Gueye another piece to puzzle

Gueye another piece to puzzle

UA Athletics

01_19_12 MBB vs. Vandy Alabama’s Moussa Gueye (14) Photo by Kent Gidley

Brett Hudson

Coming to the University of Alabama was one of the biggest adjustments imaginable for sophomore center Moussa Gueye. In order to travel to Tuscaloosa from his hometown of Dakar, Senegal, Gueye had to stop in Washington, D.C. and again in Charlotte, N.C., before arriving on campus – a total of 16 hours and 18 minutes to travel the 4,533 miles.

However, the seven-foot tall junior college transfer found a tougher challenge when it came to adapting to his surroundings in Tuscaloosa. Gueye came to a town of just over 90,000 people from Dakar, which has that many in just three square miles.

Now that Gueye is playing consistently after recovering from a torn ACL, it looks like adjusting to Southeastern Conference basketball is the easiest adjustment he has had to make.

“I think with every game, he gets more comfortable,” head coach Anthony Grant said. “With every practice, he gets a little more familiar with what we’re doing. He’s progressing.”

Gueye adds a great deal of potential to the Tide, coming into the basketball program as a four-star recruit, according to Rivals.com. His rankings came after Gueye averaged 10.3 points, 8.5 rebounds and 3.5 blocks per game in his only season with Land Lake College.

“I think he adds size and depth,” redshirt junior guard Andrew Steele said. “He’s just a post presence that lets JaMychal [Green] and them play their more natural position. With his size and the way he can affect us on defense, I think he gives us a big boost.”

Gueye allows post players like Green and freshman forward Nick Jacobs to play a more traditional power forward role. With Gueye at center, the Tide can turn to him as the big man the offense can run through in order to get Green or Jacobs into a one-on-one situation in the post, where their skill set can be best utilized.

“I think he understands what his role is offensively,” Steele said. “Obviously, coming back from the injury, we have to get him going. But, I think what he does is help us rebound. If he has opportunities to score, we need him to. But I think he’s coming along just fine.”

Gueye has seen action in four games this season, Dec. 29 against Jacksonville and, more recently, against Vanderbilt, Kentucky and South Carolina. In those four games, Gueye tallied 10 points, but made his impact felt on the defensive end of the floor, being one of the most physical big men Alabama has.

Steele said he thinks Gueye’s physicality can take an opposing center or forward out of his game.

“In terms of how we try to wear people down defensively, I think that can help, being such a physical presence in the post,” Steele said. “It gives us confidence on the perimeter that we have somebody down there that can back us up if we do have breakdowns.”