Unlike the scene before most press conferences, the mood inside of Foster Auditorium on Friday for Alabama women’s basketball’s shooting drills was different.
Although “Pop, Lock & Drop It” by Huey was blasting from the speakers, it was almost as if the gym was silent. Players were not chatting with each other, and the eyes of assistant coach Shereka Wright never left the shooters. The only thing needed to be said was written on the whiteboard for everyone to see.
Arkansas vs. Alabama
When: 1 p.m.
Where: Coleman Coliseum
Records: Arkansas 11-11, 2-7 SEC, Alabama 14-8, 4-5 SEC
TV: SEC Network
Radio: 93.3 FM
“Life and basketball are both determined by inches,” the board read, and its purpose was to motivate Alabama to be more diligent over the next month on the court. The Crimson Tide could use it, because four of its last five games have come on the losing end, undoubtedly the toughest stretch of the season to this point.
“We can’t go back and do anything about our last 10 days,” coach Kristy Curry said. “But, we can have a great ending to this, because February is a season of its own.”
In sync with Curry’s mindset, Alabama will treat February entirely different. Curry doesn’t want her team to worry about they haven’t done, she wants them to talk about what they can do. And that makes perfect sense, because the jumbled conference standings are often separated in February, giving Alabama plenty of time to reach its goal of making the NCAA Tournament.
“Teams determine their destiny in February,” Curry said. “We are excited about the opportunities that lie ahead, and I think we’ve learned. I think we’ve grown, and I think we’re better, as hard as that is to say right now from what we’ve gone through lately.”
UA will start the month at eighth in the conference standings, and just one game away from evening its conference record at 5-5. History shows that every Crimson Tide team to receive an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament finished with a conference winning percentage above .500. This year will likely be no different.
“(The SEC) is the deepest, most-talented league in the country year in and year out,” Curry said. “I don’t think that this year is any different. … I think that’s what gives this team so much hope. We understand that each day is a brand new season in its own. We have some experience, we were playing our best basketball at the end of the season last year.”
Finishing with a winning conference record will be a tall task with three Top 25 teams remaining on Alabama’s schedule, but it is also motivation avoid the same poor performances that hurt UA over the last two weeks.
“February really tells where teams are at,” senior forward Ashley Williams said. “Of course, January is the beginning of SEC play, but now is the time when you either go up, or you go down. So, I think going out there and working hard every day to be the best team that we can be is going to help us.”
It has been 16 years since Alabama finished with a 7-7 record in conference play, and 20 years since it finished with a winning record in the league. Curry’s 7-9 conference record in her first season at Alabama was the closest she has been to that mark in her four-years leading up to this season.
“We have to be consistent,” senior forward Quanetria Bolton said. “Coach preaches that all the time, that we need consistency. It’s definitely showing.”