Who to watch: Justin Coleman – The sophomore point guard got the start in the Crimson Tide’s 87-65 exhibition win last Friday against Trevecca Nazarene. In 20 minutes he had two assists and no turnovers while shooting a respectable 4-for-9 from the field, although just 1-for-5 from 3-point range. This is the first opportunity to see how much he (and his shot selection) have matured from an erratic 2014-15. He’s likely to draw the defensive assignment against the Owls’ only true threat, senior Yonel Brown.
Big thing to watch: Alabama’s tempo. The Tide shot better than 51 percent against Trevecca and only committed 10 turnovers, and while KSU is a better team, it still could be one of the worst in America, picked by coaches and media alike to finish seventh in the eight-team Atlantic Sun Conference. Between new coach Avery Johnson, who has preached uptempo offense into every available microphone in the state, and college basketball’s new 30-second shot clock, the plodding offense Bama fans have complained about for years should be a rare sight. What will make or break the Tide this year is how well it can hit shots, shake off inevitable mistakes and avoid foul trouble while remaining aggressive on defense. Kennesaw State may be a perfect test subject, since the Owls were the 20th-worst scoring defense in America (73.8 points per game) last season. KSU’s best hope for improvement is probably new coach Al Skinner, who inexplicably finds himself coaching in the wilds of suburban Atlanta after previously winning two Big East titles and reaching the Sweet Sixteen at Boston College.
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