Frosh Big Help In Tide Win Over VCU

It's safe to say unbeaten Alabama's basketball team would not have been able to engineer it's 72-64 comeback home win over VCU Sunday night without solid contributions from all four of the true freshman in the playing rotation.



Two freshmen--Levi Randolph and Rodney Cooper -- have started from the beginning for Alabama this season. Two others -- Trevor Lacey and Nick Jacobs -- are seeing more and more action for the Crimson Tide.

To wit:

Madison native Levi Randolph started and played 31 minutes. He scored six points, grabbed five boards, dished two assists and had two steals.

Huntsville's Trevor Lacey came off the bench for 29 minutes, and filled in admirably at point guard while sophomore Trevor Releford battled foul trouble. Lacey scored six points to go with four boards, an assist and a critical steal that prevented a Rams' bucket.

Starter Rodney Cooper of Phenix City scored seven points, while collecting three boards in 27 minutes, and Nick Jacobs of Atlanta continued his early-season trend of quality work in the paint with six points, two rebounds, two blocks and an assist in 15 minutes.

It may be sooner than later when Jacobs enters games before sophomore seven-footer Carl Engstrom, who played but three first half minutes Sunday.

All told, true freshmen played 102 of the game's 200 minutes for the Crimson Tide (7-0). The four first-year men combined for 25 of Alabama's 72 points and 14 of its 33 rebounds.

"I thought we got good play out of those (freshman) guys," said Alabama Coach Anthony Grant. "I thought we were out of sorts tonight, but I thought those guys made some plays, especially in the second half. You can point to a couple of examples: the press breaks by Trevor Lacey, the boards "Coop" (Cooper) got, the buckets in the paint Nick (Jacobs) made. We got some great plays out of those guys."

VCU guard Bradford Burgess liked what he saw from Lacey: "He's strong. He can get to the rim. He can shoot the open ‘3.' He affected our guards with his pressure."

Starting point guard Trevor Releford didn't like sitting by Grant for 17 of the game's 40 minutes due to foul trouble, but he did like what the Tide got from Lacey in his stead.

"(Trevor Lacey came in and gave us great minutes at the point guard position," Releford said. "He picked me up. He did a great job out there."

Senior JaMychal Green was equally impressed with Jacobs, and has been since the Atlanta native arrived during the summer and the two began battling in pick-up games.

Green said,. "I think Nick (Jacobs) will be a great post player. He's very talented, and has a dominant hook shot that nobody's going to be able to stop, in my eyes. Nick's doing a great job, and he's getting better every day."

As someone who took the Rams to last year's final four and has been an assistant at the international level of basketball, VCU coach Shaka Smart knows talent when he sees it, and knows what it takes to win at the NCAA tourney level. Smart liked what he saw of Grant's freshmen class.

"I like their freshmen a lot. I think the future's bright for Alabama," said Smart. "Levi Randolph is a do it all guy. He ‘s a ‘glue' guy. What impresses me about him and all their freshmen is how they've bought into (Grant's) defensive system. Sometimes it takes a while, but those guys have really picked it up well.

" I really like Nick Jacobs. Really all their freshmen. Their future is bright with this Alabama team."

The immediate future for said Alabama team is another 8:30 tip-time, this time against Georgetown, as the Hoyas visit Coleman Coliseum Thursday night with ESPN-2 set to televise the game.

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