Young Tide Could Turn Things Around

FAYETTEVILLE -- At times, it's painfully obvious Alabama's youth movement still is suffering from growing pains.

Remember, there's only one senior -- Jermareo Davidson -- on a roster cluttered with underclassmen.

That, of course, was again apparent Wednesday night when the No. 10 Crimson Tide lost 94-73 against Vanderbilt on the road.

Still, with sophomores Richard Hendrix and Alzono Gee -- they are among the leading scorers -- making major contributions, there's room for optimism this season.

Hendrix, a 6-foot-8, 265-pound forward and Gee, a 6-6, 215-pound swingman, had 14 and 11 points; respectfully, against Vandy.

Alabama coach Mark Gottfried, along with other coaches in the Southeastern Conference, recognizes the impact those two already have made this season.

"Well, they're two guys we count on obviously for a lot of things, both offensively and defensively," Gottfried said. "They've improved a great deal since last year.

"You know, they are both young, both sophomores, but they are getting better."

Georgia coach Dennis Felton, whose team beat Arkansas at the buzzer on Wednesday night 67-64 on the road, and next meets Alabama on Saturday, also on the road, surely doesn't want to hear that at this particular time.

"They (Alabama) have some of the best players in the conference," Felton said. "I have a tremendous amount of respect for guys like (Ronald) Steele, Davidson, Hendrix and Gee."

So does LSU coach John Brady, whose team lost 71-61 against Alabama on Jan. 9, also on the road, and especially Hendrix and Gee, who were thought to be, by some, only role players.

Want proof?

"I never was under the assumption Gee and Hendrix weren't going to score for them," Brady said. "I thought they were pretty good. I thought they had four guys (scoring points). I thought Alonzo Gee is better, just because he's been around a year, so has Richard Hendrix.

"Hendrix ... he's big, he's a big load to guard. Gee is athletic, against us he made five 3s (3-pointers).

"I think both those guys are good players. Main reason, is they are sophomores and not freshmen."

That doesn't bode well for the rest of the SEC, despite erratic behavior from the Crimson Tide (15-3 overall, 1-2 in the SEC).

Alabama started its SEC schedule against Arkansas, also on the road, Jan. 6 and lost 88-61.

"Each game stands on its own," Gottfried said. "We approach each individual game whether it's home or on the road."

Or, if a young team has growing pains.

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