After a narrow loss to No. 12 Missouri and back-to-back road wins against conference opponents, it’s fair to say that Alabama women’s basketball has things moving in the right direction. However, despite the recent success, coach Kristy Curry isn’t ready to buy into any sort of momentum that may be a determining factor in the Crimson Tide’s important game against LSU.
“I think confidence is important,” Curry said. “I think our kids are understanding that we have a lot of experiences to draw from, not just recently, but the past years. But, I think LSU has momentum as well, so it’s going to be a very similar situation. The chance for both of us to go 3-1 instead of 2-2 is really important.”
For two teams who currently stand in the middle of the pack in the Southeastern Conference, cushioning a winning conference record is crucial. With five ranked teams in the way for many conference members, the strength of the SEC makes future losses and competitive ballgames inevitable.
Taking things one game at a time is emphasized by Curry every season, but it has never been more critical than right now. Not only does winning now provide instant gratification, it also gives the Crimson Tide some protection from miscues against future opponents.
Getting two early road victories was momentous, but Alabama knows it will take a start-to-finish effort to keep its conference resume clean enough to reach the postseason.
“(Making the NCAA Tournament) is our goal, and we don’t shy away from that,” Curry said. “But, we understand that it is one at a time. We understand that you can’t get too high or too low, you kind of have to hover in between. That’s what we are doing right now.”
Of course, creating a healthy confidence is easier when winning tough games, and that’s exactly what Alabama has done this season. In the five games that have been determined by less than 10 points, the Crimson Tide is 4-1. In all five of those games Curry’s team outscored its opponent in the fourth quarter.
“A lot of games last year we would be down by 10 and we wouldn’t be able to get over that hump,” senior forward Ashley Williams said. “Now, we’ve grown a lot, and we are fighting back.”
Where did that fight come from? Senior Quanetria Bolton thought it developed as they matured as a team.
“I think things have definitely changed,” Bolton said. “We’ve been able to fight through, and been able to build on those experiences we’ve had in the past. It has been big.”
Unlike Alabama, LSU is 2-3 in games that have been determined by less than 10 points, but the Tigers won their first conference road game against ranked Missouri. The Tigers use their press defense to create havoc that leads to points on the offensive end, and have forced 19.7 turnovers per game this season.
“(LSU’s) zone is one of the best in the country because they are going to get deflections and steals,” Curry said. “That’s their offense. They want to create — just like we do — from their defense being their best offense to create easy baskets.”
On the other hand, Alabama is turning the ball over just 14.6 times per game, and should have a distinct advantage on the glass. The Crimson Tide is averaging about eight more rebounds per game than the Tigers.
“We need to take care of the basketball, create some turnovers on our end to go the other way for easy buckets, and rebound the ball,” Curry said. “We need to rebound the heck out of it to give ourselves a chance.”
Alabama Women’s Basketball
Alabama vs. LSU
Where: Coleman Coliseum
When: 7 p.m. CT
Records: Alabama 12-4 (2-1), LSU 10-4 (2-1)
Radio: 93.3 FM