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.