How Impressive Has This Season Been for Avery Johnson and the Tide?
In Avery Johnson's first season at The Capstone, not many people expected this season to be a great season for the Crimson Tide, but Johnson has been able to maximize this team's potential and currently have them set up for a post season appearance.
One detriment that Johnson has ran into this season was the season-ending injury to outstanding freshman Dazon Ingram. His presence helped lead the Tide in upset victories over Wichita State and Notre Dame. It's common opinion that if Ingram had stayed healthy, then Alabama would be doing much better than they are now, but again, not many thought this team would be sitting at 14-9 at this point in the season, whether Ingram had been injured or healthy.
Some may say that 14-9 isn't a good 23-game record, but considering what Alabama lost last season from a talent perspective and still could only muster up a 19-15 record, it's incredibly impressive. For starters, the graduation and departure of Alabama's lone Academic All-American Levi Randolph was a big blow for the program. He is currently trying to earn a place in the NBA while on the roster of NBDL team Maine Red Claws, but his leadership and basketball IQ was thought to be an area that would be a big loss for the Tide this season. And it has, simply because "replacing" someone like Randolph is incredibly difficult to do.
More big losses from last season include Rodney Cooper and Ricky Tarrant. These three players that aren't on the Tide roster for the 2015-2016 season made up 49.8% of the team's total scoring last season, not to mention that these three were the top three scorers from that team as well.
This season's leader both on and off the court, Retin Obasohan, has stepped up his game to make up some of that ground lost from those four big players that aren't here anymore. Last season, Obasohan wasn't a prolific scorer nor a prolific player for that matter. He averaged just 6.2 points/game and barely played 19.5 minutes/game. However, the lone true senior on this year's squad has shown that he isn't ready to call it quits. This season, he's averaging 16 points/game, 3.7 rebounds/game, 1.5 steals/game, and is shooting 36% from behind the arc.
In Alabama's biggest games, Obasohan has performed at a high level, but lately, he's been in the zone. In the six games against Top 25 teams this season (including four wins against those six teams, a feat that hasn't happened at Alabama since 2001-2002), Obasohan has averaged 11.5 points, 1.83 steals, and 2.5 assists/game. During the past 12 games however, he's been one of the top players in the SEC, averaging 19.17 points, 3.42 assists, 1.75 steals, and shooting 52% from the field.
While many will express their opinion that former head coach Anthony Grant wasn't a good fit for Alabama, his two best teams (2010-2011 and 2011-2012, where the Tide went 25-12 and 21-12, respectively) made the post season, with one appearance each in the NCAA Tournament and the NIT. From both of those seasons, through 23 games, the Tide were 15-8 and 16-7, respectively. While Johnson is a little behind those teams in terms of a 23-game record, it's a nice starting place in his first year in Tuscaloosa, especially given the fact that the Tide are now in the discussion of possibly making the NCAA Tournament.