By Drew Hill
Special to Tidesports.com
Alabama women’s basketball coach Kristy Curry has said she doesn’t want her team to look ahead. One game at a time has been a common theme throughout Alabama’s season, but prior to Sunday’s game against Missouri, she is letting her players think about next week.
Earning a first-round bye in the SEC Tournament is something Alabama has been chasing for the better part of two weeks. The push started with huge wins against Tennessee and Auburn, and it carried over to a tough overtime loss at Georgia.
After all of those ‘could be’ scenarios passed by, it’s now simple. Beat Missouri on Sunday and Alabama will not have to play Wednesday in Greenville, South Carolina. Curry’s team knows that.
“We talked about it (Thursday) night,” Alabama forward Ashley Williams said. “Where we are sitting at right now, and waiting to see these last couple of games that go, to see where we are playing. We don’t want to play on the first day. That’s our goal. We want to play on the second day.”
The bottom four spots in the conference standings have been crowded in 2017. Heading into the weekend of the regular season only Arkansas is guaranteed to be playing in the first round of the conference tournament.
“You look at league records right now and there’s just a one game difference that could jump you from ninth, to six, to seventh,” Curry said. “The parody is unbelievable. So we’ve tried to use it as a teaching tool for our kids to stay positive, and understand that we still have within our reach some positive opportunities ahead.”
Alabama took advantage of its opportunity against Missouri earlier this season. The Crimson Tide’s 59-58 win over the Tigers came in dramatic fashion, with UA forward Quanetria Bolton knocking down a 3-point shot with just seconds to go.
“That feels like years ago from where we are now, to where they are at now,” Curry said. “I think we’ll draw from some of that.”
Curry also was quick to point out that Missouri is not a team that beats itself. The Tigers are inside the conference’s top five in field goal percentage, 3-point percentage, free throw percentage and scoring efficiency.
Bolton’s 18-point performance against Missouri in January was just enough to push Alabama ahead of the Tigers. The second time around she will likely play another big role on offense. Bolton is coming off of two double digit performances on the road, and is averaging 8.4 points off the bench.
Sunday’s matchup will be the final home game for the Crimson Tide this season. There will not be any senior day festivities because Alabama doesn’t have a senior on the roster.