Tag: Avery Johnson

Avery Johnson
Associated Press

Avery Johnson stirring up excitement before Alabama debut


TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) Avery Johnson has created some excitement around Alabama’s program, making inroads on the recruiting trail and drawing a big crowd to a preseason event.

The first-year Crimson Tide coach might take longer to turn that buzz into wins but guard Retin Obasohan is enjoying the change.

“Gosh, it’s electrifying,” Obasohan said. “You can feel it. You can sense it. It’s like an aura that’s in the air. Everywhere you go, you’ve got people whispering. They think you can’t hear it, but we can hear everything they’re saying.”

Much of that attention is because of the splashy hiring of Johnson, a former NBA coach of the year and longtime San Antonio Spurs point guard who replaced the fired Anthony Grant.

His catch phrase has been “buckle up.” But the ride could be bumpy at times during his first season.

As Johnson said: “It’s not going to happen overnight.”

The Tide has been picked to finish 13th in the 14-team league.

Johnson must replace the top three scorers from last year’s team that advanced to the second round of the NIT, including team captain Levi Randolph.

That means big roles for some of the five newcomers – not counting two transfers who have to sit out the season – and increased expectations for returnees like forwards Shannon Hale and Jimmie Taylor and point guard Justin Coleman.

The athletic but inconsistent Hale is the top returning scorer after averaging 8.2 points a game before missing the final six games with a broken foot.

“I think this is the best I’ve felt in two years,” Hale said. “I’ve been rehabbing all summer. I’m just getting back to myself. It’s been going great.”

Johnson did wrap up a solid recruiting class after his hiring, especially within Alabama. He brought in Mr. Basketball guard Dazon Ingram, along with forward Donta Hall and guard Brandon Austin, and has begun the makings of another strong class.

Graduate transfer Arthur Edwards, a reserve with New Mexico, also joins the team.

Here are some things to know about Alabama’s team in 2015-16.

FAN SUPPORT: Nearly 7,500 fans showed up for Tide Tipoff, an event promoting the men’s and women’s teams Tuesday night that featured 3-point shooting and dunk contests and a performance by hip hop artist Rae Sremmurd. By comparison, fewer than 2,500 fans showed up for Alabama’s opening round NIT game against Illinois.

TEMPO: Johnson has geared practices toward speeding up the playing tempo for a team that averaged just 63.2 points per game in SEC play. “That transformation has been tough in a lot of ways because they’re playing faster more consistently than they ever have,” he said.

TAYLOR’S ROLE: Johnson had high praise for the 6-foot-10 Taylor, whose 59 blocked shots were the most by an Alabama player since Jamychal Green in 2010-11. He’s the only returning player who started all 34 games last season, averaging 5.5 points and 4.9 rebounds. “Jimmie’s gotten better at all facets of the game,” Johnson said. “We’re looking for him to have a much better year than averaging five points a game. We’re going to lean on him a lot this year.”

MISSING SCORING: Replacing the versatile Randolph won’t be easy. He led the team in scoring and assists and was second in rebounding. But he, Ricky Tarrant and Rodney Cooper combined to average nearly 40 points a game for a team that struggled offensively.

RETIN’S RETURN: Obasohan finished last season as one of Alabama’s hottest players after replacing an injured Tarrant. He scored in double figures only once in his first 20 games then averaged 12.2 points per game over the final 14.

Alabama forward Hale still recovering from foot injury

Justin Coleman, Shannon Hale
Associated Press
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With the team’s top three scorers from last season having moved on, Alabama will need increased production from junior forward Shannon Hale in head coach Avery Johnson’s debut season. Hale averaged 8.2 points and 3.2 rebounds in 28 games last season, of which he started 15. Unfortunately for Hale his season was cut short by six games due to a broken foot suffered in the first half of a win over South Carolina February 24.

Hale’s been working hard to return to full strength, but the process will take some time. According to Michael Casagrande of AL.com, Hale’s just begun to go through some half-court drills. It remains to be seen when the 6-foot-8 Hale will be able to return to full activity for the Crimson Tide, who are also working to get Michael Kessens back into game shape.

Forward Michael Kessens should be ready to play by the season begins, but he’s been out for a while. Johnson said he’s “slowly rounding into shape” and they need him to play a big role this year. “We’ve broken his body down physically and now we’re putting it back together,” Johnson said. “So he’s come a long way since I first took the job.”

Guard Retin Obasohan, who averaged more than 12 points per game over Alabama’s final 13 games of the season, is back and will give this young group some needed experience on the perimeter. But, if Alabama’s to hold its own in an SEC that’s gotten stronger they’ll need a full rotation in the front court as well.

And with Kessens and Hale still working towards getting back into a position where they can contribute in games, Alabama could be shorthanded when their season begins November 13 against Kennesaw State with a game at expected Atlantic 10 contender Dayton scheduled for November 17.

Alabama freshman guard not cleared academically by NCAA

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Just two days after receiving good news in the form of 2016 five-star shooting guard Terrence Ferguson’s commitment, Alabama announced that it will be without one of its commitments in the Class of 2015.

Four-star guard Kobie Eubanks has not been cleared academically by the NCAA, and as a result he will not be joining the Alabama program for the 2015-16 season. The school announced the news via press release Wednesday evening.

“We are disappointed for Kobie and his family,” Alabama head coach Avery Johnson said in the release. Unfortunately, Kobie wasn’t cleared by the NCAA and we couldn’t get him admitted to the University of Alabama. He has a bright future and we wish him well.”

It should be noted that Elev8 Sports Institute, where Eubanks attended last year, stated Thursday that he has not been declared academically ineligible by the NCAA.

Wednesday’s news is the latest twist in Eubanks’ story, which began nearly two years ago after he’d completed his senior year at Our Savior New American in Centereach, New York. Eubanks spent his sophomore and junior years at American Heritage HS in Florida, and transcripts from that school are where the original problems stemmed from.

In September 2014 Eubanks and his father filed a lawsuit against American Heritage, alleging that the school had changed his transcripts which led to his not being accepted at Baylor.

The suit claims that American Heritage provided Our Savior with a transcript that stated Eubanks’ grade-point average upon leaving American Heritage was 2.5, then later another transcript that put his GPA at 2.37, but certified to Our Savior that the 2.5 transcript was correct. The different numbers, the suit alleges, came from Eubanks’ grades being altered.

According to the suit, Baylor requested all of Eubanks’ transcripts as part of its normal vetting, and the two transcripts from American Heritage drew an NCAA inquiry.

Eubanks spent last year at Elev8 Sports Institute with an eye towards qualifying academically in 2015, but that path did not work out as evidenced by Wednesday’s news. The loss of Eubanks leaves the Crimson Tide with three incoming freshmen: guard Dazon Ingram and forwards Brandon Austin and Donta Hall.