Meade fights for consistency

With all-star candidates Erwin Dudley and Kenny Walker down inside, the book on defending Alabama this year is fairly simple. Double-team, play plenty of zone defense--and hope that nobody on the outside is hitting their shot. <br><br>Which puts the ball squarely in Terrance Meade's court.

For Tide Head Coach Mark Gottfried, the offensive formula is fairly simple. "We become a hard team to defend when Terrance Meade is shooting well," Gottfried said. "It opens things up in the middle. We're a different team when he or another of our outside shooters can make perimeter shots."

"A lot of teams will try to double Erwin," Gottfried continued. "You've got to make teams pay, if that's their choice. When Terrance gets good looks, we need him to make those shots."

When Meade is feeling it, he can be one of the most dangerous outside shooters in the SEC. (AllSport)

Having played with Dudley and Walker for more than three seasons now, Meade understands his role. "When they double-down on our inside guys and I'm out there by myself, I've got to shoot," he said.

When he's "on," Meade is a dangerous outside shooter, capable of filling it up from long range. But numbers don't lie: 2, 17, 3, 1, 8, 7, 6, 5, 13, 0. As Meade's point totals in Bama's first ten games illustrate, consistency can be a big problem.

"I don't know if I'd call it ‘struggling,'" Meade said. "But there are times when I haven't gotten good shots up."

Signed out of Scottsboro High School in the same class as Walker, Dudley and Rod Grizzard, Meade enjoyed a stellar freshman season. He finished eighth in the SEC in scoring that year, averaging 14.6 points in all league games. For the entire season Meade led the SEC in three-point field goal percentage at .423 (60-of-142). Meade had back-to-back games against Arkansas and Florida where he made 5-of-7 three-pointers.

As a sophomore Meade averaged 10.8 points per game, and that number dropped to 8.4 in 2001. So far this season he's fifth on the team in scoring, averaging 6.2 points per contest.

Part of Bama's stellar 2000 signing class, Meade has helped return the program to prominence.

"Terrance's freshman year was a good year scoring," Gottfried acknowledged. "And I know that maybe his numbers haven't been as good since then. But I look back at last year and individual games stand out to me. Versus Utah I think he 18 or 19 points, and he had 19 points against Temple."

So far Meade has scored in double figures twice this season, 17 versus Alabama State and 13 just before Christmas against Morehead State. But in Bama's next game against Utah, Meade was held scoreless in the Tide's only loss of the year.

Once again poor shooting on the road appears to be a problem. But Gottfried hasn't lost faith in his players. "I think we have enough good shooters on the floor," he said. "Mo Williams, Earnest Shelton and Terrance all need to be able to make shots, and Emmett Thomas is another guy that can make three-point shots.

"I have confidence in those guys."

Despite his inconsistent shooting, Meade has started 9-of-10 games this season for the Tide. Averaging 20 minutes a game (slightly less than reserve guards Shelton and Antoine Pettway), Meade's 32 rebounds are fifth-best on the team. He has also contributed eight assists, one blocked shot and seven steals.

"I just want to help the team, whether that's with my shooting, my defense or rebounding," Meade said. "I just want to win."

Meade's heady play and tenacious defense keep him in the starting lineup. (Associated Press)

If the Tide expects to repeat as SEC champions and achieve its goal of making a run deep into the NCAA tournament, then Meade and Bama's other perimeter shooters must step up. Gottfried commented, "We've got a number of guys that can make baskets from the three-point line. We need that to be a strength for us."

"I still feel pretty confident in my shot," Meade said. "When I'm shooting the ball well, then opposing defenders can't leave me to help on other guys."

Alabama returns to action this Saturday with a tough game against nationally ranked Xavier at Coleman Coliseum on The University campus. Tip-off is set for 4 pm, with Fox Sports South providing television coverage.

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