Coach Mark Gottfried's Alabama basketball team had a better week last week than the previous week. Two Saturdays ago, Chuck Davis was lost for the season. Seven minutes into the Southeastern Conference-opener against Ole Miss, Davis went down with torn anterior cruciate (ACL) and medial collateral (MCL) ligaments in his right knee.
Alabama had a seven-point lead at halftime of that game. That's when Bama players got the bad news about their senior strong forward. The 6-8, 230-pound senior's Crimson Tide career was over. And Alabama seemed to deflate in the second half, eventually losing a blowout game to the Rebels, who played like sharks smelling blood in the water.
Bama has regrouped, as should be expected. Alabama athletes are competitors, and–as Gottfried as pointed out–they are men of good character. It is no surprise that they would give their best.
Few outside the Alabama basketball family would have given the Tide much of a chance going to Auburn, but Bama got its sixth straight win over the Tigers last Wednesday. And then on Saturday, it was assumed by almost everyone that Alabama would be blistered in Lexington, where Kentucky was facing a must-win situation. Again, the Crimson Tide rose to the occasion with an upset of the Wildcats in Rupp Arena.
But they would have given their best with Chuck Davis in the lineup, too.
Although Davis is listed as officially averaging 16.5 points per game this year (best on the team), he was actually averaging closer to 18 points per game when he went out with his injury. In the first 12 games of the year he was Bama's high scorer in eight of them.
Alabama is not better without Chuck Davis, who was All-SEC last year and a candidate for the Wooden Award as the best player in the nation going into this season.
What would Bama's record be if he had not been injured? Maybe no better than the 10-6 and 2-1 SEC mark the Tide has. But it probably would not have been any worse, and could have been a game better.
No, Bama is not better without Chuck Davis. But that doesn't take away from the remarkable accomplishment of this team since his lost.
Gottfried said that other players would have to step up. He particularly mentions Jermareo Davidson, and Davidson has done more than his part. His scoring may be up a little because he isn't sharing the load with Davis. But that doesn't mean Bama is better without Chuck Davis.
Maybe losing a selfish star could make a team better. But Davis isn't a guy who tried to do too much. He didn't mind having the team on his back, but he was also second to only point guard Ron Steele in assists.
You may hear so-called experts say that Alabama is better without Chuck Davis. But no Crimson Tide coach or player would agree with that assessment. But what Alabama may be without Davis is the best they can be. And if last week is any indication, that might be good enough to get Bama to a fifth straight NCAA Tournament.