It still matters.
The Alabama women’s basketball team may not have made the NCAA Tournament like it hoped, but coach Kristy Curry’s team will happily take the 12 extra practices it has earned by receiving a postseason birth.
“We’ve tried to turn the disappointment into an opportunity with the WNIT,” Curry said. “When you look at programs in similar situations the right step in the process has been to make the WNIT and continue to work and win games.
Women’s National Invitation Tournament
Who: Georgia Tech vs. Alabama
When: 7 p.m. CT, Thursday
Where: Coleman Coliseum
Records: Georgia Tech 20-13, Alabama 19-13
Radio: 93.3 FM
Curry doesn’t want the 12 practices to be it, either. Should the team continue winning, the coach will get to spend more time developing her future roster. Next for the Crimson Tide is a round of 16 matchup with Georgia Tech, the team that knocked Alabama out of the WNIT last season.
“We’ve actually taken a lot more days off during this time to rest, and mentally and emotionally be rested,” Curry said. “I think that was the biggest part about this team. We had to handle the disappointment, that’s life. You’re going to have things that don’t go your way every day.”
The extra practices have the most impact on Alabama’s returning players for next season. Although the starting rotation is made up of mostly seniors, the Crimson Tide coaching staff has rotated more players since the beginning of the postseason.
Sophomores Jordan Lewis and Jasmine Walker are two of the players seeing an increase in time on the court, and both finished with strong performances in the Crimson Tide’s last game against Central Florida.
“I always think that practicing is better,” Lewis said. “You get to know your teammates better, you get to flow better. It’s just an opportunity for us to keep growing and building on what we can do next year.”
Battling injury, Walker played just 23 minutes combined in Alabama’s final three conference games. Against UCF on Sunday Walker played 25 minutes, scoring 15 points and grabbing six rebounds.
“I think (Walker’s) future is really bright,” senior post player Quanetria Bolton said. “Just seeing her this year, her practices habits have gotten a lot better. We see that every day in practice, so it wasn’t really a surprise, the last game she had.”
Curry said she expects to use a rotation similar to last Sunday’s game against the Yellow Jackets. Walker figures to be a big part of the Crimson Tide’s bench production.
“We tried to go to our bench,” Curry said. “I thought that a little bit through the SEC it hurt us at times. We weren’t getting as much as we had been. But, I do feel like right now our bench is really helping us.”