TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — So, they were a little rusty. That’s to be expected.
When Avery Johnson called for the team to try and make five straight free throws, with different players getting one attempt each, and they only made one, he just made them run a little more.
Regardless, it felt good for the Crimson Tide to be back on the court as the Alabama men’s basketball team held its first practice for the 2018-19 season.
"We're really excited about this year," Johnson said. "Obviously we have some unanswered questions especially when you lose your leading scorer to the NBA Draft.
"We think we with our talent, the depth that we have at all of our positions, hopefully we'll be a little bit more balanced team. I don't know if you're going to see a 19- or 20-point scorers, but hopefully you'll see more guys in double figures -- ball movement, player movement a little bit more. We're going to be a little bit harder to scout."
Alabama returns four of its five starters from last season, but of course the one who didn’t return was guard Collin Sexton, drafted eighth by the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The other significant departure was forward Braxton Key, who transferred to Virginia. Considered Johnson’s first big recruit at Alabama he averaged 7 points and 5.3 rebounds last season after missing the first 10 games following knee surgery.
That's a lot of offensive firepower no longer on the roster.
On the plus side, though, junior guard/forward Tevin Mack is eligible to play after transferring from Texas last year, and Alabama got a late addition when Kira Lewis Jr. reclassified to 2018-19 after graduating early from Hazel Green High School, and enrolled.
“We’re so encouraged by his potential,” Johnson said about the Alabama 6A Player of the year.
As for the rust, the home opener was exactly 40 days away, Nov. 6 vs. Southern.
Alabama will open the season with an exhibition game vs. Montevallo on Oct. 30 at 7 p.m. CT. The regular season will begin with a home contest on Nov. 6 against Southern University, Johnson’s alma mater.