Rarely does a head basketball coach have the opportunity to get a scouting report on the opposing head coach from one of his own players, but Nate Oats may get a little insight from Kira Lewis about Kansas State, Alabama’s opponent in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge on Saturday.
Lewis played for KSU coach Bruce Weber this summer on the gold medalist USA Basketball Men’s U19 World Cup team. Lewis averaged 4.0 points and 1.6 assists per game, while playing a limited role as the backup point guard.
“He taught me a little bit of defense,” Lewis said of Weber. “He showed me ways to play off the ball, play with the ball, fast-paced basketball. He told me a lot of things.
“The minutes weren’t a big thing. On a team like that, you have a role and you are there to help your team win. That’s what you are there for.”
Weber had positive words about Lewis on a Wednesday teleconference in advance of the SEC/Big 12 Challenge.
“He showed that he could compete with not only the best players in the U.S., but the best players in the world,” Weber said. “He’s an explosive athlete, he can get up the court, and he’s a good shooter. I hope the experience benefited him and it will help him become an even better player down the road.”
Lewis’ immediate concerns aren’t a reunion, but controlling a recent rash of turnovers, including seven in the Crimson Tide’s Wednesday win at Vanderbilt.
“I think it was just a case of me being a little loose with the ball,” Lewis said on Friday. “I think these next few games, I’m going to be more confident and make the right reads.”
Alabama center Javian Davis is considered “doubtful” for the game with Kansas State after suffering a knee injury Wednesday night in the Crimson Tide win over Vanderbilt. However, an MRI revealed no structural damage to the knee and Davis is expected back as soon as next week.
“It’s a bone bruise,” Oats said on Friday. “Some of (the timetable for a return) is going to depend on what his pain tolerance is. We need him because we don’t have a lot of depth in terms of inside players.”
Davis is averaging 6.2 points per game for Alabama, although his production has been down recently with just five points in 32 minutes in the last three games for the Crimson Tide.
Kansas State will also be without a top inside reserve as freshman forward Antonio Gordon will sit out a one-game suspension for his actions in Tuesday night’s brawl at the end of the Wildcats’ game at Kansas.
Gordon averages 5.0 points in 19.6 minutes per game for KSU. A second KSU player, James Love, was also suspended but is redshirting this season and would not have seen action against Alabama.
“I’m going to trust them that they did what was right,” Alabama coach Nate Oats said on Friday. “It’s unfortunate it happened. It’s not good for the sport of basketball, obviously. Coach Weber’s a well-respected coach in the business, and I’m sure he’s handled it internally like he needs to. Whoever they’ve got on the floor, we’re going to play.
“It ends up being they really only lost one guy. So if Javian doesn’t play for us, it’s kind of a wash, to be honest with you.”
Reach Cecil Hurt at cecil@tidesports.com or via Twitter @cecilhurt