The University of Alabama men’s basketball team will open its 2018-19 season Tuesday night at Coleman Coliseum, but a familiar face will be out of the lineup.
Senior forward Riley Norris, who missed most of last season after hip surgery, is now dealing with another medical issue. He is listed as “week to week” after an elevated heart rate in a practice last week led to a cardiac ablation procedure. The operation was deemed successful and Norris is expected to make a full recovery per a UA release.
However, Norris is definitely out of the Crimson Tide’s opener against Southern University. Freshman Javian Davis-Fleming will also miss the game due to a knee injury.
Additionally, junior guard Dazon Ingram has a sprained ankle and is a “game-time decision” said head coach Avery Johnson.
“Riley’s situation is so unfortunate because he worked so hard to get back,” Johnson said. “I’m so thankful for our medical staff. I am not a doctor, but I think he will make a full recovery and be back with this team in a few weeks.”
Ingram was one of the candidates to start at the point guard position, along with freshman Kira Lewis and senior Avery Johnson Jr. His father, the head coach, said he had a “good idea” about a lineup if Ingram is unable to play, but said he would wait until game time before any announcement.
“We have just got to pick it up,” said sophomore forward Alex Reese, also a candidate to start after dropping 15 pounds (to 240) since last season. “That’s really tough for Riley to miss the opener. I know I’m excited about it, seeing our fans in Coleman again.”
Other likely starters for Alabama include senior forward Donta Hall and sophomore wing players Herbert Jones and John Petty. Last season, Petty was a sometimes-prolific streak shooter from 3-point range and Johnson noted he was looking for more consistency from the Crimson Tide’s shooting beyond the arc.
“This could potentially be a really good 3-point shooting team when our shot selection gets better,” Johnson said. “The shot when we are open, in rhythm, that’s what we are looking for. The shot with two defenders hanging all over you is not what we are looking for.”
Southern University, the Crimson Tide’s opponent (and Johnson’s alma mater), was 15-18 last season and made a coaching change over the summer. Former Kentucky star Sean Woods, who was an assistant at Stetson last year, was brought in to replace Morris Scott last April.
Southern defeated the University of Mobile 78-74 in the Jaguars’ preseason exhibition game last week.
Early signing for basketball prospects will begin on Wednesday with Alabama expected to sign three players who had committed this summer: 6-foot-6 forward Juwan Gary of Columbia, S.C. (now playing at West Charlotte High School in North Carolina); 6-5 guard Jaylen Forbes of Florence, Miss.; and 6-3 guard Jaden Shackelford of Hesperia, Calif.
Drew Timme, a 6-foot-10 forward from Dallas, is expected to sign with one of four schools (Alabama, Gonzaga, Illinois and Texas A&M). Gonzaga is considered the leader in his recruitment.
Reach Cecil Hurt at email@example.com or 205-722-0225.