The sun did actually rise after the gut-wrenching loss to WKU . I won’t go into everything that went wrong in that game, but I do invite you to take a look at Bobby’s recap...if your stomach can bare it. Alabama will have to process and overcome, however as it welcomes Jason Shay’s ETSU team in tonight at 6:30. SEC+ will provide the coverage with Trevor Releford on the call.
The Opponent : ETSU had a brutal start to it’s 20-21 campaign but have since won 3 of it’s last 4 with the help of a new defensive identity. That’s quite the departure from last season’s 30-4 team that put up some truly gaudy numbers at times for a SoCon team. Coach Shay is currently in the middle of a rebuilding project of sorts as ETSU lost over 90% of it’s scoring from last season and then some. I’m not saying there isn’t talent on this roster...but Alabama absolutely has to take care of business tonight. Pure and simple.
Players to Watch : As tempted as I am to place eyes on the entire offense due to the the Tide shooting a paltry 40% from the field and a disgusting 29% from 3...I won’t. We’ve seen some positive play from the likes of Herbert Jones, Jahvon Quinerly and Josh Primo but Alabama simply hasn’t put together a solid offensive effort. A long look in the mirror is required to determine whether Bama wants to continue to live and (mostly) die by the 3 or maybe try a different approach. Most will disagree with me here, but I think the team has to keep shooting. It starts with John Petty. He has essentially been non-existent in the first half of games. That has to stop. Especially against teams that Alabama should handle at home. To his credit, John continues to bring it on D and the boards every night whether he’s shooting well or not. He simply needs to find some confidence with the shooting stroke. When that happens, I think Alabama will finally reach its full offensive potential. As great as he’s been, Alabama can’t be great with Jones being its “go to guy.”Like it or not, I don’t think this can team can be great without the 3. I ALSO CAN NOT BELIEVE IM SAYING THIS ABOUT A ROSTER THAT CARRIES FOUR POTENTIAL NBA PLAYERS.
Thankfully, ETSU isn’t strong at all in the frontcourt but they do have some talented guards. Ledarrius Brewer leads the team with 15 PPG and David Sloan adds 9 PPG while bringing good vision to the court. Alabama will have to close out on the perimeter and block out as the ETSU guards follow their shots well.
My Thoughts: I don’t think there is much need in adding much else to what is written above. The offensive production we’ve seen thus far from Alabama is unacceptable...and the coaches and players would be the first to tell you the same. Alabama has one last non-conference opportunity to iron out the kinks and find some confidence before conference play. On a roster loaded with NBA level talent, struggling with mid-majors at home simply can’t continue. Maybe tonight is the night that the lid comes off the rim and JP and Shack light up the scoring column.
Prediction: Alabama 85, ETSU 68