Monday, November 23, 2020

Game Preview: #25 Alabama vs JSU

 FINALLY...it’s time to tip the 2020-21 season off for the Alabama Crimson Tide. This year’s iteration of the Tide will once again enter the season with optimism as it returns John Petty Jr, Jaden Shackleford and Herb Jones. Joining that experienced core will be highly touted transfer and former McDonald’s All American Jahvon Quinerly as well as a host of exciting newcomers. It isn’t just the fanbase that is high on the Tide, as Alabama was voted by the coaches as a top 25 team in the AP poll to begin the season. It all begins with a battle against the Gamecocks of Jacksonville State this Wednesday. Tip is set for 6:30. 

 The Opponent: JSU will come into Coleman Coliseum as a bit of an enigma this season as it will be replacing 3 of it’s 4 highest scorers from the shortened 2019-2020 season. Jakara Cross has graduated so JSU will need someone to step up in the scoring column for coach Ray Porter. 

 Players to watch: Starting with JSU, one has to expect a jump from Tulsa product Damaree King. King is a solid athlete and a streaky shooter that could give Alabama some trouble if the Tide has trouble closing out on D. JSU also expects an uptick in production from it’s 6’11 Slovakian C Maros Zeliznak. The big man only produced about 4 PPG last season but the word is that he’s improved his game over the summer. 

 One could make a case for the entire Bama roster being players to watch. There will be intrigue surrounding Josh Primo as an incoming 5 star recruit. The same could be said for Jordan Bruner, the exciting transfer from Yale, as well as fan favorites John Petty, Jaden Shackleford and Herb Jones. Basketball fans around the country, however, are excited for the Alabama debut of Jahvon Quinerly. He has big shoes to fill at this point after Kira Lewis Jr was drafted in the lottery by New Orleans just a few nights ago. Will he be more comfortable in a more fast paced style at Alabama as many expect he will be? We’re only a couple of days from finding out. 

 My take: Speaking of having big shoes to fill, I’m writing the first game preview for BAMAHOOPS.com that won’t be written by our good friend Mitchell Smilie in quite some time, so I hope everyone will still enjoy our previews as Mitch was one of the best to do it! 

 You have to make a statement to start the season, right? Alabama has returning seniors in 1st Team SEC John Petty and 2nd Team SEC Herb Jones. It has Jaden Shackleford that has proven himself to be a cold blooded sniper even at a young age. I could go on and on but you still have to lace them up and tip it off. It’ll be interesting to see if the Tide can rebound and maintain defensive intensity. Something it struggled with at times last season. Having said that, I think JP and Shack will simply be too much for JSU. The Gamecocks will score...but not nearly enough. 

Prediction: Alabama 91, JSU 76

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