MOUNTAIN BROOK — Kristy Curry didn’t address the preseason predictions that placed her 2019-2020 University of Alabama women’s basketball team at No. 11 in the Southeastern Conference but she wasn’t reluctant to speak superlatives that indicate higher expectations.

“This is the biggest, strongest, fastest, deepest, best offensive team we’ve had since we’ve been at Alabama,” Curry said at SEC Media Days on Thursday. “We have nine of our top 10 players back and we’ve added some new pieces to that mix. Where we need work is on the defensive end. We are getting great competition in practice and that’s what makes you better.”

The Crimson Tide went 5-11 in the SEC last season, 14-17 overall, but dealt with injury problems and inconsistent inside play. This year’s team will be built around senior guard Cierra Johnson (14.7 points per game last season) and redshirt junior point guard Jordan Lewis, who played just eight games last season before a season-ending wrist injury.

“It’s great to have our point guard back,” Curry said. “Cierra was thrust from shooting guard and had to play the point when Jordan got hurt. Shooting guard is her natural position, so putting her back there will really help. Put her with Jordan in the backcourt and that’s explosive.”

“I feel like I have to work two times as hard because I’ve had a setback,” said Lewis, who averaged 13.5 points per game before the wrist injury. “I’m not going to make any predictions. I just try to live in the present and do what I can.”

In addition to Davis, Alabama returns part-time starter DeSha Benjamin and adds a long-range shooter in junior college transfer Brittany Davis.

“Brittany scored 84 points points in our three (exhibition) games in Canada. Plus, Megan Abrams might be our most improved player. So we’ve got good depth there.”

Alabama also returns Jasmine Walker, last season’s leading rebounder at 7.5 rpg.

“Jasmine has completely changed her game,” Curry said. “She has really improved her conditioning and there have been days when she’s been dominant in practice. We’re bigger and stronger than we’ve ever been in the post.”

Alabama’s last NCAA Tournament appearance came 21 years ago (1998-99) but Curry says this team can make a run.

“We have 16 games against NCAA Tournament teams so that’s a test,” Curry said. “But with the team we have returning, the schedule we have put together and the strength of the SEC, we think great things can happen.”

Reach Cecil Hurt at cecil@tidesports.com or via Twitter @cecilhurt

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