Alabama Still Tinkering With Lineup, Rotation Heading Into Exhibition Game [VIDEOS]
Trevecca Nazarene at Alabama (exhibition)
When: 7 p.m.
Where: Coleman Coliseum
Records (in 2014-15): Alabama 19-15, 8-10 SEC; Trevecca Nazarene 13-15, 8-6 G-MAC
TV: SEC Network+
Radio: None (Play-by-play announcer Chris Stewart and color commentator Bryan Passink, who normally call the games on 95.3 The Bear, will instead call this game on SEC Network+.)
Nearly eight months after its final game of last season, Alabama will return to game action Friday night in its exhibition against Division II Trevecca Nazarene.
And not surprisingly, first-year coach Avery Johnson doesn’t yet have a definitive starting lineup and rotation in place yet. But he’s starting to get an idea.
“Trying to work out the rotation,” Johnson said. “I know who we're going to start tomorrow and figuring out a rotation after that. But yeah, we pretty much, right now, have one position that's decided. The other four are still up for grabs.”
At this point, junior forward Jimmie Taylor is the only definitive starter on the team, though at least one other, fifth-year senior Retin Obasohan, the team’s longest-tenured player, is also “close” to locking down a spot, Johnson said.
“He’s been very solid. Solid,” Johnson said. “He’s been doing everything we’ve asked him to do. He has a big role for us. And I think as he continues to provide that great leadership for us on and off the floor and be productive, I think this could be a solid year for him. We have a long ways to go, but he’s had a really good camp.”
Last season, Obasohan averaged just 6.2 points per game for the season but that total spiked near the end of the season to 12.2 points in his last 12 games when he was inserted into the lineup for an injured and since-transferred Ricky Tarrant. Johnson said Obasohan could start at either the point or shooting guard positions, though he’s “spending more time” at the latter with sophomore Justin Coleman and freshman Dazon Ingram battling for the starting point guard job.
Freshman Brandon Austin, from Montgomery, is Obasohan’s primary competition at shooting guard.
Graduate transfer Arthur Edwards, who spent the last two seasons at New Mexico, and sophomore Riley Norris are competing at small forward.
Juniors Michael Kessens and Shannon Hale, who both only recently returned to full strength from injuries dating back to the end of last season, are potential starters at the final starting forward spot.
During Thursday’s practice, Coleman, Obasohan, Norris, Hale and Taylor appeared to be the probable starting lineup against the Trojans Friday night, as they were the first group up during full-court drills. Taylor is the only one of the five to start all 34 games last season but Coleman, Obasohan, Norris and Hale all started a number of games as well.
Ingram, Austin, Edwards, Kessens and freshman Donta Hall was the next group in line.
Johnson hinted that several different lineups could be in play Friday, which was the case in the team’s private scrimmage against Belmont – a regular in the NCAA tournament over the past decade – last week in Tuscaloosa.
“Here’s one thing that may happen tomorrow that’s kind of abnormal from what’s going to happen during the season: The team that you see start in the first may not be the same team you see in the second half,” Johnson said.
Obasohan, who Johnson has named one of the team’s primary leaders this season along with Taylor, has clear expectations in the team’s lone tune-up.
“I'm just expecting everybody to do what they're supposed to do,” he said. “Everybody's been doing great in practice, starting from our point guards to our centers, so I'm expecting them to show up tomorrow and do what we do.”
Watch Johnson speak (in two separate videos) to the media Thursday, along with Obasohan and Taylor, too, below: