2008-2009 ALABAMA CRIMSON TIDE BASKETBALL
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Despite a poor 2007-8 showing, the Alabama Crimson Tide basketball team is a popular sleeper pick in the SEC. And given the influx of young talent that is descending upon the Crimson Tide basketball program, it is not surprising. However, that assessment may be just a little premature given the fact that an already hole ridden team has lost one of its most consistent talents.
So much for that. Head coach Mark Gottfried has resigned after leading the Tide to a 12-7 record; 2-3 in the SEC. Assistant Coach Philip Pearson will serve as acting head coach the rest of the season.
Of the players lost from last year's squad, none are more significant than Richard Hendrix. His 17.8 ppg and 10.1 rpg output will be virtually impossible to make up. In addition, Mykal Riley was one of the most consistent scorers in the SEC, averaging 14.9 ppg and 5.2 rpg before departing the Crimson Tide following the 2007-8 season. And both departures may in fact be dwarfed in comparison by the departure of starting point guard Rico Pickett who, it was often said, brought much more to the court and to the team that what his statistics would indicate. Replacing this talented tandem will be no easy task.
If there is a silver lining, it is that the Crimson Tide do some talented players coming back into the mix. Senior guard Alonzo Gee will be relied upon to step into more of leadership role when it comes to scoring. At just under 15 ppg during the 2007-8 season, he seems ideally positioned to step up. In addition, junior guard Demtrius Jemison is considered a prime candidate to step into a more prolific role, coming of a season in which he averaged 5.6 points and 5.3 rebounds per game. Additionally, point guard Ronald Steele is coming off of injury and may be able to step right into she shoes of the departed Pickett.
However, if Steele is not able to carry the load at the point guard position, incoming JUCO transfer Anthony Brock. Brock was a JUCO All-American, and is widely considered to be among the best transfer prospects in the nation. Also joining the squad this season is highly routed big man JaMycheal Green, who most believe will be an impact player from day one, and Tony Mitchell, who may be a year away from being a significant factor.
All told, the Crimson Tide do in fact seem to have a bright future ahead. However, their prospects for the 2008-9 season still, at this point, remain fuzzy, if for no other reason than because of the unpredictability of young talent. More likely, this team will start off slow, but come together by season's end and possibly qualify for postseason play. But the Crimson Tide are a team on the rise, and the sky is the limit in 2009-10.
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