At This Point

At this point – The Alabama Men's Basketball Team is 5-3 with a long lay-off until the next game. The record, so far, could have been easily predicted before the season started. The scary thing is it was close to being 3-5 with the narrow home wins over Southern Miss and Southeastern Louisiana, but this young and inexperienced team learned how to pull those out those wins.

No one could have predicted the home loss to Belmont, but on the other hand others didn't expect the Tide to beat a fired-up Mercer team on their floor.

The two other losses to top 10 teams away from home could have been expected, but Bama didn't go down without a fight. The Tide is the only SEC school to play two top 10 teams away from home.

At the point – Alabama continues to experiment with a point guard by committee with all three averaging 14-20 minutes of playing time per game.

Brandon Hollinger, Mikhail Torrance, and Rico Pickett all have specific skills needed for the position, but neither one of them has the total package yet.

Hollinger brings to the table some experience along with ball control (4-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio). Torrance brings size and length with his ability to drive the lane for layups or dishes. Pickett has athleticism and quickness for pressure defense to go along with his 35.7-percent shooting percentage from the arc.

No one knows how long this will keep up, but there are advantages and disadvantages to this rotation.

The advantages: competition, fresh legs, and a point guard for different situations. The disadvantages: rhythm, mental preparation, and possible lack of team chemistry.

At times, Coach Mark Gottfried probably wishes he was a chef so he could take these ingredients and roll them together for the perfect point guard. Maybe soon someone will step up and take command of this role.

Points that need to be made – The rest of Bama's non-conference schedule is doable for winning out, but it starts with a scrappy Wofford team after a nine day hiatus.

There is a trip to Las Vegas to play some decent teams along with a tough contest with Clemson at home on January 1st. The recipe to navigate through the SEC schedule is to protect the home court and steal a couple on the road.

The road games are difficult to handle, but the Tide should manage to capture some. There are five SEC road games that are possibilities to pick up two or three wins.

With that in mind, Bama could post a 22-9 overall record with a 10-6 SEC record going into the SEC tournament. The 10-6 SEC mark should be good enough for the Western Division Title or runner-up, and that would translate into a first round bye in the SEC tournament. The SEC appears down this year with no teams being the caliber of Texas A&M or Georgetown.

My points to make – I am encouraged by the progress of this team defensively and offensively. The Tide as a team ranks in the top half in SEC in the following categories: scoring, rebounds, three point percentage, assists, assist-to-turnover ratio, steals, and block shots while playing one of the toughest schedules in the league.

Defensively, Bama is improving by every game in areas of intensity and aggressiveness. Turnovers have improved dramatically from 25 in the first game against Troy to eight against Georgetown's pressure.

Alabama is shooting 46.1-percent from the three point line in the last three games to give an added threat. If the Tide continues those shooting performances, opponents will have to pick their poison (ala Nicholls State).

This team seems to have enough fight in them to give the opposition trouble every game night in/night out.

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