Turnovers, Fouls Plague Alabama

Some five decades ago, the head of the Federal Communications Commission delivered an address to the broadcast industry in which he described television as a "vast wasteland." That was when there were three networks plus (in some areas) public TV. Times, of course, have changed, and though there is still plenty of mindless drivel emanating from the idiot box, one can learn from television.

Alabama Men's Basketball Coach Anthony Grant said he had learned something from television. "If it happens once," he said, "it's an aberration. If it happens twice, a coincidence. But if it happens three times, it's a pattern."

Unfortunately, Grant has concluded, the Alabama basketball team "has established a pattern" of turnovers.

"It's a problem," Grant said Monday as his team went back to practice for a home game against Southeastern Louisiana at 8 p..m. CST Wednesday.

Alabama has committed 148 turnovers this year, which is more than assists (121). In Bama's four wins, there have been only 61 turnovers. But in the five losses there have been 87 turnovers. As might be expected, the man who handles the ball the most, freshman point guard Trevor Releford, has the most turnovers (23), but all five starters are in double figures, and so is back-up point guard Ben Eblen (16). Tony Mitchell has 22, Senario Hillman 19, Chris Hines 15, and JaMychal Green 13.

"We have to value the ball," Grant said. "As the coach, it is my responsibility. Obviously, the message hasn't gotten through."

The turnover statistic isn't the only one that stands out in Alabama losses. For the season, Alabama has made 87-122 free throws. Tide opponents are 104-162 at the foul line. In wins, Bama has a modest 36-56 to 29-51 advantage in foul shots. In losses, opponents have 75-111, Alabama 51-66.

Alabama's four wins have been at home, the five losses on the road (including three at a neutral site).

Grant said, "I don't think the style of play has anything to do with foul troubles. We knew that Providence (Bama's latest opponent) had shot 100 more three throws than their opponents, had made more free throws than their opponents had taken. We have to do a better job of playing defense with discipline."

Providence defeated Alabama at Providence Saturday, 82-70. Both teams made 28 field goals. Alabama was 12-15 on free throws, Providence 21-31.

Grant also said he would give the Bama half court offense a poor grade. "We're not very good right now," he said. "We're not shooting the ball well." Alabama is making 45 per cent of its field goals, but only 30.2 per cent of its three-point shots. "It's tough to manufacture offense when you're not shooting well from the perimeter," Grant said.

Bama will be at home for the first time in two weeks when it hosts the Southeastern Louisiana Lions in Coleman Coliseum Wednesday. Alabama is 4-0 at home and has outscored opponents by 26.5 points per game in Coleman. SLU is 5-2 and playing its third consecutive road game.

SLU aveages 80.7 points per game and has broken the 90-point mark in three games this year. Alabama has allowed only two opponents to go over 70 points this year and the Tide gives up only 59.2 points per game.

Tony Mitchell continues to lead Alabama statistically. The sophomore has averaged 16.5 points and 10.8 rebounds per game in the last four outings and is averaging 14.6 points and 8.8 rebounds per game for the season.

JaMychal Green returned from a three-game suspension at Providence and delivered his first double-double of the season with 15 points and 11 rebounds. Asked about Green's return, Grant first noted that "the team didn't win." But, the coach said, "JaMychal came in and played well. His productivity was good. I thought he had a good game."

Grant didn't say if Green would start Wednesday, adding that, "As I have said before, I am not consumed by that. We'll play several guys."

The coach revealed that back-up sophomore guard Andrew Steele, who missed all of last season after starting the first six games, has undergone recent arthroscopic knee surgery. Steele missed time last year with an ankle injury that required surgery. This year he has not played because of soreness in his knees. Grant said that both knees were recently "scoped" and "cleaned up a little," and that Steele's immediate basketball future depends on the healing process.

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