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Bama Basketball Breakdown and Game Thread: Florida Atlantic

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A limping Tide team looks to bounce-back from a disappointing opener

NCAA Basketball: Florida Atlantic at Illinois Mike Granse-USA TODAY Sports

Well, it’s been a rough week for the Crimson Tide faithful, which began last Tuesday with Tide Hoops’ opening season loss to the Penn Quakers. That game also resulted in an injury in the form of a hyper extended elbow for junior wing and defensive specialist Herbert Jones. He was desperately missed as Penn started to get to the basket at will after his first half departure. With Alex Reese already a bit limited due to a hip injury, the Tide simply didn’t have enough front-court players with enough skill and ability on the defensive end of the court to beat an experienced Ivy League school with a play-making big man.

Now, Nate Oats will again attempt to win his first game at the Capstone Monday night, as the Florida Atlantic Owls (1-1) come to Tuscaloosa. We’ve talked a lot in recent years about how loaded Alabama’s strength of schedule has become on the hardwood, and why it is so beneficial to the team and program as a whole, but there are still a few exceptions. The Owls would be an example of that. Arguably the worst team on the entire 2019-20 calendar, Florida Atlantic did hang pretty tough against the Miami Hurricanes this past weekend in a 74-60 loss, but this is simply a game Alabama cannot afford to lose.

The Roster

Starting Five

POINT 6’3 Richardson Maitre (3.0 PPG, 3.5 APG, 1.5 RPG, 1.5 SPG)

GUARD 6’0 Michael Forrest (7.5 PPG, 1.5 APG, 2.5 RPG, 1.0 SPG)

WING 6’7 Jaylin Sebree (6.0 PPG, 4.5 RPG)

POST 6’9 Madiaw Niang (6.5 PPG, 10.5 RPG, 1.0 SPG, 1.5 BPG)

POST 6’11 Karlis Silins (12.5 PPG, 4.0 RPG)

The first thing that jumps out about the Owls is that they have good size, which is often rare for a smaller school. That, of course, could give the Tide some trouble, as an already thin front-court continues to deal with the aforementioned injuries. Niang, in particular, could cause problems, as he’s currently rebounding at a 28.6% clip and has a 7.5% BLK%. Granted, it’s a small sample size, but he did have 12 rebounds and 3 blocks against Miami, so he more than held his own against a big, athletic power five team.

The Bench

GUARD 6’0 Cournelius Taylor (15.0 PPG, 2.0 RPG, 1.0 APG)

GUARD 6’5 Kenan Blackshear (2.5 PPG, 2.0 RPG)

GUARD 6’6 Everett Winchester (5.5 PPG, 1.0 RPG)

WING 6’7 Jailyn Ingram (5.5 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 1.0 APG)

POST 6’10 Aleksandar Zecevic (5.5 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 1.0 APG, 1.0 BPG)

The Owls have played a pretty deep rotation to start off the season, even against the ‘Canes. Taylor is the man to watch off of the bench. He’s the designated Sixth Man looking to put the ball in the basket when he comes into the game, and he’s gotten off to a hot start (57.9%/62.5%/75.0%, 115.1 ORtg). I’d dig deeper into the roster, but let’s be honest: tonight’s game is all about the Tide. If Alabama plays remotely well, they will beat this team.

What to Watch For

  1. The NCAA’s Logic. In a day and age where the NCAA seems to be allowing just about anyone with hurt feelings to transfer wherever they please with no repercussions, the esteemed governing body ruled late this afternoon that former 5-star recruit and Villanova transfer, Jahvon Quinerly, would be officially ineligible for play this season. With the lack of depth the Tide currently face, this is certainly unwelcome news for the team, and, more importantly, the kid who had his name dragged through the mud over recruiting allegations that were ultimately proven false. Another great ruling from a wonderful organization.
  2. Herb’s Status. Oats has remained consistent in his evaluation of Jones’ elbow injury, insisting that it is a day-to-day problem that will hopefully remedy itself quickly. Jones will be a game-time decision tonight, and boy, do the Tide hope he can suit up. Alabama’s Points Per Possession allowed against Penn last week went from 0.8 PPPA to 1.2 PPPA after Herb had to leave the game. His length is invaluable to this team’s defense this season.
  3. Kira’s Bounce Back. Unfortunately for the sensational sophomore, Kira Lewis’ opening night performance was a bit tainted by his inability to knock down at least one of two free throws to extend the game against Penn. But Lewis absolutely tore it up on the offensive end of the court, dropping 30 points, 5 assists, and 5 rebounds on 50.0%/40.0%/57.1% and making huge basket after another in the late stages of the game to keep the Tide within reach. This guy is going to be really, really good, and Alabama fans need to enjoy it while it lasts.
  4. Veteran’s Day. As everyone should be aware, today is Veteran’s Day in the United States. All active or retired military will be allowed into tonight's game free of charge. Thank a Veteran today folks, their sacrifices allow us to get together on a Monday night for Tide Hoops.

The Crimson Tide program is in need of some sort of win right now. It would certainly be a good time for Nate Oats to get his first ‘W’ with the University. Truthfully, this FAU team shouldn’t give Alabama too much of a problem tonight. If they do, it might be a long first season for Oats and company. Of course, if Jones can’t go tonight, the Owls will surely find success in the paint. The Tide simply don’t have enough bodies down there right now.

The game will tip-off at 7:00 PM CST and can be streamed on SEC Network+ and the ESPN app.