Why Alabama basketball had a players-only meeting after scrimmage loss to TCU

Nick Kelly
The Tuscaloosa News

BIRMINGHAM - Alabama basketball's scrimmage on Sunday left much to be desired.

The Crimson Tide lost 99-69 in a matchup with the Horned Frogs in Fort Worth, Texas. In the scrimmage closed to the public, Alabama had a few players out, including Charles Bediako and Nimari Burnett. Coach Nate Oats said on Wednesday at SEC men's basketball media day that both have minor injuries and “will be fine.” So their participation probably would have helped the score.

Nonetheless, the performance isn’t up to the standard the Crimson Tide will need this season. One glaring stat: 22 turnovers compared to 13 from TCU.

So, after the scrimmage, guard Javhon Quinerly had the idea that the players should meet the next morning.

Quinerly, who is still rehabbing a left knee injury after tearing his ACL on March 18 in the NCAA Tournament, wanted everyone there on time. Everyone was, Bediako said. Noah Gurley, Burnett and the other returners led the meeting.

“It was a really good talk,” Bediako said. “Everybody agreed on what happened and what we needed to work on.”

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The words “player-only meeting” often have a negative connotation. That’s not the case for this one. Last season, Bediako said Alabama didn’t have meetings like this until midseason in a year that had plenty of ups and downs and ended with a first-round exit in the NCAA Tournament.

“Starting (meetings) early, I think we’re fixing our stuff we need to fix now,” Bediako said.

There wasn’t any contentiousness. No yelling and screaming, Bediako said.

“Definitely just being real,” Bediako said. “No sugar coat.”

The meeting lasted about 15-20 minutes. They broke a whiteboard out. Gurley led that portion.

“He was like a teacher,” Bediako said.

The makeup of this year’s roster is almost entirely different from last year. Only four main contributors return in Gurley, Bediako, Darius Miles and Quinerly. Burnett was on the roster, but he was out all season with an ACL tear.

Still, this group wants to learn from the mistakes of 2021-22 and make the necessary changes. That starts with these player-only meetings.

“Last year,” Bediako said, “there was a bit of complacency which resulted in what happened. Really with me, especially even now, I just always want to find something, if there’s another level I can reach.”

He’s hoping the team can do the same.

Alabama will hold a charity exhibition against Southern Illinois at 2 p.m. on Oct. 29. Then, The Crimson Tide will open the season against Longwood at 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 7.