Anthony Grant didn’t say what he had gotten for Christmas, but it’s a pretty sure thing it wasn’t more physical ailments for his Alabama basketball team. Starting with 10 scholarshipped players and now down to eight because of injuries, Grant had only seven of those available on the eve of Bama’s Sunday afternoon basketball game against Tulane.
Alabama Coach Anthony Grant said Saturday that practice had been “pretty consistent.” But, he said, “We are limited in bodies. Moussa Gueye has been out the last couple of days with a stomach virus.” Gueye, the 7-0, 255-pound junior center, missed Saturday’s practice.
Bama has lost 7-1 center Carl Engstrom for the season with a knee injury and is waiting for the return, perhaps in a few weeks, of the Tide’s only senior, forward Andrew Steele, out with a sports hernia.
“We’ll have to wait and see what we have available for the game,” Grant said. “You win on game day, so the preparation, both mental and physical, we have to do the best we can with what we have at practice and then transfer that to the game.”
The game is at 5 p.m. CST Sunday in Coleman Coliseum against the Tulane Green Wave. It is a bit of a surprise that Bama and Tulane have played 83 times previously, making the Green Wave the 10th most common opponent for the Crimson Tide. Tulane left the Southeastern Conference half a century ago. Moreover, the last meeting between the two teams was 15 years ago, a 53-52 Alabama victory in New Orleans. The Tide has a 52-31 advantage in the all-time series, including a record of 32-7 in games played in Tuscaloosa.
A Holiday Break promotion offers tickets for $8. The game also will be televised on ESPNU.
It has been a disappointing December for Alabama. The Crimson Tide is 7-4 with losses in four of its last five outings, most recently at home to Mercer, 66-59. Tulane is having just the opposite kind of season. The Green Wave is on a three-game winning streak and has won seven of its last eight games and is 10-3.
Grant said, “We can do a lot of things better. We are in middle of a tough streak. We’ve lost four out of five and two in a row at home. There are certainly a lot of things we can do better, but we need to get better as a team.
“I think our team has to get better in a lot of areas. Some of it is our execution, some is our mental approach to the game and understanding how each one of us are joined together in terms of being able to help each other and play for each other. I always tell our guys that every game brings about different challenges, but the one thing that has to be -- should be -- consistent is your effort and your passion for the game and your teammates.”
Alabama’s backcourt continues to lead the way this season. Junior guard Trevor Releford tops the team in points (16.3 ppg) and steals (22). He is also one of the top three-point shooters (41.7 percent) and free throw shooters (86.2 percent) in the SEC.
Sophomore guard Trevor Lacey is second on the team in scoring with 13.4 points per game and leads the team with 3.5 assists a game. He tops the SEC in three-point field goal percentage (46.0) and ranks seventh in treys made per game (2.1).
Meanwhile, sophomore guard Rodney Cooper contributes 12.7 ppg and leads the team in rebounds per game (4.6) and total field goals made (51) and attempted (115).
“Tulane is an excellent team,” Grant said. “They are 10-3 on the year and they could easily be 12-1. They’ve lost a couple of close games at Nebraska and at San Diego. They are playing great basketball right now and they have a nucleus of experienced veterans, size and depth. They are a very good basketball team”
Leading the way for Tulane is junior forward Josh Davis, who averages team highs of 18.4 points and 9.9 rebounds per contest. He also tops the squad in field goals made (81) and attempted (157), as well as field goal percentage (51.6).
Sophomore guard Ricky Tarrant, a native of Birmingham, is averaging 15.1 points per game, while senior guard Jordan Callahan adds 12.7 points a contest.
“They have great personnel,” Grant said. “Josh Davis will be as good as any power forward we will play this year. He is very effective and averages almost 19 points and 10 rebounds a game. The way he gets it is his athleticism and his energy. Ricky Tarrant was their league’s freshman of the year last year and is off to a great start this season. I think he had 28 points in his last game and played really well. Their two-guard is likely going to be the all-time leading three-point shooter in school history. He is a senior that is experienced and versatile. They have a lot of moving parts and good depth. Coach (Ed) Conroy has done a great job with his team.”