There’s not much Avery Johnson hasn’t seen in his long basketball coaching career — even if he’s had to look up to the 7-foot-6 level every once in a while.

That was the case when Johnson, now the head coach at No. 24 Alabama, was the head coach with the Dallas Mavericks in 2005 with the 7-6 Shawn Bradley on the roster. So Johnson will have a good working knowledge of the effect that 7-6 center Tacko Fall of Central Florida can have when the Knights face UA at Coleman Coliseum.

No. 24 Alabama vs. Central Florida
When: 1 p.m. CT, Sunday, Dec. 3
Where: Coleman Coliseum
Records: Alabama 6-1, UCF 4-3
Radio: 95.3 FM

“I think the first thing is you want to try to play your style of basketball without any hesitation. But at the same time, you’re dealing with a different type of player here. You’re talking about a guy who can dunk without jumping, with probably a 10-foot wingspan. You can’t run from him.

“What you have to do is run the floor, stay in front of him on offense. You also have to run on defense because if he catches it down low, he’s hard to stop.”

Fall, a native of Senegal, averages 11 points per game and shoots 72 percent from the field for the 4-3 Knights.


The answer isn’t to try and match height with height. In fact, Johnson indicated Alabama, which used a wide variety of lineups in a 77-74 win over Louisiana Tech last Wednesday, is considering a smaller lineup with senior Riley Norris and freshman Herb Jones seeing action in the frontcourt and Donta Hall and Daniel Giddens sharing time in the post.

“I think Donta was one of the key reasons we won our last game,” Johnson said. “We threw some stuff inside, he made some terrific moves. That really helps our offense to go inside-out.”

That situation could be solved — or made more crowded — if the return of sophomore forward Braxton Key comes soon. Johnson said that Key has been practicing in “the non-contact part of practice” in the past two days as he recovers from surgery on a torn meniscus in his knee.

Reach Cecil Hurt at or 205-722-0225.