Previewing Alabama’s Opener Against Kennesaw St.
It's the start of the Avery Johnson era in Tuscaloosa, and the Tide will play host to the Kennesaw State Owls on Friday night to open up the 2015-2016 season.
Up until now, Johnson has been active on the recruiting trail, snagging signings from 2015 recruits Dazon Ingram, Donta Hall, Brandon Austin, and also walk on guard Lawson Schaffer, all of whom saw some playing time in Bama's exhibition game against Trevecca Nazarene this past Friday.
Of course, leading the Tide on the court this season will be senior guard Retin Obasohan. Obasohan has been working on his offensive game during the off season, and if his defensive intensity stays like it was last season, the Tide can ill-afford to not have him on the court as much as possible this season, so watch for him to get some well deserved playing time Friday against the Owls.
Also, keep an eye on junior forward Shannon Hale. The 6'9" forward will be an integral part in Avery Johnson's offense, and if this past Friday is any indication of how he'll perform this year, then the Tide will have high expectations for the 2015-2016 season. Against Trevecca, Hale had a game high 18 points, snagged three rebounds, and went 5-7 at the free throw line, all in just 20 minutes of action.
If there's one area of concern for this team, it's the depth of the post players. With the addition of the 6'9" Donta Hall, Johnson has addressed this issue, but there's still a lack of quality depth in the post. You'll most likely see Jimmie Taylor and Michael Kessens in the paint for the majority of this game, just as you did when the Tide took on Trevecca. The two big guys combined for 16 points and 11 rebounds in just 34 total minutes.
It's going to be fun this season to continue to watch the development of point guard Justin Coleman. He was a solid addition to the Tide's squad last season as a true freshman, and he'll most certainly hold more responsibilities in directing the offense in Avery Johnson's high-tempo style of basketball.
For the Tide's opponent, the Owls will be debuting their new head coach, Al Skinner. Skinner is no newcomer to the college game, as he was named the National Coach of the Year in 2001 while at Boston College, and also won Big East Conference Coach of the Year twice during his tenure there. He brings a solid resume to Kennesaw State, but this year could be a struggle for the Owls, considering they lost five seniors off last year's team.
They do return their 2014-2015 leading scorer Yonel Brown, a 5'9" guard. He may not be the tallest player on the court, but he'll have one of the highest basketball IQ's out there Friday night. In the 2014-2015 season, he averaged 15.2 ppg, 1.18 steals/game, and 2.8 assists/game. If he's able to manage his assist/turnover ratio better than last year (89 assists/80 turnovers), expect Brown to have a sensational season in the Atlantic Sun Conference.