Sure, it’s just an exhibition game, but it’s the first chance to see the second edition of Coach Avery Johnson’s Alabama men’s basketball team. The Crimson Tide will host Faulkner at 7 p.m. CDT Thursday in Coleman Coliseum. This is the only exhibition game this year. Bama opens regular season play on Nov. 11 hosting Coastal Carolina.
Alabama was 18-15 in its initial season under Johnson and the Crimson Tide has been picked to finish seventh in the Southeastern Conference this year. (SEC play for Bama begins Jan. 7 when the Tide hosts Vanderbilt.)
The game will not be available on broadcast except for the SEC+ Network, which is available only on line. There is an interesting color man for the game, one of the most colorful men in basketball history. Former Alabama Coach Wimp Sanderson will join Chris Stewart on the Internet broadcast.
And Sanderson probably knows about the visiting Eagles. His son, Scott, is in his third year as head coach at Faulkner. Scott replaced his brother, Jim, who coached the Eagles for 24 years before retiring.
Wimp was head coach at Alabama 1980-92, compiling a record of 267-119 (69.2 per cent) and has the most head coaching wins in program history.
Alabama returns two starters from last season in forward 6-7 junior Riley Norris (7.5 points, 5.3 rebounds per game last year) and 6-10 center Jimmie Taylor (5.2 ppg, 4.7 rpg).
Additionally, Dazon Ingram, who was a starter in Bama’s first seven games last year before being lost to a season-ending foot injury, returns to action. He averaged 7.7 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 3.3 assists per game last year, leading the team in rebounds and assists before his injury.
Also returning are 6-8 forward Shannon Hale (10.8 ppg, 2.9 rpg), 6-5 guard Brandon Austin (1.5, 0.9), 6-10 center Donta Hall (2.8, 4.3), and 5-11 guard Lawson Schaffer (0.5, 0.1).
The big loss from last year’s team is All-SEC guard Retin Obasohan (17.6 points per game). Also gone are forward Michael Kessens and Arthur Edwards, along with transfer Justin Coleman.
There is much interest on Alabama newcomers.
Braxton Key, a 6-8, 225-pound freshman forward, and two graduate transfers, 6-7, 235-pound Bola Olaniyan, and 6-3, 195-pound guard Corban Collins, have generated the most comment from Alabama’s pre-season workouts.
The Tide also has two transfers who sat out last year and are eligible this season. They are Nick King, a 6-7 forward who came from Memphis, and Avery Johnson, Jr., a 5-11, 186-pound guard (and the son of the head coach) who came from Texas A&M.
Also new to the team is 6-6, 193-pound guard Ar’Mond Davis, a junior college transfer.
Daniel Giddens, a 6-10, 236-pound sophomore forward-center, transferred from Ohio State and will sit out this season.