Johnson and players discuss impact practice ahead of home game with rival Auburn and NCAA Tournament projections

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Avery Johnson wants the basketball team to be faster and more aggressive on offense. CW | Amellia Armstrong

Tyler Waldrep

On Tuesday, Alabama suffered its second consecutive loss falling to Kentucky 78-53. This was also the team’s first double-digit defeat since the Crimson Tide (16-11, 7-8 SEC) began the month of February with a five-game winning streak.

However, when the team walked into the gym Thursday, coach Avery Johnson didn’t see a team that was dwelling on a recent defeat.

“What I saw yesterday, because that’s probably our best practice in two months, I see a team that’s back to normal in terms of focus,” Johnson said.

Sophomore Riley Norris said the team took its lead from its captains. Norris said co-captain Jimmie Taylor’s emergence as a vocal leader for the team (after being historically quiet in the past) has been crucial for the team’s development.

“I think that Retin [Obasohan] and Jimmie, captains, and Arthur Edwards], the older people, we kind of made a statement at the beginning of practice kind of set the tone and we got after it yesterday,” Norris said.

Johnson said one reason the practice went so well for Alabama is because of the team’s health has improved. For the first time in awhile everyone was able to participate in scrimmage. For once, Johnson didn’t have to worry about resting Justin Coleman or Shannon Hale or any of the other Alabama players that have struggled with injuries.

Since Alabama’s 83-77 loss to the Tigers on Jan. 19 the schools have gone in different directions. Alabama has won 6-of-10 games while the Tigers have compiled a 2-8 record since beating the Crimson Tide.

Auburn comes to Coleman Coliseum on Saturday with an RPI of 144. After the Crimson Tide’s home loss to Mississippi State Saturday, the Crimson Tide cannot afford another bad loss at home if it wants to secure a bid to the NCAA Tournament.

Obasohan isn’t spending his time trying to calculate what wins Alabama needs to get or what losses the Crimson Tide needs to avoid to get into the tournament. He’s already figured out what the team needs to do to make their dreams come true.

“Win,” Obasohan said.