Grant Wants Tide Priorities In Order

Before each game, Alabama issues information that includes a probable starting line-up, and it's almost always correct. It also almost always is not needed. Any casual fan can probably name the starting lineup by this time of the season. But sometimes there is a surprise.

Alabama Coach Anthony Grant doesn't tip his hand on things like a starting lineup. If someone has been injured it is usually a "game time decision." Otherwise, there is some close-mouthed answer. "We'll see," he sometimes says.

Alabama is preparing to play Vanderbilt at 6 p.m. CST Thursday in Coleman Coliseum. ESPN2 will televise the game. Bama is 2-1 in Southeastern Conference play, coming off a loss at Mississippi State, and 13-4 overall. Vanderbilt is one of two undefeated teams in the league (the Tide's Saturday opponent, Kentucky, is the other). The Commodores are 13-4 overall and 3-0 in SEC games.

Coaches will say that it doesn't matter who starts the game, but there are reasons that some players start--and ordinarily get the bulk of playing time at a position. For the most part, it means that players is one of the team's best, or the best at his position. It can be related to the opponent and the best match-up, but Grant has always seemed to be more about Alabama than the opponent.

The Crimson Tide's "projected starters" are the ones that would be expected:

Senior post player JaMychal Green, junior forward Tony Mitchell, sophomore point guard Trevor Releford, and freshmen wing players Levi Randolph and Trevor Lacey.

But that was the lineup that could score only 52 points and hit only 1-9 three-point shots in losing to Mississippi State.

Grant said, "A lot of things jumped out from there. The biggest thing for us right now as a team is to make a decision as to who we want to be and what we want to do. When you look at it, a lot of the things that cost us the game against Mississippi State were probably the things that cost us the game against Kansas State, things that cost us the game against Georgetown, things that cost us the game against Dayton.

"So what you want to see with your team is the ability to mature and understand what leads to winning and what gets you beat and to have priorities in terms of what they value. I think there is a point in time where winning needs to take a priority over any individual things and I don't think we understand that all the time.

"Give Mississippi State credit, I thought they played well.

"I think we did some things in the game that were disappointing."

The matter of Vanderbilt's tempo came up and Grant turned it on his own team.

He said, "For us, you mention tempo, I don't like the tempo we are playing at right now. I think we need to play at a different tempo and we got to get guys understanding that we need to be willing to get out of our comfort zone and understand what we need to do as a team and what gives us the best chance to win."

And what doesn't he like about Bama tempo?

"It's too slow," he said. "We have to be able to manufacture different ways to get points. We limit ourselves sometimes with the decisions we make and the choices we make on the floor."

TIDE NOTES: Alabama will be going for victory number 500 in Coleman Coliseum. The building opened in 1969 as Memorial Coliseum. Bama has won 26 of its last 27 games in Coleman, including 10 consecutive SEC games.

The play-by-play announcer for ESPN2's coverage of the Bama-Vandy game will be Alabama alumnus Rece Davis.

Alabama has only three wins in the past 10 meetings against Vanderbilt and the Crimson Tide advantage in the series has fallen to a slim 66-64 margin.

Sophomore transfer Moussa Gueye, 7-0, 280, played briefly in one Bama game in December after having undergone ACL surgery last summer. Asked about his progress, Grant said, "I think he's progressing well. The biggest thing is the conditioning that he needs to go out there and perform in a matter that would help our team and obviously getting him familiar with the system offensively and defensively in terms of what he needs to do. Not having had the opportunity to participate in any of the pre-season conditioning work or the pre-season learning from an offensive or defensive standpoint. Now he needs that time to get himself prepared."

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