Alabama's basketball season has barely begun, but already it appears to be in a death spiral. After…
Alabama Basketball Back In Action
Following final examinations, Alabama (6-2) returns to play at 4 p.m. EST (3 p.m. central time) Saturday in Richmond, Va., against the VCU Rams. CBS will televise the game.
After six consecutive wins to open the season, Alabama lost on a shot at the buzzer at nationally ranked Cincinnati, and then was beaten by Dayton at home in its last outing on Dec. 5.
On the other hand, Virginia Commonwealth is 6-3 and riding a three-game winning streak. Most recently, the Rams won at Old Dominion, 83-70, behind Troy Daniels' 24 points on the strength of a school-record-tying eight three-point shots.
Alabama Coach Anthony Grant said, "The obvious thing is that it's been a long time since our guys have been on the court in a competitive situation, so we are looking forward to getting back to game action. With the break that we have had -- 10 days -- our guys have been able to focus academically and finish the semester with finals. We were able to get on the practice court and work on some things that we need to work on as we get prepared to play this weekend."
Although Grant has dismissed his return to VCU as insignificant, it will be pointed out that he is returning to the Siegel Center at VCU for the first time since coming to Tuscaloosa four years ago from VCU. During his three seasons at the helm of the Rams basketball program (2006-09), Grant led his teams to a 76-25 record, three straight Colonial Athletic Association regular season titles, and two NCAA tournament appearances.
Alabama owns a 4-0 advantage in the all-time series against VCU, including taking a 72-64 decision last November in Coleman Coliseum. That game featured 10 ties and 16 lead changes before the Crimson Tide pulled away down the stretch. Last year's game and this year's contest were contracted as part of the arrangement for Bama hiring Grant from VCU.
Bama is led by a trio of guards in junior Trevor Releford and sophomores Rodney Cooper and Trevor Lacey. Releford tops the team in points (16.9 ppg) and steals (15). He is also one of the top three-point shooters (46.4 percent) and free throw shooters (93.9 percent) in the Southeastern Conference.
Cooper and Lacey come into the contest averaging 14.1 points per contest. Lacey tops the team with 4.0 assists and 17 threes made, while Cooper is the Tide's top rebounder at 4.7 boards a game.
Alabama goes to Richmond with only eight scholarshipped players. Center Carl Engstrom has been lost for the year with a knee injury, while forward Andrew Steele, the Tide's only senior, has been lost for an estimated 4-6 weeks after surgery to repair a sports hernia.
For VCU, sophomore guard Treveon Graham leads four players in double-figure scoring with 15.0 points a game. Senior Juvonte Reddic is second on the squad in scoring at 14.4 ppg, and leads the team in rebounding (8.2 rpg), field goal percentage (59.1 percent) and minutes (29.7) per game. Daniels (10.3 ppg) and Darius Theus (10.0 ppg) also averaging in double figures for the Rams.