Alabama Basketball On Exhibit Tonight

It will be interesting to see the turnout when Alabama's men's basketball team goes on display in an exhibition game Monday night. There is no question there is more interest in the Crimson Tide than has been the case in many years, but Bama fans may be a bit deflated by the football team's disheartening loss to LSU last Saturday and that hangover could affect fan support for basketball.

Alabama has only one exhibition game this year and it's Monday at 7 p.m. CST against Alabama-Huntsville in Coleman Coliseum. Play for real begins Friday when Bama hosts North Florida.

Admission is $6 for the exhibition game vs. UAH.

Alabama enters the exhibition contest ranked 19th in the preseason Associated Press poll and 17th in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches poll. It is UA's first preseason ranking since the 2006-07 season. Meanwhile, perennial Division II power UAH, has another highly ranked squad that has garnered a No. 2 preseason ranking in the NABC Division II Coaches poll.

Alabama is predicted to be among the top four teams in the Southeastern Conference. Last year Bama had the second best SEC record.

Coach Anthony Grant's squad returns three starters from last year, led by inside player JaMychal Green, a returning All-SEC player. Also back is second team All-SEC forward Tony Mitchell and Freshman All-SEC point guard Trevor Releford.

A large cast of newcomers, led by Alabama Mr. Basketball Trevor Lacey, is expected to contribute to this year's team.

Last season, the UAH Chargers visited Coleman Coliseum and gave the Crimson Tide all it could handle before UA prevailed with a 73-68 decision in double overtime. That test served as part of the foundation for the Tide's 25 win season and National Invitation Tournament championship game appearance.

Grant, beginning his third year as Bama coach, expects this year's exhibition to give his team a similar challenge and preseason tuneup.

"I think the main goal is obviously for us to take the next step in terms of our development and our progress as a team," Grant said. "We have a tough opponent in UAH and they'll put us in a position where we have to play extremely well to have a chance. I think it's a good opportunity for our team."

UAH finished 29-5 last season, won the Gulf South Conference title with an 11-1 record and advanced to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Division II Tournament. Veteran head coach Lennie Acuff's team returns three players that were named to the six-player all-GSC preseason first team.

"We'll certainly be challenged by the versatility and variety of things they do on the offensive end how they're going to play us on the defensive end," Grant said of the Chargers. "I think after a while you get used to playing against your teammates in practice and you need some variety so I'm looking forward to the challenge we'll have with UAH coming in."

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