Hoops Scrimmage Tale Of Two Halves

Alabama Basketball Coach Anthony Grant held an open and controlled scrimmage, complete with referees and a scoreboard, Saturday morning at Coleman Coliseum. About 2,000 fans were on hand to see literally a tale of two halves.

The first 16-minute half was won by the Crimsons, 28-20. The second stanza required a pair of one-minute overtimes before ending in a 24-22 Crimson win.

"When it's your team against your team, you don't know if good offense is the result of bad defense, or if good defense is the result of bad offense," Alabama Coach Anthony Grant said, adding that he'd knew more when he watched the scrimmage film. "Overall, it's good for our young guys to get a feel for the style of play, and to get a feel for a game-type situation, so I think it was a positive."

Grant says he's happy with his newcomers at this juncture. "I thought, for the most part, they tried to do the things we've talked about," he said. "Offensive execution, and things we need to do in the half-court, defensively. I thought we played (well) in spurts, but again, you have to evaluate it on film because you're trying to watch both teams.

"It was great to see the fans come out, and the excitement they had. They seemed to be really getting into it."

Said student assistant/former Tide player Andrew Steele, "We're going to be deeper than we were last year."

The scrimmage, and its participants, seemed to bear that out. One improvement the new class of recruits was expected to bring was better outside shooting. On the day, three-pointers were drained by newcomers Trevor Lacey, Levi Randolph, Rodney Cooper, and Retin Obasohan (who seems to have a new spelling of his last name). All are true freshmen.

Vets who scored from behind the arc were Tony Mitchell, JaMychal Green, Trevor Releford, and perhaps the most-improved player on the team, sophomore guard Charles Hankerson. All-told, eight different players drained at least one trey.

Scoring-wise, Mitchell led all Tiders with 20, while Green and Releford had 15 points each. They were joined in double-digits by Randolph with a dozen. Other scoring came from Cooper, (nine points), Hankerson (seven), Carl Engstrom (six, including a crowd-pleasing dunk off a dish from Randolph), Lacey (five points), Obasohan (three) and Ben Eblen (two points). Nick Jacobs looked good in the low post, especially on the offensive boards and scored one free throw. He seems ready to provide relief at the power forward and center spots. Cooper is a pure, lefty shooter that can at times look like a young Reggie Miller. He and Randolph both showed the ability to play in-your-face defense, a trait Grant loves. Lacey didn't take bad shots, and showed hustle by diving on the floor for a loose ball. Obasohan may not be ready to supplant Eblen as the backup point guard when the season starts, but he shows a good overall game, a nice outside shot, and a propensity to protect the basketball (another trait Grant loves, especially in his point guards). Obasohan, who has changed his name back to the Nigerian spelling from the Belgian, can and will also play the two-guard.

All the vets seemed to be improved, including Eblen, who is not as shy about shooting the ball this year. Mitchell and Green are both now apparently free to shoot any open 3-balls that present themselves, and Releford's outside game seems more consistent at first glance. Engstrom's footwork in the post and on defense has improved.

The first half starters were, for the Crimson, Green, Hankerson, Engstrom, Eblen and Randolph. The White team starters were Lacey, Releford, Mitchell, Cooper and Jacobs. In the second half, the Crimson team consisted of Green, Hankerson, Jacobs, Cooper, and Releford. The White squad was Lacey, Eblen, Engstrom, Jacobs and Mitchell. Obasohan subbed in the first half for the White squad, and the second for the Crimsons.

Following the workout, the team members signed autographs for 45 minutes. The team will continue daily workouts before playing a home exhibition contest on Monday, November 7th, at home against UAH.

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