Monday, August 4, 2008

Alabama: 2008-2009 Team Preview

2007-2008 Record: 17-16, 5-11 SEC West (5th)

Key Losses: Richard Hendrix (17.8 ppg, 10.1 rpg), Mykal Riley (14.9 ppg, 5.2 rpg)

Key Returnees: Alonzo Gee (14.5 ppg, 6.7 rpg), Ronald Steele

Newcomers: JaMychal Green (McDonalds All-America), Tony Mitchell, Andrew Steele, Anthony Brock

The loss of Hendrix (NBA) and Riley (graduated) leaves Alabama without their two leading scorers from last season, but the Crimson Tide return every other player from their rotation last year, including Alonzo Gee and Ronald Steele, who decided to withdraw their names from June's draft to return to Tuscaloosa for their senior years. Mark Gottfried was also able to land one of his best recruiting classes, which includes Mickey D's all-american JaMychal Green, top 100 recruits Tony Mitchell and Adrew Steele (Ronald's brother), and JuCo PG Anthony Brock.

Look for Gee and Green to both have big years for the Tide. Gee is a 6'6" athlete on the wing, who can slash, get to the rim, and is one of the best rebounders at his position in the country. Green, who is coming off a very good showing at the U-19 Fiba Championships, is a force under the basket, He is 6'9", athletic, and strong, but his ball skills are still a bit raw (think Patrick Patterson). Demetrius Jemison, the other projected front-court starter, should complement those two well, as he is a 6'7" ball of muscle. The freshman Mitchell (UPDATE: Mitchell was declared ineligible and will not join the team until at least December), who plays a similar style to Gee, should also provide quality minutes off the bench.

But how good Alabama will be probably depends on how well Ronald Steele is able to come back from his (multiple) knee surgeries. If he is anywhere near where he was in 2006 and 2007, Alabama could be a sleeper to win the SEC. If not, they are going to have to rely on freshman Andrew Steele and sophomore Rico Pickett to run the team. Pickett was inconsistent as a freshman, but the younger Steele could turn into a solid contributor. The Tide also return sharp-shooter Brandon Hollinger and high-flying Senario Hillman.

Outlook: The Tide return a lot of guys from last year's team, and combined with their recruiting class and the (hopefully) healthy Ronald Steele, expect Alabama to be in the thick of things in the SEC.

1 comment:

Colby said...

Nice article on Bama basketball, Dauster! I hope Ronald Steele is back at even 90 percent. With him, his brother, and Gee, winning the SEC is definitely in reach like you said.

Maybe a rematch of the 2004 Elite 8? I'd still have to root for the Huskies though. I think Bama plays G-town in DC this year, we should try to go. Really enjoy the blog!