, only going 1 for 8, and Avery Jr. looked over-matched when he was in the game.
I really like the addition of Bola, he's a bit undersized but is a good rebounder who also has moves in the post and is capable of scoring. He did pick up 4 fouls in just 13 minutes of playing time though. It was nice to see Jimmie leading the team with 7 rebounds. He and Donta both did a nice job of defending the rim, combining for 5 authoritative blocked shots.
There was a nice crowd for this game, I would estimate around 8,500, which is solid for a November game against a Sun Belt opponent. The fans stayed in the game and didn't get too discouraged when things were not going well early.
I do have a couple of complaints with regards to our athletic department's administration. First, I have a parking pass in the "C lot," which according to the published maps is the lot adjacent to the athletic dept. directly across the entrance way from the baseball stadium. Upon trying to enter said lot, security said you could only enter if you had a "code" and re-directed us to the "B" lots, which were nearly full. This made me about 15 minutes later getting in, and we barely made tip-off, as I would have taken a different route to the bigger lot. The bigger issue, is stuff like this makes me feel like basketball is an after-thought to the administration. Can you imagine if they waited till a week before the first game, to the point they had to mail out "print at home tickets" for the exhibition game, for football season ticket holders? Can you imagine them selling parking passes to an inaccessible lot for football? Of course those things would never happen.
Secondly, the risers that the "Crimson Chaos" students used on the floor have been replaced by nice chairs and apparently season ticket/VIP types. There are no longer any students sitting on the floor. The lack of students on the floor negatively impacts the atmosphere, in my opinion, and detracts from what little home court advantage we have in our antiquated arena.
Up next, a Tuesday afternoon matinee with the Dayton Flyers. The game is set to tip off at 12:15 pm in Tuscaloosa as part of ESPN's "24hrs of basketball" marathon. If you have tickets but can't make the game, the ticket office has set up an easy online process to give your tickets to a student. Nevertheless, I'm not expecting much of a crowd for what will be a very difficult game.