TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — The University of Alabama men’s basketball team will look to start creating its identity for the 2017-18 season, but also do some experimenting during next month’s bonus practices.
“The practices are going to be very important for us, to be able to look at different combinations,” Coach Avery Johnson said during the SEC men’s basketball summer teleconference on Monday morning. “Do we want to play big? Do we want to play small? Who’s the primary ball handler? Do we want to have a multiple ball handlers?
“We feel like we’re going to have a lot of versatility and flexibility, and want that to carry over to our games in Canada.”
The team can hold 10 practices in preparation for its international trip to Canada in August, the details of which were also announced. Alabama will play three games at Canadian universities over five days.
Specifically, it will visit McGill University in Montreal on Aug. 7 at 7 p.m. ET, Carleton University in Ottawa on Aug. 9 at 7 p.m. ET, and the University of Ottawa on Aug. 10, 6:30 p.m. ET.
Per NCAA rules, a program can make an international trip every four years. The Crimson Tide will use it to incorporate six players into the team, including five true freshmen. All are enrolled, and already working toward next season.
“Offensively, our team is going to have a lot more freedom,” Johnson said last week. “Sometimes we’ve been too structured and stale. We’ll have a lot more freedom and a lot more reads, so that we won’t be so easily scoutable.”
Johnson touched on a couple of other subjects:
- The coach is looking for forward/center Daniel Giddens to complement junior forward Donta Hall in the interior and be a rebounding presence like Bola Olaniyan, who led the Crimson Tide with 6.4 rebounds last season while coming off the bench. “We think he’ll be a better offensive player, be able to finish inside a little bit more. But also be able to take his game out to maybe 14 or 15 feet, play off the bounce a little bit. Maybe initiate some offense from around that free throw area because he’s a big guy who can pass the ball.”
- Johnson has mixed feelings about calls for the NBA to end the one-and-done trend, especially after 16 freshmen were selected in last week’s draft compared to two seniors. While he feels there needs to be an exception for exceptional high school players like Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett and LeBron James to go straight to the league, “on the other hand, I hope that the kids who do attend college can stay for at least two years, maximum three, before they’re allowed to go to the NBA.”
- Johnson reiterated that guard Tevin Mack, a transfer from Texas who must sit out a year, is the only player not on campus. He’ll report for the second session of summer classes, which is set to begin on July 5.