Tide reflects on season


Laura Owens

With the 2010-11 men’s basketball season at an end, it’s a good time for the team and fans to reflect on how far the program has come in the past year.

The 2009-10 season was head coach Anthony Grant’s first season with the Crimson Tide. At the end of last season, Alabama was knocked out of the SEC tournament by Kentucky in the second round, and after the SEC tournament, the team was done for the season. The Tide finished with a 17-15 overall record and a 6-10 conference record.

Though the Tide brought back its second and third leading scorers in junior JaMychal Green and sophomore Tony Mitchell, this season still started out rocky. At one point, the Tide was 5-6 on the season before going on a 5-game winning streak to get up to 10-6, which included a 2-0 start in the SEC.

“We had some things this year that we had to overcome,” Grant said after the season’s last game. “A lot of it was ourselves. I think over the course of the year, I was able to grow as a coach, and I think our players grew.”

A 12-4 SEC record and 25-11 overall record got the team to the NIT Championship last Thursday night. Though the team lost, they gained valuable experience from playing so deep into the post season.

“I think overall, when it’s all said and done, after we have time to reflect, we’ll look back on this as a great experience for our team to be playing here at the end of March,” Grant said Thursday night after the game. “Considering where we started, I think this is a great accomplishment for us.”

The end of the season also presents a time to look forward to how the program will continue to grow next year.

For next year, Alabama will return three of its starters in Green, Mitchell and freshman Trevor Releford. The trio was the team’s three highest scorers this season.

“For the young guys, hopefully they’ll look at this, look at some of the things we had to overcome, that were our own doing over the course of the year and will mature and grow and be better for it,” Grant said. “That’s what you hope for as a coach as we continue to move forward with building our program.”

In addition to the returning talent, Alabama has four recruits who have verbally committed for next year. According to Rivals.com, four-star recruits Levi Randolph, Nick Jacobs and Moussa Gueye and three-star recruit Rodney Cooper have committed to Alabama. Alabama is also in the hunt for Trent Lacey, a four-star recruit by Scout.com’s rating, who is a shooting guard from Huntsville, Ala.

“I’m optimistic, but we’ll wait to see how the new guys acclimate, learn and grow, how quickly they can acclimate themselves to what we have,” Grant said. “The improvement of the guys that are currently here both on the floor skill-wise but also off the floor in terms of maturity, leadership, those things that you need to have, the character things you have to have to be successful. We’ll see where we are when we start next year.”