Tide Men Open Basketball Season
It is important to win games against good competition, but an absolute must to win games against lesser competition.
Alabama Coach Anthony Grant would deny that North Florida is lesser competition. The Crimson Tide hosts the Ospreys in the season-opener for both teams at 7 p.m. CST Friday in Coleman Coliseum.
"They come in here with a veteran team and have a lot of guys that played in the game two years ago," Grant said. "They're a team that towards the end of last year was playing really good basketball. They're picked to be among the top of their league this year, so I think it will be a very good test for us."
Alabama won by 73-51 when the Crimson Tide hosted the Ospreys in Tuscaloosa in Grant's first year in the 2009-10 season.
Both teams won their exhibition games, North Florida defeating Flagler, 84-67, on November 1, and Alabama downing Alabama-Huntsville by a 67-60 margin Monday night.
Last year Alabama went 25-12, making it to the finals of the National Invitation Tournament and winning the Southeastern Conference Western Division and finishing second overall in the SEC with a 12-4 league mark.
Last year's Crimson Tide was 19-0 in Coleman Coliseum.
Alabama returns three starters from last season -- pre-season first team All-SEC selection JaMychal Green at low post, and pre-season second team All-SEC picks Tony Mitchell at forward and point guard Trevor Releford. Those three were joined by true freshmen wing players Rodney Cooper and Levi Randolph in the starting lineup for the exhibition game. Freshmen Trevor Lacey and Nick Jacobs and sophomores Charles Hankerson and Carl Engstrom were leading subs.
North Florida was 15-19 overall and 10-10 in Atlantic Sun Conference play. The Ospreys made it to the championship game in the conference tournament and UNF is projected to finish third in the league this year.
Coach Matthew Driscoll's North Florida team returns four starters from 2011, including guards Jerron Granberry and Parker Smith, who averaged 12 points per game each.
Following Friday's game, Alabama remains home to play Oakland at 7 p.m. Monday.
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