University of Alabama men’s basketball coach Avery Johnson did not specifically say so, but the Crimson Tide head coach might be looking for his own Tua Tagovailoa — or at least a team effort that will improve his team’s offensive effort in the upcoming season.
The Crimson Tide had a short workout on Tuesday afternoon as practice for the 2018-19 season begins. UA went 20-16 and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament last season but has to replace first-round NBA draft pick Collin Sexton, last year’s leading scorer.
“We may not have one person average 20 points a game, but maybe the ball will move a little more,” Johnson said. “We’ll be harder to scout. We’ve had a pretty decent defensive reputation. But our offense needs to improve.
“I’m not sure what the equivalent to Alabama football is, but we need that.”
To replace Sexton, Alabama has a number of experienced scoring options. Three newcomers — freshmen Kira Lewis and Javian Davis-Fleming and Texas transfer Tevin Mack — will also be counted on in the rotation, although Johnson said he was “a long way away” from determining a starting lineup.
“One good thing is that we’ll have experience to call on off the bench,” Johnson said. “If I go to Riley (Norris, back from hip surgery) or Tevin — and I’m not saying they aren’t starting, that hasn’t been determined — but if I go to them, I’m going to guys who have experience in Power 5 games, not just freshmen.”
There is also a strong returning group including Donta Hall, Daniel Giddens, Alex Reese and Galin Smith in the post, Herb Jones and John Petty on the wings and Avery Johnson Jr. and Dazon Ingram at the point. Ingram did not participate in the Tuesday practice due to an ankle sprain but is listed as “day-to-day.”
“My idea of improving on offense is continuing to get teammates involved,” Jones said. “I also need to improve my scoring. I’ve been working on my jump shot. Last year, I injured my wrist and it affected my shot but this year is better.
Johnson said he expected Alabama to be selected in the middle of the SEC but was still expecting to be in NCAA contention.
“I’ve heard we are picked around seventh or eighth in the SEC,” he said. “If we are, I want to see how we handle that. I think experience will help. Our guys know now that an extra two or three wins and maybe you’re a 6-seed and not a 9-seed (in the NCAA) and you’re playing in Nashville, not Pittsburgh.”
FRESHMAN DIANTE Wood, the state’s Mr. Basketball last season at Sacred Heart in Anniston, will miss four months with left ankle surgery, Johnson confirmed. The injury is expected to sideline Woods until February and Johnson said a redshirt was “one possibility.”
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