NIT also trying out new postseason rules

There are pluses and minuses to playing in the NIT, as Alabama head basketball coach Avery Johnson observed on Monday. The unavoidable minus is that an NIT bid means that the participating team did not make it into the NCAA Tournament. One of the positives, though, is that a team does get to continue playing — and it doesn’t have to wait around.

Alabama vs. Richmond

  • When: 8:15 p.m.
  • Where: NIT First Round, Coleman Coliseum
  • Records: Alabama 19-14, Richmond 20-12
  • TV: ESPN2
  • Radio: 95.3 FM

“We’re happy to have a game on Tuesday,” Johnson said Monday on a teleconference for the SEC’s eight postseason teams. “We need to get back on floor after playing some of our best basketball in SEC Tournament. That was the most consistent basketball we’ve played all year. We actually scored the ball, which we had struggled to do, so we want to get back and build on that.

“Our team had a brief meeting and my sense is that they want to play ball,” Johnson added. “We need to keep playing. We played Creighton (in the NIT) last year and they used their NIT experience to advance (to the NCAA Tournament) this year.”

The game against Richmond will be a contrast of styles — and sizes. The Spiders have just one starter — Atlantic 10 Player of the Year T.J. Cline — taller than 6-foot-4. Barring a lineup change from recent games, Alabama will start five players 6-5 and above, and will look to exploit the 11-rebound statistical differential (Alabama is plus-5.5 and Richmond is minus-5.5 on the season.) The Spiders, as spiders do, will attempt to make up for their lack of size with quickness and a trapping defense.

There will also be several experimental postseason rules in effect for the NIT.

Most notably, NIT rules will call for resetting total team fouls to zero at the end of 10-minute segments during each half, the NCAA said.

“The committee believes resetting the team fouls to zero at the 9:59 mark of each half may have the same effect as resetting the team fouls to zero at the end of each quarter, while at the same time allowing for men’s college basketball to retain the unique format of two 20-minute halves,” the NCAA statement said.

After a team commits its fifth personal or technical foul in each 10-minute segment (and all fouls after that), the other team will shoot two free throws — essentially dividing the game into four quarters when it comes to how team fouls are counted, but not changing how the game itself is is timed. The experimental rules will eliminate “1-and-1” free throws.

In another rule change designed to speed up play, the shot clock will be reset to 20 seconds instead of 30 seconds when the ball is in-bounded in the front court.

Free admission for first 500 students

The Alabama athletics department The University of Alabama athletics department announced on Monday that the first 500 students in attendance for Tuesday night’s game will receive free admission, courtesy of Coca-Cola.

Students are asked to come in through the West Entrance of Coleman Coliseum (regular season student entrance) and must have a valid Action Card. Similar to a normal home contest, students will have their Action Card swiped to gain entrance to the contest. All student tickets will be general admission.

Reach Cecil Hurt at or 205-722-0225.