University of Alabama basketball coach Avery Johnson had some positive injury news for the future on Tuesday but it wasn’t the future that dominated his mind.
The immediate concern for Johnson is Wednesday night’s game against Rhode Island at Coleman Coliseum. (7 p.m. tip, streaming on SEC Network Plus.)
“This is a man’s team we’ve got coming on tomorrow,” Johnson said. “This (game) ain’t for boys.”
The Crimson Tide is looking to bounce back from a 65-62 home loss to Central Florida last Sunday, but will face a tougher foe in the 5-2 Rams, who already have wins over Seton Hall and Providence this season. Despite that loss, Johnson said that UA will not approach this game in panic mode.
“We’re not putting pressure on this team that this is a make or break week,’” Johnson said. “That may be your headline, but it’s not ours.”
Rhode Island is led by 6-foot-3 senior guard Jared Terrell, who averages 17.9 points per game and is the focal point of the Rams’ four-guard attack.
Johnson, on the other hand, is looking to help the younger Alabama squad settle on a rotation and “find a better offensive flow, because our offensive flow was not good enough.” Discontinuity was a problem in the loss to Central Florida, when the Crimson Tide’s top two scorers, Collin Sexton and Dazon Ingram, were held to a combined 13 points. Even a career-high 20 points from junior Donta Hall was not enough to make up for the scoring deficit.
The good news on the injury front was that Johnson is optimistic that sophomore forward Braxton Key could be back from preseason knee surgery by Saturday’s game at Arizona although Johnson said his “gut feeling” was that Key’s likely return date would be Dec. 16, when UA faces Mercer in Huntsville.
“He had a really good individual workout on yesterday,” Johnson said Tuesday. “He’s going to participate in our practice today except for the contact portions. We’re going to follow the same program with him on Friday at Arizona, and we’ll see how he feels for the game on Saturday night.”
Johnson said that freshman guard John Petty, who aggravated an ankle sprain in the first half of the UCF game “should be fine” to play against Rhode Island.
Reach Cecil Hurt at email@example.com or. 205-722-0225.