The 2015-16 college basketball season is just around the corner. In honor of the Flyers winning 53 games the last two seasons (and because I couldn’t come up with 2,015 reasons), I’m counting down 53 reasons (in no particular order) to look forward to the season.
Follow the blog between now and the season opener against Southeast Missouri State on Nov. 13. I will have four to five updates per week.
I’ll post links on Twitter (@DavidPJablonski) and on my Facebook page: www.facebook.com/DavidPatrickJablonski.
No. 9: Alabama game
The Flyers have had more than their share of success against the SEC in recent years, winning nine of their last 11 games. Five of those wins have come against Ole Miss. They also have two recent wins against Alabama (74-62 in 2011 and 81-76 in 2012).
The series continues at the newspaper deadline friendly time of 1 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 17. This is part of ESPN’s basketball marathon, and I hope you have a PTO day to spare or a cubicle you can hide in while you watch the game on your phone. The Flyers and Crimson Tide could meet again 12 days later on the final day of the Advocare Invitational.
The Tide finished 19-15 last season and fired former Flyer Anthony Grant in March. Grant was 117-85 in six seasons. His replacement is the former head coach of the Dallas Mavericks and New Jersey Nets, Avery Johnson. He was NBA Coach of the Year in 2006.
The new coach has energized the players, one of whom is his son Avery Johnson Jr., a Texas A&M transfer sitting out the season, and the fan base.
“Gosh, it’s electrifying,” guard Retin Obasohan told the Associated Press. “You can feel it. You can sense it. It’s like an aura that’s in the air. Everywhere you go, you’ve got people whispering. They think you can’t hear it, but we can hear everything they’re saying.”
Johnson inherits a roster that lost its top three scorers. Levi Randolph (15.4) and Rodney Cooper (11.1) were seniors. Ricky Tarrant (13.1) transferred to Memphis. The top returning scorer, Shannon Hale (8.2), is recovering from a foot injury.
In short, Alabama is a work in progress in the first year under Johnson. TheState.com writes:
(Johnson) had a late start to recruiting, lost his top three scorers and won’t get a couple of transfers eligible until next year. Top recruit Kobie Eubanks, who turned down Baylor and Kansas for Alabama, wasn’t cleared by the NCAA. Jimmie Taylor is one of the best defenders in the league (59 blocks last year) and Retin Obasohan played very well in relief of Ricky Tarrant last year. But there are seven freshmen or sophomores among the 12-man eligible roster, alongside a senior transfer in his first year at Alabama. Johnson’s first team may have some fans jumping for the future, but the present may be how it most often is at Alabama – filler until football National Signing Day.