Friday, November 11, 2016

Game Preview - Coastal Carolina

It is finally game day! College basketball returns in all its glory. And for Alabama fans, there is a growing sense of excitement after the gains made in Avery's first season, plus the recruiting successes that suggest a bright future. The hope is this excitement will manifest itself with a large crowd on hand for this opener against Coastal Carolina. The game tips at 8:00. It will be televised on SEC Network + if you have the Watch ESPN app. Also remember, the women's team returns to Coleman tonight. They will play the University of New Orleans. That game tips off at 5:00. Tickets for both games are just $6.00 so, if you can, get out to Coleman tonight and support both teams.

Since this is the first game, there are obviously no stats to share so I will copy my preview of this game from a few weeks back. Speaking of future game preview posts: I'm always open to tweaking the stats posted in these previews. With analytics becoming more of a craze among fans, let me know if there are specific stats that you would like to see in future game previews. Here is what I wrote about this game on October 16th.

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). 

My opinion: Coastal Carolina is well-coached, and they will be prepared for this game. There is experience on this team (four significant players, three seniors and a junior, return this season) so they will not be intimidated going on the road to play a Power 5 program (it was just two seasons ago they went to Auburn and knocked them off). If you watched the exhibition game against Faulkner, you can see that this Alabama team has a lot of moving pieces. The question is how quickly can this team form as a solid unit? There were some nice moments in the exhibition game, but there were also plenty of moments where the team played sloppy on both ends, possibly as a result of having so many new guys playing together. If Alabama gets off to a sluggish start and Coastal gets this game well into the second half, it could be a nervous situation right off the bat.

Prediction: Coastal is well-coached, they have key experience returning, and this Alabama team is still a work in progress. I expect a tough game. Fortunately, one thing that I really like about this Alabama team is its depth. I think that depth is going to go a long way in helping this team pull out some tough games this season. I think it's the difference in this game. Alabama - 81 - Coastal Carolina - 71

Player to Watch: Corban Collins did not have a great debut in the exhibition game. An experienced player, he should be able to get over that performance and learn from it. I think he plays better in this game.

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