SI's 20 burning questions- Can anyone turn this Tide into a three-point machine?
I think Alabama is going into the season mildly underrated. The Tide have arguably the best guard in America in Ronald Steele, and the inside tandem of 6-foot-10 senior Jemareo Davidson and 6-8 sophomore Richard Hendrix is formidable. Still, last year 'Bama ranked ninth in the SEC in made threes per game (5.61) and was seventh in three-point percentage (34.5 percentage), and that inability to bomb from long range proved to be its undoing. Jean Felix, who made only 31.6 percent from behind the arc but went for a season-high 31 points in the NCAA first-round win over Marquette, is gone. There is no obvious replacement, and Alabama needs to find one soon
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Free preview of Alabama on espn
To step up, says the Mirriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary, is "to succeed in meeting a challenge [as by increased effort or improved performance]."
What better way to describe Alabama basketball in 2005-06?
Even coach Mark Gottfried might have feared the Crimson Tide's season was spiraling southward on the morning of Jan. 8, when he got word that his leading scorer and best low-post player, Chuck Davis, was lost for the rest of the year after blowing out his knee in a loss to Ole Miss the night before.
And if he didn't think Alabama was doomed just then, Gottfried might have come around to that line of thinking two weeks later, when guard Justin Jonus, one of the team's few remaining perimeter scoring threats, abruptly quit the team, leaving Gottfried with just seven scholarship players.
Not that Jonus was any world beater. But his departure, coupled with transfers and academic problems that cost the program four other players before the season began, left the Tide two foul outs and a twisted ankle away from finishing games with walk-ons. That's a scary proposition in any league, let alone the Southeastern Conference.
But at the height of Gottfried's despair, the Tide's luck began to change. Those foul outs and ankle injuries never happened. And several players, their roles drastically altered by the loss of Davis, began to succeed in meeting a challenge (as by increased effort or improved performance).
In other words, they stepped up.
From CBS Sportsline- A Gary Parrish writeup. You've been warned.
When the Crimson Tide do start playing games (Jackson State visits Nov. 10), what you'll find is that this is a team capable of being featured prominently on that One Shining Moment video next April. Who knows if they can win it all? But if you're compiling a list of teams with a legitimate shot to advance to the Final Four, this is one that must be on it.
Alabama has the best point guard in the nation in Ronald Steele, plus a dominant big man (Davidson) and bruising power forward (Hendrix). Granted, the Crimson Tide could use a proven shooter and some experienced depth, but when a team starts practice trying to establish its fourth-best player while identifying reserves, that's a team in good shape relative to most of the competition.
"I don't know if we're top 10 right now," Steele said, downplaying the expectations. "But we have a chance to be pretty good."
Consider the chant at the end of practice.
1-2-3 ... A-T-L!
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Quick comments on the articles linked
SI- Gee and Steele will take the bulk of the 3s for us early on. Hopefully someone steps up as a 3rd beyond the arc threat.
ESPN- probably the best national preview of the team I've seen. It's a long read, but well worth it.
CBS- We really should've hyped up opening practice. I don't think the casual Alabama fan realizes how special this year could be. A little help from our SID (ha) and some marketing could've gone a long way to promoting the team. Otherwise a fair article from Parrish.