Without Herb Jones, the most versatile player on the University of Alabama basketball roster, the Crimson Tide misses more than scoring, rebounding and defense.
According to John Petty, perhaps the biggest absence will be communication.
“Herb will be on the bench but Kira (Lewis) and I have to step up,” Petty said as he met with the media on Monday in advance of Tuesday’s SEC game against Tennessee at Coleman Coliseum. “You can hear him from the bench but we have to pick up our voices on the floor. I’m one of the leaders of the team. It’s been a rough week but that’s when you have to show leadership.”
The week started for Petty with his first missed start of the season, a disciplinary move by UA coach Nate Oats that Petty says he knew was going to happen.
“We talked about it and he just said he had to do what he had to do,” Petty said. “I knew it was coming. I’d been loafing around (at practice) for a couple of days. I owned it and said I would be a man about it and not let it happen again.”
Things got even tougher for UA when Jones went out in the first half of the LSU game with a fractured wrist.
“He told me on the bench that he fractured it,” Petty said. “He could feel it. But he kept on trying to play.”
Petty played with more fire in Saturday’s home loss to Arkansas, grabbing nine rebounds although he continued to struggle with his 3-point shooting, making just one of five attempts.
“John was better at practice today,” Oats said on Monday. “He was very vocal. A lot of the guys were. John has a high IQ. He knows what he needs to do.”
BEETLE BOLDEN, the Crimson Tide senior guard who has missed the last two games with a gastrointestinal illness, was back at practice on Monday and should be available for Tuesday’s game against Tennessee, at least in a limited role.
“Beetle looked pretty good today,” Alabama coach Nate Oats said. “I’m pretty sure he’ll go limited tomorrow. His energy’s not up enough to play as many minutes as he was playing in the past. But if he can play, it gives us another guard, which helps.”
TENNESSEE, looking to snap a three-game losing streak, will present a different set of matchup issues than Arkansas, which played five guards at once in some stretches of Saturday’s win over Alabama.
“It’s almost the exact opposite,” Alabama coach Nate Oats said. “In their last game (at Mississippi State), they went with three bigs and two guards some of the time, playing a power forward at the small forward spot. So now it’s back to playing physical and rebounding for us.”
Tennessee is the No. 306 team in the NCAA in offensive tempo, while Alabama continues to lead all Power Six teams in that statistic. Part of the Vols’ slower pace goes back to the loss of point guard Lamonte Turner, who underwent season-ending shoulder surgery in December.
“They don’t run much,” Oats said. “They have to run their offense, which they are good at. They do have (Santiago) Vesconi (a Uruguayan National Team player who was granted transfer eligibility by the NCAA). He can shoot it, and has a high IQ, but he’s having to play 40 minutes because they don’t have their point guy.”
Reach Cecil Hurt at email@example.com or via Twitter @cecilhurt