Oakland-Alabama Preview

BY foxsports • November 14, 2011

Alabama expects a lot from a new group of players, but until they find their way, the team will try to rely on defense and JaMychal Green's scoring.

The 16th-ranked Crimson Tide seek their 22nd straight home victory Monday night in a matchup with Oakland.

Alabama opened the season with a 64-44 win over North Florida on Friday. The Tide showed they haven't let up defensively after ranking 8th in Division I in scoring defense (59.4 points per game) last season. They held the Ospreys to 23.2 percent from the field.

However, it was a different story on the other end of the court. While Green scored 18 points and Tony Mitchell added 17, Alabama shot 40.7 percent, had 14 turnovers and didn't receive much production from its newcomers.

"The defensive end of the floor really carried us tonight," coach Anthony Grant said.

Green, who was responsible for five turnovers, is expected to provide veteran leadership, along with Mitchell and Trevor Releford. Outside of that trio, though, the team is relatively unproven. Freshmen Levi Randolph and Rodney Cooper started Friday and combined for 12 points.

Meanwhile, heralded recruit Trevor Lacey, who had knee surgery in June, finished with six points on 1-of-3 shooting. Nick Jacobs was the fourth freshman to see at least 15 minutes of playing time. He had four points.

"There's no substitute for experience," Grant said. "We're fortunate that those guys are getting valuable experience and were able to win and learn. That's really an important thing when you have as many young guys that will be counted on as we do."

Until the younger players adjust, Green may need to be more aggressive. He went 6 of 10 from the field Friday, attempting only four shots in the second half.

"I'm just going to try to take a smart shot," he said. "If it's there I'll take it, but I'm not going to force anything."

The Tide are looking for a better showing in non-conference play after going an unremarkable 8-6 last season, which surely played a part in their failure to earn an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament.

Alabama will get another challenge Monday against Oakland, which was the second-highest scoring team in Division I last season at 85.5 points per game.

"They're a deep team that plays up-tempo and has the ability to score a lot of points," Grant told the Tide's official website. "We'll have to be at the top of our game defensively."

The Golden Grizzlies are out of the Summit League and went 25-10 last season, reaching the NCAA tournament for a second straight season.

Oakland returns point guard Reggie Hamilton, who averaged 17.6 points and 5.3 assists last season, and Travis Bader, who hit 94 3-pointers.

However, the Grizzlies lost big men Keith Benson and Will Hudson, and they don't have much experience in the frontcourt.

"We just have to find ways to do things differently," coach Greg Kampe said. "That doesn't mean we can't be as good or better."

This is the first meeting between the schools. Oakland has lost its last two games against Top 25 teams after defeating No. 7 Tennessee on Dec. 14.

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