By Andrew Wallace
Tuscaloosa– The Tide will look to extend their home win streak against SEC opponents as the Florida Gators come into town on Thursday at 6pm CT. Bama has not lost to a conference foe at Coleman Coliseum since Florida rolled into town last season.
This year’s version of UF boasts a 6th ranked squad in the AP poll behind the slashing/shooting duo of Scotty Wilbekin and Michael Frazier. Frazier is ranked in the top five of the SEC in 3 point field goal percentage. The Gator’s inside/outside guard scoring combination is further complemented by their front-court.
The Crimson Tide’s rotating front court (Nick Jacobs, Shannon Hale, Jimmy Smith, and Carl Engstrom) face two of the league’s top 15 rebounders. Dorian Finney-Smith and Patric Young both have over 100 “boards” on the season.
These aforementioned Gators aren’t even the best players on the team. Senior Casey Prather is a do-it-all small forward who checks in at 6-6 220lbs. He leads the team with 17.3 ppg while shooting over 63%.
UA can counter these strengths by continuing to attack the ball handler with turnover creators Trevor Releford and Retin Obasohan. Each will be expected to not only control the tempo on offense but facilitate the aforementioned outside/inside guard scoring combo of Florida.
As for the big guys up front, each will have to see playing time while simultaneously executing their individual role. Alabama does not have two dominant players that can execute all of the duties required out of the 4 or 5 position. Therefore, Hale will have to handle mid range scoring. Jacobs execute the interior scoring game with help from Smith. Engstrom will be asked to use his length to limit Young and Finney-Smith. Finally, whatever combination of the four is on the floor, they will have to protect the rim from slashers especially Wlibekin and Prather. Those two initiate their scoring in the majority of games by attacking the basket in the first half, then opening up their game in the second.
The key for Bama is simple. Limit Florida’s scoring runs, play a flawless transition game (especially off turnovers), and lastly keep the rebound margin manageable.
You can hear the broadcast on 90.7 The Capstone. Crawford Rogers and myself (Andrew Wallace) will have the call.
Here is audio from Anthony Grant’s press conference: