So, can we make a petition to not have big basketball games at noon on a workday?
Alabama came into the game looking to avenge last year’s absolute dismantling at the hands of Dayton, and came close to doing so. It was a streaky game for Alabama, especially in the first half, where hot spells to open and end the half book-ended a horrible stretch in the middle. Dayton, for their part, was fairly consistent the whole game, being good-but-not-great in almost every category.
Braxton Key and Corban Collins led the Tide with 15 points each, and Dazon Ingram was right behind them with 14 (he also led the team with 7 rebounds and 7 assists). It may just have been one game, but I get the sense that these three players will be the core of the team, and the main crux of success for the Alabama basketball team. Ingram had a gigantic 37 minutes of playing time, with Collins being next at 29. Braxton Key, Riley Norris, and Jimmie Taylor were the only others over 20 minutes.
Despite the mixing and matching throughout the game, those 5 players were who were inserted into the lineup for the final five minutes when the two teams were still fighting to gain a final push. I think that going forward, that will be your main 5.
Past them, the rest of the bench didn’t offer a whole lot. Bola Olaniyan started, but only ended up with nine total minutes and no points. Nick King looked lost defensively and took some ill-advised shots.
Shannon Hale was his usual self, mostly looking like the versatile threat he should be, but also becoming totally invisible for long stretches. Armond Davis didn’t get a whole lot of chances, though he was perfect on his free throws and made a circus-worthy three point shot at the end of the game.
Donta Hall is still flying recklessly through the air to make rebounding extremely difficult for the other team, and Avery Johnson Jr. made a couple of plays as the relief point guard to keep the team energized.
The biggest takeaway I saw was that Alabama never looked sloppy. The offense was far from perfect (39% shooting), but it was never out of sorts. Dazon Ingram and co. always seemed to have a plan of attack, no matter the situation. If these guys get their shots to start falling with just a few more percentage points, this offense could be deadly.
The Dayton offense was obviously better than the Tide’s defense, but, like above, I only saw a few instances of egregious breakdowns. For the most part, the Tide defenders were in position, Dayton just made the baskets when it counted.
It was a close, hard fought game against a team that was leagues ahead of Alabama a year ago. Alabama may have lost, but I came out feeling very positive about this basketball squad going forward.