Alabama comes into the Maui Invitational having picked up a win over JSU to start the season 1-0. As expected in the first game of the season, there were positives and negatives. Jahvon Quinerly was a major positive. The Villanova transfer basically got to the rim at will and exhibited solid vision. Herb Jones was Herb Jones. His defense and hard hat mentality is still worthy of praise...but he still missed a ton of POINT BLANK opportunities at the rim. He did bury a step back three, however. If Herb can do that at a consistent clip it only makes the Alabama offense that much more dynamic (while also improving his draft stock).
While Yale transfer Jordan Bruner was clearly able to alter shots at the rim, he wasn’t quite the rebounding machine that Alabama needs as JSU got multiple second and third opportunities with offensive rebounds. Having said that, it’s clear that his motor is as advertised and I think that will pay off. Moving on.
The Opponent: Stanford will be making their debut after their first scheduled game was cancelled due to Covid concerns. Head Coach Jerod Haase will bring an experienced and talented squad that is certain to give Alabama a tough test. Stanford shot 37% from 3 last year while leading the PAC 12 in FGE percentage. Alabama will get a nauseating dose of ball screens so defensive discipline will be key.
Players to Watch: There is no question that the Stanford seniors will make an impact. Oscar Da Silva and Daejon Davis will likely be the keys that turn the engine. It’s the big time freshman Ziaire Williams that most everyone is excited to get their first glimpse of, however. Williams was a consensus 5 star recruit for Haase. Herb Jones will likely draw the assignment against Williams so we can assume that will be a key match up. It’ll also be interesting to see how John Petty performs after coming off a relatively off night for him against JSU. Bama will need to be more efficient from 3 in order to knock of the Cardinal.
My Thoughts: These are two similar teams in terms of the mix of young talent and upper classmen providing leadership. Both will also want to play fast. I think the team that has fewer turnovers likely wins the game. Getting to the rim won’t be quite as easy for the Alabama guards in this one so it’s imperative that Bama shoots it well. This will be a 40 minute game and I think it helps Alabama already having a game under it’s belt, but Stanford will be eager and hungry. If the Cardinal shoot well, Alabama could be in trouble. This will be a good game between two teams that should ultimately find themselves in the NCAA Tournament. I’m afraid Stanford will make one more clutch shot than the good guys, unfortunately.
Prediction: Stanford 78, Alabama 75