Alabama women’s basketball coach Kristy Curry challenged her two centers after the team’s December loss to South Alabama.
In that game, Ariyah Copeland and Ashley Knight struggled against Jaguars center Antionette Lewis, who scored 14 points and nine rebounds. Copeland and Knight combined for four points and six rebounds.
“She flat out wore them out,” Curry said of Copeland. “Until Ariyah and AK decide to help us more, we’re really going to struggle.”
Since then, Copeland has gone to work inside, averaging more than seven rebounds a game and is averaging 9.4 points and 6.4 rebounds in the Crimson Tide’s five conference games.
The combination of Copeland and Knight showed up in a big way in the Crimson Tide’s upset win against No. 20 Tennessee earlier this week. The two combined for 27 points and 11 of the team’s 44 rebounds.
“I just feel like the coaches emphasize rebounding so much that its like a tape recorder stuck in your head like ‘go rebound, go rebound, go rebound,’” forward Jasmine Walker said.
The Crimson Tide hosts LSU in its final game of its homestand. Outside of it being a conference game, Alabama will use the game for two different promotions.
The first being the We Back Pat game, which is named after the Hall of Fame coach Pat Summitt. The game draws attention to Alzheimer’s disease, which cut Summitt’s coaching career and life short.
“I’ve always looked up to her as a mother, as a coach and as a teacher, that she was able to be successful at home, successful at the office and successful on the court,” Curry said. “Just that you can do it all… I think that is an inspiration to all of us as females.”
The second promotion is the 25th anniversary of the 1994 women’s basketball team that reached the Final Four and is still the only team in program history to do so.
“It’s a really prideful tradition here,” Curry said. “We represent something much bigger than ourselves, and we’re really honored and excited to have them back here this weekend.”
At the end of practice on Friday, Curry took the entire team and coaching staff outside of Foster’s Auditorium and huddled the group around a memorial to the former assistant coach Dottie Kelso, who died in the fall of 1993 from a brain cyst.
“I remember being a 23-year-old assistant, and when I would walk in the door recruiting, there wasn’t any brighter of a face than Dottie’s,” Curry said. “To take time to introduce herself and to see her out working… If you saw Dottie in the gym, then you knew you were in the right gym…. She’s a big part of this program and always will be.”
The Kelso family and the rest of the 1993-94 Crimson Tide team will be in attendance for the 1 p.m. tip.