Courtesy of Alabama Athletics
Even after a crushing defeat at the hands of the Tennessee Lady Volunteers, Alabama women’s basketball fans should still be excited about the future of this team. Here are three reasons why.
#1: Sparks are flying on offense
Yes, this statement may be vague, but it rings true for the Crimson Tide. Alabama currently has an 11-2 record, the third best in the SEC. The Crimson Tide is 4-2 in conference play and is currently ranked fifth in the conference. The team also has the fourth best overall win percentage, at 84.6%.
During the offseason, coaches and players talked about how well the team can shoot the ball and through thirteen games, the ladies have lived up to the hype. Alabama is in the top 30 in free throws. They are 27th in the country, shooting 76.76% from the line, and 11th overall in three pointers, with 108. And just two games ago, all five starters had double-digit points, leading the team to an average of 77.38 points per game.
This team has the offensive firepower to compete with the best teams in the country, and it’s possible that they’ve yet to have their best offensive outing. This team has room to grow in their offense, and fans should look to see the team capitalize on that potential in the coming weeks.
#2: They won’t quit
If there was something positive for fans to take away from Sunday’s loss, it would be that this team fights until the last buzzer. That alone should get fans pumped about the future. Another trait that could prove an advantage: Alabama’s scrappiness. In a press conference after Sunday’s game, Alabama head coach Kristy Curry discussed how she expects the team to move forward after Sunday’s loss.
“We just have to regroup, let that go at midnight, have short-term memory and stay positive,” Curry said. “We know that in the SEC [Southeastern Conference], you have good days and bad days. It’s all in how you handle both.”
If past games are an indicator for this team, those games show that Alabama can bounce back from adversity. Early in the season, the team, led by junior guard Hannah Barber’s dazzling second-half effort, rallied and defeated Oklahoma State to maintain a perfect record. Against Mississippi State, the team completed a 11-point comeback to win their second straight game in Starkville. After suffering their first defeat at the hands of South Carolina, Alabama bounced back against LSU and would win three straight before losing to Tennessee. This team had dealt with plenty of blows this season. They’ve adapted and adjusted.
#3 The stars have aligned
The talent on this team is plentiful and has been on full display throughout the season.
Senior forward Jasmine Walker has lived up to the preseason buzz. So far, Walker has recorded eight double-doubles this season and had her fourth in a row on Sunday. That’s the program’s longest streak since Tierney Jenkins’s eight in a row during the 2010-2011 season. Walker is also averaging 19.8 points per game, which is 7.9 points higher than her last season average.
Another senior forward, Ariyah Copeland, has also been helpful inside the paint. Copeland has improved her ability to drive to the basket and score from both sides. And Barber has been crucial in setting up the easy shots fans have seen throughout the season. Her quick passes and ability to read defenses have helped the Crimson Tide create open shots and lanes to drive to the basket and score inside.
Recently, two guards, senior Jordan Lewis and junior Megan Abrams, have elevated the team to new heights. Last Friday, Alabama head coach Kristy Curry discussed Abrams’s newfound consistency.
“The thing with Megan is, I think she’s taken it personal that sometimes people don’t guard her,” Curry said.
Abrams has taken advantage of the wide open looks she has gotten over the past few games. Despite dealing with a foot injury, Abrams has risen to the occasion several times this season. Her most notable effort was against Mississippi State, where 11 of her 18 points came in the fourth quarter. Several of Abrams’ shots were uncontested, and she made the Bulldogs pay for it.
Lewis has been the star shooter recently, leading the teams in points in the last two games. Her ability to come into the game and create shots for the offense is one of the reasons why Alabama can settle into their offensive rhythm. Her leadership is arguably her most important quality.
In the offseason, Lewis said she wanted to become more of a vocal leader on the team, as she has tended to lead by example. Alabama head coach Kristy Curry stated on Friday that she was one of the players that spoke up and rallied the team at halftime in Starkville.
“Without a doubt, Jordan Lewis, Jasmine Walker, I thought were really special at halftime,” Curry said.
The team has a week to fine tune any old or new issues before a showdown against Auburn on Jan. 24. If the last 13 games have shown anything, these players will be in enviable shape.