In today’s SEC Tournament semifinal matchup with Kentucky, one player Alabama will likely not have (if #sauces are any indication) is Donta Hall, the dunk aficionado and interior defensive specialist for the Tide.
Asked for an update after the 81-63 win, head coach Avery Johnson didn’t have much to offer.
“No idea whatsoever,” Johnson said. “I’ll meet with the doctors, I’ll meet with him and check him out when we get back there in the back, but after the game, I had to do an interview on SEC Network and talk to the team. So, we’ll get back there and check him out. We’re hoping and praying that he’s going to be OK because, man, that was an incredible fall.
“I’m just hoping and praying that whatever happens that he’ll be OK because we’re very concerned about our student-athletes first more than basketball.”
An SEC All-Defensive Team selection, Hall has been a force down low for Alabama (19-14, 8-10 SEC) this season. The Luverne, Ala., native leads the team and is third in the SEC with 2.3 blocks per game, which currently ranks fourth for a single season in school history. He also averages 4.6 defensive rebounds per game, which is 10th-best in the league.
Freshman F Alex Reese and transfer PF Daniel Giddens were apparently ready to come back to the floor, despite being nicked up in yesterday’s game. The Tide, already badly outrebounded by the ‘Cats in their first meeting at Rupp, will likely be playing at a much faster, much smaller, and much more frenetic pace without Hall.
One crucial factor overlooked in yesterday’s win over Auburn was just how good the Tide’s wing players rebounded in the second half. At the half, Alabama was losing that stat 23-18 to Auburn and was staring at a 10-point deficit. In the second frame, the Tide outrebounded the Tiger 26-10, to commandingly win the glass 44-33 for the game.
Auburn had seven offensive rebounds at the half; it had three in the second. That +28 point swing wasn’t just hot shooting and tempo from the Tide: its intensity on the boards manufactured a lot of ‘Bama’s good fortunes, led by Braxton Key who quietly had a very good all-around game (10 reb, 9 pts.) at a crucial point in the season. Alabama’s backcourt will need to bring more of that intensity and output (28 rebounds) to have a chance to win today.
Donta Hall was not the only player submarined on the Scottrade Center arena. In the third game of the day, Mississippi State freshman standout Nick Weatherspoon also got flipped and landed head-first on the floor and then was subsequently stepped on by a Tennessee player. Play continued, even as he lay motionless on the court. Eventually, the game was suspended and he was stretchered off to a local hospital. The latest word out of Starkville is that Weatherspoon has regained feeling and mobility in his extremities, and is communicating.
It has been a war of attrition the past three days in St. Louis, metaphorical and otherwise.