MOUNTAIN BROOK — The presentation had a familiar ring to it. A head coach for the University of Alabama was at the podium on Wednesday, discussing the impact of injuries on his team before the first game of the season has even been played.
“It’s been a blow to lose two guys at one position,” Alabama coach Nate Oats said at the 2019-2020 SEC Basketball Media Day. “But our football team lost both their inside linebackers before the season started and they have been doing all right, so we won’t have any excuses.”
The Crimson Tide, projected to finish sixth in the league in the preseason media poll, will be without junior college transfer James Rojas and freshman Juwan Gary, both of whom are out for the year following preseason knee surgery.
“They are both forwards, both guys that can play the three (small forward) or four (power forward) for us,” Oats said. “It’s kind of unfortunate that we lost to guys at the same position.
“We can put Herb (Jones) there if we go small, or (John) Petty if we go really small. Herb will be fine defensively. He can guard anyone. Defensively he’s one of the best I’ve ever coached. He’s one of the best defenders in the country. And offensively he’s getting better.
“Alex Reese is our only natural 4-player. He has been great in practice so far and I think he has had his best two practices in the past two games.”
Alabama has had further depth problems because of the yet-to-be-determined status of point guard Jahvon Quinerly, still awaiting word on his appeal for immediate eligibility after transferring from Villanova.
“We are holding out hope,” Oats said. “Our (NCAA) compliance office is really good and they are working on it. They received an update two days ago (but) there is no real timeframe. We’ve got a closed scrimmage this weekend, a charity exhibition next Sunday. It would be great if we could find something out here quick before we play those. I’m not anticipating him getting cleared this week but we don’t really know.”
If Quinerly, who was a standout at Wednesday’s open practice with penetrating moves that led to easy layups or flashy behind-the-back assists, is ruled eligible, he would combine with sophomore Kira Lewis Jr. and transfer Beetle Bolden to give Alabama an array of point guard possibilities. Added to the backcourt mix is freshman Jaden Shackelford, who Oats said “is as physically ready to play D-1 basketball as any freshman I’ve ever had.”
The Crimson Tide will get a good deal of exposure in the next week, starting with Friday night’s Tide Tip-off event at Coleman Coliseum. There is also an NCAA-mandated “secret scrimmage” this weekend that Oats will use as a test of character.
“I want to see if our guys have a little pride in them,” Oats said.” A private, closed scrimmage last year got leaked to the media right after it was over because it didn’t go Alabama’s way. Went the wrong way pretty bad, in fact. I’m bringing in the same team back in.”
That team, per sources, will be Jacksonville State.
Alabama also will host Georgia Tech in a charity exhibition Oct. 27.
Reach Cecil Hurt at email@example.com or 205-722-0225