Alabama Routs Travecca Nazarene in Exhibition, Johnson’s Debut
It won’t count in the standings, but the result, in this case, still means something.
In Avery Johnson’s unofficial debut as Alabama coach Friday night, the Crimson Tide took down Division II Trevecca Nazarene, 87-65, in an exhibition at Coleman Coliseum.
Yet, it wasn't anything out of the ordinary for the first-year coach.
"It feels like riding a bike for me, whether I'm away for it for two years, a year, it really doesn't matter," said Johnson, who last coached in 2012 as head coach of the Brooklyn Nets. "It's just instincts. I'm comfortable on the sideline, I'm comfortable with our coaching staff, they do a great job. We've got pretty good chemistry there."
So I feel like it was just yesterday instead of two years ago."
Aside from one brief possession in the early stages of the first half, Alabama led for the entire game. In the second half, the Crimson Tide led by as many as 29 points.
With the exception of Avery Johnson Jr. and Nick King, who are both ineligible to play this season due to NCAA transfer rules, as well as walk-on Christian Clark, every Alabama player saw action against the Trojans. Both Justin Coleman and Retin Obasohan started at guard, while Riley Norris, Shannon Hale and Jimmie Taylor rounded out the three forward spots in the opening lineup.
Obasohan, Hale and Taylor all started the second half, along with freshman Dazon Ingram and graduate transfer Arthur Edwards.
Johnson said after the game he had a "clearer picture" of his team's lineup and rotation heading into next Friday's regular-season opener against Kennesaw State.
"Now, we have more information on video, we can break it down, share it with our young team," he said. "They understand how we like to play and hopefully we'll be able to push through a little bit more, but Trevecca, they're a veteran team, they have a lot of seniors and they know how to play."
Johnson also confirmed that at least one more player -- Obasohan -- had secured a starting job (shooting guard) ahead of next week's game. Obasohan, a fifth-year senior and the team's longest-tenured player, joins Taylor as the team's definitive starters.
Obasohan had nine points, while Taylor scored eight points on 3-of-3 shooting against Trevecca Nazarene.
Both players were also voted as near-unanimous selections for team captain by their teammates.
"They basically got 100 percent votes across the board," Johnson said.
Hale, who suffered a Jones fracture in his foot in early March of last season, led the way for Alabama with a game-high 18 points.
"I feel great. This is the best I have felt in a while," Hale said after the game.
Alabama led 45-34 at the half after Hale hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer. For the game, the Crimson Tide shot 51.7 percent (30-for-58), all while playing at a significantly faster tempo than it did last season.
"On a scale of 1 to 10, if 10 is the perfect pace, we were probably at a 5 tonight," Johnson said, before adding that he hopes it will be at a "7 or 8" against Kennesaw State.
Behind Hale, Edwards had 12 points and Norris, a sophomore, had 10 points. Michael Kessens had a game-high nine rebounds to go along with his eight points.
Alabama outrebounded Trevecca Nazarene, 45-24, including 16-4 offensively.
Trevecca Nazarene, located in Nashville, was picked to finish third in the Great Midwest Athletic Conference this season, as selected by its league coaches in a preseason poll. The Trojans were 13-15 last season.