Point Has Been Made By Freshman

A preseason look at Alabama basketball had to start with replacing Mikhail Torrance. Bama's 2009-10 point guard was the Crimson Tide's leader in assists, as would be expected, but he was also Bama's leading scorer and tops in minutes played.

Alabama proposed to replace Torrance with a kid fresh out of high school. So how's that working out?

Pretty well.

"He's important as any player on our team," Bama Coach Anthony Grant said Thursday. "I don't rate players one through whatever, but he's very important."

"He" is Trevor Releford, a true freshman from Kansas City, Mo. The 6-0 Releford isn't matching Torrance's numbers, but he's done well. More importantly, Bama has done well--better than last year.

Torrance averaged 15.6 points and 5.0 assists per game last year. Through 21 games--20 of them starts--Releford is averaging 9.8 points and 3.7 assists.

But the best way to judge a point guard is the team record. Last year Bama won six of 16 Southeastern Conference games. This year the Tide leads the SEC with a 6-1 record, equaling all of last year's SEC victories before the halfway mark of the season. Alabama was 17-15 overall last year and is 14-7 this year.

Releford, who averages just a minute a game less than team leader Tony Mitchell (30.4 to 29.4), ranks among SEC leaders in assist-turnover ration with 77 assists and 47 turnovers. He is the highest ranking freshman.

Releford answered a poorly worded question Thursday: who is the most important player on the team? The player didn't take that to mean specifically this year's Alabama men's basketball team. He said the most important player on "A" basketball team is the point guard, because he handles the ball so much and has the responsibility to get the ball to the other players.

Releford said his play has been helped because his teammates have confidence in him. "We all play a big part," he said. "When I got here Coach (Grant) told me to work hard and to be ready to lead."

This week Alabama begins a two-game road swing against SEC East Division powerhouse teams. Alabama will be at Tennessee Saturday for a game that begins at 4 p.m. CST (5 p.m. eastern). The Vols had won four consecutive SEC games to improve to 4-2 going into Thursday night's game at Auburn. Bama will be at Vanderbilt next Thursday before returning home Feb. 12 against Ole Miss.

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